Can a $10B contract really save the government money?

GSA wants to improve procurements and save the government money, but is a $10 billion contract the answer?

Our sister publication, FCW, covered a conference yesterday where a General Services Administration official talked about the role acquisition can play in reducing government spending.

Jeffrey Koses, director of the Office of Acquisition Operations at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, said that duplication in acquisition increases costs and leads to price variability.

I don’t doubt it, but I urge you to read Camille Tuutti’s story and help me understand what is going on.

GSA says there are too many contracts. That’s probably true. But the agency’s answer is to create another contract vehicle -- One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services or OASIS. (Gotta love those contract names.)

OASIS will be a $12 billion, 10-year contract for professional services such as management and consulting, professional engineering and logistics and finance.

The strategy for OASIS sounds very similar to the Alliant program for IT services. There will be a full and open contract and a small business program. A single program office will manage both vehicles.

But this is the head scratcher number for me: To streamline and lower costs, GSA is creating a large vehicle that likely will have scores of companies as primes. What about the schedules, particularly the MOBIS schedule?

Do we really need another large vehicle that contractors will spend months, if not years, and millions of dollars bidding on? And of course, there will be protests which will delay the expected benefits of OASIS by years.

OASIS might be more efficient, but shouldn't there be solid plans to close or cancel other contracts?

At the same time, GSA has a hiring freeze in place and is considering a third round of buyouts to clear out personnel.

That’s another head scratcher. Don’t you want to hang on to experienced procurement people when you are trying to use procurements as a tool for saving money?

I’m sure I’m being unfair to GSA, but I’ve had too many conversations with executives who complain that the procurement process is broken, that contract officers don’t communicate with program managers, and that the government’s historic deficiency in writing requirements is only getting worse.

Perhaps the answer is to fix what we’ve got before we build something new.

But read Camille’s story and then tell me what I’m missing.

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