The Coalition for Government Procurement

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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The Federal Acquisition Service’s  (FAS’s) Competitive Pricing Initiative (CPI) is intended to address price variability for identical items under competing Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts.  An unintended, positive consequence of this effort has been to highlight questions and concerns regarding the impacts of unauthorized resellers in the MAS program.

Under CPI FAS is collecting pricing information for identical items from GSA Advantage and DoD EMALL, comparing the relative pricing, and providing the information to specific MAS contractors.  In doing so, FAS is seeking feedback from MAS contractors regarding the rationale for their pricing and its relative standing as compared to other MAS contractors.  The current effort does not address unauthorized resellers and/or gray market items under MAS contracts.  However, based on member feedback, unauthorized resellers and grey market items are being included in GSA’s horizontal price analysis and can and do distort pricing in the MAS marketplace.

Moreover, unauthorized resellers and grey market items also raise questions regarding fair competition, intellectual property rights, Trade Agreements Act (TAA) compliance and cyber security.  In particular, as recent events have shown, cyber security concerns must be addressed.  The good news is that GSA is developing a cyber acquisition risk profile for agencies to apply when buying products and services.  Further, DoD and GSA have already identified the importance of purchasing from authorized resellers as key to mitigating cyber risks across the Federal government.  We look forward to engaging GSA’s Emile Monette, Senior Advisor for Resilience and Cybersecurity, Office of Government-wide Policy and other stakeholders on cyber security acquisition requirements.  At the same time, as the manager of the government-wide MAS program, GSA could take a big step in cyber protection by proactively addressing unauthorized resellers and grey market items under MAS contracts.  Such a step would increase both customer and contractor confidence in the MAS marketplace (it would also increase contractor confidence in the CPI).

NASA SEWP’s Statement of Work includes a paragraph addressing Supply Chain Management and the relationship between the contractor and manufacturer.   Paragraph C.1.3.7 provides that in order for the Government to assess the security and risks associated with supply chain management, contractors are required to submit certain information and make certain representations.   Under the clause an authorized reseller is one where the manufacturer has a direct relationship with the contractor and is officially identified as a reseller for the manufacturer.  An authorized reseller must provide a point of contact for the manufacturer who verifies their status.  In addition, an authorized reseller may identify standards/certifications held by the manufacturer that mitigate, reduce or eliminate supply chain and related security risks.  If the contractor is not a manufacturer and/or has not identified themselves as an authorized reseller then the contractor must either identify the source of the item as unknown or identify a  third party source or provide information on the provenance or product level authorization that mitigates risk.

Under IT Schedule 70 and other product-based schedules, GSA requires a letter of supply submitted on the manufacturer’s letterhead and signed by a corporate official of the manufacturer.  The differences between the NASA requirement and IT Schedule 70 are slight but the NASA paragraph provides greater assurance regarding supply chain management.  In particular, the NASA paragraph/requirement provides greater transparency and assurance for grey market items.

Customer agencies and contractors rely on FAS to ensure contract compliance and the overall integrity of the MAS marketplace.  Addressing unauthorized resellers and grey market items is vital to effectively and securely supporting agency missions for the American people.  Addressing this issue is also necessary to assure valid price comparisons in GSA’s competitive pricing initiative.  The Coalition looks forward to working with FAS on this important issue.

On July 16th at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce offices in Tysons, the Coalition will be launching a new Pricing and Regulatory Compliance Oversight Committee (the PRCO).  Pricing and audit issues are often discussed in the existing committees typically with a focus on existing policies and proposed changes.  For example, we have discussed reform of the Price Reduction Clause (aka the Competition Reduction Clause) in many, if not all, of the committees.  As the name suggests, the PRCO will focus on pricing, regulatory compliance, audits and oversight.  The PRCO will allow the Coalition to better coordinate and leverage our members’ collective domain expertise to support contractor ethics and compliance programs/offices, including in-house counsel, Finance & Accounting, and Compliance departments.

