Buying off the Shelf

February 1996

FEDERAL ACQUISITION GUIDE

Buying Off the Shelf

GSA streamlines the multiple-award schedule contract program.

The General Services Administration recently revamped its multiple-award schedule (MAS) contract program to make it easier for agencies to buy off-the-shelf products and commercial services. Ordering procedures have been simplified to reduce paperwork and speed purchases. In addition to introducing a computerized ordering system (see "On-Line Shopping,", p.7A), GSA has eliminated tedious review and justification procedures for orders of more than $2,500.

Changes in price-reduction clauses of GSA contracts now enable vendors to treat government buyers in the same manner as private customers. Vendors no longer have to obey 30-day price freezes and are allowed to arrange spot pricing with agencies. In addition, maximum order limits have been removed so contractors can accept any size order.

"These value-added improvements are letting agencies-especially those doing large-volume buying-maximize discount opportunities and negotiate the best deals for their needs," says William Gormley, assistant commissioner of the Federal Supply Service Office of Acquisition.

GSA also is moving to convert all MAS contracts from one-year agreements to five-year deals with five additional one-year options. Gormley says longer-term contracts will help agencies reduce administrative costs and provide continuity with the vendor community.

Agencies now can use the MAS program to conduct indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity procurements by negotiating blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) with multiple-award schedule vendors-eliminating costs associated with open-market buys.

"Agencies using BPAs don't have to worry about searching for sources, developing technical documents, issuing solicitations, evaluating bids or dealing with protests," says Gormley.

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