The Coalition for Government Procurement

Could yesterday’s weather have been any better?  Joe Caggiano was certainly smiling down on us as we enjoyed a perfect day and the beautiful Whiskey Creek golf course at this week’s Third Annual Joseph P. Caggiano Memorial Golf Tournament.  As a veteran himself, Joe would have been proud that this year’s proceeds are once again going to fund a scholarship for a veteran.   We were honored to have Joe’s wife, father, and brother (Kathleen, Paul, and Mike) all join us in this year’s tournament.  Paul and Mike’s team impressively finished the day in 2nd place!

Due to our generous sponsors and participants in Joe’s tournament, I am proud to announce we will be contributing more than $25,000 to our Coalition for Government Procurement Endowed Scholarship Fund at The George Washington University, where financial support will be provided to a deserving veteran who is concentrating their studies in the field of US Government procurement and pursuing the JD or LLM degree in Government Procurement Law or the Masters of Science in Government Contracting degree (MSGC).

I would especially like to thank our two title sponsors – Integrity Consulting and CohnReznick. Your generous support means a great deal to the Coalition and we can’t thank you enough.

Additionally, thank you to our luncheon sponsor, AvKARE; our reception sponsor, The Gormley Group; and our Beverage Cart Sponsor, EY.

Thank you also to our many hole sponsors: Allen Federal Business Partners, Baker Tilly, Bloomberg, Booz Allen Hamilton, BRG, Brocade, CACI, General Dynamics Information Technology, The George Washington University, HON, Judge Group, Koniag, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, the Rendely Family, Ricoh, SAP, Toro, and Wells Fargo!  Every hole at Whiskey Creek was fantastic and their staff once again did an excellent job in assisting with the day’s events – from the scoreboard and golf cart arrangements to the food prep and beverage services.

Thank you, the government contracting community, for coming together and raising awareness and funds for charitable and educational causes such as this one – it’s truly remarkable.  If you would like to make further donations to our scholarship fund, you may do so by visiting http://lawgwu.imodules.com/cgp.

 

Lastly, thank you to the Coalition team for a job well done.  You guys are the best!

Congratulations to all the players and companies involved – we are already looking forward to seeing you again at next year’s tournament!

Before we start planning for next year’s tournament though, I want to encourage you to attend our 2015 Excellence in Partnership Awards on the evening of October 21st and our Fall Training Conference the following morning on October 22nd.  Registration is now open and we are seeking additional sponsors to join our Title Sponsor at the EIPs – General Dynamics Information Technology – and our Title Sponsor at the Fall Conference – AvKARE.  For questions regarding sponsorships or assistance with registration, please contact Matt Cahill at 202-315-1054 or mcahill@thecgp.org.

 

Roger Waldron

President

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On August 10, 2015, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released Report No. GAO-15-590, FEDERAL SUPPLY SCHEDULES: More Attention Needed to Competition and Prices. The report examines (1) how and to what extent the government is using the FSS program; (2) factors influencing the degree of competition for FSS orders, and (3) the extent to which agencies examine prices to be paid for FSS orders. The language of the GAO report is both thought provoking and, in some places, perplexing.

Although not highlighted by GAO, the report actually contains some good news regarding competition rates for orders under the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) program. According to GAO, significant competition was achieved for orders under the FSS program; in fact, based on another GAO report issued earlier this year, FSS program competition rates appear to have exceeded the competition rates under the contract vehicles of other agencies. Specifically, GAO found that 75 percent of the FSS task orders were competitive. This finding is a tremendous good news story for government-wide procurement, the FSS program, and GSA. To its credit, over the years GSA has made significant investments in training and electronic tools to enhance competition at the task order level. In particular, GSA’s electronic quote tool, eBuy, has increased competition and transparency for customer agencies and FSS contractors. The GAO Report notes the effective use of eBuy to achieve competition for agency tasks.