The PRCO will provide a central focal point for monitoring the latest developments in pricing issues and regulatory compliance.  The new committee will be the engine for developing and delivering training, information, analysis and commentary on the compliance issues, challenges and opportunities facing the entire procurement community.  The Coalition will empower the Committee to develop new training to supplement and complement our MAS Basic Training and In-house Counsel courses

As part of this effort we will look forward to a robust Myth-Busters dialogue with the Oversight community in an effort to share best practices around ethics and contract compliance.  The PRCO will meet on at least a quarterly basis and will also support Coalition forums and webinars throughout the year.  For more information and to register for the PRCO, please contact Jason Baccus at JasonBaccus@thecgp.org.

PRCO Training, July 16

Labor Contract Compliances: The World according to the Department of Labor

On the morning of July 16th, the PRCO will kick-off with a training forum “Labor Contract Compliances: the world according to the Department of Labor.”  Among the topics to be discussed at the July 16th training forum will be:

  • The Service Contract Act
    • Contract requirements and disputes
    • Wage determinations
    • Compliance in the MAS contract context
  • The Davis Bacon Act
  • General Labor Compliances (Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Plans)
  • The latest in new and proposed regulations, including the proposed Fair Pay and Workplace Safety Executive Order and implementing regulations
  • The Mandatory Disclosure Rule in the context of labor compliance requirements

We are very excited that Jennifer Flickinger and Jeffrey Clayton, Principals at Baker Tilly and Trina Fairley Barlow, Partner at Crowell & Moring LLP, will be our featured instructors for the PRCO Labor Contract Compliances training forum on July 16th. Registration will open next week on the Coalition’s Events page.  Look for more details in next week’s Friday Flash!

On May 28th, the Department of Labor (DOL) published the proposed guidance implementing Executive Order 13673, Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces (the E O).  On the same day, the FAR Council issued a proposed rule that would amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to include new clauses and directives implementing the EO.  Notwithstanding the laudable intentions motivating this regulatory action, the duplicative nature of the EO and it corresponding implementing regime appear to be inconsistent with OFPP’s efforts to improve the procurement system[1] and risk adding duplicative compliance burdens to the procurement system.

The EO requires federal contractors and subcontractors, as part of the proposal submission process, to report whether, during the preceding three-year period, there have been any administrative merits determinations, civil judgements, or arbitral awards or decisions rendered against them for violations of any of 14 identified federal labor laws and executive orders or equivalent state laws.  The reporting requirement continues throughout the life of any subsequent contract.  The EO also establishes a new position, Labor Compliance Advisors (LCAs), at each agency.  Contracting officers will consult with LCAs to assess any reported violations in determining whether a contractor/offeror has a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics for purposes of the responsibility determination requirement. According to the DOL Guidance, the new labor law compliance reporting requirements will help enhance productivity and the delivery of goods and services to the Federal government in a “timely, predictable and satisfactory manner.”

No reasonable person can object to ensuring compliance with our nation’s labor laws and enhancing productivity in the procurement system.  The connection between the new compliance reporting requirement and improved outcomes in the procurement system, however, is tenuous at best.  The EO, DOL guidance, and proposed FAR rule provide little empirical data supporting the projection of improved procurement outcomes.  In fact, the reporting requirements seem to duplicate the underlying statutes and existing reporting regimes that are the focus of the guidance.  Such duplication adds unnecessary costs to the acquisition system, including the unintended consequence of increasing the amount of funding and resources dedicated to overhead reporting and compliance functions, rather than to direct contract performance.   Equally as problematic, these additional burdens, although costly for all, could weigh more heavily on the small business community.  Ultimately, this regime risks lower efficiency, reduced innovation, and increased costs for government and industry in meeting agency missions on behalf of the American people.

