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A Comparison of GSA MAS Program to Other FSS Programs

In 1972, Congress amended the Federal Property Services Act to consolidate existing Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) programs spread throughout different Federal agencies under the singular purview of the General Services Administration (GSA). These long-term contracts pre-qualify vendors as well as their commercial products and services to provide both Federal Agencies and other pre-identified ordering activities with a quick and streamlined procurement process.


The GSA delegated its authority to establish FSS contracts for healthcare products and services to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), which was reconfirmed in a February 8, 2022 agreement between the agencies. While GSA is still responsible for establishing overall policies and regulations for the FSS program, the VA manages and administers the program for its delegated items.


Colloquially called the “GSA Schedules”, all FSS schedules that are managed and administered by GSA are formally and collectively labeled Multiple Award Schedules (MAS). The solicitation, proposal development, submission, and evaluation process for MAS contracts is fundamentally different than other FSS contracts. For example, the MAS program utilizes a single, centralized solicitation for all products and services while the VA FSS program issues individual solicitations for the various groupings of products and services assigned to each Schedule under its responsibility.


For many agencies, ordering off of an FSS contract is the first buying choice. The pre-negotiated price includes competitive discounts and allows for more efficient purchasing of common items. Moreover, consistent nomenclature for product labels, descriptions, categorizations, and listings of purchasing terms/conditions allows for an easier apples-to-apples comparison approach to market research.


Each proposal outlines a company’s qualifications, the products being offered with pricing, and includes supporting pricing information for the assigned contract specialist to evaluate in determining if the proposed price is fair and reasonable. Unfortunately, most companies minimized the proposal development process as an operational task without taking into account how the Government will evaluate the proposed price and the submitted pricing information since they do not realize the final negotiated price will be based on a company’s previous commercial sales price and discounts to other vendors. Although the proposal evaluation process with the GSA or the VA can take many months (and sometimes years), patience is key given the length of the contract. It is very important a profitable price is secured upfront.


An effective framework to properly prepare for negotiations is to complete a pre-submission pricing assessment. In this process, the proposed price and supporting pricing information is evaluated through the lens of how the Government will evaluate the proposed price. Anticipated barriers to securing the proposed price are exposed with justifications and supporting explanations prepared in advance of proposal submission.



Feature

FSS

MAS

Definition

Refers to all Federal Supply Schedule programs

Refers to Federal Supply Schedules managed by GSA

Management

Multiple agencies, including GSA

General Services Administration (GSA)

Contract Duration

5-10 years (depending on the product) with renewals

20 years with 4, 5-year option periods

Solicitation process

Individual solicitations for different Schedules

One centralized solicitation


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