Federal Marketplace Industry Day – MAS Panel

>>Well first I want to
thank everyone for coming, and I want to thank my
panel for joining me today. I know when I went through their
registration list I knew a lot of the names on there. I’ve met a lot of you guys through Industry Days
and other events. But for those of you
who don’t know me, my name is Stephanie Shutt. I am the Director of the Multiple Award Schedules
Program Management Office or in government speak, MAS PMO. So basically what I wanted
to go through first is kind of how this panel’s
going to work today. What we’re going
to do is I’m going to do some talking points
really quick and then I’m going to turn it over to
the panel members. They’re going to
introduce themselves, provide a brief history of their
experience with the MAS Program and then they’ll go into
what they find great about the program and
what they would change if they could change it,
and any barriers they feel that we have towards
industry with that. After the panel has given
their thoughts we’ll turn it over to questions
throughout the audience. As Adam stated earlier, there
are four mics, but if you want to stay in your seat because
you’re in the middle of a row, you can raise your hand
and we will have someone with a microphone
come towards you. So let’s get started. So right now it’s a
really exciting time to be in the Multiple Work
Schedules Program. Over the last year we
started the implementation at a pilot basis with the
[inaudible] materials, and we created that
special item number which was mass [inaudible]
into a lot of contracts which has started to
fill a gap that we’ve had in this program for
a very long time. We’ve also had some legislative
wins over the last year. We’ve gotten the removal of
the vestige determination and unpriced services. So these are things that
are things that are coming in the future based on other
steps that need to be taken. But it’s really great that
we’re starting to see these wins and see this movement
with this program. So over this year, we’re going
to start quick consolidation of the Multiple Work
Schedules Program. We’ve made this very large
with this huge screen graphic for this, and we’re going
to actually put this up so everyone will
be able to have it. It will be on Interact. So we’ll put it out for
there for those of you guys who don’t want to have to take
pictures of it with your phone. But if you would
like to, go for it. But so what I wanted
to kind of do is go through what those phases mean. So one of the largest phases is
going to be this fiscal year. And, actually, this phase
started last fiscal year. So over the last fiscal year, we created an Integrated
Project Team. This included members
throughout FAS. It included members from
every acquisition center, every portfolio, anything that
touched MAS throughout the FAS and also in other
departments of GSA. We brought everyone together and
basically put everyone in a room over three off-sites
to basically say, if you could fix this program, if you could change
this program, how would you change it? And over multiple different
things, issues that have come up and other things, this group
came together and they agreed that the best step first was
to consolidate this program. There’s too many contractors
that are either stuck in one world where they
don’t have the resources to get an additional contract to actually provide
their solution to market. And although the OLMCN does
provide some assistance in this, it doesn’t fix the
entire problem. And then there are
other contractors who have multiple contracts. I actually spoke with one group
this morning who are trying to work their way through
this weird teaming but sub and priming with themselves to
provide a solution to an agency, but they have two contract
but they need those contracts and how do we do this? And it’s this weird, murky world
that everyone has been working through over the last
couple of decades. So what we’ve been doing over the last year is reviewing
all the terms and conditions, and which terms and
conditions are for everyone and which ones are very specific
to a category or subcategory. And then the next thing we’ve
been doing is we’ve been looking at all the special item numbers. Where is their duplication? Where is there overlap? Why do we have these weird
titles that make no sense? Why did we create all these
numbers that no one knows? So when agencies come to
eBuy to pick something, to put something out, they just
randomly pick a SIN and it’s up to industry to
contact them and say, oh, you have the wrong one. Don’t do that one. So, we’re trying to do things
where we actually use real words so that when agencies
are picking things, or industry is trying to decide
which categories that they want to be under, you actually
understand what you’re picking. And you don’t end
up with something that is not even close
to what you sell. So those are some of the things that we’ve been working
on over the year. So what we also realized
is with — when consolidating with
a contract this large, we would definitely need to use
the existing category management that we’ve already started. We may need to clear it up
a little bit, but utilizing that also helps with that
subject matter expertise. I know that this question
came up earlier today. This will help us retain some of
that subject matter expertise. But creating this IPT that cross
so many acquisition centers, it also started to
break down those silos so that the acquisition
workforce could start learning from each other as well and
start working more together as a group in an enterprise. So what we’ll be doing
is finishing all of this, making sure we do any system
fixes that need to happen, and by the end of this
fiscal year we are going to be releasing a new
Schedule Offering. And we’re going to close down
all the existing Schedules for New Offers and we’ll allow
that new offering to open up and we’ll watch it for
a little bit to see if there are any system glitches and make sure it’s
all ready to go. And at that point,
starting in January of 2020 we’ll start MAS
[inaudible] everyone over to the new Terms
and Conditions. When you MAS [inaudible] over, just like when you do a
MAS [inaudible] today, you’ll keep your
same contract number so there won’t be any need
to be transferring orders or anything like that. It will just basically
clean up some of those terms and conditions, some of
them that you guys have had for a really long time that
maybe should have been dealt with a couple of years ago, but just haven’t really
gotten around to it. So it will be fixing
all of that. And then once everyone
Mas [inaudible] over, that’s when we’ll
start the Phase Three and that will be a
more in-depth part, but it will also be
more independent based on that industry partner. So it’s going to depend on how
many contract vehicles you have and where those contract
vehicles are in their life cycle. So if you have two, but
one of them’s ending in like a year-and-a-half,
and the other one’s more of a follow-on, we’ll let that
one naturally and as it is in its current time period
because there’s no point in consolidating something
where it’s going to be ending. So we’ll be working
with industry on the different options
that you guys can take to consolidate those schedules, and we’ll spend the
rest of 2020 doing that. We do realize that there are
going to be BPAs and everything like that, so we do realize
that there’s going to be at least a five-year process
to get everything all synced up because those BPAs are
at least five years long. So that’s kind of the
high view of what’s going to be happening for this. So one of the things I also
wanted to talk on really, really quick before I turn it over to my panel is
we’ve gotten a lot of frequently asked questions
already that have started coming in since we’ve announced this. And there are some that
I really wanted to talk on really quick just so we
can get them out of the way. The number one question
we’ve gotten is cooperative purchasing, what happens to it? Well, because of the regulatory
and legislative restrictions around it, that cooperative
purchasing will go down to that category level. It won’t be expanded. The next thing will be TDR, the Transactional
Data Reporting Rule. So with TDR it will go down
just like it’s Schedule 70 in the Professional
Services Schedule. It will go down to those
specific categories that are within that pilot and it will
stay within those categories. And the last one I have that
has come up multiple times is if I am planning to get a
new contract or I’m planning to get my first contract
right now, should I wait? No. Please go ahead and
do business as usual. We will work with you through
all of this, but do not halt or wait for us to get caught up. Continue doing everything that
you would normally be doing. So with that, I’m going to turn
it over to my panel members. We’re going to start with
Betsy and work our way down. And we’ll end with Roger. And after Roger’s
done, we’ll open it up for Q&A throughout
the audience.>>Good morning, everyone. My name is Betsy Cerulo. I’m CEO and owner
of AdNet/AccountNet. First I want to thank
Stephanie, Crystal, and Emily for inviting us all
here today for the opportunity to speak, to share
some good things, and to share some
not-so-good things. My company’s been in
business for 29 years, thus my wonderful white top. Our company is management
consulting, professional staff
augmentation, executive search, and project management. We’ve been in the federal space
for a little bit under 10 years and I can tell you that
once I made the decision — well, the Recession pushed
me into the federal space. Once I made the decision
to come over here, I found that it really
enlivened me as a business owner
in a good way. The federal space is