The DOL guidance contains 106 pages and seeks to rationalize and explain the new reporting requirements. Again, it runs counter to the vision enunciated by OFPP, specifically, to improve efficiency, reduce red tape, and provide greater benefit for taxpayers’ dollars.  Instead the DOL guidance:

  • Establishes new reporting requirements for contractors and subcontractors;
  • Includes definitions/terminology relevant to labor laws and unrelated to acquisition—these concepts will have to be understood and applied by both industry and a federal acquisition workforce that is already tasked with implementing complex procurement requirements;
  • Creates a new bureaucracy at an unspecified cost that includes advisors to counsel contracting offices, contractors, and subcontractors on the intricacies of the new rules;
  • Sets forth the prospect of further guidance addressing state law compliance reporting.

The Coalition is concerned that implementation of this guidance will create contract administration issues for commercial item contractors that hold long term IDIQ contracts.  In addition, many questions exist with respect to how various dollar thresholds established by the guidance would be applied and how subcontracting reporting could be rationally implemented.  The Coalition will continue to monitor this guidance on behalf of members.

[1] Administrator Rung specifically recognized, “The overwhelming feedback from industry and other stakeholders is that the complexity of the Federal contracting space leads to higher costs, slower procurements, and less innovation.  Stakeholders cited as problems, among other things, 100 page request for proposals with overly prescriptive, Government-unique requirements, significant contract duplication across Government, and very little sharing of pricing and other contract information between agencies and industry.”  Transforming the Marketplace: Simplifying Federal Procurement to Improve Performance, Drive Innovation, and Increase Savings, Memorandum for Chief Acquisitions Officers and Senior Procurement Executives, Dec. 4, 2014.

Summer Golf Tournament

May 29th, 2015

Get out your golf clubs and start practicing – we are pleased to officially announce that the Coalition’s 3rd Annual Joseph P. Caggiano Memorial Golf Tournament will be held on August 26th at the beautiful Whiskey Creek Golf Club in Ijamsville, MD.  As many of you are aware, this charity tournament is to honor our good friend and colleague, Joe Caggiano, who was not only a 23-year veteran of the federal contracting marketplace but a naval veteran as well.

 

With that in mind, once again, this year’s tournament proceeds will be going to support the Coalition’s endowed scholarship for a qualified veteran concentrating their studies in the field of US Government procurement and pursuing the JD/LLM degree or the interdisciplinary Masters degree at The George Washington University. Joe would be so proud of this scholarship as it encourages the next generation of skilled professionals and veterans to lead this critically important sector of the US economy.  The Coalition created this endowment last year in recognition of our 35th anniversary and we have already collected more than $35,000 by way of your support at last year’s golf tournament and from our silent auction held at our Excellence in Partnership Awards (more on that below!).

 

Please consider a sponsorship for this worthy cause and of course, we encourage you to put a team together as well for this day filled with competition, camaraderie and remembrance.  We have several exciting sponsorships available including title sponsors, luncheon sponsors, beverage cart sponsors, awards/reception sponsors, hole sponsors, and many more with all budgets in mind. Please click here to review sponsorship opportunities and contact Matt Cahill at mcahill@thecgp.org or 202-315-1054 with any questions or commitments.

 

We would like to say a sincere THANK YOU to Integrity Consulting – last year’s tournament winners – for their early commitment to being one of this year’s title sponsors!!  Additionally, Ricoh Americas Corporation proactively reached out already to snag a hole sponsor with foursome.  We appreciate these two companies setting the tone for many more sponsors to follow!

 

Save the date!

 

Lastly, we’d like to have you “save the date” for this year’s Excellence in Partnership (EIP) Awards and Fall Training Conference.  Our EIP’s, complete with silent auction that will further fund the above mentioned endowment, will take place on the evening of Wednesday, October 21st at The Westin Tysons Corner and our Fall Training Conference will take place the following day, Thursday, October 22nd at the same location.  If you are able to donate to this year’s auction (i.e. sports tickets/memorabilia, hotel/travel vouchers, food/wine, etc) please contact Matt Cahill.