At the same time it highlights this good news regarding overall FSS competition rates, however, the GAO report states that “[m]ost FSS obligations were competed in fiscal year 2014, but only 40 percent of obligations were on orders for which the government received three or more quotes—a number frequently mentioned in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR).” This statement is where the report is perplexing. It appears to establish or imply a new standard for competition, namely the receipt of three offers. Such a purported standard is inconsistent with statute and regulation.

Under the statutory and regulatory requirement for competition for orders exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT), a contracting activity must provide notice to all FSS contractors capable of meeting the requirement or, alternatively, provide notice to as many FSS contractors as practicable to reasonably ensure receipt of three offers. When notice is provided to all of those contractors, there is no requirement for receipt of three offers. When notice is provided to less than all of those contractors, there still is no requirement for receipt of three offers. Rather, contracting officers must document the file addressing their efforts to obtain three quotes and that no additional contractors capable of meeting the requirement could be identified despite reasonable efforts to do so.

In light of these requirements, then, it is difficult to understand the point of the GAO’s observation about obligations involving three or more quotes. As the report states, “three or more quotes” is “a number frequently mentioned in the … FAR.” It is not a statutory or regulatory mandate, nor should it be necessarily, as the decision not to offer, itself, may be a competitive decision. In any case, the key finding is that, overall, competition was achieved on 75%of the FSS task orders.

With regard to pricing, the GAO report also states that contracting officers did not consistently seek discounts (i.e., price reductions) from schedule prices, even in situations where they were required. The most perceptive assessment of this issue in the GAO report, however, came from certain contracting officials, who noted that by competing the order, they met the requirement to seek a discount. The fundamental goal of competition, including task order competition under the FSS program, is to obtain the best deal (e.g. lower price, better terms, or increased performance/value).  Thus, by seeking/soliciting competition from all FSS contractors through the issuance of a Request for Quotes (RFQ) or other communication, those contracting official effectively did seek a price discount. It stands to reason, then, because the GAO report identified an overall competition rate of 75 percent for the FSS program, at least 75 percent of the time contracting officers sought price reductions. In drawing its conclusion, GAO appears to be focusing on the failure to include the words “price reduction or discount” in an RFQ.

In sum, GSA should feel good about GAO’s identification of strong competition rates for the FSS program. Although GAO identified some points of contention, GSA should stay focused on the 75% of the glass that remains full.

In policy pronouncements and public statements over the last year, the Department of Defense (DoD) emphasized, as a strategic imperative, gaining access to, and leveraging, innovative commercial technologies. For instance, on April 9th of this year, DoD issued Better Buying Power 3.0 – Achieving Dominant Capabilities through Technical Excellence and Innovation, and among the new focus areas it identified were cybersecurity, commercial technology, and global technology. Further, in a recent speech in California, DoD Secretary Ash Carter highlighted DoD’s desire and need to gain access to Silicon Valley’s innovative technology companies.

Fundamental to DoD’s efforts to gain access to innovative, cutting edge technologies are streamlining the processes and reducing the risks for firms producing those technologies to participate in the government market. Streamlining and risk reduction is achieved by eliminating, to the maximum extent practicable, government unique requirements that are inconsistent with the commercial practices that those firms encounter in the normal course of their business. Unfortunately, over the last decade, the procurement community has seen the erosion of commercial item contracting, not in law, but in practice. Specifically, the government has re-layered onto the commercial item contracting process government unique requirements that have increased costs and raised barriers to entry into the federal marketplace.

Now comes the latest assault on commercial item contracting. On August 3rd, DoD issued a proposed rule addressing the procurement of commercial items. The proposed rule essentially makes significant changes in the definition of “commercial item” for purposes of gaining access to price and/or cost data. This week’s Friday Flash includes a Legal Corner article highlighting the proposed rule’s fundamental changes in the definition of commercial item, and I recommend it to you for serious study.

The proposed rule includes a new definition that will be used as the standard for determining whether additional price or cost data can/may be requested for commercial items. It identifies this new standard as Market-based pricing and defines it as follows:

Market-based pricing means pricing that results when nongovernmental buyers drive the price in a commercial marketplace. When nongovernmental buyers in a commercial marketplace account for a preponderance (50 percent or more) of sales volume of a particular item, there is a strong likelihood the pricing is market-based pricing.

