Lawmaker pressures GSA on plan to trim obsolete contract offerings

In his letter, Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., said he is troubled that the planned changes “may limit the federal government’s ability to afford small businesses the maximum practicable opportunity to compete." In his letter, Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., said he is troubled that the planned changes “may limit the federal government’s ability to afford small businesses the maximum practicable opportunity to compete." Kelley McCall/AP file photo

House Small Business Committee Chairman Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., is pressing the General Services Administration to reconsider long-planned reforms to save money by trimming its roster of eligible vendors for multiple-award schedule contracts in such areas as office supplies.

In a letter to acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini released Thursday, Graves referenced the agency leader’s attempts to “rein in abuses of the system” at the agency that has been reeling from public exposure of overspending at conferences. He asked the administrator to involve himself in the effort to move to what is called a “demand-based approach” that narrows the list of active suppliers.

At a hearing in June, Graves’ committee brought in an array of small business owners to challenge testimony explaining the reforms by Stephen Kempf, Federal Acquisition Service commissioner. Kempf in September went on medical leave following revelations about an awards conference with questionable expenses.

In his letter Graves said he is troubled that the planned changes “may limit the federal government’s ability to afford small businesses the maximum practicable opportunity to compete. Specifically, based on the information presented to the committee, I do not think that GSA’s proposals will enhance small business viability, improve operational efficiency or result in cost control.” The demand-based proposal “demonstrates a lack of understanding of how small businesses operate in relation to the federal market,” he added. “Given the wildly divergent estimates of cost savings . . . I am not convinced GSA understands its own cost model.”

Graves’ letter follows a more detailed Oct. 25 comment his committee filed in response to GSA’s publication of a notice in the Federal Register.

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