A Day of Remembrance

May 22nd, 2015

Memorial Day was originally referred to as Decoration Day and honored those who fell fighting to preserve our Union during the Civil War.  The first official recognition of Memorial Day was on May 5, 1868 when General John Logan, Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic issued General Order No. 11.   The order designated May 30, 1868 as a day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet church-yard in the land.”  After World War I, Memorial Day became a day of remembrance honoring Americans who have died in any war.  Up until 1972, Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30th each year.  The current three day weekend with Memorial Day falling on the last Monday in May is the result of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90-363) which ensured a three day weekend for Federal holidays.

On Memorial Day, the flag is raised to the top of the staff and then lowered to half-staff.  It remains at half-staff until noon.  The half-staff position is in remembrance of the men and women who died in service to our country.  At noon the flag is raised to full staff and represents our resolve that our honored dead shall not have died in vain but that we will continue to fight for liberty.  At 3 pm on Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” calls on the nation to observe a moment of silence or listen to Taps.

I also found two startling statistics:  (1) over one million men and women have fallen in all of America’s wars; and (2) over seven thousand service men and women have fallen since 9/11, and that does not include contractor personnel who support our troops.   It’s always sobering to stop and think that each of the fallen left behind family:  a mother and father, wife or husband, brothers and sisters.  Each loss represents a painful void in a family, a community, a nation.  On May 31, 1982, President Ronald Reagan delivered his Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery.  These words from President Reagan’s speech sum up Memorial Day for me:

I have no illusions about what little I can add now to the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country. Words are even more feeble on this Memorial Day, for the sight before us is that of a strong and good nation that stands in silence and remembers those who were loved and who, in return, loved their countrymen enough to die for them.

Yet we must try to honor them—not for their sakes alone but for our own. And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men [and women], surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.

Please make sure you stop and honor our fallen this Memorial Day. God Bless them and keep them and God Bless their families.  God Bless all those in harm’s way defending freedom.  Please also keep those contractor personnel who have fallen while supporting our troops around the world in your thoughts and prayers.

Finally, thank you to all those who serve our country–those in uniform and in civilian service as well as contractor personnel.  We are all in this together.

The questions surrounding NS2020’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) procurement.  EIS is the Federal Acquisition Service’s (FAS’s) follow-on telecommunications procurement that will replace the current Networx contracts.  In April, 2014, FAS’s Integrated Technology Service (ITS) published a white paper outlining “The Network Services 2020 Strategy entitled NS2020: Defining the future of Federal telecommunications.” This past February ITS issued the DRAFT Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) Request for Proposals (the draft RFP) seeking public comment.

A key aspect of EIS is its expanded scope of work which includes telecommunications services and other IT services.  The layout of Section B of the draft RFP is instructive.  It includes six mandatory telecommunications-based Contract Line Items (CLINs).  These mandatory CLINs must be proposed and acceptable to the Government in order to be eligible for award.  In addition, Section B includes over 25 optional CLINs covering a host of other services.  Included among the optional CLINs are Data Center services and Cloud services.  The optional Cloud services include: (1) Infrastructure as a Service; (2) Platform as a service; (3) Software as a service; and (4) Content Delivery Network Service.  The broad scope of EIS combined with the narrow entry point (i.e. the mandatory telecommunications CLINS) has raised questions regarding contract duplication, the role of IT GWACs and the impact of competition across the Federal IT marketplace.

The Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 provides in part that GSA “shall continue to manage the FTS 2000 program, and to coordinate the follow-on to that program, for and with the advice of the heads of executive agencies.”  GSA has operated the FTS 2000 and its follow-on telecommunications programs pursuant to this separate authority.  At the same time, the Clinger-Cohen Act repealed GSA’s exclusive government-wide authority for the acquisition of IT while providing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with the authority to designate agencies/departments as executive agents for the government-wide acquisition of IT.

