The Coalition for Government Procurement

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!





Originally posted in Law360 on April 24, 2015


By: Brian Miller, Managing Director, Navigant Consulting Inc.


The U.S. General Services Administration is proposing a Faustian bargain for contractors in the proposed transactional data reporting pilot program (GSAR Case 2013-G504; Transactional Data Reporting; 80 Fed. Reg. 11,619 (March 4, 2015)). Like Mephistopheles, the GSA entices contractors with a trade. Trade the Price Reductions Clause (PRC) for the proposed transactional data reporting requirements. In reality, the two have very little to do with each other, except that getting rid of the PRC may be just too tempting for contractors. Make no mistake about it: There is no guarantee the proposed rule will pass competition from the marketplace on to benefit government customers. So, what could possibly induce contractors to volunteer to take on onerous and dangerous transactional reporting requirements? Yes, of course, getting rid of the dreaded PRC. What contractor could possibly resist?
But before you trade the devil you know for the devil you don’t know, beware. The devil you don’t know will require contractors to gear up to produce transactional data including but not limited to the unit prices paid, quantity sold and total price, as well as manufacturer name and part number. Id. at 11627-28. Other data may also be required, such as transactional data elements regarding open-ended categories of nongovernmental entities such as the Red Cross (“Non Federal Entity, if applicable.” Id. at 11627).

The point is: Much is unknown about this pilot program. If a “horizontal comparison” is going to be made, then the contractor may want to provide additional data to explain the price, such as promotions, nonstandard terms, and bundling — not to mention the complexity of reporting professional services data for “horizontal comparison.” The security of your confidential data rests solely in the hands of the GSA. It is unclear whether some information may even possibly be shared with competitors. (Time was that sharing with a competitor violated procurement integrity, now apparently it’s just a reverse auction.) And, if the pilot program requires a contractor participating in the program to acknowledge that its information may not be kept confidential, then how is it protected from release under the Freedom of Information Act?

How difficult will this be? My former office, the GSA Office of Inspector General, reports that at least one-third of the contractors audited currently do not have systems to accurately accumulate and report schedule sales. Major Issues from Multiple Award Schedule Preaward Audits Audit Memorandum Number A120050-5, March 13, 2015, found here. Now they will have to set up a new system to report transactional data. If this transactional data resides in different information technology systems, then it must be reported from all IT systems.

If this challenge is not daunting enough, consider the consequences of misreporting or not fully reporting. Under the False Claims Act, a contractor faces treble damages and civil penalties, sometimes totaling thousands, or even millions, of dollars, if a court rules that the contractor did not submit accurate and complete data. A contractor is liable if it “knowingly” submits a false claim, but “knowingly” can also mean “deliberate ignorance” or “reckless disregard.” If a contractor has not set up an adequate system for producing transactional data and submits false transactional data, it might be subject to False Claims Act liability. At the risk of being facetious, spending only six hours to set up this system might constitute reckless disregard. (Id. at 11627 expresses a contrary view). Relators filing qui tam actions under the False Claims Act might also take the position that the missing data would influence the government’s understanding of pricing, and contractor was paid and retains payments based on the assumption that the contractor provided accurate transactional data.

As with any Faustian bargain, you lose. In this case, contractors (perhaps a select few, but the contours of the pilot program are not clear) get the devil they don’t know with unknown and at times unclear reporting requirements with new dangers of potential False Claims Act liability.

But they still get the devil they know, the burdens of the PRC. And here’s how. The proposed rule says that the contracting officer may require commercial sales practices (CSP) information at any time, and not just at the formation (pre-award audits) or termination of the contract (post award audits), but during the contract too. Specifically, the proposed rule states: “GSA would maintain the right throughout the life of the FSS contract(s) to ask a vendor for updates to its disclosures on its commercial sales format … where commercial benchmarks or other available data on commercial pricing is insufficient to establish price reasonableness.” Id. at 11621.

