GSA adding new capabilities to FSS schedules

The General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service will let vendors submit offers for request for proposals electronically beginning May 17, said Darlene McKnew, director of the business management division of the agency's IT Acquisition Center.

McKnew spoke today at a conference sponsored by Federal Schedules Inc. of Herndon, Va.

The new service, called eOffer, also will let companies that want to get on the schedule submit contracts through a Web portal, said Larry Allen, vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, a Washington industry trade association.

Allen said the new system will lead to quicker turnaround times on the schedules'for vendors to bid on RFPs and for FSS to review offers and award a contract.

'EOffer will make it easier for companies to fill out their bids electronically and easier for a contracting officer to read them,' Allen said. 'And hopefully the offers will be a little bit easier to understand.'

Allen said a major concern of GSA officials has been the time the agency takes to review vendors' offers to get a schedule contract. Allen said contracts can languish for several months before they are looked at.

In addition to eOffer, FSS plans to improve the search capabilities of its GSA Advantage system. It also will let users of its E-Buy system log in with one username and password instead of one for each schedule and will customize GSA Advantage for agencies to have a virtual store.

FSS commissioner Donna Bennett recently said the new search functions will provide a more manageable way to find products. She said the listings will include a description and photo of the product.

E-Buy users now have a password for each schedule contract they hold. Bennett said the change also will let companies list more than one point of contact for each special item number. Additionally, GSA is adding a tracking tool to let vendors follow a bid through the entire procurement process.

Bennett said GSA will customize GSA Advantage for agencies to put up only their blanket purchasing agreement contracts for their employees to see. She said GSA has done one for the Air Force and is discussing this with six other departments.

Thomas R. Temin contributed to this story.

(Posted May 5, 2004 and updated June 3, 2004)

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