Consistent with the Clinger-Cohen Act, GSA has operated its portfolio government-wide IT contracts (currently Alliant, Alliant SB, 8(a) Stars, and VETS) pursuant to a designation from OMB.  These contracts are commonly referred to as IT GWACs. NASA SEWP and NIH’s CIO- SP3, CIO-SP3 SB, and CIO-CS are also IT GWACs operating pursuant to a designation from OMB.  These IT GWACs include cloud services and data center services as well as other IT services.  The “blurring of lines” between the IT GWACs and EIS, raises the following questions:

  1. As a threshold matter, is the broad EIS contract structure consistent with the underlying statutory authority for the GSA’s telecommunications programs?
  2. Should ITS seek an executive agent designation for EIS for the IT services portion of the contract vehicle?
  • Has ITS or OMB assessed or reviewed the potential impact of EIS on the current IT GWACs?
  1. Has ITS assessed the potential impact on IT Schedule 70?
  2. How will ITS manage the EIS contracts to ensure bundling of cloud and/or data center services does not reduce competition for such services across the entire portfolio of IT GWACs?
  3. Will OMB consider authorizing or including telecommunications services as part of the scope of the IT GWACs?
  • Should IT Schedule 70 include a full suite of telecommunications services?

Throughout the acquisition planning process for EIS GSA demonstrated a willingness to engage in a Myth-Busters dialogue with all stakeholders.  The Coalition commends GSA for its commitment to a dialogue on EIS and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to address the uncertainty surrounding the role of NS2020, the IT GWACs and IT Schedule 70.  Most recently, in April the ITS team had an industry day and participated in a Myth-Busters breakout session at the Coalition Spring Conference.

The Myth-Busters dialogue will continue on June 16th as the Coalition’s GWAC, MAC and Enterprise Contracting and IT/Services Committees will host Mary Davie, ITS Assistant Commissioner and her team for a Myth-Busters discussion.

 

The Federal Acquisition Service’s (FAS’s) Customer Assistance Visits (CAVs):  How to know if a CAV is an audit? If the authority cited for the CAV is an audit clause; if the CAV document review looks like an audit; and if the CAV compliance assessment questions look like an audit; the CAV just might be audit!!

As FAS continues to reorganize around Category Management to support its customer base, the role of FAS support operations has been evolving as well.  FAS support operations like IT systems, contract management and procurement policy are changing—changes that will impact both customer agencies and contractors. A case in point is the role of the CAV program.

To its credit, FAS has been open in communicating with MAS contractors regarding the changing CAV visit process. The Supplier Management Division that is responsible for the CAV visits has presented to the Coalition on a number of occasions outlining changes to the process and what MAS contractors can expect.  FAS is seeking to streamline the CAV process.  Supplier Management had been conducting full CAV visits in Year 2 and Year 4 of each five year base for contractors exceeding $150,000.  According to the Supplier Management Division, moving forward a full CAV will be conducted at the end of each five year contract period for all MAS contractors.  In addition, a more limited CAV will be conducted annually for MAS contractors with $150,000 or more in sales in the last four reporting quarters.  The Supplier Management Division is also looking to conduct more “virtual” CAVs.

Amidst the ongoing changes in the CAV process, MAS contractors should navigate the process with a fundamental understanding that despite FAS’s statements to the contrary, the full CAV has the look and feel of an audit.  A review of the documents provided to MAS contractors as part of the full CAV process makes that clear.  The documentation includes:

  • A copy of GSAR Clause 552.215-71, EXAMINATION OF RECORDS BY GSA (MULTIPLE AWARD SCHEDULE) (JUL 2003). This is the clause that establishes audit authority for all MAS contracts.
  • A “Contract Assessment Documentation – End of Term –Complete Assessment.” The instruction document outlines “a list of documents that are needed in order for a Multiple Award Schedules contractor to display their successful contract adherence during the assessment process.  The artifacts, including system documentation, that are to be available for review include:

(1) The contract

(2) Trade Agreements Act documentation;

(3) Basis of Award documents;

(4) Sales data/Scope of Contact documents;

(5) Participating Dealers documents;

(6) Pricing and Prompt Payment documents;

(7) Environmental information;

(8) Delivery information;

(9) Contractor Teaming Agreements (CTAs);

(10) Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs); and

(11) Novation or Name Change documents, as applicable.

