Why 30 days for GSA Schedules?

The General Services Administration takes an average of 120 days to issue a schedule contract to a company seeking to do business with the federal government. But GSA has issued its first schedule contract to a company under a program aimed at cutting that time drastically.

At the beginning of her tenure last summer as head of the GSA, Lurita Doan issued a mandate to award GSA schedule contracts within 30 days. Using the Multiple Award Schedule Express Program, launched in January, GSA gave Mity-Lite, a chair and table company based in Orem, Utah, a Schedule 78 contract (for sports and promotional equipment) in just 12 days. No word yet on whether IT schedule-seekers have received similar treatment, but GSA says that a second company has received a schedule under the express program and a third is pending. Under the program, which is in a pilot phase, only those IT companies that provide hardware and repair and maintenance services are being considered for the fast-track status.

Sources say that Doan's decision to choose 30 days as the time within which to award schedules was arbitrary and that she did not consult other agency officials about what time frame may be workable and best serve businesses. A GSA spokesman said that Doan chose 30 days because the time frame is a typical calendar cycle that businesses use for planning purposes. Doan wanted "a revolution, not an evolution" in reforming the way schedules are awarded, the spokesman said.

Mike Sade, assistant commissioner for acquisition management in GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, said the 30-day challenge forced officials to re-engineer the process for awarding schedules. Under the express program, a company's proposal is examined quickly to see if it contains the basic requirements and if it doesn't, the company is asked to correct the problems, Sade said.

The clock on the 30 days does not start until after companies have corrected the application, Sade said. Companies interested in participating in the express program also must complete an education program.