This definition, as well as other language in the rule, essentially seeks to revise the underlying statutory definition of “commercial item” by eliminating the statutory language “offered for sale” and “of a type.”

Indeed, the definition appears to use as an analog for price analysis the government-nongovernment distinction used in defining a commercial item. That approach, however, is flawed. For a commercial item, the government-nongovernment distinction addresses the features, use, and ubiquity that distinguish an item’s commercial character. All things being equal, price equilibrium in the commercial marketplace is driven by supply and demand and thus is virtually customer agnostic.

This attempt to narrow the definition of a commercial item could have far reaching implications for the procurement system. It risks reducing the government’s access to innovative services and solutions by creating a new, significant barrier to entry for firms already offering those services and solutions in the commercial marketplace. In essence, the proposed rule is an “anti-innovation” approach arising at a time when DoD has expressed a critical need to access innovation to “achieve dominant capabilities through technical excellence and innovation.” It begs the question: Can DoD have it both ways?

Alliant 2 RFI

August 6th, 2015

On July 14th GSA issued an Request for Information (RFI) seeking feedback on a revised list of Leading Edge Technologies (LETS) for the Alliant 2 Unrestricted and Small Business Set-Aside procurements. The RFI indicated that GSA is considering reducing the 17 LETS identified in the original draft Request for Proposal (RFP) to ten. The RFI asked the public for comments, suggestions or questions concerning the definitions of the revised LETS. The due date for responses was July 28th.

The Coalition applauds GSA’s Alliant acquisition team for their proactive engagement with industry on Alliant 2. Throughout the pre-solicitation planning process GSA has been open, transparent and engaging with regard to its acquisition strategy and efforts to seek input from all stakeholders. The LETS RFI is just another positive example.

The RFI also serves a very useful purpose in highlighting the fundamental role LETS appear to be playing in Alliant 2. The change from 17 to ten LETS highlights the difficulty in identifying and defining leading technologies in the commercial marketplace. Moreover, the change in number of LETS and the RFI’s focus on definitions reflect the objective nature of the LETS evaluation. Points are awarded purely on the basis of whether an offeror has an LETS example or not. The quality of the LETS work and importance to the customer agency mission are not considered or scored.

Moreover, given the current evaluation methodology and overall point values for each evaluation category, the weight given to LETS will make them the key discriminator in determining awardees. This raises some key questions that GSA should consider as it moves forward with Alliant 2:

  • What role should the quality of LET performance play in the evaluation?
  • Is it important to assess the LET’s performance as it relates to the customer agency mission?
  • How do the current LETS relate to customer requirements and contract scope under Alliant and what is anticipated under Alliant 2?
  • Is the relative importance (12,000 points) of LETS overstated?
  • How does the evaluation of LETS further the core mission of Alliant?

The Coalition encourages GSA to continue the dialogue on LETS and the entire Alliant 2 approach through the issuance of a second draft RFP for comment. The use of a second draft RFP would provide both customer agencies and contractors with an opportunity to assess changes and provide feedback in a thoughtful, fulsome exchange. Everyone shares the goal of executing a high value, efficient and effective Alliant 2 that meets customer agency needs! The use of a second draft RFP also will allow further dialogue around LETS. It will provide a Myth-Busters opportunity for collective refinement and continued improvement in the overall RFP to ensure best value solutions across the spectrum of customer information technology needs. A further return on investment (ROI) to GSA in issuing the second draft RFP is a reduction in proposal submission and evaluation times. We are all in this together!

