This is the fifth part of a six-part article on upcoming changes in federal contracting.

So what do individuals like Samuel Bornstein and organizations like ISSA want from GSA?

They say it is not to put an end to FSSI, or even any one part of FSSI.

“What I’m striving for is to get GSA to follow the law, to study impacts to small business, and to make a fully informed decision on what the best acquisition strategy is,” says Balek.

The Small Business Act requires that, for any consolidated contract, an agency identify any negative impact on small business concerns. This applies to BMO Services the same as it does to JanSan FSSI or the FSSI for Office Supplies Third Generation (OS3).

In the case of OS3, GSA submitted on Oct. 23, 2013, its Bundling Analysis For Office Supplies For the Requisition Channel of OS3. The document states, “The contracting officer — after reviewing the market research, benefit analysis and any other relevant documentation — has determined that the solicitation can be issued because its benefits reach the measurably substantial threshold.”

Opponents of FSSI, as currently constructed, say GSA has only performed market research, and that market research is not that same as an impact assessment or a cost-benefit analysis.

“That’s where the whole semantic dodge occurred,” says Cotton III. “Market research is something that a government agency has to do as it develops its acquisition strategy. And that’s more in determining whether or not the requirement is suitable for small business competition. What we’re talking about is a higher watermark. It’s a greater measure.”

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) agrees. In an April 11, 2014, letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the U.S. Small Business Administration said, “SBA has explained its interpretation of the Small Business Act to GSA and specifically stated that GSA was required to prepare a consolidation analysis that assessed the negative impact the acquisition will have (if any) on small businesses. GSA has still failed to perform this negative impact assessment.”

In the same letter, the Small Business Administration wrote that GSA’s conclusion that the benefits of OS3 outweigh the negative impact was “perfunctory, and, again, appears to be backed by no concrete data or analysis.”

Bornstein says he has plenty of evidence and testimonials demonstrating how the FSSI has negatively impacted small businesses in the office supply industry.

He is just beginning to collect data on how it will affect the janitorial and sanitation supply industry.

One might surmise that a comprehensive economic impact study would eventually lead to GSA mothballing FSSI, but Balek insists he believes there is a middle ground somewhere.

Bornstein agrees there is a “sweet spot” in FSSI where the federal government can maximize savings while minimizing the damage done to small businesses — including BSCs.

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How Federal Strategic Sourcing Differs From The Private Sector
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Status Of Government Cleaning Contracts