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Oct 25, 2011



The Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) is a mandate initiated by the Whitehouse as executed by GSA and OMB. Even though we as contractors have paid large sums to obtain a GSA Schedule and train personnel to manage, maintain and promote our products and services, the GSA is carrying out the FSSI mandate by the Whitehouse to get rid of most of us.

It is a perversion of a federal contracting program whereby the GSA is forming agreements known as Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPA's), which are usually engaged by the Ordering Activity and not Contracting Activity, by soliciting only a select group of contractors that have GSA Schedules.

GSA often does not notify all of the GSA contractors in any particuar class to participate. GSA then awards the BPA's at will, then mandates a wink-wink program that the DoD and every other federal agency should only purchase from the GSA contractors issued BPA's. This is contrary to FAR 6.102(d)(3) because we agreed to the pricing warranties and have negotiated in good faith.

How it relates to Mr. Ubl's case:

1) Mr. Ubl jumped in the fray, asked for no compensation, then encouraged and united us to stand up for ourselves. Even lobbyists from our trade organizations turned a blind eye at first. Tom Ubl is a man who backs his words with action when everyone else, especially GSA, abandoned us. Tom united us and stood with us.

It was nothing less than a miracle to observe how a bunch of competitors would drop their antagonistic competitive posturing to unify in an attempt to preserve ourselves. GSA does not intend to stop the elimination of GSA contractors/jobs with only class 75, they are applying FSSI to the entire GSA MAS program. Expected outcome at full application is 3,000 GSA MAS contractors having to close their businesses and approximately 30,000 jobs being sent to the unemployment line. Many of us were so moved by Mr. Ubl's want to help without compensation that we wanted to stand with him here.

2) FSSI clearly demonstrates the ad nauseam at will perversion of the GSA MAS program, which is contrary to Best Value Evaluation (BVE) and other sections of the Federal Acquisition Regulations. Similarly, my understanding of Ubl's case is that the Ordering Activity can do whatever they want even if it is contrary to the Contracting Activity's (GSA's) Contracting Officers obligations expressed within each GSA MAS contractors schedule as awarded. Image how this looks when you consider all of the international organizations the GSA has deemed eligible to use the GSA MAS program. The potential for waste, fraud and abuse is now a fully open spicket.

The GSA MAS program and the False Claims Act are in need of a complete overhaul. Hopefully the powers that be will consult with Ubl to get it right.


What does this case have to do with this FSSI thing you all are talking about?


Thank you for all that you are doing to assist us Small Businesses.
It is a travesty what the government is doing and they have shown a lack of regard for Small Businesses.

We will keep fighting for cancellation or modified FSSI Program.

One Smart Blonde

Tom Ubl has been a tireless advocate for small business and for those less fortunate. His personal story and experience with the federal government only fueled his passion to assist the small business community to fight fraud and the FSSI vehicle. Without Tom there would have been no rally cry for FSSI with a better result than without him. I personally am grateful for his assistance and how he has stepped up to help a bunch of people he doesn't know. Although as small businesses we may struggle with retaining our government market share, lest us not forget those who are individuals fighting even bigger battles with the government that we all get to benefit from at some point. Thank you Tom for everything you have done. I hope your case gets heard with a favorable outcome.

Phil Knott

The OMB and GSA have spent a significant amount of time and energy in the FSSI project for Office Supplies. Our President's State of The Union Address on Jan 25th 2011 promised the following: "remove any roadblocks that stand in the way of small business growth" Last I heard OMB & GSA still work for our President right? Small businesses are closing doors and laying off employees because FSSI is a roadblock to small business growth when it comes to Office Supplies. Personally I'm ashamed of those responsible for the FSSI and treating the backbone of America (Small Business) the way they are. Maybe they should take a look at the unemployment lines around this great nation.


Stop our very own government from destroying small businesses. The GSA FSSI mandatory BPA for office products is not efficient, is not saving the government money, and is not promoting America's small businesses. Write your congressmen and let your voice be heard. Over 500 small businesses are at risk!


A key order from this administration to government and contractors was to focus on eliminating "fraud, waste, and abuse." This article and the involved brief clearly indicate that fraud, waste and abuse is set to be rewarded, with no impetus for any future whistleblowers to so or say anything about it should the federal courts fail us now. This should be a non-paritsan issue, one that the S.C. cannot afford to languish.

