The Federal Marketplace Strategy and the Winter 2021 Release

February 25, 2021 Season 1 Episode 3
The Federal Marketplace Strategy and the Winter 2021 Release
Show Notes Transcript

 GSA's Federal Marketplace Strategy delivers an integrated set of policy, process, and technology improvements to modernize and simplify your acquisition experience. Hear from project sponsor Crystal Philcox as we learn all about the latest release, where the project started and what we can expect in the future.

Federal Marketplace Strategy
To learn more about the Federal Marketplace Strategy, visit:

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>> [Music] Welcome to GSA Fast Focus, a look at what's happening throughout GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. In this episode, Crystal Philcox, the Assistant Commissioner for Enterprise Strategy Management in the Federal Acquisition Service is here to talk about GSA's federal marketplace or FMP initiative. That's GSA's plan to modernize and simplify the buying and selling experience for customers, suppliers, and, of course, acquisition professionals all around the world. We'll also run down some of the webinars and CLP opportunities coming up in the next few weeks, and put a few fascinating facts in Fast Focus. Welcome back to Fast Focus, a look at what's happening throughout GSA Federal Acquisition Service. I'm Joan Kornbluth, and in just a few minutes, I will be talking with Crystal Philcox, GSA's Assistant Commissioner for enterprise strategy management in the Federal Acquisition Service. In that role Crystal directs strategic business planning for Fast and also leads data governance. And we have got a lot to talk about. Crystal also leads major initiatives, including category management, digital experience, and GSA's federal marketplace strategy. GSA just put out the FMP strategy, Winter 21 Release, so it's really a great time to be speaking with Crystal. But first, did you know that PSHC, GSA's professional services and human capital category offers optional scope reviews that analyze the scope and pool [inaudible] assignments of your proposed requirement? If this is something that you're in need of, you will not want to miss the next PSHC office hours coming up on Thursday, March 11th.

The time is 1:00 to 2:

-00 p.m. Eastern. That means it starts at noon central 11:00 a.m. in the Mountain Zone, which is a nice mid morning treat for you.

A coffee break time, 10:

00 a.m. in the Pacific Time Zone. And if you're tuning in from an office in Tokyo, you better set your alarm

because the live office hours start at 3:

