FMSS Schedule vendors resist shift to IT Schedule

Financial Management System Software Schedule contract holders are
fighting plans to consolidate the mandatory financial systems schedule into the broader
Information Technology Schedule.


The General Services Administration is expected to shift the administration of FMSS
Schedule contracts from the Federal Technology Service to the Federal Supply Service. As
part of the change, use of the financial systems product contracts would no longer be
mandatory, federal officials said.


The Chief Financial Officers Council, the Joint Financial Management Improvement
Program, the Office of Management and Budget and GSA are working on the plan to revamp the
FMSS Schedule. Current FMSS contracts expire Sept. 30. GSA wants to finish overhauling the
schedule by October 1999.


Because the current contracts would expire before GSA has finished the overhaul, GSA
plans to extend the FMSS contracts until Sept. 30, 1999. New contracts would be negotiated
as IT Schedule deals, said William N. Gormley, assistant commissioner for acquisition at
FSS.


The details of the change are still not final, Gormley said.


Supply service officials have said they don’t want to maintain a standalone
schedule for the FMSS contracts. The CFO Council said that the consolidation would reduce
the cost of running the program and increase competition.


According to a GSA official close to the negotiations, the government still wants
agencies to use government-certified financial systems. But without a separate FMSS
Schedule, GSA or some other organization would have to set up a new certification process,
the official said.


Three FMSS vendors—American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va., KPMG Peat
Marwick of New York and Keane Federal Systems Inc. of Rockville, Md.—have formed the
Coalition for Federal Financial Accountability to fight the elimination of the FMSS
Schedule.


The schedule has helped agencies meet financial accounting standards, said Michael F.
Canning, the coalition’s executive director.


“From a taxpayer standpoint, we don’t see how this core financial management
software can be combined with the IT Schedule,” he said.


The shift also could result in higher costs because vendors will have to spend money to
market their products, said Harry Barschdorf, vice president of AMS’ federal civilian
agency consulting practices division. A lack of steady government customers could also
lead vendors to raise prices, he said.


“My concern is that a lot of the fundamental reasons why the FMSS Schedule was
created in the first place are in danger of being put by the wayside,” Barschdorf
said. “We are talking about unique products here that should have additional
controls.”


The coalition sent letters to Vice President Gore and congressional leaders seeking to
block changes to the FMSS Schedule contracts.


But the shift is in the spirit of procurement reforms that open government markets to
competition and create lower prices, said Larry Allen, executive director of the Coalition
for Government Procurement.  

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