On June 4th the GSA Office of Inspector General issued Report Number A120161/Q/6/P13003, entitled “Improper Management Intervention in Multiple Award Schedule Contracts.” The audit raises concerns regarding management intervention in the ongoing negotiation of GSA schedule contracts and the subsequent outcomes. The report raises some complex and challenging questions about the management and operation of the MAS program or, in fact, any procurement operation—questions that will need time and thoughtful discussion across the entire GSA procurement community. Here are some of the questions that come to mind:
- What impact does the outdated MAS pricing policy play in creating ambiguities, uncertainties, and roadblocks in the negotiation process? Negotiations are generally based on interpretations of the pricing policy—which no longer reflects the commercial marketplace or subsequent task order competition process. Contracting officers, contractors and managers alike are increasingly being put in difficult situations, trying to apply an outdated policy to current 21st century commercial practices.
- How can the integrity and authority of the contracting officer be maintained while providing appropriate avenues for dialogue or mediation in the contract negotiation process?
- What is the role of management in a procurement operation? What strategies are available to assure performance that results in regulatory compliance as well as creative and flexible contract vehicles that respond to customer needs?
- Who does a contractor go to when there is an impasse?
- Is there a role for the GSA Ombudsman as a third party neutral when there are disagreements between the contracting officer and the contractor?
- Many senior managers are contracting officers themselves. Can a warranted contracting officer/manager review or otherwise address the work of a subordinate contracting officer?
- How do we bring all MAS stakeholders (GSA management, contracting officers, IG, customers and contractors) together for a Myth-Busters dialogue on these complex questions?
The Coalition believes that a non-attribution dialogue on these questions would be a positive first step in addressing the difficult and complex issues raised by the report. The Coalition welcomes the feedback and thoughts on how to proceed with such a Myth-Busters dialogue.