Industry reps tell R5 GSA, 'We need more time, direction'
Three contractor panels gave advice on how to improve construction procurement, operations-and-maintenance pricing and leasing to Region 5 Public Buildings Service project managers and contracting officers during a Reverse Industry Day event on May 14 in Chicago.
Photo: Ron Patterson of New Horizon Industries speaks to the Reverse Industry Day audience as other panelists, John Hedlund of JLL Public Institutions and Scott King of KingGeorge LLC, look on.
In the area of construction, Robert Wojnovich of Brock Construction noted that making specifications too tight could unreasonably limit competition, thereby making “prices go through the roof.”
Todd Cooper of Hill International added that scope ambiguity around security requirements, hours of access to tenant spaces and meeting frequency could lead to problems and delays since any changes to the scope will have to be communicated to all, including subcontractors.
On a positive note, Wojnovich remarked that communications had improved due to telework.
“Before we would run into a position where, if we were working on Saturday, we wouldn't get an answer till Monday. Now we can throw an email out, and if it gets answered, it helps us out a lot.”
Photo: Audience members, including Chicago PBS’s Mike Little, asked questions of the panelists and offered their own suggestions for improvements.
In the area of creating a better O&M pricing process, Scott King of KingGeorge LLC noted the importance of site visits.
“One of the suggestions we would like to make is that you be aware of our intentions of site visits,” King said. “We are there to look at the building and look at equipment, but sometimes the site visit is where we are making a bid or no bid decision… It might be nice to have a follow-up site visit where we can bring along subcontractors.”
John Hedlund of Jones Lang LaSalle agreed, noting that he looks for non-verbal clues as to what GSA’s really looking for, and both want more time than the typical 30-day solicitation period.
“Sometimes the contractors will even talk to each other to see who's going to ask for the extension because we are all in the same boat,” Hedlund said. Later he added a compliment for the region, noting, “...your group runs procurements a lot more efficiently than other government agencies.”
The leasing panel likewise felt more time to prepare their offers would help, noting the Veterans Administration typically gives 60 days as opposed to GSA’s only offering 20-30 days. However, they also want GSA to expedite the process of accepting final offers.
“Our concern is you come and put an advertisement out, which is more than adequate for us to do the market research and present sites within the time-frame,” said Joshua Hausman of WD Schorsch LLC. “So we submit sites to you, and a lot of times it is many weeks before we hear back from you to take a look at the sites. These properties may not be available in 6 or 8 or 12 weeks.”
Nearly 190 members of GSA’s acquisition workforce participated in the half-day event, sponsored by the GSA Ombudsman as their first-ever regional roadshow for PBS.
“These are really great opportunities for some knowledge share in both directions,” said Commissioner Dan Mathews in kicking off the event. “For them to hear a little bit about what we are trying to accomplish... and also the other way around, how we can learn from their experiences and see what the deal looks like from the other side of the table.”
Photo right: PBS Commissioner Dan Mathews kicks-off the Reverse Industry Day event in Chicago last month.
The event concluded with a video presentation from GSA Senior Procurement Executive Jeff Koses, thanking everyone for their participation, recapping highlights of the sessions and urging the workforce to avail themselves of the knowledge shared by the industry panelists during the event.
Photo below: Chicago Reverse Industry Day organizers included Jesse Jones, Sarah Jayjack, Lizabelle Hernandez, Millisa Gary, John Andre and Henry Swann.