Mike Tucker

After 30+ years of doing business with GSA, I have witnessed a major decline in the experince and talent of GSA's contracting force. They have tried to compensate by hiring consultants from Booz Allen, IBM and others. Although smart people these "experts" don't understand the industries they are being asked to develop programs for. This is the recipe that leads to programs like FSSI. Once the Govt has invested it's time, money and reputation they will never admit they've made a mistake. Very sad!


Congress created the problem and Congress needs to fix it. By industrially funding GSA, Congress placed GSA "on the take" to the contractors that it buys from. IIF has admitted that it has supplied noncompliant services and GSA has failed to terminate the IIF contract. Congress should reassert its budgetary authority, take GSA off "the take" and require GSA to enforce contract terms and conditions.

Attila Galamb

This is just another example of big government's never ending quest to squash the little guy. I wish we could all file amicus briefs with the Supreme Court. I really hope and pray that Ubl v IIF Data Solutions is heard by the high court and that they think clearly enough to overturn the lower court ruling. Good luck Tom!

Barbara Mahnke

All through history there have been those who rise above the rest of us for a cause and carry the banner. They themselves become targets and sacrifice all for the rest of us. Our founding Fathers were such men and they were called Patriots. Tom Ubl is such a man...a present day Patriot. He has sacrificed all for truth...his health, his finances, his comfort. Let this not be in vain. If nothing more, keep him on your prayers & ask for God's protection & His wisdom. Let truth prevail and may Mr.Ubl be victorious in this cause! Thus it is a victory for us all, make no mistake!

Jeremy Meyer

You forgot to mention that in this example that not only does the 3rd party (GSA)get to keep the difference, but the company selling them the Camaro also gives them a kickback on the sale! This is the case in the FSSI program, where all FSSI vendors pay the GSA extra above the normal .75% IFF we all have to pay. So, they make a cut on these sales and then force buyers to the vendors that provide them the kickback. CAN YOU SAY CORRUPTION!!! SOMEONE IS GETTING RICH AND IT ISN'T SMALL BUSINESS!

Seema Nepal

As a Woman owned business we have been serving Office supply need of Federal Govt.since over 24 years. We have lost most of our Federal Government business and are force to reduce workforce by half. GSA's Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) for sure limits the competition within the MAS schedule program. Where is help for Small business?

Shiela Thompson

I saw Tom Ubl's posts on Salon and other places and have been following this case. The Washington Spectator had an article on him and summed up how the judge gave the defense contractor a blank check.

What are the lower courts thinking? Why even have fraud laws? No wonder our economy is failing? It seems the Department of Justice is fast and furiously making defense contractor fraud go away.

I first thought Ubl was just another noise maker. His persistence and determination have made me think otherwise. I hope the Supreme Court gets this one right.

Thank you POGO for being the voice for those who take a stand. Occupiers are very visible, but there are the likes of Tom Ubl who apparently go unnoticed while the rest of us go on with our lives.

dale g.

GSA claims to be on the side of small business and are proud to claim it on their web site; FSSI prove that this to be a false claim. GSA claims that the government saves money by using FSSI yet even a cursory check of the prices on FSSi and the prices offered by other small businesses prove this to be a false claim. Tom, keep up the good fight, look to your left and you will find me guarding your flank. Thank you sir.


Please continue this fight until the end. Someone has to stand for the little people. FSSI, which has all but driven me out of business, is another instance of where the little people have no chance unless someone with the know how stand up and fight for them. Please do not give up the fight.


Doing business with our federal government's General Services Administration is indeed a lot like buying that $ 40,000.00 car, over and over and over. We've spent many times that $ 40,000.00 in constant reporting, payment of IFF (Industrial Funding Fees), and costs associated with attempting to market to agencies that have been mandated to buy from only (15) companies under the MAS 75 contract for office supplies. Oh, and of those (15) companies, two of them, Staples and Office Depot, have been found guilty of contract non-compliance under the TAA (Trade Agreements Act), yet, they still continue being awarded business, paid for by the US taxpayers.