 

  • A “Contract Assessment Guide” that outlines typical questions for each area of compliance. These instructions and questions correspond to the 11 compliance areas identified in the “Contract Assessment Document” as listed above.  The guide includes at least 40 questions/topics to be addressed by the contractor.

It is a best practice for sound government contract management that MAS contractors independently conduct periodic reviews for compliance with their MAS contracts.  And, as originally intended CAVs were to assist contractors in improving overall contract performance.  Today CAV visits are relied upon by FAS for any number of contract administration actions/engagements with MAS contractors.  In addition, CAVs can lead to a referral to the Inspector General’s Office for further audit and/or investigation.  That why prudent MAS contractors spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars preparing for a CAV visit.

Recently, FAS began asking MAS contractors to acknowledge and sign a “Notice Regarding Purpose and Parameters of Industrial Operations Analyst (IOA) Contactor Assistance Visits (CAVs).”    Interestingly, the notice states in part:

The CAV is NOT an audit, nor is it intended to be a comprehensive review of the contractor’s past and current compliance with any of the terms and conditions associated with the GSA MAS contract. Accordingly, an IOA’s failure to identify any past or current contract compliance issue does not constitute a finding of full compliance with the contract or government contracting regulations. . . . Because of the limited scope of the CAV visit and Report Card, nothing contained in the Report Card, or any documentation or action pertaining to the IOA CAV, precludes any claim presented by GSA or the United States relating to the contract.

The notice also includes a “summary of differences between an OIG Audit and IOA CAV visit.  The requirement to acknowledge/sign this notice appears to be a reaction to the civil false claims act case, United States ex rel. Folliard v. Govplace, March 13, 201.  In Folliard the plaintiff alleged Trade Agreements Act violations in performance of Govplace’s MAS contract.  In granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant Govplace, the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit found that Govplace reasonably relied on country of origin data received from its supplier.  The Court also cited or recognized the fact that over the course of six years of IOA visits, GSA had never cited or criticized Govplace regarding its TAA compliance.

As noted above, GSA relies on IOA visits for any number of contract administration purposes including referral to the Inspector General’s Office.  At the same time MAS contractors dedicate significant time, money and resources in preparing for and participating in a CAV.  Given the comprehensive nature of the review and as a matter of fundamental fairness MAS contractors, should be able rely on positive CAV results.  Before signing the notice, it would be prudent for contractor personnel to assure that appropriate company officials and/or counsel are aware of the requirement to sign this notice.

We urge GSA to continue its efforts to stream line the CAV process. Just as importantly, given the reorganization of FAS based on Category Management, perhaps it is time to consider a reorganization of the audit/review functions across GSA.  More on that in a future blog.

As you know, on Tuesday of this week the Coalition hosted its 2015 Spring Training Conference: The Business of Government.  Thank you to the many people and organizations who helped make the Spring Training Conference such a huge success!

 

First, thank you to the GSA for a robust, thoughtful Myth-Busters discussion of the key government-wide procurement challenges, issues and opportunities.  A special thank you to GSA’s Acting Administrator Denise Turner Roth, who delivered the Keynote address on Managing the Business of Government – GSA’s Role.  Our members appreciated Administrator Roth’s themes of value, partnership and the strategic importance of the GSA Multiple Award Schedule program.  We look forward to working with Acting Administrator Roth to ensure GSA’s programs deliver best value for customer agencies and the American people.

 

Thank you also to Kevin Youel Page, Deputy Commissioner, Federal Acquisition Service, for sharing the vision and goals on The Status of MAS Reform. MAS reform that increases value, efficiency and innovation for government and industry is a priority of the Coalition and we look forward to continuing the robust Myth-Busters dialogue with GSA on how to best achieve positive reform across the program.

 

Thank you to Sean Crean, Director, Office of Government Contracting, Small Business Administration, who provided a thought provoking panel discussion on The Impact of Small Business Policy on the Federal Market and moderator Angela Styles of Crowell & Moring.

