GSA eases burden on agencies, vendors with schedule consolidation

Jason Miller: GSA eases burden on agencies, vendors with schedule consolidation

The General Services Administration is trying to tame its schedule contracts.

After years of expansion, GSA decided to go in the opposite direction and consolidate its professional services offerings.

On Oct. 1, GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service completed a year-long effort to take about 5,000 contracts and 4,500 contractors down to about 4,000 total for both. About 330 vendors held multiple professional schedules, adding cost and time to the administration of the contracts.

Online Chat: Beth Killoran, deputy assistant secretary for Information Technology and chief information officer at HHS, on March 28.

Tiffany Hixson, GSA’s regional commissioner and professional services category executive, said Oct. 8 that the agency consolidated eight professional services schedules into one called the professional services schedule.

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“It was a tremendous lift for our organization,” said Kathy Jocoy, the professional services schedule project manager. “It is a time saver. It is a cost reduction in management in the schedules and the solicitations not only by GSA, but more importantly for our industry partners. They are not having to manage multiple vehicles to provide the same general type of services, the professional services. And of course, our greatest venture in all of this is that it’s allowing a total solution available to our federal community, whether it’s complex or an independent need. We are providing them with the same quality services from the same quality contractors. We just put it all together in a program that allows them to meet their every need in the professional services arena. We are very excited about it.”

Hixson said the schedule is open for business and agencies can use it today as GSA met its goal to launch this new schedule on Oct. 1.

“We were able to deconflict labor categories, labor category pricing. We were really able to clean up some of the confusion with having three different contracts with the same labor category in it and the same rates,” she said.

GSA expects to save $3.95 million over five years through reduced contract administration costs, and then about $1.3 million a year in cost avoidance after that initial five years.

This change comes after the schedules program has gotten unwieldy for GSA and vendors, to say the least, particularly around the seemingly constant expansion of new services schedules and new special item numbers for specific products or services.

Hixson said some of the large vendors end up holding as many as eight professional services schedules under the old model. Now, each vendor will have one contracting officer handling their professional services schedule and a couple of contracting specialists to help with contract administration.

The IT schedule, known as Schedule 70, and the professional services schedule are the two big dogs for GSA, accounting for about half of the more than $35 billion in revenue annually.

“Over the long term, the consolidated professional services schedule will reduce administrative costs for government and industry, while streamlining access to service solutions at the task order level,” said Roger Waldron, the president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, in an email to Federal News Radio. “It is a win for customer agencies, GSA and its industry partners.”

Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners and a long-time GSA observer, said the consolidation makes sense for several reasons, including the most important reason of making it easier for agencies and vendors alike to buy services off of the schedules.

“I would also note that the consolidation of the myriad services schedules was completed more or less on time and that the launch of the new schedule is pretty well on time,” Allen said. “There are many people who would like to see Tiffany take over the Schedules program entirely as they feel she would breathe new life into it and make supporting the program inside the agency with increased resources and emphasis a priority.”

Once GSA gets some experience with new consolidated professional services schedule, Hixson said she plans take the next steps to further streamline the program.

“We are going to be looking at the special item number (SIN) structure for professional services schedule this next fiscal year. That will be another very heavy lift,” she said. “What we heard from industry and our customers is that the SIN structure doesn’t align neatly with National American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes, and so from a small business set-aside perspective, it creates some challenges for contracting officers. So what customers have asked us to do is step back and take a look at the SIN structure, and see what we can do to better align the SINs with the NAICS codes to facilitate a lot cleaner source selection and small business set-aside in the professional services space. I really think FAS will be looking to us to work through this concept, and then see if there is applicability to restructuring SINS to NAICS codes across other schedules.”