Presumably the OIG may analyze that data too. All contractors will have to keep CSPs. The contracting officer still has to make sure that the government is getting fair and reasonable pricing, and the OIG can always require this information in an internal audit of this pilot program and of whether COs are complying with the FAR’s requirement for fair and reasonable pricing. So, contractors will be required to now have systems that continue to produce CSPs and the new transactional data for the pilot program. What a deal. Maybe the status quo with the PRC isn’t so bad after all.

—By Brian Miller, Navigant Consulting Inc.

Brian Miller is a managing director in Navigant’s Washington, D.C., office and former inspector general for the U.S. General Services Administration.

The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or Portfolio Media Inc., or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

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.

I won’t be writing a typical comment today as I’ll be out of the office presenting at GSA’s public meeting in regards to amending the General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) to include clauses that would require vendors to report transactional data from orders and prices paid by ordering activities.  Much more on this topic to come after the conclusion of today’s meeting on the proposed rule.  In the interim, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you that we are just over a week away from our 2015 Spring Training Conference, titled The Business Of Government.


On April 28th at the Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church, we will host speakers from the General Services Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Small Business Administration, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense.


Keynote Speaker Denise Turner Roth, Acting Administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration, will kick off the morning sessions where she will be discussing Managing the Business of Government – GSA’s Role.   We are looking forward to her remarks as this will be the first time she has had the opportunity to address the Coalition.


The morning session will also include panel discussions with topics such as Ten Tips for Capturing The Federal Market 2015 And Beyond, The Impact of Small Business Policy on The Federal Market, and a legal panel discussing From Risks to Rewards – Strategies for Managing Liabilities of your Federal Contract.


During our sit down lunch, participants will have the privilege of listening to Kevin Youel Page, Deputy Commissioner, Federal Acquisition Service, GSA, share his thoughts on The Status of MAS Reform – Update on GSA Initiatives and what they Mean for your Business.


The afternoon will consist of two groups of Myth Buster Breakout Sessions, where everyone will have the opportunity to choose from seven different topics that include over 25 different government panelist.


Myth Busters Breakout Session #1

  1. The Ultimate Helpdesk – SAM, GSA Advantage And Ebuy
  2. How Contractors Can Improve The Audit Process – The Government’s Perspective
  3. Cybersecurity: What Change Should Federal Contractors Anticipate?
  4. The Future Of Sustainable Government—From Ecolabels To Green Buildings


Myth Busters Breakout Session #2

  1. GSA Technology Contracts
  2. Transforming GSA’s Professional Services Offerings
  3. GSA, Federal Acquisition Service, General Supplies and Services (GSS) Business line Update


View the full agenda here and don’t forget to register today as we need an accurate head count going into next week!  If you need any assistance with the registration process, please contact Matt Cahill at or 202-315-1054 and he’ll be happy to help!


We are looking forward to seeing you on the 28th!



For this week’s FAR and Beyond Blog, I’d like to share the Coalition’s comments to GSA on NS2020:





March 31, 2015


Timothy J. Horan

Contracting Officer

General Services Administration

1800 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20405


Subject: Comments on the Draft RFP for the NS2020 Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) Acquisition


Dear Mr. Horan:


The Coalition for Government Procurement (“The Coalition”) is a non-profit association of firms selling commercial services and products to the Federal Government. Our members collectively account for approximately 70% of the sales generated through the GSA Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program and about half of the commercial item solutions purchased annually by the Federal Government. Coalition members include small, medium and large information technology (IT) firms participating in the GSA Schedules program and the family of IT GWAC programs across government.  The Coalition is proud to have worked with Government officials for over 35 years towards the mutual goal of common sense acquisition.


The Coalition appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the Draft RFP for the NS2020’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) Acquisition. The Coalition looks forward to working with GSA to develop IT contract solutions that increase competition and access to commercial innovation while reducing costly contract duplication across the Federal enterprise. In this regard, the unintended consequences of the current EIS contract structure will have a significant negative impact on competition and innovation in the federal IT market place.  Moreover, the current EIS contract structure will increase, rather than decrease, contract duplication within the family of GSA IT contracts and across the entire federal government.