filled with many puzzles, and I think that those of us that are most successful
are the ones that stay with the puzzle until
it’s complete. And as we know, sometimes
it’s never complete, but you never give up. So my work in management
consulting and staff augmentation is in the
areas of accounting and finance, human resources, and legal,
with a sweet spot with the EO. I am very passionate
about workplace equality. I’m a huge advocate for
women and for all people in diversity space and welcome
all of my kindred spirits in the nondiverse side. I fight for people and companies who are not being
treated fairly. So that’s really the
foundation of my company. So we are on the TAP Schedule
which is the Temporary and Professional
Services Schedule. Been on it since 2010. I was fortunate enough
right out of the box to get a six-month contract. Someone in the Department
of Education, I guess, was looking in the database
and the timing was right, and we got picked up because one
of my stressors was when we got onto the schedule, oh, my gosh,
I only have like this much time to be able to use the schedule
or else I’m going to lose it. But fortunately that set the
stage, and it also opened up an opportunity for my
company to be a subcontractor on a five-year contract
with HHS and allowed me to form other partnerships. So where I’m going with this
is, while it can be cumbersome with the schedules, it continued
to open up doors for me. So are also 8A certified. I’ve been in the
program for two years. Because of my schedule, I was
able to leverage both ways to get 8A self-source,
8A competitor, and then other flip side is when a contracting officer
says we can’t put it in the 8A program but I’m
going to put it out on GSA and you’re going to
be one of the three. So I’ve been able to navigate
both sides as a result of having the schedule. So I think now is
probably the time for me to talk about the good stuff. So that’s definitely a
really wonderful thing about the schedule. I highly, highly recommend
that you stay with it. I know that there’s a lot of
people in the room here that are with large businesses,
and there’s some that are small business. If it’s cumbersome,
don’t give up. There’s a lot of the large
primes that are sitting out in the audience or listening
today that need companies like us to fill the gaps
because that’s what we do. We come in when other people
have messed up and fix it and we clean it and
we make it right. And the large primes need us. And oftentimes we have to be
on a schedule to be able to be on a team, so stay with it. One of the things that has
been cumbersome for us — we were in the PSS process, and
we submitted our application in December of last year. Stayed with it; kept in touch
with the contracting officer, and at one point I just have
to be a real pain in the neck and say, where’s it at? And found out that it
was stuck in the system. Where had the screenshot to
show that we submitted it and it said it was submitted. So it was stuck in the system
and we were advised to resubmit. So we resubmitted only to
a couple of months later to get a rejection letter that our documentation
was no longer valid because it was information
of 2017. So that was not fun. And I know that we’ve
all experienced it, and I’m sure those of
you who are with GSA, you’ve heard the story before. If you’re going to
tell us to resubmit, give us the whole story so we
can resubmit it the first time. When you own a small
business and when you have — you know, you don’t have
a lot of people on staff, resources are limited, and
you need to get the job done, and you need just direction
to be told how to get it done. So I still don’t have the PSS. I can tell you at
one point I was just like forget it, forget
it for now. That’s usually what it is. It’s no for now. Forget it for now. Because I don’t give up, I’m a
pain in the neck in a good way, and I’m relentless, so I’m
glad to see from what you said, Stephanie, to continue it because after today we’re
going to resubmit again. So because of a contracting
officer that we’ve had over the years who
is an absolute dream, I was able to find out
why we were rejected. So which leads me to the other
issue, inconsistent feedback. But I know sometimes
that’s a systemic issue across the board
in all workplaces. So this is in no way any
finger-pointing towards the contracting officer at GSA. I think sometimes there
could be complacency and maybe people don’t want to
pick up the phone or don’t want to answer the questions. The difference that you make for a small business
creates contracts for us. I will have — I
can’t even quantify. I have no idea how much
business I could have won if I had the PSS in
place during the summer when it should have been. So I just want to
put it out there to the contracting officers,
I know sometimes you can’t — oh, gosh, here they are
again, or I’m overworked, which we all are, and I
have too much on my desk. If there’s a way that you can
at least just send an email, a quick call, something,
that points us in the right direction,
you have no idea how much that can communication means. And it’s valuable money-wise. So those are my main challenges. But one thing I want to tell
you about myself on a fun side. I’m also an author. I have a leadership book coming
out next year that really talks about the joys and sorrows of leadership whether you’re
a small business owner or whether — probably
most everyone in this room is in leadership. So I’m committed to
getting that done because I think more
stories need to be told, especially by women,
on how we’ve overcome. And I’m also — I recently
published a children’s book calledMiss Crabapple and Her
Magical Violin
that also has stories like lessons. So I wanted to share that
because as I’m up here with my hat, my small
business hat. And now sometimes business
can be so rigid for all of us. There’s a passionate side of me
that loves to make a difference, and I do that through
my writing. So I just wanted to
share that with you.>>There you go.>>Thank you.>>Good morning. I’m Larry Allen with Allen
Federal Business Partners. As I look out into the
auditorium today I see a lot of familiar faces. And let me tell you
how wonderful it is to see how young we
all look [laughter]. I think that that’s probably
because of our benefit of being able to work in
Government Procurement and Contracting, and it
helps us all stay youthful. At least ever green. At least that’s what we
dealing with today, you know? I’ve been associated with
multiple work schedule programs since 1990, so I’ve seen a
lot of changes over the years. For 20 years I ran the Coalition for Government Procurement
[inaudible], now ably runs and along the way I worked
on many of the regulatory and legislative changes that have created the Multiple
Awards Schedules Program that we have today, so a
lot of legislation that came up in the 1990s, a
lot of the regulations that have come out since. I also served on the Multiple
Awards Scheduled Improvement Panel that made a series
of recommendations, [inaudible] Allen, who’s on the
panel today, and so are people who are in the audience. I’ve contributed to probably
what’s considered the main textbook of Multiple Awards
Scheduled Contracting. I’ve taught classes,
both basic and advanced, for over 20 years in this arena. And I created the
Interagency Contract Class as an adjunct professor at
George Washington University. I’ve been on radio and TV here,
there, and everywhere talking about government procurement. I could have done something
useful with my life, but as they say in
theGodfather, this is the business
we’ve chosen [laughter]. So a little bit — so that’s
a little bit about me. Today, when I look at the Multiple Awards
Schedules Program, I see a program that’s actually
on a little bit of a roll. One of the things
that both myself and other longtime schedule
commentators have said to GSA — “This program could
really be something if you put some resources
into it.” And the current management team at the Agency really deserves
lots of credit, I think, for actually putting the
resources into the program. If you’ve been with this program
for more than five years, you know what it’s like to have
the Multiple Awards Schedule Program not be considered
to be the cornerstone of the Federal Acquisition
Service or really even anything that has a future inside GSA. And now it does. And when you give the program
a little bit of attention, when you give it a little bit of a marketing push,
see what happens. You have agency after
agency saying we’re going to not renew our own
duplicative contract for technology or services. We’re going to establish
blanket purchase agreements through the GSA Schedule. So, whether it’s the FBI,
whether it’s the Department of Homeland Security, or
more recently even DISA. It’s talked about doing its huge
DAOS [assumed spelling] Cloud Procurement through
the Schedules Program. This is incredibly versatile and
very useful acquisition program, and while some may
say that the best days of the Schedules
Program are behind it, I think that that’s only true if the Schedules
Program sits still. And one of the reasons why we
have a full auditorium today, and many people on the phone, is that the Program
is not sitting still. So our Management Team, I think,
deserves some absolute credit for moving the ball forward
and keeping this program on top of changes that are going on,
not just inside government, but in the realm of
acquisition overall. My basic feeling about
the consolidation of the GSA Schedules
Program into one schedule — so that’s a great move. It’s been tried before,
but we even had — either have [inaudible]
technology or the inside support
that’s absolutely essential to making consolidation work. However, merely consolidating