00 a.m. you already know how to convert the date, so I'm not going to do that for you. Anyway, PSHC office hours for March, the date is Thursday, March 11th. They want you to know that Brian Booth will be the leader of this webinar. He and their knowledgeable project managers and contracting staff are ready to help you define your requirements and develop best in class statements of work and performance work statements. Join them Thursday, March 11th, starting at 1:00 p.m. [music] Eastern to learn more about how GSA can help you find the right solution for your complex professional services requirement. More details and registration information is at [ Music ] Welcome back to Fast Focus, a look at what's happening in and around GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. I'm Joan Kornbluth and joining me now is Crystal Philcox. She is the Assistant Commissioner for Enterprise Strategy Management in GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. Thank you very much for joining us today, Crystal. >> Thank you, Joan for having me. And I'm going to just go out on a limb here and guess that you are probably GSA's first AC for Enterprise Strategy Management, who also has a master's degree in English literature. >> [Laughs] Yeah, it's, you know, I would highly recommend it. It's great for really understanding analysis and reading between the lines, so to speak. >> And critical thinking and all of that? >> All of that. Yes. It's great. >> Well, your title is a real mouthful. Can you break it down a little bit for us? And to also paraphrase one of my favorite brands, the talking heads, how did you get here? >> [Laughs] Sure. Yeah, enterprise strategy management in the Federal Acquisition Service really focuses on helping the organization think about designing their strategy and how to identify that strategy. It also helps the organization execute on the strategy. And then we help them actually measure their success toward meeting that strategy or delivering on that strategy. So it really is all about the strategy and helping the organization move forward. So I have run organizations like this in the past. I have been in government my whole career, and actually much of it in the IRS was there for 27 years and have been doing this kind of strategy work in a number of different ways and have been with GSA now for about four years, came over to work with a technology transformation service, running operations for them. And then moved around a little bit until I landed here and really started helping Fast think about how to move forward with strategy and modernization and metrics. >> Well, GSA and the IRS are very, very different organizations, what attracted you to GSA? >> You know, I really at the time was very interested in the technology expertise that was here. And a lot -- they were very forward thinking. GSA's very forward thinking in technology. And when I got here, I realized also just how innovative GSA is. And there's a lot of space here to be innovative. And there's framework setup for people to think in innovative ways and put forward their ideas and the ability to really move forward on those. So I just feel like I am very lucky to have landed in such a great agency. >> Okay. We know a little bit about you now, and it's time for us to move on to the big news of the day. GSA recently issued the Winter 21 Federal Marketplace Strategy. Now if that phrase is new to you, the federal marketplace or FMP, the federal marketplace describes how government agencies buy the products, services, and solutions that they need to get their jobs done. Vendor supply the stuff and GSA provides the acquisition systems and services to help the agencies buy what they need. And the FMP strategy is GSA's plan to simplify the buying and selling experience for everyone involved, the buyers, the sellers, and the acquisition pros. So, Crystal, what are some of the highlights of the winter FMP release? >> Sure. This winter we have a number of really great improvements to share with folks. We have really been working on our catalog and the offerings that are out there in our catalog. And so what we've done most recently is put together sort of the base data solution for that. And that really sets us up and gets us prepared for kind of a new vendor portal around catalog and makes it much easier for suppliers to interact with us on their catalog. It also -- just setting up this base data solution, you know, really starts to get us prepared for improving some of the catalog data, the product data, getting that a little more standardized, bringing in new data elements that help buyers understand what they're buying, makes it more makes it easier for them to compare different products and get the best value for them, whatever they're looking for. So that catalog is a key piece of the modernization for the Federal Acquisition Service. We've also got some things like a number of new login enhancements on a number of systems. Now, these are, you know, you think, oh, it's just a new login. But these are real improvements that sets set us up for better experience across the board. Because in the future, it'll allow us to pull a lot of systems together and share authentication across those so that when you login, you know, you're logging in once. And so this is sort of the beginning of that. We've brought in the -- we've expanded the new -- the GSA FAS ID for suppliers. We've added PIV and CAC cards for buyers, and so these are great improvements. It'll make it much more of a one click process for folks. I also want to share that is finally getting out of beta status this spring. [Laughs] So that's a big announcement for us. So this spring will really -- but the and the beta sites will be able to merge together. So instead of going to two places, suppliers only have to go to one spot. And I do want to share that for our internal workforce, we're really progressing on some process [inaudible], including some bots that are pre-populating forms and templates. And that really frees up time for our acquisition workforce so that they can put that time into, you know, improve service for customers. >> So each of these releases that you put out, and I know that the federal marketplace puts out four at least releases every year contain a lot of improvements and there are many, many moving pieces to each of them. It's not just one or two or three changes. >> There are. And that's really part of what the federal marketplace, sort of behind the scenes is doing. It's working with all of these projects that are delivering improvements, sort of customer facing improvements. And we're working with those projects to make sure that as things roll out, right, they roll out in a way that makes sense to people, in context of the other thing, other ways that they're interacting with us, that they, you know, that that really those improvements don't sort of crash into each other. That they make sense to folks and allow them to tap into the best version of the products and services we have to offer them, and make it easier and easier to really get some value out of interacting with us. >> I'm Joan Kornbluth, you're listening to GSA Fast Focus. If you've got questions about anything you're hearing today, or someone you'd like to hear featured on the program, just send us a note. The email address is that is G-S-A-F-A-S We are talking with Crystal Philcox, Assistant Commissioner of GSA's Office of Enterprise Strategy management. Now when we talk about the FMP, GSA's Federal Marketplace Strategy, it's really easy to look at the big picture, the initiative as a whole. But there really are a lot of moving parts here. There's legislation, there's technology, the process changes. How many projects make up the initiative as a whole? >> You know, we are tracking just under 30 different projects. We've got a number of those, little more than a handful that are sort of our cornerstone projects, like our big modernization projects. But there's a lot of great people working in FAS and so there's a lot of things going on. So, you know, people have different projects going on in various places. And so really there are about almost 30 projects that are delivering