Here are highlights from the GSA Deputy Administrator Susan Brita’s attempt to explain the GSA’s PLA preference policy before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee from a previous TTAPLAs.com blog post:
Drawing from his experience bidding on projects in the private sector prior to becoming a Congressman, Rep. Mike Kelly (R.-Pa.) argued that the GSA’s PLA preference discourages some contractors from competing for federal contracts by tilting the RFP process in favor of contractors submitting PLA offers.
“A 10 percent bonus doesn’t level the playing field, that totally tilts it,” said Kelly. “You set those type of parameters [in GSA RFPs], you are setting them to get one type of a bidder to get the award.”
“I see it as exclusionary,” said Kelly. “I don’t see it as increasing the field of bidders, I see it as narrowing it down.”
Chairman Lankford and Kelly questioned Brita about the findings of a consultant’s report funded by the GSA that was critical of government-mandated PLAs on construction projects in the GSA’s PLA pilot program in various construction markets across the country.
Brita’s testimony indicated the consultant’s Jan. 27, 2010, report was “suspended” and only remains in draft form. Brita said it was shelved to “let the marketplace determine the applicability of PLAs rather than rely on the report.”
Chairman Lankford and Kelly suggested the report was suspended because its initial findings contradicted the GSA’s existing PLA pilot program, which had already been well underway since its launch in August 2009.
“It seems to me that the information they [the GSA] got back is not consistent with what they were looking to find,” said Kelly.
In addition, subcommittee members and witnesses raised objections to the GSA’s April 2010 implementation of the anti-competitive and discriminatory PLA preference policy that awards additional credit to PLA offerors since the GSA’s report was critical of PLAs in various markets across the country.
Note: This exchange between Kelly and Brita summarizes the problems with the GSA’s PLA preference policy.
GSA PLA Policy Created Delays
So much for government-mandated PLAs delivering efficiency in government contracting.
The GSA Headquarters at 1800 F Street in Washington, D.C., suffered delays as a result of the local building trades council unions refusing to agree to the terms of a PLA the contractor presented and signed with the carpenters union, which is not represented by the local construction trade union council. Contentious PLA negotiations are commonplace when government entities require firms to negotiate a PLA with unions post contract award. Unions know the project cannot proceed without a PLA, so they refuse to make concessions. The dispute delayed the project by months and refuted the common pro-PLA claim that these schemes deliver coordination and efficiency in contracting. Susan Brita talks about it here.