the schedules’ contracts is not going to get GSA all
the way to its goal of making the program
easier for customers to use. At the same time the
program is consolidated, there must be a new
online interface system, a new 21st century
eCommerce experience so that [inaudible] customers
can more easily search and find all the
solutions they need. That’s going to take
some standardization of contract terms
and conditions, and some standardization
of product and service descriptions. And while there may be
some hesitancy among those [inaudible] and elsewhere
in the program, to talk about standardization,
let me just say that one of the keys to the Schedules
Program remaining competitive is that we get that type
of standardization, because this afternoon
we’re going to be taking about promotional
eCommerce programs that bring with them standard
product definitions. And if we want the Schedules
Program to remain competitive, it’s going to have to have
that same terminology as well. Outside of building
a new user interface and making it a 21st
century eCommerce experience, there are a couple
of other things that I think the Schedules
Program should consider. As we move into technology,
and we’re talking about transparency,
and it’s a fair point. Every day we have
more transparency in the Schedules Program. Increasingly the price
reductions clause is an anachronism. It is a legacy from
a bygone era. And it really has no place
in a 21st century price or a Multiple Awards
Schedules program, particularly when we’re talking about the
advent of non-price schedules. So what if the Agency looks to
make consolidations and changes? I think it’s time to put the
PRC on the chopping block. It serves today, really, as
no more than a gotcha trap for companies by and
large are actually trying to do a good job
managing complex contracts in a commercial and government
world that simply did not exist when the Price Reductions
Clause was first initiated. Another challenge
I’d like to mention to the Agency is considering
lowering the Scheduled Industrial Funding Fee. That fee stands at
.75% today for GSA and has not been changed
for over 15 years. The last time we changed the
Schedule’s fee from .75 to 2.75 from 1%, the technology that
was in place was similar to that of the abacus. So we now have the technological
capability to do that. And when you have the
VA Schedules Program with their [inaudible] up
half of .5 and NASA SEWPS that covers somewhere
around .37, you want to keep the
program competitive by properly managing
your access fee. I think we also need
to move quickly to reestablish a
nationally stoked training and marketing even
that I will not name by its previous title
[laughter]. There were two events held in
2015 and 2016 in Huntsville, Alabama that filled
training rooms to capacity. And they were large
training rooms as well. There’s a direct benefit
to gathering contractors, customers, and GSA
officials in one place. In fact, one of the people I
spoke with this morning said, one of the reasons we
likely drove the type of attendance we did
for this meeting was because of the relative dearth
of in-person opportunities for everybody to get
together face-to-face. Reestablishing marketing
leading is going to be important to that whether you’re
a contractor, GSA, of especially a customer
agency that wants to better understand
these new programs. As GSA moves to multiple
vehicle marketplace, it will increasingly have to
examine the different terms and conditions of each platform. These differing terms are going
to drive different pricing because they’re different terms. And recognizing this
is essential. Part and parcel of
this is being able to provide in-depth
training internally to GSA’s Acquisition Workforce. We’ve seen this most
recently with the rollout of the pilot program
where you don’t have to submit commercial sales
practice information. Not all the contracting
officers understood this. Simply put, getting the message out to the workforce
internally takes time. Making sure that they
understand the message and are ready to
act on takes time. You can’t turn an
acquisition workforce the size of GSA’s around on a dime. Make sure that, as we’re
talking about this, that we’re bringing along
the acquisition workforce so that they’re part and parcel
of the process and are at least as well informed about what the
Agency is up to as we are today. My final word is
about consistency. Consistency is a
wonderful thing, but I want to urge caution. We still need to
maintain flexibility. That’s a good word, too. We have long talked in the
[inaudible] when I was there, and I’m sure since
Roger’s been there, that consistency can
mean consistently bad. So let’s make sure that
we’re using some common sense and we’re flexible at the
same time as we’re trying to move the program forward. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Good morning. I’m Julia Conti. I am a Contracts
Director at CGI-Federal, and managing their GSA
schedules, portfolio, GREX, and other IDIQs. Thank you, GSA, for
inviting me to be here on this panel this morning. A little bit about myself. I have about over
20 years’ experience in government contracting and have always worked
for a large business. Early in my career I was
Contract Administrator for a firm who generated
about 80% of their revenue
using GSA Schedules. So, needless to say, I got a lot of experience preparing
task order proposals and managing task order awards. This was in addition to pursuing and administering the Fullman
[assumed spelling] Open Contracts for that business. From there I moved
on to another role for a company managing their GSA
Schedules Portfolio and helping to grow that business for them. So I’ve basically been doing
that for the last 15 years. So then around the Multiple
Awards Schedule Program for the majority of my career, and overall I’ll say the
GSA Schedules Program is an efficient and streamlined
tool for the government to satisfy the requirements,
and it includes and covers a large
industrial base. As I mentioned, as a
Contract Administrator, I think it’s the easiest
proposal to put together in terms of price and terms
and conditions perspective . Providing training to
my internal customers on GSA Schedules has
been a large part of my role over the years. So I have a funny story
to share with you. So we were offering training to
our internal Program Managers and Business Development folks
on how to use GSA Schedules. And after we provided the
highlights and the features and capabilities, I had one
gentleman raise his hand and go, this is illegal. I guess from his perspective,
having pursued only full and open competition type of contracts this seemed
all to easy for him. So I’m pleased to hear
about the consolidation. I think it’s a step in
the right direction. It’s a great opportunity
to reenergize and refresh the program. Addressing industry needs
as well as government needs on tossing and policy processed
technology all layered on top. The devil will be
in the details, but I’m sure we’ll get there. Efficiency to some degree will
be achieved by both government and industry as Emily mentioned. Reduced duplication
efforts, for example, getting down to one award
document, having one set of Terms and Conditions,
not having to, you know, review and accept
number of refresh mods, having one schedule
number, and so on. But assuming all else stays
the same, and migrating SINS under one umbrella doesn’t
necessarily alleviate the burden of negotiations and compliance. So what would I recommend
GSA change? I would say, ensure consistency in the process and
administration. In my experience I found it
varies from center to center, within a center, from CO to
CO, and even with the same CO, from one mod to the next. Their interpretation
of the forms, the data required, all differs. The consolidation will sync
up the period of performance, but I would say, keep
in mind on that next or forthcoming option renewal
it will be a heavy lift vote for government and industry. Where you would have
had one or several SINS on a individual schedule,
now you have them aggregated under one umbrella, and at that time it will
become a heavy lift. Take a look at reducing
the number of SINS, perhaps making them broad
enough to cover the scope. And be mindful of
transitioning existing VPAs so that you don’t unnecessarily
truncate their period of performance in
this migration. As it relates to
systems modernization, I would say ensure that it — the solicitation aligns with
the process and the system, and reduce that need for
the duplicative data entry. GSA, having received
their authority for the unpriced services, I
would say seek to incorporate that now and remove the
price reduction clause. Lastly, on the customer
side of the equation, the consolidation will
prove to be a one-stop shop, but more will be needed to
improve the customer experience and ensure that their
understanding of the schedule’s
features and capabilities because where it said. Making it easier is not
necessarily just keeping it on autopilot. You need to focus on
helping enable the customer’s to purchase and purchase
their solutions to meet their requirements. Too often today I see RFQs that
ask for things that are not in conformance with
the schedules, and they are unnecessarily
burdensome and are not required. The Multiple Award Schedule
Program, 30-billion plus, needs continued outreach
and assistance. While this is somewhat
happening, I think GSA needs to put resources towards that
for that continual support to those customer agencies
whether they’re one-off’s or high-usage customers. It will better serve
those agencies and allow the program to grow. So, perhaps they can
be customer liaisons. One final note, and I think
Contracts folks might relate to this. At one time I could tell I