improvements to either buyers and suppliers in different ways. And we're working with each and every one of them focused on making sure that they are really thinking about that customer experience. And that it's coming out in context with all the other projects. And so, all those projects are able to share information with each other, talk about their convergence points. And really think about how we're going out to provide service to agencies so that they can deliver on their missions. >> Is there one, and I know this is very, very unfair to ask you. Is there one that has been such a huge lift over the last couple of months that you're very, very excited to see it finally walking out the door in this release? >> Oh, gosh. Well, there's a couple I think. You know, mass consolidating our schedules from 24 schedules to one was absolutely huge. They're in the tail end of that now, and so we're talking in this release about some education pieces and learning pieces. And, you know, they're going to have a long tail to finalize that consolidation, but the majority of work there is done. And that is really a game changer for the way that people are buying and selling in the federal government. And I would say that the emerging version of that might be commercial platform. So we've got some information about our commercial platforms project in this release. And it really is, you know, they have brought on -- they're in a proof of concept right now and they're working with a number of agencies to start to track some of their smaller commercial spend. And it really does open up a much more simple buying channel for folks, and a way for businesses who may not have interacted with the federal government to get on a buying platform that they can now offer their products to the federal government. So that's sort of an emerging buying channel that it could be a game changer in the future. So both of those are very exciting. >> So this is the time in the program when I usually pull out my -- I hate to say crystal ball, and ask people to give us a look ahead at what's next. Now, you just sort of did when you were talking about the commercial platforms, but could you give us a look ahead for what's next for the federal marketplace. A few other things that may be bubbling under. >> So I would also talk a little bit about that catalog management capability. That is really going to improve the ease and the accuracy of the offerings that we have. And it's going to feed some of our, you know, transactional buying systems, like GSA Advantage, and really improve the data in there and improve our ability to start to, you know, look at the application. And, you know, improve the way that it's delivering information to buyers and make it much easier for folks to compare and buy. And really, really know that when they have put something on order, that they can be assured that that's exactly what they bought, and that they know when it'll get there. And so, there's, you know that, I think, between that and some of the new digital tools that we have in the hopper, we're really looking at a much easier way to buy as well as a much easier way to for sellers to interact with Fast. >> Very exciting stuff coming up. >> Mm hmm. Absolutely. >> I'm Joan Kornbluth. You are listening to Fast Focus from the US General Services Administration. I am talking with Crystal Philcox, Assistant Commissioner of GSA's Office of Enterprise Strategy Management. We've been talking about the Winter 2021 Federal Marketplace Strategy Release. I know we have just a couple of minutes left. This is the seventh full FMP Release. At the end of the year GSA put out there very cool FMP Retro 2020 Release. I'm not sure if we need to count that one as an individual release or it stands by itself. I don't know, how do you think about that one? >> I know, it was really just sort of a summary. You know, we do these quarterly, and so sometimes, you know, we'll pull improvements in that are that may seem a little more detailed. And so, when we pulled back and took a look at the year 2020 and all the improvements that we put out, it was a great way to sort of just, you know, go a level higher and look at sort of the bigger picture about what we were able to do during that year that really did provide value to buyers and suppliers that are interacting in this acquisition space at government. And so that was fun for me. I really enjoyed that retro release because it, you know, it led us really take a step back and reflect on all the great things we had done. >> And it had a super cool graphic also. >> A super cool graphic. [Laughs] Everybody should go check it out. >> Well, a lot of people did. I mean, that when we were looking at the metrics for that one recently, and that one got a lot of attention. >> Yeah. >> So if you have not seen it yet, go to and just punch in FMP Strategy, and you will be directed directly to that one. Anyway, how are you measuring the success of the FMP strategy? >> Oh, you know, in the end I think we will be successful if our customers and our suppliers really are able to see and feel real improvements in their buying and selling experiences in government. And that's really our benchmark. You know, we still feel I think like we're in a little bit of a baseline year with customer experience. And so, we do have some metrics that we're tracking, but we are getting a little more mature in the way that we're identifying and measuring our customer experience so that we can really get a good, you know, we can track the improvements that we have made as well as get a good baseline, a pre baseline before some of these really bigger modernization projects roll out. >> If someone wants to provide some feedback to you or tell you about a pain point, how can they reach out to the team? >> Oh, I'm glad you asked. So on that there's a site that is federal, that's And on that site we have a community of practice that folks can join. We do occasionally pull off that list, so we'll use people who join up for that community of practice as testers, or we'll send little surveys out, or bounce back kind of questionnaires. And, you know, if we're sort of testing out a concept or interested in some feedback, we'll use that that way. There's also an email there, the, and would love to hear from folks. If you have thoughts about some of the improvements that have come out in previous releases, or this coming release, we'd love to hear about that. If you think that they're great, we'd love to hear it. If you think that there are some, you know, big pain points that we are missing, we'd love to hear that too. So, very always interested to hear, you know, in how people participate, and how our customers actually participate in helping us design the federal marketplace initiatives. >> This really is a truly agile project. I have seen it in action. I can vouch for that one. Well, thank you so much. Again, you can reach out through the project. Or If you have any questions for Crystal, or would like to learn more about any of the programs that we've been talking about, or you just want to drop [music] us a line, the address is Coming up news of another great training opportunity and some fascinating Fast facts. I'm Joan Kornbluth. You are listening to GSA Fast Focus. [ Music ] Welcome back to Fast Focus. A look at what's happening throughout GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. I'm Joan Kornbluth. As always, we have got a full plate of fast specific webinars and trainings coming up. I am joined now by producer Max Tempura, who is here with the tales of an upcoming training session that will answer all of your burning questions about the multiple award schedule. Am I right? >> That is right, Joan. It is the March edition of the Mass PMO's Monthly Ask Me Anything series. This is a great way for current and prospective industry partners to get their multiple award schedule questions answered. The next live webinar is March 18th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Do you need me to do the time conversion for you, Joan? >> No, no, no. Let me, let me. I love this part. I love this part. >> Gotta go. >> It lets me stretch a little bit, 2:00 pm Eastern.

