GSA Initiative to Improve Product Number Quality
On July 24, 2014, the General Services Administration (GSA) issued a notice of its intent to embark on an initiative to improve product number quality on Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) for contractors who offer products on their GSA contract schedule.
MPNs and UPCs
GSA is requesting that Manufacturers Part Numbers (MPNs) and Universal Product Codes (UPCs) be identified for each awarded contract item. GSA understands that the UPC is not available for all products. GSA is not asking contractors to register their products for a UPC; however, they are requesting that every effort be made to obtain the UPC from the manufacturer and provide that UPC as part of their data upload. If a product does not have a UPC, the MPN would be required as a minimum.
GSA is embarking on several initiatives to improve the quality of their offerings on Multiple Award Schedules. As such, they are seeking collaboration with industry to help improve product number data quality of awarded base products and associated descriptive data on GSA Advantage. According to GSA, the anticipated outcome of this effort is to provide agencies with quality, meaningful, and complete data to better search and compare products. This initiative is one of many steps being taken to improve agencies’ experience when using MAS to meet their mission-critical needs. Providing a comprehensive list of awarded products and their associated UPCs/MPNs on GSA Advantage can potentially yield:
- Increased business from federal, state, and local government buyers who are looking for standard UPCs to make accurate product comparisons
- Increased visibility from government buyers by reducing the number of redundant product search results
- Compliance with the requirements of Clause I-FSS-600 Contract Price Lists (October 2013) and Clause 552.238-71 Submission and Distribution of Authorized FSS Schedule Price Lists (May 2003)
Since there are millions of potential variations in models, parts, specifications and products, many MAS contractors will find compliance with the notice impossible, or at the very least cost prohibitive. The Coalition for Government Procurement has heard from MAS contractors indicating that the notice will require significant changes to their electronic systems. Interestingly, neither of the Clauses cited above require submission of a UPC or MPN, raising questions whether the notice is consistent with the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act. The Paperwork Reduction Act ensures that the costs/burdens on the public of any proposed data reporting requirement are appropriately and transparently considered by the government.
Perhaps this notice is intended to begin that transparency. Tom Sharpe, GSA Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Commissioner, recently held a dialogue with the Coalition for Government Procurement (August 12, 2014) regarding the notice. Tom pointed out advantages to MAS contractors of this initiative and heard remarks from Coalition members on the compliance challenges they face.
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