Jill Aitoro of
GovernmentVAR had a recent blog entry entitled: Federal Agencies
Should Learn More From GSA's Mistakes which I decided to comment on. Mind
you, Jill is sharp and I like a lot of what she pens (or types, as it is) so
this wasn't a situation where I disagreed with her, I just had some additional
information which I thought might be useful.
Jill thought I was right. In a follow-up blog entry Mega Contracts
Lesson Opportunity? Some Say No Jill took my comments and added to them.
Thank you Jill.
In the initial blog, Jill discussed the plight of Solutions Providers (which
I believe could be applied across the industry) and the massive multiple award
contracts issued by GSA, Navy and other federal entities. The gist of the entry,
it seemed to me, had to do with competition. Definitely not something unique to
that class of contractor/vendor.
I appreciate having my thoughts and perceptions leveraged in a constructive
Here's my feedback to Jill in its entirety:
I was just reading your blog entry and wanted to do a
counterpoint with you if you don't mind.
Let me first state that I think
GSA has made mistakes which have turned off agencies and contractors, but I
believe it stems more from the bottlenecks that have been their practices and
processes more than the number of potential bidders that exist. Additionally,
the program management fees charged by GSA were a significant contributor as
well, as I've been told.
Let's talk about competition, since that seems
to be the prevailing issue. When the government awards a multiple award BPA or
GWAC, it limits competition for the potential requirements to those companies
awarded during the initial, unfunded competition. Very much like the GSA
Schedule does. This creates a "class" of contractor/vendor that is able to
leverage a marketing tool and contracting mechanism that not everyone has or has
access to. A hunting license for a specific number of hunters. It also creates
a mechanism by which the government can conduct an acquisition in a much shorter
period of time than if they conducted that procurement on the Open
Granted, SeaPorte is crowded now, with 1300 contractors vying for
$5.3 billion in orders, but crowded is a relative statement and perspective. How
many contractors would that be if those requirements from NAVSEA, SPAWAR, MSC,
etc. were still procured on the GSA Schedule or the Open Market?
the solutions providers different from services firms or construction companies
competing for business in a significantly smaller landscape with substantially
fewer dollars? Since IT is the prevalent product/service/solution procured by
the agencies, it seems to make sense that it would be the most heavily populated
field of play. The differentiators are the ability of companies to develop
relationships, business intelligence, past performance and ultimately be seen as
a value to the customer. The contract vehicle, like a socio-economic
designation, is secondary at best. You could also compare this to companies that
have security clearances, and those that don't.
Why is it that solutions
providers say they see fewer opportunities? Is it because of competition? Is it
because they are not positioned to pursue a particular piece of business? Could
it be contract bundling? Maybe the opportunities are being funneled to a
specific socio-economic program where they are not included? All of the above
Should the Government stop allowing companies to enter the
arena of federal contracting? What would happen to the entrepreneur that
develops a solution for IED's or the company that comes up with a process that
cuts federal expenditures in a particular area if competition is restricted
further? The head of OFPP recently stated that 52 percent of all federal
procurement dollars went to task orders in FY 2005. This means that if your
company did not possess a GSA Schedule, BPA, GWAC or some type of pre-awarded
delivery vehicle or you were not on one of those teams, more than half of the
estimated $350 billion spent by the Government that year blew right by
The issue at hand appears to be competition, and I don't understand
why this is an issue.
Ultimately, the decision for why an agency should
do business with a particular company is based on a number of factors. Being on
the right contract vehicle is just one of them.
Guy J. Timberlake,
CEO and Chief Visionary Officer
The American Small Business Coalition