KEY GSA ACQUISITION INITIATIVES PROCEED DESPITE HEADWINDS
The General Services Administration (GSA) continues to work on the implementation and refreshment of key acquisition programs, despite both external and internal headwinds. FY’23 is shaping up to be a critical year for the agency, its contractor partners, and customers. How the many issues on its plate are resolved may determine whether the agency maintains its leading acquisition status or cedes its market share to other agencies or open market acquisitions. First up for the agency is getting the Alliant3 procurement out the door. The tight deadline has unfortunately meant that the agency has curtailed industry discussions, increasing the likelihood of protests later on. Alliant3 leaders need to balance speed with communication to ensure that the popular Alliant program remains on track. Close behind Alliant3 is resolving remaining POLARIS protests. This small business IT GWAC has been on hold for several months as protests take longer to unravel. Ironically, protesters are really only hurting themselves and other small businesses as acquisitions continue apace via other contracts. The OASIS+ contract for professional services does seem to be on track. Kudos go out to this team for communicating with industry, despite lingering concerns from some partners that the overall approach may result in a contract that is difficult to manage for industry or for federal buyers to understand how to use. The GSA Schedules program is also an area where industry communications are strong and the overall direction of the program appears to be on track. If GSA leadership can train the line level staff to embrace and use all of the program’s flexibilities the Schedules would really see growth. One of the larger obstacles to the agency’s success comes from the cavalcade of new rules. We wrote last month that GSA acquisition policy staff are tracking four rules on environmental changes and many more on cybersecurity. While cyber is an understandable goal, the environmental efforts won’t move the climate change needle one bit, but will certainly cost industry a lot to implement and may drive some companies to the sidelines. GSA leadership should not take its recent success for granted. The need remains for the agency to have competitive acquisition programs that draw companies of all sizes and meet customer needs. Focusing on that core mission should ensure success not only for the agency, but in terms of better acquisition outcomes across government.