Golf, Excellence in Partnership Awards, and Fall Training Conference

The heat and humidity are here, but the good news is that also means we are gearing up for our 3rd Annual Joseph P. Caggiano Memorial Golf Tournament!  This year’s tournament will once again be taking place at the beautiful Whiskey Creek Golf Club in Ijamsville, MD on August 26th and will be played as a four-man scramble (best ball on each shot).  This charity tournament is to honor our good friend and colleague, Joe Caggiano, who was a 23-year veteran of the federal contracting marketplace and a naval veteran as well.  Last year, in honor of the Coalition’s 35th anniversary, and in conjunction with The George Washington University, we created a scholarship/fellowship to provide financial support to a deserving veteran concentrating their studies in the field of US Government procurement and pursuing their JD or Masters at GWU.  Once again, 100% of this year’s tournament proceeds will be applied towards the Coalition for Government Procurement Endowed Government Procurement Scholarship/Fellowship Fund!  To add additional excitement, Lockheed Martin has generously donated an entire suite to a Washington Caps game that will be auctioned off!

I want to thank our two title sponsors – Integrity Consulting and CohnReznick – for your early support of this fun and meaningful event.  We still have several sponsorships still available including beverage cart sponsors and hole sponsors, and we of course want to ensure all 144 spots are filled for an enthusiastic shot gun start at 11:00.  If you haven’t already, start organizing your foursome (individual golfers are great, too!) and get registered or contact Matt Cahill at mcahill@thecgp.org.

Want to support this great cause, but golf isn’t your game?  Join us at our 16th Annual Excellence in Partnership Awards on the evening of October 21st at The Westin Tysons Corner, where we will be holding a silent auction to raise funds for the same endowment while we honor acquisition officials who have made significant strides in promoting and utilizing multiple award contracting vehicles.  Awards are given to individuals, organizations, and contractors involved in procurement with GSA, VA, DoD, DHS, and other government agencies.  Nominations will be accepted until September 18th.

 

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Also important to this year’s EIP Awards, we invite you to come share your appreciation and offer best wishes as Carolyn Alston, our dear friend and colleague, begins her retirement!  We’ve been lucky enough to have her with us at the Coalition for Government Procurement as our Executive Vice President & General Counsel for the past three years.  Carolyn has had a distinguished career in industry and with GSA where she was a senior attorney in the Office of General Counsel and was the acquisition official leading the development of GSA’s MAS policy. She also served as GSA’s Assistant Commissioner for Acquisition, responsible for the MAS program.  Carolyn’s incredible dedication, commitment, and professionalism have defined her entire career. She truly stands as an embodiment of the “Excellence in Partnership” spirit, working patiently and respectfully with all parties to deliver common sense acquisition policies and procedures to the federal marketplace. The ultimate professional, but also a friend, Carolyn will be deeply missed by all and we wish her well!   We look forward to honoring Carolyn and all of EIP Awardees and tables will fill up quickly, so please don’t delay and register today!  A big thank you to our title sponsor –  General Dynamics Information Technology!

The following day (October 22nd) at the same location, we will be having our 2015 Fall Training Conference titled Acquisition Reform: Assessing the Impact on Business Opportunities and Liabilities.  Thank you to this year’s Fall Training Conference title sponsor – AvKARE!  Speakers will be discussing the status of legislation, acquisition reform, business outlooks, and more.  During lunch, Francis Rose from WTOP will be facilitating a rousing discussion and brainstorming on Generating an Industry Response.  Afterwards, we will be holding our much anticipated afternoon breakout sessions, which will offer a unique opportunity to get the latest information on the most significant contracts in federal government.  These Myth-buster sessions will include:

 

  • Doing Business with the VA
  • Doing Business with DHS
  • DOD Update
  • Alliant Update
  • GSA Schedules Modernization
  • The GSA Acquisition Centers
  • Update on Government-wide IT Acquisitions

 

Check out our incredible lineup of panelist and the entire day’s agenda and don’t forget to register!

 

If your company is interested in being a sponsor for any of the events listed above, please contact Matt Cahill at mcahill@thecgp.org or 202-315-1054.