have seven schedules I have to manage. And I’d call it a portfolio,
but now that we’re going to one, I don’t know — do you have
a portfolio one [laughter]? But it will be a super one. Thanks. [ Applause ]>>My name’s Alan Chvotkin. I’m the Executive Vice
President and Counsel for the Professional
Services Council, PSC is a national
trade association. We represent over
400 member companies. All of them sell professional
services and technology services to the federal government. This is my second
century working in the Multiple Awards
Schedule area [laughter]. A useful two centuries,
evidently, [inaudible]. I started as a — my
first exposure was as a congressional staff member. Then I went up the hill and
went to work for a company that had numerous
schedules as well as telecommunication services
to the federal government. I’ve been a Professional
Services Counsel for 17 years now. Just surprises the heck
out of me every single day as it does the organization. Track [inaudible] times
and I refuse to leave. I was very pleased
and privileged to represent the Professional
Services Council and our members on MAS [inaudible] Panel
that Larry sat on as well, and [inaudible] that was 10
years ago that it was formed in — eight years ago since
the final panel recommendations were made. And when I was invited to
participate in this panel, I appreciated the
invitation very much. I had a chance to
go back and look at those MAS Panel
recommendations from 2010 and many of them are
still very relevant. In fact, we’re still — we’re talking about
some of them today. I had the opportunity through
PSC to work with GSA closely on the scheduled program, the
evolution of it as it moved from products to
services to solutions, and now to an almost
— as a service model. On way we’ve seen from
experimentation with a variety of different tools
and opportunities. Some better than others;
some more valuable to others. But at least the program
has tried to keep pace with what the Agencies need because at its core the
scheduled program are nothing more than an enabler to help
the federal agencies [inaudible] their missions. And I think it will be important
as we look at the consolidation that we not simply
stop at consolidating to where we are today, but
it would provide the tools for agencies to look
to 2020 and beyond. Where the Agency’s going, what are those market
places likely to look at. That will add to the challenge
of making sure that the scopes of work and the Schedule’s
programs are as flexible as they can be to meet the
change in marketplaces and needs of companies and the
users from the agencies. To its credit, GSA through its
interactive other programs has been among the most successful
and respected in terms of its communications
tools and its ability to keep the community
informed of what’s going on within the Agency
among the changes. And I compliment
them for doing that. I encourage them to continue
to be a leader in the terms of communications with the
vendors, with the agencies, with the marketplace so that
others are well-informed about not only the opportunities
but as Miss Murphy said in her opening, what
are some of the unknowns and the unknown unknowns that
the Agency needs to be aware of? We saw some of those when
we engaged closely with GSA on the Professional Services
Schedule Consolidation that started a couple
of years ago. Some very valuable
lessons that were learned from that initiative, some
of which I hope are repeated and some of which I
hope are not repeated. But there was a good experience. Those of you who were up in — that participated
and took advantage of that consolidation ought to
share those experiences again to make sure they’re part of
the learning that took place. And as we saw with the mass
modifications at that time, then dealing primarily
with Professional Services, there were a couple of
terms and conditions that have been the bane of
many of us like coverage of the service contract
app and the mythology of self-deleting clauses
in those MAS modifications. So watch. There’s some
good lessons learned. We intend to be active
participants in this consolidation
and sharing those issues with the Agency as well. But there’s some related issues
to keep in mind as well as going through the consolidation. First of all, the schedules
are not the only tool in the GSA toolbox. And they’re certainly
not the only tool in the Agency’s toolbox. And so as the Agency looks
across other GSA reforms and other GSA IDIQ contracts
and other agency IDIQ contracts, the whole idea of category
management and how that relates to both the Future
Schedules Program as well as Future Contracting by the federal agencies will
be important if you’d keep in mind how this new
revised schedule, the consolidated schedule,
today and in the future compares with some of the other
competing vehicles that have been designated as
best in class by the Office of Management and Budget. There’s also the issue about
predictability for agencies for contractors and
for others as we look to put the schedules together. I’ll echo the comments of Larry
and Julia about the anachronism of the price reduction clause. We’ve been an opponent
of that clause forever, and will continue to be an
advocate for its elimination. It never made sense in services,
never made sense in solutions, and it really should have no
place in a future marketplace in — as a service
business model. So we look forward to the
opportunity to continue engage and to welcome engagement
both here and in the future in support of GSA’s
consolidation efforts. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Good morning, everyone.>>Morning.>>Good morning.>>First of all, I want to thank
GSA for inviting the Coalition for Government Procurement to attend this meeting
and participate. And I want to thank Stephanie
for moderating this panel, and all the panelists
for participating today. And thank you all for coming. I look forward to a
great conversation here. Just a little bit
about myself, I guess. I worked for GSA
for 20 years as a — 15 of those years I was in
the Office of General Counsel. My clients were the Federal
Supply Service first of all, and the Federal Technology
Service when they merged into the Federal
Acquisition Service. They were my client as well. I advised the GSA Schedules
Program both on a policy level and specifically
the IT Schedule 70. I also advised the GWAC
Programs primarily as well. And I did that for about
10 years and then I went and became part of the problem. I became one of the
clients, right? So I worked in Acquisition
Policy with Jeff in Acquisition Management at
the Federal Supply Service first and was responsible
for a lot of policies and procedures regarding
the operations of the GSA Schedules Program. Then during that time I also
served on the SARA Panel, Services Acquisition
Reform Panel. And I’m glad to see
the Unpriced Schedule because that concept originated
with recommendations that came out of the SARA Panel which
was actually the IT Schedule 70 and Unpriced Professional
Services Line Items Concept that the Panel recommended
that GSA take a look at that. So we’re gratified it is quite
a bit — a few years later, but at least it’s got
done and look forward to that implementation. Then I left GSA ultimately and
went to work for Mayer Brown where I advised clients dealing with the GSA Schedules
Program amongst other things. And now to turn to
the topic for the day. You know, first of
all I just want to say the Schedules
Program is a remarkable, remarkable program. It has been around in some
form or another since 1910. Okay? It’s older than
GSA in some ways, right? And it’s probably the longest
running procurement program in one form or another
in the history of the United States,
that’s fair to argue. And it is currently the largest
commercial item contracting program in government. Just during my career in
government procurement and it’s — it’s strength is
what we’re talking about today, the ability to transform
to meet market conditions, to adopt new practices. That’s really about leadership and that’s what I think
GSA’s been blessed with over the years
to get to that point. So just in my career, what
we’ve seen is services added to the Schedules in the 1990s. The Schedules went from
a $3 billion program to a $30 billion program. Post 911, the schedules were — agencies turned to that for
translation support services in the battle on
the war on terror. Post the financial
crash agencies turned to the Schedules Program
to put BPAs in place to provide financial audit
support as we dealt with, you know, with the aftermath
of the financial crisis. And today we have — the
Schedules have been used to create identity
protection BPAs in response to the cyber breaches
over the last few years. And also now DOD’s turning
to it for its cloud, the deals [inaudible] in the
replacement for NetCents. Those are just reflect when
there’s things that need to get done and you need to
do them quickly and you need to do them effectively and get
good value for the taxpayer and for customer agencies, time and time again this
government has looked to the Schedules Program. Now I’d like to say this year is
a, in 2018, I would like to — is the Year of the Schedule. And I will just talk
real quickly about the things
that have happened. Order Level Materials or ODCs — that is adopted in
the Regulation. A huge transformative
opportunity for product solutions
and services across the Schedules Program. Jeff is in the audience here. Jeff is the unsung here of
ODCs and Order Level Materials in his work getting
that through the Agency. When I came to the Coalition
in 2010/2011, early ’11, the very first issue
member [inaudible]. The members came to me with was
ODCs, and we did a white paper, we talked to GSA, and
ultimately a lot with, you know, the new Administration and
