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One-On-One with Erv Koehler, Senior Customer Service Advocate for GSA FAS

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A quick chat on GSA Acquisition Planning Packages (APPs)

Today we’ll chat with Erv Koehler, Senior Customer Service Advocate and Assistant Commissioner over the FAS Office of Customer and Stakeholder Engagement, about the newly released Acquisition Planning Packages. Acquisition Planning Packages are resources compiled specifically for the acquisition workforce that contain sample documents such as statements of works and RFQs, buying guides and other tools to assist them along their government acquisition journey. Today, we’ll learn from Erv the ins and outs of these packages and how they serve the end-user. Let’s get started…

Hi Erv, Here’s a glaring question on our minds, what is the intention behind the Acquisition Planning Packages?

  • The intention is to organize information by what is being purchased. We want to better improve access to information across government. We’d also like to demonstrate the value of category management, SUM, BIC.  It is a direct response to comments from our annual customer survey.

How will agency customers benefit from using APPs?

  • Common challenges include getting acquisition packages early, and finding samples to help put an acquisition package together.  Our expiring contracts dashboard and APPs help solve both challenges.

How were these solution categories chosen?

  • Each solution category represents a market with a high number of transactions or dollar amount. They were also chosen due to a high volume of customer requests and the quality of information we had available.

Will all GSA solutions eventually have a planning package?

  • Over time, yes. In the short term we want feedback to improve the packages, content, accessibility, etc. Once we have the packages “perfected” we will expand to more markets/NAICs.

Oh wow, that’s awesome. Let’s hear in your own words about the process of using the planning packages.

  • Well, this is acquisition planning, simplified. Agency customers will now be able to access the information they need with a few clicks. First, you’d locate the buying category on the APPs landing page. Once you select the desired subset, you will find buying tips, guides, contractor finder tools, Statement of Work samples, RFQ samples, etc. Once these documents are reviewed if users still need additional help, they can reach out to their local Customer Service Director (CSD) for assistance.

How often will they be updated?

  • We’re planning for annual reviews and updates, but will follow the market trends. Over time we hope to show multiple samples for a given area.

That’s great news. Any thoughts on the individual packages that are already released? How about Facilities to start?

  • I’m glad you asked. Currently, the facilities solution set is the fastest growing procurement area. We intend to grow our acquisition planning packages of sample documents and buying tips just as fast. By compiling real samples and tips based on real case studies and success stories, we are enabling the further success of other buyers looking to purchase through GSA. Think about it. If agency X has a facility requirement that agency Y just procured under similar conditions, why wouldn’t agency X want to review and mimic the same documents agency Y used to save time and other resources in securing a similar procurement?

Thoughts on Security and Protection?

  • Well, there are several benefits to purchasing security and protection solutions through GSA Schedule. For one, our industrial base is almost 100% 889-certified and we are negotiating with the few left to finalize contract modifications and compliance certifications. There is a Security and Protection APP ready to go and the industrial base has a minimum of two years experience. Users can find everything from guard service to physical access controls.

Thoughts on IT?

  • There are numerous Information Technology acquisition planning packages available now through the APP landing page including hardware, software, cloud and, security. One commonly purchased item under the hardware category is rugged laptops and tablets. We actually have a specific BPA ordering guide, which outlines how to order these special items including the BPA number, specific contractor on file and GSA point of contact information. It’s resources such as this that we are beginning to collect and package together in one location for the acquisition workforce’s quick reference.

Thoughts on Professional Services?

  • Just like IT, the Professional Services Category has numerous packages available, 8 to be exact. This category covers a wide range of service solutions including Business Administration Services, Financial Services and Legal Services among others and aims to be as inclusive and comprehensive as possible. For each of the 8 packages, there are a multitude of resources including specific sample performance work statements, sample RFIs, market research templates, RFQ task order templates, ordering guides and more.

And lastly thoughts on Office Management?

  • Although agencies have scaled back furniture, office supply and print purchasing over the last year or so, we’ve already begun preparing for the return to office buildings by non-essential personnel through the Office Management Acquisition Planning Packages. These packages provide easily accessible sample documents and buying guides and are essential to expediting the procurement of office necessities.

Who should agency partners contact if they need further assistance?

  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to your local CSD. They are the point of contact that will get you the answers you need. Regional CSDs are backed up by category subject matter experts to answer any and all questions you may have.

Anything else to add?

  • The APPs are just our next step through the category management journey. We’re bringing it all together with packages, expertise, training, and local support. Stay tuned for updates on virtual events in the spring of 2021 like our Federal Acquisition Service Training Series beginning in March, where you can get more information, training and hear from leading experts in the field.

That sounds great. Thank you so much for chatting with us today. We appreciate your insight on these newly released resources for our government buyers. We encourage viewers to check out the acquisition planning packages and begin planning your procurement needs today: www.gsa.gov/acquisitionplanningpackage

Interested in more information about the Acquisition Planning Packages? Check out Erv’s Twitter Takeover occurring all week next week via our Twitter channel: https://twitter.com/FAS_Outreach and follow along using the hashtag #GSAAPPs

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