DISCUSSION ON PRICE INCREASES REFLECTS DISCONNECT BETWEEN POLICY AND IMPLEMENTATION
GSA leaders have issued two written sets of guidance for contracting officers designed to make it easier for Schedule contractors to obtain price increases. Collectively, this guidance reflects the impact of inflation on contractors and the need for companies to be able to sell goods without losing money on each transaction. The second set of guidance, issued earlier this month, was intended to especially streamline the process by reducing the level of GSA approval required to grant a price increase. To be clear, contractors still have to show evidence to support a price increase before one is granted, but the intent of the guidance(s) is to keep such information reasonable. Judging by contractor comments during a recent Coalition for Government Procurement forum, however, line-level contracting officers and contract specialists haven’t got the memo, or at least its intent. There were numerous stories of where contractors still face significant, multi-month delays in having otherwise justifiable price increases approved. Similarly, some acquisition officials still appear intent on asking for the moon and the stars when it comes to supporting documentation. At least one contractor reported having to submit hundreds of pages of supporting information. It seemed clear from the discussion that the default position of many GSA acquisition officers is to deny or substantially delay any price increases, regardless of the economic impact on contractors. This impact, of course, is most acutely felt by small businesses, the type of business GSA leadership claims to want to support. As a result of these delays, and the litany of new contract requirements GSA is imposing on industry, some companies are taking their business elsewhere if they have that option. While GSA is facing shortages in its acquisition ranks, the current workforce would be less burdened if they simply followed the guidance provided by their own agency. A short-staffed workforce only exacerbates its problems, and negatively impacts industry, when they make things more difficult than they need to be.