just leadership, it got there. That’s a huge issue — the
Commercial SO FAR Agreement in addressing intellectual
property rights and allocation of risk. That was adopted this year. This something that people
don’t talk a lot about, the streamlining and the order and process this year
— huge win for GSA. An increase in the
micro-purchase threshold to $10,000 for individual
orders. And the increase in the simplified acquisition
threshold to $250,000. Huge streamlining opportunities
for the Schedules Program. DDR’s been made optional
so agencies — so contractors can make
good business decisions on what should apply to them. And now we’re talking
about BPA growth. Forty-six percent of the
[inaudible] volume going on the schedules now
are through BPAs. That means GSA has
been effective in educating agencies how
to lever requirements, complete those requirements
in the context of BPAs. In fact, four BPAs are
considered best in class, the Identity Protection one,
JANSAN, MRO, and the Wireless. They’re all identified as
best in class and a couple of line items on IT Schedule
70 are also identified as best in class in the category of
My Management Initiative. It’s the power of simplicity, the power of creating
a competitive market where there are millions and
millions of items and thousands of contractors, all out
there trying to do business with the Federal Government. Now, the Single Schedule
Concept. It’s something that
our membership at the Coalition is — endorses. It’s a great opportunity
to leverage solutions, to reduce artificial barriers between schedule contracts
with regard to scope. It’s an opportunity to increase
competition and increase access to the commercial market. Some of the things
that we need to think about as we implement — we’ve
heard of a lot of them already. I won’t dwell on them, but
managers [inaudible] program. It’s got to be unity of effort. I’m confident with
the leadership. This administrator, Commission
Alan Thomas, Stephanie, and the entire team — you need to get the effort
towards a common goal of getting a single schedule. That’s one of the hurdles that
the Agency faced when it tried to do Corporate Single Schedule
back about two decades ago. That performance measure’s got
to focus on that unity effort and a strategic goal, okay? Systems, and it’s
already been touched on. But the systems have
to keep pace with the changes
in the contracts. And even have to be ahead of
the changes in the contracts. You have to be able
to effectively — customers have to be
able to effectively find and apply what they
need through — when you go to a
single schedule. And the flip side of it, the
systems have to meet the needs of the contractors in the
ability to more efficiently and effectively execute
mods in contract actions. SINS. And I would just say,
don’t be sinful [laughter]. There’s lots of duplication
of SINS. There’s overlap of SINS. This is an opportunity to
rationalize the SINS structure. And I — what — and I’ve heard
about [inaudible] but I — our experience and one of
the things that I know, the furniture folks in the
Iowa Center looked at trying to consolidate SINS
to make it look more like the commercial marketplace. I think that should be the,
you know, the driving light of when you’re thinking
about the SINS structure and the underlying where
the rubber meets the road, where you have the task orders. How do you effectively
make that look like the commercial marketplace? That will increase
efficiency for government and it will increase the
efficiency for contractors to be able to deliver better
value and better pricing. Implement the Unpriced
Schedule Concept. Enough said. Eliminate as Larry and Alan
and we all, like we’re all in violent agreement about
the Price Reduction Clause, and just to echo on that, it’s an [inaudible] —
I can’t even say it. I’m going to — thank
you, thank you, Alan. Like it goes back to a 1970,
1980’s/1970’s policy at a time when the Schedules were
a mandatory source. There was no competition
or environments under the Schedules Program. It was open, continuous
open seasons. We didn’t have the
Internet, you know. It was horse and buggy days. So it was built in a time when you could maybe understand
why there was a Price Reduction Clause because of the mandatory
nature and the single contracts and lack of competition
at the [inaudible] level. Now the market should
drive pricing. The Schedules need to
be open to the market. And, ironically, the Price
Reduction Clause limits the market. Companies don’t put stuff on
contract because of the risk of the Price Reduction Clause. They don’t offer their
latest technology because of the Price
Reduction Clause. And then, ultimately,
from a policy perspective, the government needs to make, I
think it’s time for it to do so, and we’ve said this
multiple times, the Price Reduction Clause — the government should not have
a clause in its contracts that, as a condition of doing
business with the government, it restricts your ability to do
business in the private sector. That’s what the Price
Reduction Clause does. And it needs to be eliminated. [ Applause ] Okay. And then I just have one
more area and it’s great on — this is a great event and this
afternoon’s going to be great, and this is where I
want to touch on — we’ve heard about the
Integrated Marketplace, a holistic marketplace
across the Program. So I think the last
area that GSA, and, you know, Larry talked IFF. All those things should be on
the table as you’re looking at retransforming the
future of the schedules. Last year I think the
GSA needs to take a look at is contract requirements. Okay? And I do that in the
context of the marketplace as a whole that GSA’s
envisioning and having different
channels with different sets of contract requirements. What is COR? Are there COR requirements? We talked to our members in
the things that they hear about and talk about the
Trade Agreements Act. Counterfeit. Cyber and supply chair risk. That’s coming for every
it’s [inaudible] list and that’s coming for everybody. That is going to be, hell, for
the next decade [inaudible] where commercial [inaudible]
contracting in cyber and supply chain risk come
together is where the rule — the energy, the interest, the
rules, is all going to come. You’re seeing it every
day in the newspaper. That’s a big deal. Competition in leveraging
requirements. We’ve seen, as I
mentioned, BPAs. Forty-six percent of the
spend now through BPAs. That’s opportunities for
companies, that’s opportunities for customer agencies. So thinking about those
things — what kind of — are you going, you know, and asking the question,
what makes sense? Do you have two systems, one. And Stephanie asked,
to quote you now, it was like, “wrap up here.” So one of the things that you
said at multiple events is that one of the biggest value
adds that customer agencies see, which we’ll say, is
compliance, right? You’ve done surveys on it. GSA’s done a lot
of surveys on it. That’s a big deal
for your customers. That’s a value added
GSA provides. So what’s COR to
the requirements? And what isn’t COR in
making those decisions. So when you look, think about the conversation this
afternoon the current model has proposed essentially
has no COR requirements. The trade agreements
[inaudible] doesn’t apply. There’s no cyber or supply chain
risks, you know, requirements that I’m aware of
identified in the RFI. And so — and people
are using the — the micro-purchase threshold
is cited as the process by which those things
are weighed. Well, I think it’s — you’re putting the
cart before the horse. The conversation
should be about — with all the stakeholders
involved. Now, I don’t know what
the right answer is, but I’m just raising it. Are there COR requirements that should apply
regardless of the process? The process is a
streamlined process. It waives a bunch of things. So when you — in this — finally just use trade
agreements as an example. The purpose of the
Trade Agreements Act, and you go on the USTR website,
is to promote, you know, the — to promote fair treatment
of American-made products by foreign governments. That’s one of the goals of it. We apply it here so that we
treat companies who signed up to it in a fair manner. That translates into American
jobs and American opportunity. And one of the things that I
hear from our members is — one channel where the Trade
Agreements Act doesn’t apply with — theoretically, and
I’m just saying theoretically, 100% of the items bought
under that channel could be from non-TAA countries. So you could buy
100% from China. Whereas under the Schedules
Program, the rule is zero from non-TAA countries. I think that’s a fair
conversation to have about what are the policy
imperatives of that type of government contract
requirement? And is it meeting certain
things that are elemental to our federal government? And cyber’s the other example
because at the end of the day, what is more fundamental
to the federal government than protecting the
United States and maintaining our freedom? And if the supply
chain is compromised or cyber is compromised through
acquisition of some sort, inadvertently, by
accident, or whatever, you know, that’s a big deal. I think those are some of the
conversations I look forward to as we move forward in this. And I know our members
look forward to it. And rather than focusing on a
process waiving requirements, I think a more health approach
and a holistic approach is try to have a conversation with the
entire procurement community about whether there are certain
requirements that should apply, and then streamline a process through commercial
platforms in that manner. It can be done. There’s multiple eCommerce
platforms out there, whether they’re commercial ones,
where there’s GSA Advantage, whether DOD’s building