 

Last week the Coalition hosted a Regulatory Compliance Training Forum, Labor Contract Compliances: The world according the Department of Labor. The training event covered the Service Contract Act, the Davis Bacon Act, Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Plans and the latest information regarding the proposed Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order and implementing regulations. The content, presentation and overall instruction were outstanding!! The Coalition thanks Jennifer Flickinger and Jeff Clayton, Principals at Baker Tilly and Trina Fairley Barlow, Partner at Crowell & Moring LLP, who served as our instructors.   I would also like to thank Baker Tilly for hosting the event at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce offices in Tysons.

Given the positive reaction from the attendees and the highly complex nature of the topic, the Coalition is making this training part of our regular training series joining our MAS Basic Training and GSA Schedule Contracting for In-House Counsel courses. These training events reflect a key component of the Coalition’s mission: our commitment to provide member firms with the latest information, and highest quality training on procurement programs, policies and initiatives.  Much of this work is done through our committees where we focus on operational initiatives and issues as well as key procurement programs. Over the last year alone committee meetings have addressed strategic sourcing, Evergreen contracting, MAS pricing policy cycle times for mods and offers, Professional Services Schedule Consolidation, OASIS and Alliant 2. In addition, member working groups have developed white papers on MAS pricing and are currently finalizing a paper on VA MAS pricing.

The new Pricing and Regulatory Compliance Oversight (PRCO) Committee is designed to address cross-cutting pricing, audit and regulatory compliance issues that have arisen throughout our committees. The PRCO will be a forum to address compliance best practices, update members on changes in compliance requirements and pricing regulations and audits. It is also not limited to purely commercial item contracting. We look forward to expanding our of member services to include guidance and information, as appropriate, on cost-reimbursement contracting related issues.   We also look forward to reaching out to the oversight community to engage in a Myth-Busters dialogue on key compliance challenges across the procurement system. The PRCO will meet quarterly, with the first regular meeting tentatively scheduled for November 2015. Over the next month the Coalition will be reaching out to you with a survey seeking your input on the PRCO including issues, topics and speakers. Respondents to the survey will be added to the email list for committee communications.

In addition, members can contact Jason Baccus at (202) 331-0975 or jasonbaccus@thecgp.org to be added to the PRCO list. All are welcome! Especially in-house counsel, compliance officers, financial officers, and, of course, contract managers!   We look forward to serving your compliance needs through the PRCO!

Today, one of the top procurement “buzz words” has to be “innovation.” It seems that every day departments and agencies across the federal government are seeking “innovation” in one form or another. We have seen the Department of Health and Human Services establish a new Buyer’s Club to promote innovative procurement practices, and along these lines, the Department of Homeland Security established a Procurement Innovation Lab. GSA continues to tout the work of 18F, its innovation lab, and, in a recent talk, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter focused on the Department’s need to gain access to Silicon Valley’s innovative technology companies. The Office of Management and Budget also continues to explore opportunities to bring innovative firms to the federal market, including proposing a new “innovation” set-aside authority.

Administrator Anne Rung’s December 4, 2014 memorandum “Transforming the Marketplace: Simplifying Federal Procurement to Improve Performance, Drive Innovation, and Increase Savings,” best sums up the government’s desire for “innovation.” It states, in part, that “[o]pening the acquisition system to greater innovation is critical to ensuring best results in contracts. We must embrace practices that encourage new and better ways of thinking and expand access to the most innovative companies.” To the extent the current focus on “innovation” shines a light on cross-cutting, systematic challenges in the procurement system, it is a positive development that can lead to real opportunities for procurement reform. In the spirit of OFPP’s historic Myth-Busters initiative, here are five practices that should be embraced to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the procurement system:

  • Reduce/Cut Red Tape. Cutting red tape means putting “commercial” back into commercial item contracting, addressing contract duplication, and minimizing the use of government-unique requirements to the maximum extent practicable.
  • Improve Market Research & Requirements Development. Simply put, market research and requirements development are the “blocking and tackling” of procurement. As recognized by countless advisory reviews over the years, improvement here would provide the single most effective way to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the procurement system.
  • Reinvigorate Performance-Based Contracting. Despite years of emphasis, the potential of performance-based contracting has yet to be fulfilled. Performance-based contracting can drive government access to the creativity of the commercial market place, increase competition, and achieve greater efficiencies and savings for customer agencies.
  • Address Organizational Conflicts of Interest. Companies who bring new ideas to government or otherwise assist agencies in identifying/articulating needs should not be precluded from competing for related work.
  • Empower the Acquisition Workforce. Management needs to be there to support the acquisition workforce. The acquisition workforce needs professional development support, not another process, to perform its mission.