That is a 11:

00 a.m. for my friends in the Pacific Time Zone, right,

standard 11:

00 a.m. Yes, noon Mountain time, right? >> Yep.

>> [Variable] 1:

00 p.m. Central time, and it will already be dark for anyone watching

across the pond because it's 7:

00 p.m. GMT. >> Wow. Okay. So just to recap, I think those times are right, but the date is Thursday, March 18th. The Mass office hours from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern. And the rest -- >> I covered those. I covered them. They're correct. >> Yeah. Okay. >> Mm-hmm. >> All right. [Music] I see the registration info is now up on the GSA events page. Just go to and scroll down to the events section to find out more. >> Thank you, Max. I'm Joan Kornbluth. Coming up on Fast Focus a few fascinating Fast facts. [ Music ] Welcome back to GSA Fast Focus. I'm Joan Kornbluth. And we are almost out of time for the day. I do want to leave you with a few fascinating Fast facts. This week about GSA Smart Pay. First of all, Max, do you know that GSA Smart Pay is the world's largest commercial payment solution program? >> No, I didn't know that. >> Well, it is. It provides services to more than 560 federal agencies, organizations, and Native American tribal governments. >> Wow. >> But that's not all. Any idea how much the total spend with the program in fiscal year 20 was? Now remember, before you give me a guess, there was much less travel than in years past. Probably less fuel spending by the Federal fleet drivers also. >> Okay. So I feel like every time we do one of these, I really mess up the numbers. I don't get quite right. I feel like a few billion dollars. >> Well-- >> Is that a bad guess? >> That's not a bad guess. >> [Laughs] No guest is a bad guess, I guess, right? I mean, that's what -- >> Right. >> -- they teach you in math? >> Mm-hmm. >> Okay. >> Up a little bit. >> Was I close? Oh, so it's more, okay. >> Yeah. Well, it depends on few. I mean. >> [Laughs] So let's go 20 billion. >> That's not a bad guess. It's not the right one, though. The answer was 28.7 billion. That's down from 32.6 billion in FY 19. And I was correct. The biggest hits were taken by the travel program. Travel saw the majority of transactions in fiscal year 19 seeing 9 billion and spend in 19. So only 5.4 billion in spend last year. Most likely due to the worldwide pandemic. Fleet spend dropped from 1.7 billion in fiscal year 19 to 1.5 billion last year. Not as huge a drop as I would have thought. >> Yeah, yeah. I agree. Yeah. >> When you think. Here's another interesting one. Each GSA smart pay account, on average, spent approximately $391 per transaction. I have a travel card. I didn't use it at all last year. Did you? >> No, didn't go anywhere. >> Okay. So that contributes to the average somebody was spending on our behalf. Finally, do you care to wager a guess which federal agency ranked number one in spend in the GSA Smart Pay Program? >> Yeah, sure. I think I can help get this one right. >> Okay. >> So I'm thinking a group that is all over the world. Does, you know, travel. So my first guest is the State Department. >> That is a terrific guess. That's what I would have thought too. I mean, they've got people on TV why all over the world? It's not a good -- it's a good guess. It's not the right guess. You want to try another one. >> Okay. NASA is a huge government, you know, agency all across the country with different service centers, you know, and tons of states, so maybe them? >> That's another great one. I mean, you've got people going back and forth across the country. They've got all those missions that they're doing. Not right either. >> All right. >> If only we had a drum roll. [Music] The Department of Veterans Affairs, which actually does make sense when you think about it, because they have got all the hospitals all over the country, and all the offices all over the country. They are the top agency by program spent $12 billion. Twelve billion. That is 43% of total GSA Smart Pay Programs spend. >> That -- >> Quite impressive. >> That is. >> Those are all the fascinating Fast facts we have for you today. Don't forget if there is anything else Fast related that you would like to learn about, or someone you would like to hear featured on Fast Focus, let us know. Just send a note to That is I'm Joan Kornbluth. I put the words together, Max Stempura is the producer, Dominy Artist [assumed spelling] is handling the social media. Thank you to Crystal Philcox for joining us in the studio this week. Fast Focus is a production of the US General Services Administration's Office of Strategic Communication. [ Music ]