a FedMall, and I’m not citing
those as the way to go. I’m just saying there’s all
kinds of varieties and flavors of eCommerce platforms,
and the technology’s there to do the screening that’s
necessary, if it is necessary. And the Statute 846 specifically
contemplates the Administrator and GSA are really GSA, providing whoever the
marketplace provider is the necessary information
to screen products. To me that means vetting
companies and products where they — you [inaudible]
exact compliant, and providing that information
to the marketplace. And so when you think
about that, the only — I bring this up at the
end because we are talking about a holistic
marketplace across the board, and how do the two
programs interrelate. And, you know, by the terms
of the statute, one of things that GSA has to assess is
the impact of the program, of the eCommerce platform,
on preexisting programs like the Schedules
and small business. And with that, I
will stop, finally. [ Applause ]>>Okay. So, first I
want to thank everyone for their comments
and their insights that they’ve brought
to this panel today. We’re going to turn it over
to the audience for Q&A. We have about 30 minutes. I’m sure Crystal will do
the one-question-left sign when we get close. We can do a combination of
some questions that are online and that are in the room. But if you guys would like
a microphone brought to you, raise your hand or, if you
would like, you can come up to one of these four. And I’m going to also
invite the panelists. If you guys have comments or
insights on what is being asked, please go ahead and
provide that information.>>I’m Chris [inaudible].>>We have a question
online from Meg Whitehouse, Evergreen Fire and Security, would like to know how will the
consolidation effect competition for GSA contractors?>>So, with the consolidation
we’ll still have the need to do it at the — have categories within
the consolidated schedules which will promote a competition
moreso at that order level because agencies will be able to find those correct
industry partners in which the category they’re
actually looking to buy, which will promote
a better competition across those industry
partners for that.>>I have a follow-up question,
actually, to that one., which is, how do you — I heard
a couple of times mentioned that it — you know, we’re
still going to be buying up the category levels,
selling at the category levels. As a person who sells
products, and the issue that my company has right now, is we’re on four different
Schedules with products that we consider related. How do you keep the category
idea from just devolving into the Schedules
with the same problems? It seems — yeah, so, yeah.>>So there are two different
things with products. For products that you’re
going to be purchasing through Advantage and orders
within that side of things, you’ll continue to search
for those actual products and not have to worry about
what SIN do I look under and that kind of thing
for those things. For those that are going
through like eBuy or FedBizOpps or something like that
that is on one large scale, because you’ll be assigned
those different categories, and when we clean them,
hopefully there won’t be — you won’t have products
on two separate like intersections
within your contract. You’ll be just offering
them once. But as long as you have
one of those categories, if someone puts out
an offer on — and requests on one
of those categories, your company would come up so that you could actually
put together your solution that you need to do rather than hoping they pick
the right schedule to find you, if that
makes sense.>>It does make sense. So my follow-up question
is that right now that becomes an issue,
the same issue. I heard you say “if you
have that category.” So for right now –>>Mm-hmm.>>– people put —
I’m in heavy equipment.>>Okay.>>People don’t — the NQs or the purchasers are
not the end-users, right?>>Yeah.>>So the purchasers frequently
don’t understand the product. They put it in some sort of
bizarre SIN, Category, Schedule, whatever it is they put it in
that doesn’t actually apply. And so then we never
see the solicitation because it’s been designated
something that it’s not. In the terms of seeing
the problems that we didn’t know existed, it
seems to to me that if it has to be defined by a Category, we’re maintaining
a similar issue.>>So, yes.>>So that’s one of the things
that we have to actually, really kind of go
through and really clean up while we’re looking
across this duplication. That is something that we
noticed when we were doing that. It’s also creating actual real
titles that help logically get that Purchasing Officer and
gearing towards that person that doesn’t really know
what they’re buying, but actually provide
that description in there so they can be like, oh,
yeah, that’s what I need over there kind of thing rather
than them trying to guess which schedule or SIN
that’s they’re doing. But trying to figure out what
that verbiage is to guide them down that path because there has to be some delineation
otherwise it’s so big. It’s unmanageable at that point. So it’s trying to
find that happy medium of where it goes sit so that we
don’t make it overly cumbersome, but make sure that the
right RQs are going to the right industry segments
and they’re not going to, let’s say, a bunch of professional services
contractors when they’re actually trying to buy a backhoe
or something large. But that is one of those things. But I definitely
would recommend, as we go through this,
to definitely participate in different things that
we put out on Interact or even just emailing me
your different thoughts and different things like
that because that helps us get to those correct verbiage because you guys know what
you’re selling better than we do at the end of the day.>>Right.>>There’s not going to be a day
where I suddenly am the queen of all description knowing. It’s not going to happen. I don’t have the
time to learn it all. So you guys know it best. So helping us with those things. And we’re actually
— before we — while we’re going through
this, we’ll be putting out this information on Interact
for comment consistently, so what we’re going
to be asking is when we do those categorizations
and subcategorizations, that you guys look through those
different titles and we’ll try and put it in a way
that it chunks out so that you can easily
find your section. And so that you guys can say,
yes, I can easily find it. Yes, it had the words
that I needed in there. Yes, it made sense to me. And, yes, I found the
one person in my company who has no clue what we’re
doing and they can find it. So if it hits all
of those markers, then we’re on a good path. But if it doesn’t, then
it’s where you guys hate to really come back and
tell us, no, no, no, no, no, the words should be something
in this arena instead. But that’s one of the
things we’ll be going through this year.>>Got it. And not to monopolize
the microphone, but I’m standing here, so. As a follow-up to that, clearly
the technology needs to follow. And several of the
technology projects that have begun have
fizzled, failed, whatever. Where are the finances
going to come from? Is GSA prepared to
dedicate the finances to really improving the
technology so that this works?>>So, yes. We are looking into that. So one of the things Emily
had mentioned was the robotic process automation. And I know Jeff Lau. I see him in the
audience today, who — his regions is running
that project. We also have — that is
co-working with my group through Information Technology
Category [inaudible] distribute ledger technology so we can
actually ledger the information. Some of these emerging
techs will allow us to, as we go through this and one of the first things you guys
will see a slightly different screen on if you’re getting a
new contract after March will be like the Financial
Determination. So what we’re doing is we’re
process mapping out all of the different
items you’d have to go through through eOffer to get
on contract or through eMod too, adjust your contract and
after process mapping out seeing what we can use
from the digitization of data, but also from ledgering and
then pulling and syncing that information so that, A, you guys aren’t guessing what
you’re supposed to put in. It’s more intuitive. You guys can figure out what
information you need to gather. And the first one
will be testing it is that Financial Determination because for most of
you guys who know. currently Financial
Determination you kind of have to guess what information
you need and you put it in an attachment in Others, and you hope your project
master can find it. So this way we’ll be
able to be like, oh, you need these fields
filled out out and you need these attachments, and the [inaudible] tasker
knows where they’re at. They don’t have to ask you. Or if you’re missing a page,
the [inaudible] tasker will have to go back to you or worse case
scenario, reject your offer because you’re missing a page. These kind of things
will be overlaid inside of the offer you want and will
slowly start taking each section until we can eventually move
into this new technology.>>Thank you.>>Mm-hmm. Yes.>>Hi. I’m Steve Armstrong
from MSC Industrial Supply. We supply a lot of
products, industrial products, to the GSA’s customers. And in thinking about what
we’re going to be talking about this afternoon which
are the eCommerce portals which are going to be
very important to us to sell our products,
we’re trying to figure out what impact that’s really
going to have on our schedule. I mean, the people
who are buying — if our customers’ joint
customers are buying in eCommerce portal
for supplies like MSC, won’t that mean our schedule
is virtually meaningless going forward?>>So I think right now the
