Over the last two months, we’ve all seen a lot of change: from ringing in a new year and a presidential administration transition, to the ramping up of plans for mass COVID-19 vaccination sites across the country. I’ve made my own transition -- on Jan. 20, 2021, I left private industry to return to GSA in the role of FAS Commissioner. But I want to point out one thing that has not and will not change: our commitment at FAS to making progress on major reform initiatives and administrative priorities, while supporting our customer agencies during a global pandemic.
The Biden-Harris administration has outlined four key priorities moving forward, namely addressing the COVID-19 pandemic; building a bridge to economic recovery; advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility; and tackling the climate crisis. We know that it will take the whole of government to address these challenges and FAS is already playing a critical role in this important work.
To address the COVID-19 pandemic, GSA is leading the effort across the federal government as the co-chair for the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. In addition, GSA is working with suppliers across the country to secure the supply chain of COVID-19 related products and services, including personal protective equipment, vaccination and health related services and technology to support remote working. As of today, GSA has sourced and supplied more than 72 million masks, gloven and other cleaning supplies to federal, state and local entities across the nation, and this work continues to accelerate.
Work is also underway to modernize the federal fleet and fleet management systems, which supports both of the administration’s priorities to fight climate change. GSA manages the mandatory vehicle acquisition program which consolidates motor vehicle purchasing for the federal government. GSA continuously works with our suppliers to offer the federal marketplace the most current, commercially-available, advanced technology vehicles resulting in a greener, more fuel efficient fleet. GSA is already looking ahead to the possibility of investing in new technologies, including electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, to continue to move the needle on addressing the climate crisis through our fleet and vehicle purchasing programs.
GSA is also taking a leadership role in ensuring that the federal supply chain of products and services is Made in America, and leverages American innovation. We are evaluating policies and processes that will allow agencies to make better buying decisions, leading to more American suppliers and providers with opportunities to work with the federal government, while reducing supply chain risk through increased reliance on data.
We are also looking at how we support economic recovery and growth. This means reviewing agency policy and procedures, examining supplier scouting partnerships, supporting updates to the Federal Acquisition Regulations, and providing transparency around data with Made in America laws. And we’ll continue working to reduce barriers to doing business with the government, and improving access to opportunities for qualified suppliers, especially those from historically under-served communities.
A few other items of note
You may know that anyone seeking to do business with the federal government must have a unique entity identifier (UEI) for use in government award systems. Currently, UEIs are a DUNS number. It was announced earlier that is changing and users will switch to a new UEI generated directly by SAM.gov. The deadline for completing that conversion has been extended, with OMB now directing federal agencies to finalize their transition to using new SAM-generated UEIs by April 2022.
FAS’s Strategic Direction - The Federal Marketplace Strategy
I am pleased to share with you GSA’s Federal Marketplace (FMP) Strategy Winter '21 Release, our framework for continuous improvements in the buying and selling experience for all of GSA’s customers, vendors, and acquisition professionals. While there are many enhancements worth noting, I’ll just highlight three.
We’re continuing to streamline and improve how we manage data associated with the more than 50 million products and services offered through the federal marketplace.
Our most recent updates include:
- The development of the Authoritative Catalog Repository (ACR) which improves catalog load times for suppliers.
- Pre-solicitation (planned for Spring 2021) for the Common Catalog Platform (CCP), a web interface that will improve the quality of data collected for GSA Advantage!® customers, reduce the amount of time suppliers spend managing their catalogs, and make it easier to review and approve catalogs for the FAS workforce.
- The continuation of onboarding additional manufacturers to the Verified Products Portal (VPP) - our home for authoritative product content and specifications for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products.
Login Enhancements for Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Systems
As you know, we’ve been focused on coming up with a better way for our stakeholders to log in and do business with us online. Authentication methods for customers and suppliers such as GSA FAS ID leverage secure multi-factor authentication and simplify access to multiple GSA systems by using a single email and a password. As of January 2021, we’ve also added a Personal Identity Verification (PIV)/Common Access Card (CAC) login feature to several systems used by federal civilian and military customers. This improvement makes it easier, faster, and safer for customers to log on to multiple GSA systems.
Big news - our legacy SAM.gov system will be merged into our improved - and user tested - beta.SAM.gov environment this spring and that new site will lose it’s beta moniker.
This is exciting for many reasons, not the least being suppliers and buyers will find it easier to get things done. No longer will you have to log on to two sites to conduct business - everything will be housed on the new SAM.gov. Users will see upgrades to the look and feel of the beta site this spring, then we’ll make the transition to the full site shortly after. This change will affect all SAM.gov users.
I’ve shared just a few of the many improvements in our FMP Strategy Winter 2021 release - there are many enhancements detailed on our website. Please set aside a minute to listen to our FAS Focus podcast, watch our new FMP video and check out all the FMP improvements included in the Winter ‘21 release.
As we move forward, there is much to celebrate, and many additional opportunities for us to direct our focus towards, to continue to improve the mission value FAS drives for our agency partners, and industry partners. We will continue to engage with industry to ensure we develop pathways for the most innovative, cost effective, and mission centric products and services into the federal marketplace, and will continue to find ways to serve our mission partners across the federal government. I look forward to keeping you informed along the way.