The central goal of the procurement system is the efficient and effective acquisition of products, services and solutions to meet customer agency mission requirements.   The appropriate product, service or solution will depend on the underlying requirements of the customer agency.

It is through a well-functioning system that the “innovation” sought by government leaders will be facilitated, appropriate to the underlying requirement. To assist in promoting such a system, over the rest of 2015, the FAR & Beyond Blog will devote blogs to each of the identified practices.

 

 

Before the July 4th holiday, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Acquisition Center (NAC) held its VA NAC Industry Days conference in Chicago. It was a great opportunity for Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contractors that hold pharmaceutical and medical product and service contracts to hear from VA acquisition leaders about their current priorities and initiatives. FSS contractors also had the unique opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with their contracting officers during the industry days. The VA NAC is to be commended for all their hard work in putting together the conference. It was a tremendous first step in the Mythbuster’s dialogue on how to most efficiently and effectively deliver best value products and services to our nation’s veterans.

One point made during the Keynote by Executive Director of the VA Enterprise Program Management Office, Greg Giddens, particularly resonated with me. It was the “two thumbs test” that the VA is using in decision-making these days under Secretary Robert McDonald. The two thumbs up test is whether something is 1) good for veterans and 2) good for the taxpayer. At the Coalition, we are committed to advocating for common sense solutions that improve the Federal acquisition system for both the government and its industry partners. In the case of the VA, a more efficient and effective procurement system could deliver pharmaceuticals and innovative commercial medical products and services to our veterans faster—and at a better value to taxpayers. Now that’s a “two thumbs up!”

You may be aware that members of the Coalition’s Healthcare Committee are currently developing a supplemental to our MAS Pricing Policy white paper focused on pricing and policy matters unique to VA Schedules. We hope that the recommendations made in the white paper will serve to continue the dialogue with the VA on many of the topics discussed during the NAC Industry Days, such as:

  • how to best leverage the Schedules program to get veterans the medical products and services they need at a best value to taxpayers,
  • how contract procedures may be modified in consideration of VA customer preferences and demand for innovation, and
  • how to increase efficiencies and reduce the cost of acquisition for all stakeholders.

The Coalition also looks forward to continuing the dialogue with the VA’s NAC and the Strategic Acquisition Center (SAC) regarding the vision and objectives for the Medical/Surgical Prime Vendor program. Again, we sincerely appreciate the VA’s acquisition leadership for launching the dialogue on these important topics at the VA NAC Industry Days in Chicago.

Happy 4th of July!

July 2nd, 2015

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Members,

This week the FAR & Beyond Blog and the Friday Flash are dedicated to the Fourth of July.

The blog highlights excerpts from a speech given by President Kennedy at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, July 4, 1962.

We hope everyone has a wonderful July 4th weekend!

It is a high honor for any citizen of our great Republic to speak at this Hall of Independence on this day of Independence. To speak as President of the United States to the Chief Executives of our 50 States is both an opportunity and an obligation. The necessity for comity between the National Government and the several States is an indelible lesson of our long history.

Because our system is designed to encourage both differences and dissent, because its checks and balances are designed to preserve the rights of the individual and the locality against preeminent central authority, you and I, Governors, recognize how dependent we both are, one upon the other, for the successful operation of our unique and happy form of government. Our system and our freedom permit the legislative to be pitted against the executive, the State against the Federal Government, the city against the countryside, party against party, interest against interest, all in competition or in contention one with another. Our task–your task in the State House and my task in the White House–is to weave from all these tangled threads a fabric of law and progress. We are not permitted the luxury of irresolution. Others may confine themselves to debate, discussion, and that ultimate luxury–free advice. Our responsibility is one of decision–for to govern is to choose.

