IS RUSH TO INNOVATE HARMING COMMUNICATION BETWEEN GSA AND INDUSTRY?
There is always a risk of driving for innovation merely for the sake of having something “new” to show. “New”, of course, isn’t always “better”. Here is a timely reminder to GSA and its industry partners on three things that everyone in favor of efficient acquisition needs to keep in mind while noting that the definition of “progress” can mean different things to different people. 1. The Multiple Award Schedule program is a commercial item program that has stood the test of time. The first time this writer heard the (now very old) saw that Schedule prices are “too high” George H.W. Bush was in the White House and computer screens were monochromatic. That claim may be new to some at GSA, but it’s worth remembering that the Schedules continue to be the largest single commercial item acquisition method for a reason. Similarly, “the Schedules can’t do that” is a phrase traditionally used by people watching customers use the Schedules for whatever it is the speaker is claiming they can’t be used for. Lastly, the Schedules program is a commercial item program. Unless a contractor has absolutely zero commercial business, they should resist any CO attempt to obtain cost-type information. 2. Transparency is better than opacity: Playing your cards close to the vest during a poker game is a good strategy. Doing it with business partners who you rely upon to serve your common customer is not. Last week, we chastised industry for not responding when GSA seeks input. This week, it’s GSA’s turn. A major opportunity to be straight was missed with key service partners this week, something that did not go unnoticed. There’s time to rectify this before misinformation and conjecture muddy waters that don’t need to be. 3. This is a good time to stick together. Outside forces are aligning to cause trouble for anyone in favor of common-sense procurement. Whether it’s a slew of new rules on secure supply chain, domestic sourcing, cyber, or even issues that have nothing to do directly with contract performance, the fact is that it could be a lot harder to conduct government business this time next year. It’s important to remember that most elected officials have little background in government acquisition and that, when they do wade into this pool, it is usually with emotionally-driven policy that creates more problems than it solves. This is all the more reason why people who are committed to efficient acquisition and serving government customers should be looking for ways to work together. There will be enough people working against it, intentionally or otherwise.