In April 2014, GSA’s Integrated Technology Service (ITS) issued its NS2020 white paper, the Network Services 2020 Strategy, NS2020: Defining the future of Federal Telecommunications.   The white paper set forth the future vision for GSA’s provision of government-wide telecommunications including the proposed EIS telecommunications contract.  The white paper indicated that EIS would include a “broadly defined” scope of work enabling agencies to include ancillary or bundled information technology services in task orders that would otherwise fall into other IT program areas.  GSA also issued an RFI that provided the public with an opportunity to comment on the acquisition strategy outlined for NS2020 and EIS.  In May 2014 The Coalition provided its comments on behalf of its members.  Our primary concern was that the acquisition bundled services in such a manner as to prevent cloud service providers, call center providers and a host of equipment suppliers from competing in the government’s requirements. See attachment 1. On February 28, 2015, GSA issued the draft EIS RFP for public comment with a due date of March 31, 1015.  The draft solicitation does not address the comments and does not explain the government’s decision to bundle services in a way that excludes major industry sectors from competition.


The attached pricing chart found at Paragraph B., Pricing Identification Structure, of the draft RFP sets forth the services to be provided under EIS. See attachment 2.  The chart lists five mandatory telecommunications services and 25 optional services along with optional “service related equipment” and optional cable and wiring. Among the optional service areas are cloud services, data center services, COMSATCOM and wireless.  In order to be eligible for award, an offeror must propose and meet the five mandatory service area requirements.  The draft RFP contemplates a global geographic scope of performance, a potential ten year contract term and technical refresh capability to incorporate new technologies/services through the life of the contract.


  1. The EIS draft RFP unduly restricts competition.


The Competition in Contracting Act (CICA) requires that solicitations permit full and open competition and contain restrictive provisions and conditions only to the extent necessary to satisfy the needs of the agency.  Bundled or consolidated procurements combine separate, multiple requirements into one contract potentially restricting competition by excluding firms that can furnish only a portion of the requirement.  As such, the government must show a reasonable basis as to why bundling is necessary to meet the agency’s needs.


The bundling of the mandatory telecommunications service areas with the optional service areas, excludes commercial cloud and data center providers from the procurement.  The significant telecommunication infrastructure costs and requirements associated with the global mandatory telecommunications requirements, creates a barrier to entry and competition for the optional services included in the RFP.  As a result, the entire cloud services and data center contractor community, other than the 3-5 firms capable of meeting the telecommunications requirements, will be shut out of the EIS government-wide 15 year contract program.  Given the draft RFP’s technical refresh capability for adding new technologies and services to the contract, the draft RFP perpetuates an ongoing anti-competitive framework that limits future competition and access to new technologies/services to the limited number of companies receiving an award for the EIS mandatory telecommunication services.


Throughout the Myth-Busters dialogue on this procurement, GSA has maintained that bundling of the mandatory and optional services is an effort to be “flexible” by providing its customer agencies with an administratively convenient mechanism to purchase consolidated telecommunication and IT infrastructure requirements.  Administrative convenience, when weighed against full and open competition, is not a reasonable basis for bundling or consolidating requirements.  GSA should focus on solutions that increase administrative convenience without compromising the competitiveness of the acquisition.


  1. The EIS draft RFP duplicates services available on pre-existing IT contract vehicles.


As the Coalition has noted on several occasions, the scope of services envisioned under EIS duplicates pre-existing contracts across GSA and government-wide.  As currently structured, the draft RFP includes optional services that are already available on IT Schedule 70, Alliant, and Alliant SB.  With regard to cloud services in particular, there are a host of Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) and agency specific contracts. Moreover, EIS includes optional services that are available under NIH’s family of IT GWAC contracts as well as NASA SEWP.  Continued contract duplication increases the complexity and costs of the acquisition process for both government and industry.  The costs are ultimately passed on to the customer in the form of higher prices.


