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Requesting Your Input: How Do We Increase Spend on Contracting Vehicles?

In an effort to give government agency customers greater visibility and insight into their spending habits, how do we drive office supplies spend to the strategic sourcing contract vehicles and reduce open market sales? We want to hear from Industry, please share your thoughts with us. Thanks!


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<p>Thanks for your input!</p>
<p>The National Office Products Alliance (NOPA) believes there are ways to enhance the participation of small businesses in the next-generation FSSI program for mutual government and industry benefit. There are two key opportunities we wish to present.</p><p>First, OFPP and GSA can increase government-wide hard- and soft-cost savings in a future FSSI-OS3 program by ensuring competition for BPAs includes all qualified small businesses and dealer consortia that wish to bid. Second, future savings and improvements in delivery, reporting and overall service performance by the small business community in the federal market can be achieved by maximizing the participation of qualified dealer consortia in the bid process and competitive BPA awards. NOPA believes these two goals might best be accomplished by establishing a separate bid pool for dealer consortia within FSSI-OS3.</p><p><strong>Expanding Qualified Small Business Competition in FSSI-OS3</strong></p><p>Early GSA communication and guidance to GSA Schedule 75 contractors and others in the industry with respect to the FSSI-OS3 bid process and required technical qualifications is an essential part of expanding qualified small business competition in the next-generation acquisition. GSA has maintained a moratorium on acceptance of new Schedule 75 offers since October 2010 and there are at least a few individual dealers and at least one major dealer consortia that NOPA believes are likely to apply for a Schedule 75 contract if the opportunity is provided.</p><p>Based on our industry&rsquo;s experience, the Schedule 75 application process has required several months to complete. For this reason, NOPA suggests that GSA provide advance notice as soon as possible of the expected timing and requirements of any planned lifting of the moratorium on acceptance of Schedule 75 applications. Advance notice of GSA&rsquo;s plans will allow non-schedule holders (whether individual companies or dealer consortia) to determine whether they are qualified to become Schedule 75 contractors and, if so, to begin the process of preparing and filing Schedule 75 contract applications.</p><p>To continue to grow the FSSI program&rsquo;s cost savings and federal agency participation, NOPA believes the most qualified small business participants should be in a position to bid. To ensure GSA and federal agencies have access to the most qualified, competitive and committed small businesses &ndash; many of which are now members of three established dealer consortia in the office products industry &ndash; it is appropriate to maintain a high standard of technical and performance requirements that broadly meet federal government agencies&rsquo; needs. Those outlined for the FSSI-OS2 bid process offer a logical starting point, but we anticipate that GSA and OFPP also will review more recent experiences agencies have had during the first three years of the FSSI-OS2 BPA program and incorporate new ideas into the requirements.</p><p>Based on our members&rsquo; experience under FSSI-OS2 BPA, NOPA believes that &ldquo;qualified&rdquo; contractors, whether individual small businesses or dealer consortia, should be able to provide evidence that they:</p><p>- If not a current FSSI-OS2 BPA vendor, have a reasonable amount of ongoing experience and a strong performance record as a full-line office supplies/products dealer in government, commercial and/or institutional markets;</p><p>- Meet similar requirements if they are a current FSSI-OS2 BPA prime contractor or &ldquo;authorized participating dealer&rdquo; (APD), or a member of Independent Stationers that has participated under that cooperative&rsquo;s group GSA Schedule and FSSI BPA program;</p><p>- Have achieved a minimum federal sales volume equal to or higher than GSA&rsquo;s minimum MAS program expectations ($25,000/year) &ndash; or some realistic higher threshold; and</p><p>- Can meet the FSSI OS2 BPA technical requirements for bidders with respect to e-commerce capability, level-3 data collection and reporting, credit-card processing and other technical performance criteria that GSA believes to be important for future FSSI success.</p><p><strong>Encouraging Participation of Qualified Dealer Consortia in FSSI-OS3</strong></p><p>With more competition, GSA and all Federal agencies can enjoy better pricing and faster, more customized service in local areas throughout the country where they operate. If additional qualified dealer consortia with experienced vendor members are able to participate in the next FSSI program, our industry will be able to provide more reasons for agencies to utilize the FSSI program on a broader scale, as well as improvements in overall program efficiencies. In short, there will be more qualified small businesses with a vested interest in the FSSI program&rsquo;s long-term success.</p><p>In today&rsquo;s budget-constrained and fast-paced environment, GSA and other federal agencies seek to minimize the number of separate prime contractors with which they work, while maximizing the quality and local responsiveness of delivery and other services received. NOPA believes that dealer consortia &ndash; consisting of small business dealers, many who meet defined socio-economic criteria &ndash; offer an ideal solution for many federal agencies, particularly those with facilities and employees operating in different parts of the country.</p><p>To make this type of solution widely available and as competitive as possible, NOPA encourages GSA and OFPP to consider establishment of a separate &ldquo;bid pool&rdquo; in which qualified dealer consortia could compete for multiple BPA awards in the FSSI-OS3 acquisition process.</p><p>By NOPA&rsquo;s definition, a qualified &ldquo;dealer consortia&rdquo; has the following characteristics:</p><p>- The consortia is self-formed among small business members for the explicit purpose of providing national account services effectively to large and geographically dispersed customers, whether governmental, institutional and/or commercial;</p><p>- Provides a strong administrative and technical infrastructure, including a centralized, integrated customer-facing website and a comprehensive ordering, fulfillment, billing and customer service interface with national/regional customers; and</p><p>- Has a systematic training and compliance program in place to ensure its small business members consistently understand and meet all customer technical and service performance requirements.</p><p>This three-part profile and strong infrastructure distinguish a qualified &ldquo;dealer consortia&rdquo; from other small dealer groups that may not have all of those elements fully in place, and/or which may have been formed to pursue a single federal or other bidding opportunity. While such dealer groups may be competitive, they may lack the performance discipline and administrative/technical infrastructure of dealer consortia whose national account purpose is more broadly developed and/or whose members have long-standing relationships that foster positive operating synergies benefitting their customers.</p><p>At least three established industry dealer consortia meet the above profile, have the ability to deliver nation-wide and have a track record of meeting multiple federal agencies&rsquo; office products needs. We anticipate that one or more other dealer-formed groups that also meet the profile for &ldquo;dealer consortia&rdquo; are likely to have an interest in the next-generation FSSI office supplies program. The largest of these serves national commercial, institutional and local/state government collaborative buying program customers, but does not hold a Schedule 75 GSA contract.</p>
Welcome to the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative – Office Supplies Third Generation (FSSI OS4) community.  The intent of this collaborative forum... More
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