honest answer is we’re not sure how it’s going to do. I think the first stage we
need to really do is get through that proof of
concept and see how that works altogether. And we’re working closely — my
group is working very closely with the Commercial Platform
Team to always be involved in that theme, but at
this point, honestly, we’re not sure how
that’s going to affect it. We’re hoping that as we
go forward and the proof of concept happens,
we’ll be able to bring that industry comment
in and discuss with you guys what the best
solution going forward is for that, and what is the most
profitable and competitive. So what’s best for industry,
what’s best for our agencies, and what works for GSA. That’s [inaudible]
between everyone.>>Thank you.>>Yes.>>I’m Tom [inaudible]. Thank you very much
for this panel. I think all your presentations
were extremely valuable to me. Roger, I appreciated
your comment on the micro-purchase threshold. There’s Larry and Alan
and others here worked on the development and implementation
of that threshold. I thank — I appreciated
recognizing that you don’t build
a program on a waiver. When that threshold
was put in place, it was not even envisioned
to be leveraged in that kind of a context because
it just didn’t exist. But you raised a
number of things. Marjorie raised this
whole cyber issue. We have to deliver
uncompromised report. Your organization
has produced a study which now represents the
second study showing the price advantage associated with
GSA Advantage over piloting of certain e — commercially
commerce solutions. Are we hitting a point
where it’s appropriate to take a pause, do a deep dive
on exactly what we’re doing here in the context of the policies
driving micro-purchase, the policies driving supply
chain risk management, the deliver on compromise
policies, and some of the findings
you’re seeing in these studies to assess exactly
what we’re doing with these parallel programs
that you’ve identified? We know there’s identify
here with their questions.>>That’s a tough
question there, Tom. I guess the way I’d
answer it is I’d go back to what I said earlier. I think the conversation
initially needs to be about RPO, about what are the government’s
requirements or not? You know, is trade agreements — because you are creating
dual marketplaces with different terms and
conditions that affects — from a company’s perspective
and a company’s going by what does it mean
for their schedule. Well, if you have to comply
with the Trade Agreements Act on one contract and you don’t
have to apply, you know, you’ll comply with
it on a marketplace, and they’re both channels
where potentially millions of dollars can to through. You know, that impacts
competition. It can distort the competition
[inaudible] a low cost places an RTAA. And that bleeds into the — anything that’s plugged into the
— into a network in the future, I just see different
sets of rules, even if it’s a commercial
item acquisition. We’re starting to see that
coming out of the Department of Defense already in some
specific acquisitions where, yeah, even though the
guide says it doesn’t apply to commercial [inaudible]
including costs. So I think you’d start there, like what should
or shouldn’t apply. I’m confident that
this problem’s — any issues can be solved, that
eCommerce can be leveraged to support the government
in a very effective way, whatever eCommerce is. And there’s three
different models that are identified
in the report. But also eCommerce through
existing programs as well. So I think, you know, just
looking at those requirements. And I think the big thing, and
not to put too much pressure on GSA, is what they say
in their report coming out in March, because in
the — you read the statute. There are specific things that
they’re supposed to address. Like they’re supposed to
address their conversations with agencies about unique
requirements relating to health products or
IT products and cyber. They’re supposed to assess
and provide what’s the impact on pre-existing programs. They’re supposed to try
to identify, you know, what should or shouldn’t apply. What we really haven’t
heard is why it should or should not apply, I
guess in its basic terms. It’s — we’re using the
micro-purchase threshold; therefore, they do not apply. There hasn’t been
a real explanation from a policy perspective as to why they should
or shouldn’t apply. And I don’t think some of those
requirements, if they’re COR, you know, they’re
going to apply. The spec, the FOSA says to the
maximum extent practicable. You know, you use commercial
terms and conditions. And so does 846 that
you’re supposed to — the maximum extent practicable
use the platform provider’s terms and conditions. So that begs the question,
are there some things that the governments needs
to have in place or not? And, you know, the
feedback I get from our member companies
is you have one program where you’re going to
have all those things or you have what the government
has currently identified as COR, like trading [inaudible] and
you have another program that’s arguably a direct
competitor in some ways, or at least that’s the way
companies and industries see it where those COR requirements
do not apply. So how GSA reconcile that? And do you go to first — first
question, why are you waiting and what is the public interest? What is the cost benefit
analysis waiving something? And maybe there are
policy reasons. You know, we have’t even
talked about small business and what the impact is there.>>Just as a quick follow-up. Could I ask, does
this have implications for systems integrators? If the system integrators
are provided GFE –>>Yeah.>>– under the — a —
one program versus another. And then there’s some
kind of catastrophe. Do you have a forensics issue and a liability issue
with SIN [inaudible]?>>We’ve heard from a number
of systems integrators that that’s a real issue as
in regard to buying things and plugging them into networks
or [inaudible] or without even, you know, into a network that
its system integrator’s managing on behalf of customer agencies, and how the government
handles that. And these aren’t — and
this isn’t about no, you shouldn’t do it or
yes, you should do it. It’s about how do we do it in
a smart way that makes sense, that’s takes advantages
of the dynamic nature of the commercial market while
at the same time, you know, protecting whether it’s cyber or whatever policy imperative
the government has in place. That’s why I go back
to the question why. And answering those
questions is, I think, a very positive approach to it. And it gets all the
stakeholders involved.>>So, thank you very much.>>Sure.>>Just to add on
to that briefly. I think that Roger
definitely addressed that pretty thoroughly, but this
is absolutely a management issue for GSA. Understanding these
different platforms, we’re going to have
different outcomes, we’re going to have different
pricing outcomes and profiles. We’re in a big community. And there are a lot of — then
we have an oversight community, both inside the Agency
and on Capitol Hill. We have the Fourth
Estate that does its job. We want to make sure that
from an acquisition management standpoint that we stay out
in front of these issues and realizing, A, that they’re
going to happen, and, B, what does that mean for
terms of how certain of these programs
are going to afford, what are justifications
going to look like, what are our policy decision, what are our business
management justifications? These are all things that the
Acquisition Management Team is going to need to
consider because, if not, then we’re quickly going to lose
the ability to drive this train to where we think it should
go, and instead it’s going to be taken over by people
who look at it and say, well, the government’s
doing something wrong. Why are they doing that? Which is only a surface
analysis, but — as we all know, because
we all live in this area. Surface analysis is
sometimes as far as it goes.>>Hi. I’m Jennifer Kirkhoff. I’m from Phillips Healthcare. My questions actually
relate to a number of topics that have been brought
up this morning. The one thing that we’ve
noticed is that while 65-II-A is for nonconfigurable medical
devices, it can be anything from a bandaid to a scalpel,
it also includes things that have become highly
technical and highly complex that integrate into systems. So things like a
patient monitor. So today the way that you buy
it, if you use this schedule that the VA is responsible
for, you purchase the device on the Schedule 65 and then
you buy the interfaces, the integration into the EHR
System, all of those things, open market because
there’s no place for it. And healthcare has
evolved tremendously. So much so that you created
a SIN on the Schedule 70. But what we didn’t consider
is all of those things — there’s companies that touch
the patients who have things like health informatics
and other things like that where they might be a
Class II Medical Device, not an imaging equipment, because there’s certainly
a contract for that. But as IT or Health IT evolves, and they’re touching
the IT systems inside of these agencies, and I don’t
just mean the VA and the DOD. We’re also talking about DHS,
we’re also talking about HHS. These are customers who
would like to be able to acquire these things. But right now there’s no vehicle
for it, there’s no schedule for it because you can’t
put all of these things onto the existing schedule. So I’m wondering if we’re going
to think about those things and know that we should talk
through it because it’s also — there are also commercial
devices that have TAA issues. And there’s this thing
that we have to think about because there’s a
lot of money being spent on these things that are
not really being tracked and they’re not really
easy for other — for the agencies to acquire.>>So, yeah. Over the last couple of