Conclusion and Recommendations


There are alternatives that allow for robust competition across the telecommunications and IT service areas while maintaining the flexibility to meet customer agency needs. We recommend that GSA consider the following:

  • Restructure EIS to eliminate the mandatory nature of the telecommunications services thereby allowing non-telecom companies to compete in the optional areas. This approach would increase competition while still allowing customer agencies to bundle or consolidate telecommunications and IT at the task order competition level.
  • Rename the optional services as “functional areas.” This would reflect distinct “categories and subcategories of services,” and allow any qualified bidders to compete for work that is predominantly within the optional services categories or subcategories and subcontract the rest. This structure would better enable GSA to manage categories of work.
  • Include the telecommunication services on IT Schedule 70 and/or the follow-on Alliant 2 contract. By no longer requiring these services as mandatory, this approach would again maximize competition across all service areas while retaining the ability of customer agencies to consolidate requirements at the order level, as appropriate.  An additional benefit would be a reduction in contract duplication.  GSA is already moving to a set of cloud line items on IT Schedule 70.
  • Delete the optional services from EIS and look to pre-existing vehicles and the Common Acquisition Platform (CAP) Hallways to facilitate meeting customer agency requirements. This approach will also reduce duplication and overlap among contract vehicles.

Finally, NS2020 represents the fourth generation procurements for telecommunications services managed by GSA:  (1) FTS 2000; (2) FTS2001; (3) Networx; and now (4) EIS NS2020.  In each generation it appears that the transition costs and timing has become more and more challenging.  It is time to consider a GSA Schedules telecommunications solution.   The GSA Schedules provide flexibility to offer a suite of services while not limiting competition across the market.  Continuous open seasons would ensure access to the commercial telecommunication market on an ongoing basis meaning greater access to new services, products and technologies. The 20 year contract period would provide greater stability and ease concerns regarding the timing for task order competitions and transitions. Most importantly, GSA, as the statutory manager of the GSA Schedules program, has the discretion to structure a telecommunications Schedule that maximizes competition from the commercial market.


The Coalition appreciates the opportunity to provide our recommendations on the NS2020 draft RFP.  If there are any questions, please contact me at (202) 331-0975 or



Roger Waldron



Now that we’ve entered April, there are a couple things we’re very excited about here at the Coalition – warmer weather and our upcoming Spring Training Conference titled The Business Of Government.


This year’s Spring Training Conference will take place on April 28th at the Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church, VA and include speakers from the General Services Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Small Business Administration, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense.


Keynote Speaker Denise Turner Roth, Acting Administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration, will kick off the morning sessions where she will be discussing Managing the Business of Government – GSA’s Role.   We are looking forward to her remarks as this will be the first time she has had the opportunity to address the Coalition.


The morning session will also include panel discussions with topics such as Ten Tips for Capturing The Federal Market 2015 And Beyond, The Impact of Small Business Policy on The Federal Market, and a legal panel discussing From Risks to Rewards – Strategies for Managing Liabilities of your Federal Contract.


During our sit down lunch, participants will have the privilege of listening to Kevin Youel Page, Deputy Commissioner, Federal Acquisition Service, GSA, share his thoughts on The Status of MAS Reform – Update on GSA Initiatives and what they Mean for your Business.


The afternoon will consist of two groups of Myth Buster Breakout Sessions, where everyone will have the opportunity to choose from seven different topics.  Check them all out in the agenda below, and don’t forget to register today!


Lastly, thank you to our current Spring Training Conference sponsors – we appreciate your support!


Gold: Bloomberg Government

Lunch: SheppardMullin and CACI

Refueling Station: The Gormley Group

Sustainability: Ricoh Americas Corporation

Networking Reception – Berkeley Research Group


There’s still time and sponsorships remaining for your company to support the Coalition’s Spring Training Conference – please contact Matt Cahill at or 202-315-1054 to discuss options!