 

We had two other morning panels that were equally terrific.  Thank you to Ray Bjorklund, BirchGrove Consulting; Wendy Frieman, Lohfeld Consulting Group; Cameron Leuthy, Bloomberg Government; and moderator Bill Gormley, The Gormley Group, who discussed tips for capturing the federal market.  And thank you to Jonathan Aronie, Sheppard Mullin; David Dowd, Mayer Brown; and Jason Workmaster, McKenna Long & Aldridge who gave an insightful and humorous take on managing liabilities of your federal contract.

 

Our Myth Buster Breakout sessions were once again a big hit!  Thank you to the 25 government participants and also the following members that provided moderators: HP Enterprise Services; Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP; Booz Allen Hamilton; ManTech; 3M Government Markets; General Dynamics Information Technology; CGI Federal; Deloitte; and Grainger.

 

We hold these conferences for you – our members – and we couldn’t do it without your support.  A huge thank you to those who not only participated, but who provided sponsorships for this year’s Spring Training Conference:

 

Title Sponsor: Bloomberg Government

Lunch Sponsor: CACI and SheppardMullin

Refueling Station Sponsor: The Gormley Group

Sustainability Sponsor: Ricoh Americas Corporation

Networking Reception: Berkeley Research Group

Legal Sponsor: Holland & Knight

 

Lastly, thank you to our Keystone Members and Strategic Partners for their unwavering support:

 

Keystone Members: Allsteel, Booz Allen Hamilton, CGI, Deloitte, General Dynamics Information Technology, HON, Northrop Grumman, and SAP

Strategic Partnership Members: AvKARE, Baker Tilly, CSC, Grainger, and Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems

 

We are already in the process of putting together our 2015 Fall Training Conference and Excellence in Partnership Awards.  The theme for our 2015 Fall Training Conference is “Acquisition Reform:  Back to the Future?” More details to come, but please mark your calendars for November 4th and 5th!

 

 

 

This week GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) invited the Coalition to a briefing on its Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Competitive Pricing Initiative.  The Competitive Pricing Initiative (CPI) will be launched in May and is focused on reducing “price variability” for identical items offered/listed on various MAS contracts. The CPI will include all product-based schedules and 4.5 million items have been identified for review.

Under CPI offered prices will be compared to other awarded schedule prices for the exact same item.  FAS indicated at the meeting that it recognizes that both price and non-price relate factors (such as contract terms, warranties, etc.) will play an important role in the determination of competitive pricing for all items, including identical items on schedule.  CPI’s goal is to reduce price variability for identical items on schedule by bringing outlier pricing into an acceptable range of overall pricing for the specific item.

There is a long standing focus in GSA on addressing MAS pricing for identical items under identical terms and conditions.  In fact, throughout the 1990’s into the early 2000’s GSA had internal MAS policy addressing pricing of identical items under identical terms to ensure pricing for such items on contracts was within an acceptable range.  CPI re-energizes that policy. Significantly, CPI is also based on using data that FAS already has in its possession.

This initiative is a common sense approach to addressing pricing for identical items under identical terms and conditions.  In fact, at the April 17th public meeting on GSA’s proposed Transactional Date Reporting rule, the Coalition specifically proposed that FAS address/reduce price variability for identical items as one of a series of alternatives to the transactional data pilot.  From a membership perspective, it is extremely significant that CPI is based on FAS using information that is already in its possession! Moreover, given that one of the major goals of the data reporting rule is to reduce price variability among identical items, perhaps GSA should take a step back and assess the results of CPI before embarking on a costly and burdensome contractor data reporting regime!

At the same time, the Coalition maintains its firm belief that competition at the order level for agency specific requirements drives price and value for customer agencies.  More still needs to be done across government to train contracting officers on how to effectively utilize the program.  Training on the MAS program can have an immediate return on investment by increasing best value outcomes for customer agencies using the program.  In the long term, training can reduce costs by addressing contract duplication—the more contracting officers understand and are comfortable with MAS’s streamlined, competitive ordering procedures the lower the demand/desire for duplicative agency specific contract vehicles.

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