months, almost last year, GSA has been making a
more concerted effort to work more closely with
the VA and their Schedules, whether that be by incorporating
them into our systems and different things like that. Some of these things
have started to rise to the surface is the
need of their Schedules and the scope of
their Schedules. There is a definite disconnect
and whether or not our side from MAS, we have the ability
to include the other half of what we have done on that. So like the first step, IT, the Information Technologies
Category has added those Health IT SINS, have —
but you’re right. It hasn’t quite gotten to that
full solution situation yet. I think what we’ll see
is over the next year and in the following years GSA
continuing to work with the VA to see whether or not there
are categories we need to add to our Schedules, to at
least facilitate this, while they’re determining
what they want to do with their schedules as well. This way we can bring that solution even though it
will be somewhat piecemeal because it will be on
two different vehicles.>>Yeah. And that’s
what we’re finding, is that people are buying things
on SOUP so they can avoid –>>Yeah.>>– trying to figure out
how to go through a GS — a piece through a GSA
schedule, a piece through a 65, a piece here, and it’s very
hard for your customers to acquire the next
generation of healthcare IT.>>Yeah. See, if that
has been a concern that even the VA has
brought up themselves. And I know that they
have been concerned also with their [inaudible] kind of
being able to get certain things onto contract quick enough, to keep up with different
things such as NASA Soup. So we’re hoping to
expand the communication with them more this year and
see where we can work together to start helping
government agencies, but also help industry be able
to combine that solution base because it is something that —
I mean, us in our persona lives, we don’t piecemeal
out what we’re buying. So if you go somewhere and you
order furniture, for example, you don’t say, okay, I
just want the furniture. I’ve got to go somewhere else and find someone else
who can install it. You want to buy it
all in one thing.>>Exactly.>>So as the GSA get [inaudible] with a [inaudible] more
solution-based, we’re hoping that the VA will
look into as well, but we are opening those
communications with them. We just — it’s very early in
that stage of this planning.>>Well, we’d be
happy to help and — the trade industry that we’re
a part of would also be happy to help, as an organization, to
provide some insights on that.>>So, yes, definitely.>>Good morning. I’m Randa Fair with
Shell Industries. And we carry a Schedule 72. And much like a lot of
Schedule-holders here, these Schedules tend to blend
with several other Schedules; hence the reason
we’re doing this. But my question is, what
measures are we putting in place to ensure that we don’t have
vendors that may be specialized in general construction
or in furniture and installation start creeping
into a broad covering segment where maybe they’re not
necessarily the subject matter expert, and at the
end of the day, ultimately not giving the
customer the quality and install that they’re looking for?>>So that exact reason was the
reason we realized that we kind of had to keep a basic category
structure, not only just because it would be too large
to not have it, but we have set up this certain subject matter
expertise throughout the Acquisition Centers to ensure
that people and contractors were in the right groupings
basically. And to ensure that those
regulations and contract terms and conditions and whether or
not they can even be on schedule or that I could be on schedule
because I know sometimes that line gets a little
blurry as how far you can go, basically, where
that caps out there. So we will be keeping that
subject matter expertise alive. But the other thing we’ll be
doing is we’ll be having the Acquisition Centers — they’re
already starting to talk more to each other, but we’ll
be definitely moving to a more enterprise
view on that theme so that we can identify
different COs who have that. So if a CO who mainly is
in Professional Services, for example, gets a category
that they’re not used to, they have someone to contact to
get that information on there so that they can help
dive the contractor or perspective contractor
to ensure that they’re fulfilling
everything in the right Terms and Conditions, but also
avoid certain gaps, basically, where we could have something
come in that is buffering on that zone that maybe they
shouldn’t be quite on there.>>Well, so, just a
quick follow-up question. Then as these conversations
begin, a lot of our strategic partners
in the industry continue to come to us kind of asking, well,
I hold a hardware superstore or hold a furniture or a
package rental contract. And so they’re coming to us
now requesting these letters of supplies to make sure that
they are ahead of the game. So are you guys willing to be
listing maybe a though process on different schedules that
could be grouped together that could overlap and allow
some of our hardware superstores to sell those 10 numbers that
are underneath the Schedule 72?>>So, yeah. So that’s kind of where
it all kind of started. So what we actually, when
we first started doing this, because we weren’t quite sure
if we were going to go to one, so we were trying
to find pockets where there was no overlap. What we found out is
no pocket existed. There was always something that
was crossing over somewhere. But one of the things that
we’ll be doing as we go forward with this is doing that emerging
technology and with the offer to help basically
build those paths, expanding the MAS plain language
roadmap that’s on gsa.gov. Say we can show those categories and give examples
of different things. But this will basically take
all those special item numbers, and they’re essentially
the same, but on different
contract vehicles, and bring them together
into one category. So there won’t be this,
oh, I sell hammers. I need a Schedule to sell them. You’ll just need
that one category. So this will bring back
kind of ability in there. And also the other
thing that kind of — we always have, not issues
with, but concerns from industry about is I sell hardware,
for example. But I only sell stuff
that I manufacture. And the hardware superstore
isn’t a good fit for me. And I don’t really feel
I fit anywhere else. I feel like I should fit
here, but I’m kind of guessing at this point because I know
this is something I could sell the government, but because
I don’t fit this exact model, I can’t quite find
my first footing. So creating a world where it’s
a little bit easier to figure out where I go is one of the
steps that we’re really trying to do while we do this process.>>Thank you.>>Okay, we have a couple
of questions online.>>Hold on, Claudie, hold on. Roger has something.>>So I did kind of want to
[inaudible], but I did want to just clarify one thing. When [inaudible] was
talking about cyber and supply chain risk,
and also another big issue for our members is counterfeit. You know, gray market items
that, you know, the Schedules that address this, and
just put that out there. And I actually had a question if
you don’t mind, if that’s okay. Is this a opportunity
through the consolidation to take another look at
evergreen contracting in terms of making evergreen
truly evergreen?>>So I think it’s an
opportunity to look at everything, but we kind
of have to bucket things. So bucketing them into what
would be potentially rule making, what would be
something that we could change. For evergreen, I would suspect
that that would need to go through a process of rulemaking,
so that would be something that we could put on a table;
however, it’s not going to be an instantaneous thing, nor will the entire
public consolidation. But — so [Inaudible] let’s
see your question last.>>Just a couple
of quick questions. We had one from Stacy
Zelenski [assumed spelling]. Will contractors still
have a size determination at the Schedule level? If so, how will that
determination work? And then a second
question from Joyce Nowak from Caldwell’s Windoware. Our son has a small
business set aside. Will that continue
or will it go away?>>So for the socioeconomics
status list. So we will still be using
the preponderance NAIX and that preponderance NAIX will
determine your size standard and your socioeconomic status
for your contract vehicle. That being said, I do know that
there is a FAR Case in place that you have to have
a NAIX per category. And once that FAR Case comes
in play, that will kind of change how that goes. And that will more move that socioeconomic
to the order level. But that won’t happen
until that FAR Case and other system
fixes are completed. So for right now, it will stick
with the preponderance NAIX. So whatever your preponderance
NAIX — if it’s small business, if it’s woman-owned,
whatever that is, that will stay the same. But I think we’re
out of time for that. And I want to thank everyone
for coming and for all of the great questions. If you have more questions,
we do have an email address that we have multiple people that manage — the
[email protected] For those of you guys
who have gotten emails about the Sum Setting Up 72A,
you’ve seen this email address because it’s for your emailing
tasks when this is happening. But this email address will come
to myself and some other people on my team to answer
those questions. Also we will be providing
updates along the way, and opportunities to comment through Interact
this entire period. But I do welcome any
comments or questions that anyone has at any time. With that, we’ll close it up. And thanks for the [inaudible].

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