One of the most common criticisms of the GSA’s Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program is that the pricing on schedule contracts just isn’t competitive. Whether justified or not, the perception of high pricing is pervasive. In fact, the Department of Defense issued a class deviation to the FAR obligating its contracting officers to make a price reasonableness determination on all GSA orders using FAR Part 15 price analysis techniques.
In this environment, it’s easy to understand why contracting professionals may hesitate to use the Schedules, even if it means giving up the benefits of a streamlined acquisition method. If you’re feeling a little gun-shy about using the Schedules, here are five online tools you can use to make sure you secure better pricing on your next GSA purchase:
- GSA Advantage! – Often referred to as the Amazon of federal procurement, this online shopping portal sells everything from televisions to snowmobiles. Advantage also has features that make it an excellent resource for market research. Using search tools, buyers can limit results by price, socioeconomic categories, environmental attributes, and more. Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a particular item, simply clicking on the part number will produce a list of all contractors selling the item and compare their terms and conditions, including any quantity or volume discounts.
- GSA eBuy – While Advantage is tailored for purchasing products, GSA’s eBuy website allows users to easily post RFPs for products and services. Besides being simple to use, GSA eBuy gives the buyer access to all of the GSA contract holders in the relevant category. Enhanced visibility of your opportunity can lead to increased competition and better prices.
- Strategic Sourcing Blanket Purchase Agreements – As part of its Category Management initiative, GSA targeted a number of frequently-purchased commodity groups for aggressive discounts. GSA established Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) for products and services under these categories, including office supplies, janitorial equipment, and wireless services. The BPAs were awarded to a limited number of Schedule holders who offered the largest discounts off of their existing GSA contract prices. These BPAs are available for government-wide use and provide substantial savings to buyers.
- GSA Reverse Auctions – If your acquisition is Low Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) with cost as the only evaluation factor, GSA’s Reverse Auctions website maybe the tool you are looking for. Unlike other reverse auction tools, GSA does not charge additional fees to the buyer or seller for auctions using the Schedules. Other agencies also use the GSA platform for auctions on their contract vehicles, including Army CHESS and Air Force NETCENTS II.
- Contract-Awarded Labor Category (CALC) Database – GSA addresses one of the thorniest pricing issues in government, evaluating rates for professional services, with its new CALC database. Consolidating rate information from thousands of Schedule contracts for professional services, CALC provides a statistical analysis of the pricing offered for a particular labor category. Users can refine their results by applying parameters such as minimum education, required experience, business size, and work site. Based on this input, CALC will extrapolate a bell curve and give you the median rate and the rates one standard deviation from the median.
These five sites are just some of the resources GSA provides to empower federal acquisition professionals buying from the Schedules. By incorporating these tools into your acquisition plan, you can be more confident that you are negotiating a fair and reasonable price for the government. If you are interested in me taking a deeper dive into the bells and whistles of any of these sites in a later blog, please let me know in the comments.
Jennifer Aubel is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.