In the realm of government contracting, substantial initiatives tend to come slowly down the pipeline and not all survive the journey. Sometimes what is promised to be the next big thing, encounters obstacles during the roll-out and quietly fades away. Remember the Formatted Product Tool? It’s become a blip on the timeline of government initiatives come and gone.
While the Formatted Product Tool is no longer with us, GSA announced a slew of changes and new initiatives last year that we’ll take into 2019. Here’s a quick recap of what happened in the world of GSA Schedules in 2018:
The 2018 new year kicked off with a big announcement: GSA reopened the Office Products Schedule 75 solicitation! The Schedule had been closed to new offers for 7 years. Companies reported over $300 million in sales under Schedule 75 for fiscal year 2018, which ended in September.
Government contractors were introduced to beta.SAM.gov this year. GSA’s Integrated Award Environment (IAE) is working to consolidate 10 different government websites into a single SAM.gov. beta.SAM is being used to transition FBO, CPARS, WDOL, and others. When all of the platforms are successfully transitioned, the old sites will be decommissioned and beta.SAM.gov will become SAM.gov.
In February of 2018 a final rule on Commercial Supplier Agreements went into effect. If you offer a product or service that is accompanied by a license agreement, the final rule lays out what contract clauses are unenforceable under your GSA Schedule.
GSA introduced the Order-Level Materials (OLM) SIN to 7 GSA Schedules in June. OLMs are considered ancillary to the primary product or service being offered. Unlike the Other Direct Costs (ODC) and Ancillary SINs, OLM’s are unknown at the time of award. The OLM SIN is significant in that it allows greater flexibility for GSA Schedule orders, which in turn could lead to increased usage and sales under the GSA Schedules.
Where GSA gives, GSA also takes away. After a slow roll-out to a handful of schedules, the Formatted Product Tool, or FPT, was officially cancelled. Introduced in 2016, FPT standardized part numbers and product descriptions to automate price comparisons. Contractors who had participated in the program will revert to the legacy system.
In October – the start of the 2018 government fiscal year – GSA began using a new format for contract award numbers that looks something like this: 47QTCA18D1234. It may seem like letters and numbers pulled from a hat, but there’s meaning behind each character.
Many of the changes this past year were in relation to Special Item Numbers. The Office Relocation SIN was moved from Schedule 48 to Schedule 71 II K, Shipping Containers found a home on Schedule 81 I B with the creation of SIN 617-14, and SIN 132-20 was added to IT Schedule 70 for Contact Center Solutions.
The Hardware Superstore Schedule consolidated 24 SINs into 14 existing SINs. While some SINs were deleted and others were expanded, the offering essentially remains the same. Just over 2 years after the release of the Highly Adaptive Cybersecurity Services (HACS) SINs, GSA announced a plan to combine the four SINs into a single HACS SIN with 5 subcategories.
That brings us to the final months of 2018, when GSA announced another consolidation in the works. The agency plans to combine the 24 GSA Schedules into a Single GSA Schedule over the next 2 years. The Multiple Award Schedule Program as we know it will drastically change in structure, while remaining the same in function. Details on this are forthcoming and will be monitored going into 2019.
So, with all of 2018 summed up and a big change on the horizon – what are we watching for 2019?
- GSA’s Single Schedule: as just mentioned, there’s limited information currently available, but GSA has said it anticipates opening the consolidated solicitation in fiscal year 2019 and closing the existing individual solicitations.
- Brexit: GSA Schedules are subject to the Trade Agreements Act, where the United Kingdom is currently listed as a designated country. As the UK pulls out of the European Union, new trade deals will need to be struck. As of November 2018, the UK was on track to negotiate its independent membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), which would ensure the country’s status as a TAA designated country.
- GSA’s e-Commerce Portal: on the heels of the upcoming Single Schedule, GSA also plans to launch an online buying portal to match commercial options (think Amazon). An RFI closed on December 21st, so it’s likely more information will become available early in the new year.
- Fiscal Year 2018 Sales: even though the government fiscal year ends in September, reporting requirements often delay the information. We’ll hold off on pulling FY18 data until February to ensure reporting is complete. Stay tuned for updated reports and analysis.