Brad Giordani

Contracts are mostly awarded to established connections and their associates. GSA/DLA/AMC and the like needs to be shuttered so end users can acqusition their gear online directly from the manufacturer or dealer. Why does the USG have middlemen (that cost tens of billions) that act like the almighty? Because it ensures the money keeps the revolving door greased and pays big bucks to folks to maintain the status quo... to keep out folks like me that have the best product.

My 23 year old company cannot even compete for business because of a 30 year old military specification (Trojan Horse) that does not work properly. The best mousetrap does not always win. Its all about the money if anyone wants to know. Pay enough dough and you are welcomed by all parties

Eddie Slocumb/ Creative Sales Solutions, Inc.

This has truly hurt a lot of Companies like mine. We have had a GSA Schedule for 13 years and for the Government to come in and Implement the FSSI BPA and only allow letting 13 Small Business and 2 Large business. We know who is getting all of the business and it is not the Small businesses and the government is not abiding by there on rules. What happened to the 80/20 rule. Meaning the Government is supposed to support 80% to the Small Businesses not the Large Business. There are a lot of people lives being affected by the FSSI BPA. My Company and Empoyees!!!!

Michelle K.

Well not only is the GSA potentially selling 1969 Camaros, but they're using the FSSI BPA's to cut hundreds of small businesses out of the picture. GSA's Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) is a program specifically designed to limit the competition within the MAS schedule program. BPA's have been awarded to about 15 vendors and agencies are being funneled directly to those BPA's as their first purchase choice. The GSAAdvantage web site has been redesigned to make it MORE difficult for contracting officers to view more competitive pricing from the non-BPA holders! And analyses have shown that this initiative is not saving taxpayer dollars. What ever happened to common sense principles and the spirit of capitalism drivng market pricing????

Linda Dreer

We need to have this case heard. The GSA is treating small business unfairly, and costing the taxpayer lots of money.

Janet Myhre

I would have to respectfully disagree. The premise of the GSA Schedules is to create an efficient streamline contract for Federal Buyers to acquire COTS goods and services. Part of that contract is a fair and equitable price / discount negotiation.
However, just because the Federal Government is "big" should not in of itself allow them to get equal to or better pricing then a firms established commercial market. Another little sticking point, again, because the Federal Government can claim the largest purchaser of goods and services does not equate to their favored term “economy of scale” purchasing. A little Economics and Managerial Operations 101 can give you the theory of economy of scale. Until there is some guarantee of purchase (of which the GSA Contract does not allow for) then there is no guarantee of any volume from the Federal Government, and no Economy of Scale basis of negotiating. (EoS is used in production – which is mapped to a guarantee of volume thus allows the whole supply chain to produce mass widgets at a lower cost).
I believe it is not fair and equitable to out the gate give the Government better than or equal two an established customer and terms of established commercial contracts, they have not earned that pricing consideration. When there is volume and competitive sales against the contract then the Government should use the terms and conditions to be rewarded for that volume through enhance volume discount at both the task order and measurable contract sales, but not on an individual per item level.
The price reduction clause is a ridiculous clause. Again, volume, competition and commercial market changes require private firms to assess their pricing structure with each and every client. The Government should not automatically be awarded the same pricing if they are not driven by the same market indexes. When the volume and equity of the GSA Contract can be matched to the commercial market then and only then should the government have the right to invoke a price reduction.

Patrick Crowley

Thank you for the information. It confirms our experience working within the Federal Procurement System.
The GSA System at one time provided an opportunity for small business to compete for CONTRACTS to serve the Federal government based on competitive prices and outstanding service. As the GSA moves to adopt the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative---FSSI, many of the previous Schedule 75 contract holders (550) have lost their ability to sell to the Federal government not becasuse the cost/price was not low but because of a new agenda within the GSA--and The Office of Budget and Management redefining BEST VALUE as the criteria to award 15----MEGA contracts in this catagory. Many of the GSA contract holders---lost their entire business,or had to terminate employees and reduce work schedules.There is no consideration of the impact of the economic devastation on small business or contract holders. Where is the land of opportunity ?? Clearly not in the mission statement of OMB or GSA or in their FSSI initiative.