Thus, in a very real sense, you and I are the executors of the testament handed down by those who gathered in this historic hall 186 years ago today. For they gathered to affix their names to a document which was, above all else, a document not of rhetoric but of bold decision. It was, it is true, a document of protest–but protests had been made before. It set forth their grievances with eloquence–but such eloquence had been heard before. But what distinguished this paper from all the others was the final irrevocable decision that it took–to assert the independence of free States in place of colonies, and to commit to that goal their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

Today, 186 years later, that Declaration whose yellowing parchment and fading, almost illegible lines I saw in the past week in the National Archives in Washington is still a revolutionary document. To read it today is to hear a trumpet call. For that Declaration unleashed not merely a revolution against the British, but a revolution in human affairs. Its authors were highly conscious of its worldwide implications. And George Washington declared that liberty and self-government everywhere were, in his words, “finally staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

This prophecy has been borne out. For 186 years this doctrine of national independence has shaken the globe–and it remains the most powerful force anywhere in the world today. There are those struggling to eke out a bare existence in a barren land who have never heard of free enterprise, but who cherish the idea of independence. There are those who are grappling with overpowering problems of illiteracy and ill-health and who are ill-equipped to hold free elections. But they are determined to hold fast to their national independence.

***

The theory of independence is as old as man himself, and it was not invented in this hall. But it was in this hall that the theory became a practice; that the word went out to all, in Thomas Jefferson’s phrase, that “the God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” And today this Nation–conceived in revolution, nurtured in liberty, maturing in independence–has no intention of abdicating its leadership in that worldwide movement for independence to any nation or society committed to systematic human oppression.

As apt and applicable as the Declaration of Independence is today, we would do well to honor that other historic document drafted in this hall–the Constitution of the United States. For it stressed not independence but interdependence–not the individual liberty of one but the indivisible liberty of all.

***

On Washington’s Birthday in 1861, standing right there, President-elect Abraham Lincoln spoke in this hall on his way to the Nation’s Capital. And he paid a brief but eloquent tribute to the men who wrote, who fought for, and who died for the Declaration of Independence. Its essence, he said, was its promise not only of liberty “to the people of this country, but hope to the world . . . [hope] that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance.”

On this fourth day of July, 1962, we who are gathered at this same hall, entrusted with the fate and future of our States and Nation, declare now our vow to do our part to lift the weights from the shoulders of all, to join other men and nations in preserving both peace and freedom, and to regard any threat to the peace or freedom of one as a threat to the peace and freedom of all. “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Have a fun and safe weekend! The Friday Flash will return on July 10.

Roger Waldron

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President

It is with a sense of both honor and sadness the Coalition announces that Carolyn Alston, our Executive Vice President and General Counsel, will be retiring in July. We are very excited and happy for Carolyn as she begins a new adventure in her life! At the same time, we will miss her professionalism, commitment and drive to bring common sense acquisition policies and procedures to the federal marketplace.

Carolyn’s government service, private sector career and contribution at the Coalition stand as the embodiment of “Excellence in Partnership.” She works diligently, patiently and respectfully with all parties towards common sense solutions that deliver best value for customer agencies and the American people. Her recognition of the motivations, constraints and opportunities each party brings to specific situations has served Coalition members well!

Written words of thanks are not enough—that is why we will be honoring Carolyn for her service to the procurement community at the Coalition’s Excellence in Partnership ceremony on October 21st . I look forward to seeing you all there!

Rest assured the Coalition is moving to fill Carolyn’s position. And although Carolyn is retiring from full time work, we look forward to working with her on future “special projects” supporting the Coalition’s common sense procurement agenda.

On a personal note, fifteen years ago Carolyn gave me a wonderful opportunity to move into “operations” at GSA. I will be forever grateful as it opened a whole new career path for me. And one of my greatest joys was to return the favor and bring her into the Coalition! It has been a wonderful three years! Thank you Carolyn, it has been an honor to work with you! God Bless You!

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