GSA's schedule merger to show changes next summer

Federal contracting officers will see biggest change from GSA's work to merge multiple purchasing schedules into a single one as the third phase closes in mid-2020.

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Next summer, federal agency contracting officers should see the first noticeable changes under the General Services Administration's initiative to merge its two dozen sprawling purchasing schedules into one, according to the schedule consolidation's manager.

"Agencies won't see a whole lot of differences … until July," Stephanie Shutt, director of the multiple awards schedule program office at GSA, said at an ACT-IAC presentation on Oct. 9. "The biggest change will be in eBuy at the end of July. It will be more user friendly, uses real words, instead of random [contract] numbers they have to guess."

GSA completed the first phase of the schedule merger on Oct. 1, when it issued a consolidated schedule solicitation with a simplified format, streamlined terms and conditions, and new categories and special item numbers (SINs).

The solicitation marked the completion of the first of three phases in the consolidation process. The second phase involving mass modifications of existing vendor contracts will be finished this quarter, Shutt said. The third phase -- multiple contract award consolidation -- is slated for completion by July 2020.

This third phase will reveal the biggest changes to federal contracting officers, as those contract consolidations are reflected in the agency's eBuy platform and its eLibrary contract award repository.

Consolidating the agency's two dozen multiple award schedule contracts into a single format is designed to make it easier for contractors to offer their products, services and solutions -- and for agency partners to find them.

GSA is currently working with contractors to map their contracts, which can appear in multiple schedules in multiple ways, such as SINs and other categories, into a uniform, single schedule.

The phased consolidation approach requires some thinking by sellers on how they want their contracts to be consolidated, said Shutt.

The agency has been working to reshape how agencies will see items on the schedule as well, she said.

Along with winnowing down the growing list of SINs, from 900 to 320, Shutt said, the schedule will leverage "large category" selections. Shutt said GSA is considering using products and services subcategories and large categories as selection devices, pushing SINs into the background as an option.

The approach may be less labor- and time-intensive for contracting officers who won't have to click as many selections that way, or it may not be entirely applicable, according to Shutt.

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