I wish that we all had a champion to stand behind us and ultimately fight our battles like Tom!!! He understand that
the American public is being taken for all its worth and is trying to do something about it. The LEAST we can do is stand behind him and be counted...without violence, without tents, without tear gas, but WITH pride in the old fashioned
American way of truth and honesty!

elisabeth goldman

we are a 37 year old company selling office products to the federal government. the adoption of fssi will significantly adversely affect our business.

Anita Schultz

Why is the government leaving itself open to fraud on all levels if this goes through? When the government issues a contract why should a third party be allowed to defraud the other two parties? When will our government start acting like a real business?

Brian Cassidy - Creative Sales Solutions, Inc.

Actions such as the FSSI BPA are a perfect example of the bait and switch outlined here. Our US government is bound by law to procure 80% of thier consumables through small businesses, veteran owned businesses, and Disabled-owned businesses. Only 20% is allocated for Large business catagories. However, upon a direct executive order given by President Obama to the Office of Management and Budget, a non-mandatory BPA for office products immediately becomes mandatory and is awarded to 15 vendors, excluding 500 small businesses, all with the qualifications listed above. Now, of these 15 vendors, Office depot and Staples, both classified as LARGE businesses, are reaping the lion's share, over 80%. Not only leaving the original 500 out, but the existing 13 small businesses are fighting for scraps. The number of Federal Aquisition Requirements being broken or just plain ignored are too many to list here, but for an administration with the sorriest economic record since the founding of the United States, you would think that putting an additional 500+ businesses with thousands of employees out on the street would NOT be in the best interest of economic growth. I am one of these businesses and how much longer I can hold out is an unknown I have lived with since Jan. 1st of this year. Please,help put an end to the blatant disregard for the very laws that they are sworn to uphold. If left unchecked, your section of the private sector will be under attack next, count on it.


Stop the demise of small business by the hands of our own government. Stop the GSA FSSI mandatory BPA for office products. Write your congress - let your voice be heard. Over 500 small businesses are at risk - your family, your neighbors, the trickle down effect in your own communities. We must stand together united - Help!

Andrew L

Illegal corporate practices have taken over our government. Corruption at this level of government cannot be sustained by the tax payer.

Alan Crow

What may not be apparent in the case of the Camaro, is what the third party may have given to the student to induce him to accept an inferior deal. What kind of politics or inducements are involved between the government and the contractors who are enabled to benefit from inferior deals? The GSA FSSI seems to be that sort of anticompetitive sweetheart deal for the few selected contractors who participate.

Heather T.

Tom Ubl is not only relentless when it comes to fighting fraud, he stood up against the GSA and OMB's FSSI program that is about to send 30,000 private sector jobs to the unemployment line. I wish the world was filled with men like him. He has endured more in 6 years than most people have in a lifetime and without a dime of compensation.

He has the largest cumulative cost savings in NASA's history. He also is responsible for over $200 million dollars recovered under a different fraud claim (Ubl v Savin Corporation) where the DOJ dismissed the case then used his evidence. God Bless him, he truly is God's Chosen Whistleblower regardless of the outcome with the Supreme Court.

james richardson

Good luck to you! I am a veteran and I just "packed" it in. The FSSI forced me to close my business. My GSA business virtually went to zero after the FSSI was implemented.


I don't even know what to say about this. Government doing their BEST at what they do... which is Making the WORST POSSIBLE Decisions at a time of crisis for our nation which will create yet ANOTHER NEGATIVE DOMINO Effect throughout the SMALL BUSINESS COMMUNITY that provides 80 to 90% of American Jobs. I mean... what other decision is there, but the typical WORST DECISION ever. "Cut out the little guy, let's kill 5000 more jobs". WHAT. A. JOKE!


This case needs to be heard and brought to national public interest. The Gov't keep telling the public that they are FOR small business, but the actions that they have taken regarding the GSA's MAS Schedule Program and the implementation of the FSSI Schedules completely goes against what is best for this country. Small Business is what got this country started - and continuing to give business to large corporations does not help anyone. This cause is important to every single US Citizen and needs to be heard!


fantastic work. i love you guys. what can the public do more to help besides sign petitions? how could this have been prevented?

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