GSA Federal Acquisition Training Symposium – Getting FATS on What’s New at GSA

GSA Symposium
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GSA held its 2nd annual Federal Acquisition Training Symposium (FATS) in Huntsville, Alabama. The event was designed to provide acquisition and training sessions tailored to federal, military, and civilian personnel, as well as GSA’s industry partners. FATS offered 66 training and educational sessions, had 104 registered exhibitors, and a combination of Government agencies and industry attendees. There were slightly less attendees than GSA’s 2016 event, which had over 1,300 government agency attendees and 200 industry attendees.

The Symposium provided a great platform to get up-to-speed on GSA programs and news and invaluable networking opportunities. Below is some of the key information on current and upcoming initiatives:

  • GSA Professional Services Schedule (PSS)’s new Streamlined Solicitation is slated for October 1, 2017; the RFI on the draft PSS Streamlined Solicitation was released for comments in May.
    • As a “Making It Easier” initiative, the streamlined solicitation will simplify the structure, instructions, reduce redundancy, and reduce and/or consolidate many requirements related to project experience, open ratings, and invoices.
  • New Special Item Number (SIN): Information Technology Schedule (IT70) Cyber Security Services and PSS Identity Protection Services (IPS)
  • A consolidation of GSA’s PSS Schedule scope to decrease number of SINs and eliminate duplication.
  • PSS contracts will no longer be cancelled for failure to meet the minimum annual sales requirement of $25,000. Reevaluation will be delayed until option exercise.
  • GSA MAS Welcome Package Center is one location to find up-to-date information, guidance, and resources applicable to all Multiple Award Schedules managed by GSA Federal Acquisition Service (FAS).
  • Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) participation will become optional imminently. As of April 2017, TDR remains mandatory for new offers and option renewals for eight Schedules (some with specific SINs only, including PSS PES SINs and certain IT70 product SINs).
    • It has not been determined how to address contactors who previously accepted (opted-in) or rejected the mass modification to incorporate TDR.
  • GSA Industrial Operations Analysts (IOA) are now organized by category rather than geography as GSA increasingly performs more compliance assessments virtually.
  • A panel of federal agency buyers stated that the best contractors are responsive and communicate early; and, that contractors should clarify requirements and participate in the development of requirements (respond to RFI and draft RFPs).

As contractors know, at times there is a disconnect between what management and policy makers intend, and the implementation reality experienced in day-to-day front line communication. Aronson works with many Professional Services Schedule (PSS) and Information Technology Schedule (IT70) schedule holders, serving as the bridge to GSA Contracting Officers (CO), GSA Contracting Specialists (CS), GSA Managers, and GSA Directors. The Symposium was an opportunity to put a face to the names behind both policy decisions and day-to-day contract management. GSA may intend to streamline the PSS Solicitation or state that Commercial Sales Practices (CSP) are no longer required for the TDR model. However, in reality many contractors are still asked for data, which is officially not required, and are told by COs and CSs, “I can request anything I need to make an evaluation.” The chance to discuss this reality with policy makers face-to-face was invaluable. Sometimes the offered resolution seemed long-term, e.g. “we’ll provide more training” with a suggestion to continue escalating issues as they occur. Other times the offered resolution was near-term, e.g. “send me that information so I can help you.” Having the chance to discuss both GSA’s and the contractor’s perspective, both in sessions, and one-on-one was priceless for conference attendees.

The GSA 2017 Federal Acquisition Training Symposium session presentations are available here.

Previous Blogs on related topics:

If you’d like to discuss how some of these changes may affect your business, contact Vanessa Payne at 240.364.2663 or

About Vanessa Payne

Vanessa Payne is a Managing Consultant in Aronson LLC’s Government Contract Services Group with over 15 years of full life-cycle government contracts and consulting experience. Her expertise includes GSA contract management, subcontract administration, contractor task order proposals, and “Big Four” management consulting in the areas of process improvement, business process reengineering, cost accounting, survey development and analysis, workflow mapping, and facilitation services. She specializes in GSA Schedule contract preparation, renewals, and providing ongoing contract management, administration, and compliance support with a special interest in organizational procedure and policy review, improvement, and standardization. Vanessa is an Aronson-featured and guest speaker on GSA Schedules and social media topics for other industry organizations, and she is a co-founder and frequent contributor to Aronson’s Fed Point blog. She received her Master’s Degree in Organizational Development and Strategic Human Resources as well as a Graduate Certificate in Skilled Facilitation from Johns Hopkins University, and she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications at the University of Pennsylvania.

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