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GSA strengthens relationships on Industry Day
October 29, 2019
By Ben Zabava
Kickoff of the GSA Northeast and Caribbean Region’s 2019 Industry Day, Oct. 22 and 23 at the Jacob. K. Javits Federal Building in New York. Photo by Ben Zabava.
NEW YORK – Two of the most crucial foundations of any relationship are communication and mutual interest.
During Industry Day on Oct. 22 and 23 in the Conference Center of the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building in lower Manhattan, over 150 vendors, resellers, wholesalers, manufacturers, and/or industry associations gathered to meet with U.S. General Services Administration contracting officers, acquisition officials, and federal end-users of products and services for two days of communication about the mutual interest of all parties in the federal marketplace: finding better and more efficient ways of doing business.
“Our goals for Industry Day were information sharing and education about where GSA is going and why, our programs, systems, and some of our regional initiatives,” said Peter Han, director of GSA’s Northeast and Caribbean Region Supply and Acquisition Center. “We also particularly wanted to listen and dialogue about what are some of the pain points and concerns for our vendors.”
Among the topics covered on Day One, a primary theme was to provide updates, perspectives, and tips for working and thriving under the new, consolidated Multiple Award Schedule for products and services just released on Oct. 1.
Administered solely by the MAS Project Management Office, the single Schedule will phase out 24 separate schedules that are each managed by various points of contact scattered throughout GSA.
The consolidation pleased contract holding vendors in attendance.
“I think it’s a good idea, because things are very disparate as they stand now,” said John Giordano of MJL Enterprises, LLC. “We are a multi-MAS holder and the templates for each are very different, modifications to each are very different, and so on. Putting them all under one umbrella and then re-sorting the Special Item Numbers would make it easier for contractors to either obtain a contracting vehicle or a SIN under the main MAS Schedule. Consolidating into one efficient process will also make it easier for us as GSA contractors to talk to contracting officers, since they all will be working from the same template.”
Stephanie Shutt, director of GSA’s Multiple Award Schedules Project Management Office, addressing industry partners on the state of the recent MAS Consolidation, as part of the Northeast and Caribbean Region’s 2019 Industry Day, Oct. 22 and 23 at the Jacob. K. Javits Federal Building in New York. Photo by Ben Zabava.
“We like the idea and think it’s going to be a terrific help to us manufacturers,” said Brian O’Leary of Xerox Corporation. “All these vendors and resellers attending have multiple sets of questions on each of the old schedules, so having one schedule will greatly reduce that. Getting to see a lot of the resellers and hearing their questions helps us manufacturers to know what to do, as well.”
Day Two featured sessions on topics such as GSA’s Digital Tools, Catalog Management, and Electronic Data Interface, as well as providing the opportunity for contract holders to meet with their contracting officers.
“It was the first time I ever met my contracting officer in person, so it was nice to be able to make that personal connection,” said Ron Manning of SupplyCore. “I think the more that contracting officers can engage with the vendor community and industry partners, the more it advances synergy, respect, understanding, and clarity around what each other’s goals are. That helps minimize and break through any of the challenges and miscommunications that can happen between an industry partner and contracting officer.”
The enthusiastic response to Industry Day followed much careful preparation and teamwork.
“Industry Day planning happened over many months,” said Jennifer Jackson, a supervisory business development specialist in the GSA Northeast and Caribbean Region, and one of the event’s lead organizers. “We wanted a time to speak with our vendors about all the changes that will impact them in the coming year, discuss some of the initiatives they really wanted to hear and ask about, and arrange face-to-face meetings with their contracting officers and specialists. As the months moved along, we crafted the agenda and shared it with our industry partners for their input and suggestions. The result was that, once we opened registration, we hit our maximum capacity of registrants in a little over a week, which was incredible to us. We should probably try looking into a bigger venue for next year!”
The Northeast and Caribbean Region’s 2019 Industry Day was full of shared communication to build trust, goodwill, and mutual success. Whatever their roles in the federal marketplace, all participants’ relationships with each other ultimately help our nation to have a government properly equipped to serve the American public, of which all of us are members.