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GSA Launches a new Pilot Program and Resource Center for Acquiring Innovative Commercial Items

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Editor's Note: This is the third in a three-part series about acquisition innovation at GSA. Visit the first blog and second blog in the series.

Earlier this year, Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Commissioner Alan Thomas laid out his priorities: To make FAS easy, efficient and modern. A major part of that involves improving the customer and supplier experience and making it easier for our partners -- both vendors and agencies -- to work with GSA. Our new Commercial Solutions Opening procedure, or CSO, might just meet all those criteria.

CSO is a new way of doing business with GSA. It’s a streamlined service for high-speed contracting of innovative commercial products, technology and services. Operating now as a pilot through GSA’s Assisted Acquisition Service (AAS) and authorized by Section 880 of the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), GSA’s CSO procedure offers fast-track vendor selection timelines, simplified contract terms, and a preference for allowing the vendor to retain core intellectual property, when appropriate. CSO is designed to attract start-up companies and those new to the federal market and should benefit both government and taxpayers with reduced costs and improved performance.

How does CSO differ from other acquisitions? In addition to the items outlined above, CSO is not governed by some contracting rules set out in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). CSO is also different from Other Transaction Authority (OTA),  the legally binding procurement agreement between government and industry authorized for scientific research, technology development and prototype projects. To be clear, GSA does not have OTA authority. However, the CSO procedure can be used for establishing an agreement using OTA authority or a contract not governed by normal FAR rules. 

GSA has also created an internal Procurement Innovation Resource Center (PIRC) to assist with implementing the new CSO procedure and highlight other tools and resources that promote using unique contract vehicles for innovative solutions. Please visit the PIRC at gsa.gov/pirc.

GSA will use the CSO procedure for internal acquisitions, and to support other agency acquisitions through the AAS. GSA CSO contracts are limited to $10 million and the pilot program ends on September 30, 2022. For more information on CSO, please visit https://aas.gsa.gov/.

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