Special Homeland Security Section: Getting in Good With GSA

General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Lurita Doan is launching new and ambitious initiatives to improve the efficiency of the agency. 

Primary among her goals is to provide consistency through all GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts. In doing so, the aim is to achieve excellence in acquisition and to grow the program by incorporating assisted buying support for federal agency projects. 

These efforts, along with new bills introduced in both houses of Congress, may well generate new contracting opportunities and challenges. Going forward it will be important for security contractors to understand both regulatory changes as well as key policy changes impacting their business, and ultimately their GSA MAS Schedule Contracts. To view a listing of public laws affecting contractors proposed by the 110th Congress, go to: www.wifcon.com/todayslegislation.htm

We can surely be grateful for the efforts of the Security Industry Association (SIA) for its dedication in bringing the message to Congress in strong support of cooperative purchasing. Progress has been made in this effort, and there is good news for state and local agencies as well as contractors. With the approval of Section 833 of the Defense Authorization Act of 2007 (Public Law 109-364), the GSA Schedule program is now open to state and local government use in response to a presidential declaration of a major disaster (under the Stafford Act) and to assist in the recovery from terrorism or nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological attack. 

This change covers all schedule programs and GSA has issued a mass modification electronically to all current contractors. This is a voluntary modification and contractors have the option to accept or reject orders. It should also be noted that this program differs from Cooperative Purchasing under Schedule 70. The Defense Authorization Act is limited to disaster recovery and does include “advance purchasing” and “pre-positioning” in preparation for a disaster. GSA defines the users of this program as follows: 

“State and local government entities means: the states of the United States, counties, municipalities, cities, towns, townships, tribal governments, public authorities (including public or Indian housing agencies under the United States Housing Act of 1937), school districts, colleges and other institutions of higher education, council of governments (incorporated or not), regional or interstate government entities, or any other agency or instrumentality of the preceding entities (including any local educational agency or institution of higher education), and including legislative and judicial departments.” 

SIA is also dedicated to promoting further consideration of the state and local government federal grantees approval under the GSA Contract for purchases necessary for maintaining homeland security. 

Doan Strives for Effectiveness
Contending with claims criticizing GSA’s efficiency, Doan has vowed to reduce the time it takes to obtain a GSA Schedule Award. An ambitious promise kept, GSA recently launched its new MAS Express Pilot Program, which is open to all business concerns. The goal is to be able to award a contract in 30 days by providing a “ready to go offer” to the Schedule Contracting Officers. There are specific requirements potential contractors must follow. 

For GSA, there is a mandatory five-day turnaround for initial review once the offer is logged into the “centralized speed desk.” GSA will work with the offerors to perfect the submission process. Offers are limited to a total of 500 products/line items under portions of the following GSA Schedules: 

  • Schedule 70 General Purpose Information Technology Equipment, Software, and Services; for Special Item Number (SIN) 132-8 and 132-12 only 
  • Schedule 67 Cameras, Photographic Printers, and Related Supplies and Services (Digital and Film-Based) 
  • Schedule 78 Sports, Promotional, Outdoor, Recreational, Trophies, and Signs (SPORTS) 
  • Schedule 58 I Professional Audio/ Video, Telecommunications, and Security Solutions 
  • Schedule 81 I B Shipping, Packaging, and Packing Supplies. 

Schedule 84, the GSA contract for security, is not included under the program at this time. In order to qualify for submission under the new MAS Express Program, the prospective contractor is first required to successfully complete the “Pathway to Success” GSA education seminar. Vendors may attend either a live presentation or complete the Web-based presentation posted on the Vendor Support Center (VSC) under the “Vendor Training” tab. 

The program is designed to assist prospective GSA Schedule contractors in making informed business decisions as to whether obtaining a GSA Schedule contract is in their best interests. The presentation provides background information on the GSA Schedules program and encompasses a variety of appropriate topics. Prospective contractors are encouraged to take the course regardless of whether they are able to submit under the pilot program. 

Understanding Mass Modification
Many questions arise as manufacturers and integrators prepare to respond to the mass modification issued to all contractors awarded ancillary service categories under GSA Schedule Contract 084 for security products and solutions. The security GSA program is managed at the Greater Southwest Acquisition Center (GSAC) in Fort Worth, Texas. 

GSA GSAC held an Industry Day last year to disclose its roll-out plan for pricing formerly unpriced services under SIN 246-50 and 246-51. Challenges to the change were discussed at the Industry Day and were further addressed by a SIA Schedule 084 Working Group. To assist industry, SIA sponsored a Webinar with participation by GSA contracting officers from Schedule 84 to discuss the timetable for implementation of the new policy and outline examples of suggested pricing methodology. 

This past February, GSA forwarded the mass modification documentation and directions for preparing a pricing proposal to all current vendors offering services. Recently, GSA provided some additional direction: a contractor cannot offer ancillary services unless the product is bought in conjunction with a product from the same schedule contract. A teaming arrangement is not acceptable when the product is provided from one contract and the service from another. 

From a manufacturer’s perspective, if they wish to offer services in association with their product through their participating dealer, they will be required to price services. A manufacturer could submit a pricing proposal for a nationwide rate, regionally or even by participating dealer per hour, per job, per scenario. GSA will consider all proposals.

Integrators have a variety of methodologies they may propose depending on their service offerings. Some may choose to propose commercial pricing or a cost build-up justification, a blended project margin, etc. All contractors should fully define their labor categories, including a definition of the proposition and duties, experience and educational requirements. 

Although SIN 246-51 for minor construction is required to utilize Davis Bacon wages and requirements, contractors are still required to name categories and price the positions for services under this category. 

GSA Fosters Partnership
In Fiscal 2007, GSA has been in communication with industry partners and agencies to educate on issues of concern for compliance and solicit feedback to understand challenges and any inconsistencies. Each GSA center has its own organization or “coalition” to further the partnership with ind
ustry and the development of best practices to serve their mutual customer: the federal agencies. At the GSAC in Ft. Worth, Texas, this group is called the “Alliance for Quality Business Solutions.”

The next meeting will be held at the GSA Expo. To learn more about the Alliance coalition, contact Sandra Rena Clerk-Brown at (817) 574-2436 or sandra. clerk-brown@gsa.gov.

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