Continuing to Make it Easier for Industry to Do Business with the Government|
Hello, and welcome to my first blog of FY17. A new year always comes with new opportunities, and at GSA, we're continuing our mission to embrace one of the biggest: overcoming the conception that working with government is just "too hard."
Throughout 2016, leadership across the agency was on a mission to make GSA more efficient, innovative, and effective. The April launch of our groundbreaking new Making It Easier (MIE) initiative proved to be a big step toward fulfilling those goals.
MIE is a series of programs designed to provide start-ups, small businesses, and other suppliers with the tools and support they need to do business with the government. It also helps new and innovative companies get on Schedule faster.
Today I am announcing the second phase of this ambitious plan. But before I describe the improvements to come, I want to tell you about the successes we've already seen from the first wave of MIE programs.
Making It Easier To Get On Schedule
Expanding opportunities for small businesses is a major part of GSA's mission. So we developed new tools and processes to make it easier (and faster) for them to get on Schedule and fine tuned others already in use.
We heard time and time again from our industry partners that getting on our $33 billion dollar Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) Program was too complicated and took too long. And our customer agencies said they need access to the latest and greatest technologies in order to best meet their missions. Our IT Schedule 70 Plain Language Roadmap explains the offer process in plain English, offering step-by-step instructions on how to navigate it. The Roadmap has had over 6,900 hits to date, and we expect that number to keep going up.
The MIE Initiative also included two programs that drastically cut the time it takes to get new and innovative companies on IT Schedule 70: the FASt Lane and the IT Schedule 70 Startup Springboard.
In the past, it took an average of 110 days to get on IT Schedule 70 – the FASt Lane cuts that down to an average of only 31 days for new offers. I'm pleased to report that more than 108 new companies came on Schedule via the FASt Lane in the program's first six months, the majority of them small businesses. And now it's also easier and faster for modifications to be made to existing contracts. Our average modification cycle time used to be 16 days, but we've reduced that average to a mere 2 days and completed more than 2,200 FASt Lane modifications in FY16.
The Startup Springboard also addresses the rapid pace and growth of the government's technology needs. By reconsidering how we review the potential of highly qualified, young companies, we've made it possible for emerging startups to be included on IT Schedule 70 sooner and deliver their products and services to federal agencies faster than ever before. Since April, 195 companies have completed training. Five of these companies have submitted offers, and one has been awarded.
With the FASt Lane and the Startup Springboard, our small business partners and innovative IT companies are able to get on Schedule faster, allowing GSA to make the most current products and services available to our federal partners at the speed of business.
Getting on Schedule helps all companies access the federal marketplace. To give further assistance in finding business opportunities, GSA updated the Small Business Forecast Tool that now lets small businesses search for upcoming contracting opportunities worldwide in real time. Five more agencies have added information to the tool, with others expressing interest in getting onboard.
Making It Easier – Phase Two
GSA is, of course, committed to the continued success of these initial MIE programs – but we're not stopping there. Building on our momentum, the second phase of the Making It Easier initiative focuses on improving our existing acquisition processes. Our goal is Making It Easier for all companies on Schedule, new and veteran alike.
GSA recently conducted a survey regarding the MAS modification process to gather industry feedback, and used the insights garnered from 170 companies to inform our new MAS Modification Process Improvementproject. The results indicated that over 60% of respondents felt that checklists and templates would be helpful, so one of the first project steps is to update our current web resources so contractors can easily what they need.
I mentioned the new IT Schedule 70 Plain Language Roadmap earlier. This helpful tool will not be limited to just Schedule 70 – we are currently developing plain language guides for each Schedule. Until they are complete, we are releasing Quickstart Guides: short, simply-written introductory guides on how to use MAS contract vehicles. The first release is the eOffer Quickstart Guide [PDF - 56 KB] and additional Quickstart Guides for other parts of the offer and modification processes will follow.
Phase 2 of MIE also includes an overhaul of our current Help Deskstructure. We'll now offer a single point of contact for all inquiries, putting an end to the confusion (and frustration) some have encountered when trying to figure out which of our Help Desks to contact. FAS is fixing this by training the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) on the expertise and services each of our help desks provide to our stakeholders. This will allow representatives to direct customers to the correct place the first time.
We're also updating our contact us page, which provides a single point of contact for inquiries about all matters GSA.
Lastly, we are publishing GSA's Making it Easier to do Business with the Government Report on October 24th. [PDF - 1 MB] This describes the initiatives accomplished in FY 2016 and their impact on our stakeholders, and also explains how GSA will continue to promote these principles of innovation and change in FY 2017.
I'm excited about these next steps in Making It Easier for suppliers to partner with us, and look forward to sharing our future successes with you.