To view the conference agenda click here!

agenda 1D

agenda 2D

agenda 3D





For this week’s comment, I wanted to share with you all a letter the Coalition sent this week to OMB and GSA concerning commercial item contracting in the wake of a recent decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit:

March 24, 2015


Denise Turner Roth

Administrator, General Services

1800 F Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20004


Anne Rung


Office of Federal Procurement Policy

Office of Management and Budget Tom Sharpe

Washington, DC 20006


Subject: FAR Part 12 and the Recent Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Decision, CGI Federal Inc. v. US (March 10 2015)


Dear Administrator Roth and Administrator Rung:


The Coalition for Government Procurement (“the Coalition”) is a non-profit association of firms selling commercial services and products to the Federal Government. Our members collectively account for approximately 70% of the sales generated through the GSA Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program and about half of the commercial item solutions purchased annually by the Federal Government. Coalition members include small, medium, and large business concerns. The Coalition is proud to have worked with Government officials over the past 35 years towards the mutual goal of common sense acquisition.


Given the recent decision of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the case, CGI Federal Inc. v. US (March 10 2015) (“the Court of Appeals decision” or  “the decision” ), the Coalition is interested in how your organization will address/implement the decision across the Federal enterprise. The Coalition believes the decision provides the government a significant opportunity to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of commercial item acquisition programs, particularly the GSA’s Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) Program.


As you know, the Court of Appeals concluded that the FAR Part 12 prohibition against the use of terms that are inconsistent with customary commercial practice applies to orders placed against a GSA Schedule contract.  As a result, the court found that noncommercial payment terms included in a MAS task order violated the FAR, and they were invalidated. In addition, the court held that “FAR Part 12’s proscription against terms inconsistent with customary commercial practice applies to [solicitations issued pursuant to the Financial and Business Solutions Schedule] and therefore that the [solicitations] violate that proscription.” Further, the court noted that FAR § 12.302(c)’s proscription against any “solicitations or contracts” including terms “inconsistent with customary commercial practice” applies to [RFQs issued pursuant to the Financial and Business Solutions Schedule]  because the RFQs are a “solicitation,” and the resulting order is a “contract” as those terms are defined by FAR.


The case reaffirmed that FAR Part 12 was created to implement the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 (FASA), which requires that the Federal Acquisition Regulations (“FAR”) include “a list of contract clauses to be included in contracts for the acquisition of commercial end items,” and that the list, to “the maximum extent practicable . . . shall include only those contract clauses that are . . . determined to be consistent with standard commercial practice.” Moreover, as noted by the Court of Appeals, the regulation precludes the inclusion of “any additional terms or conditions in a solicitation or contract for commercial items in a manner that is inconsistent with customary commercial practice for the item being acquired unless a waiver is approved in accordance with agency procedures.” See FAR 12.12.302(c).


This decision is a powerful statement of support for returning the notion of “commercial” to “commercial item” contracting across the Federal enterprise.  Focusing on commercial practices, terms, and conditions will increase government access to best value products, services, and solutions from the commercial market place.  In particular, a reinvigorated commercial item contracting paradigm will increase competition and enhance access to innovative, cutting edge commercial technologies and solutions, both key Administration procurement goals.


GSA’s MAS program is the largest commercial item contracting program in government.  It accounts for over $35 billion in purchases annually, and it provides thousands of commercial firms, including thousands of small businesses, access to the federal market.  The Court of Appeals decision should provide the Administration the impetus for a top-down review of MAS contracts to eliminate terms and conditions that are inconsistent with standard commercial practice.  Such a review is consistent with the vision established in OFPP’s December 4, 2014 memorandum to Chief Acquisition Officers and Senior Procurement Executives.  The letter points to the need for agencies to continually review regulations, to ensure they remain relevant to today’s buying environment.  The memo stated …  “[i]n particular, greater attention must be paid to regulations related to procurements of commercial products and services, as the Government is typically not a market driver in these cases and the burden of Government-unique practices and reporting requirements can be particularly problematic, especially for small businesses.


In closing, the Coalition is very interested in hearing GSA’s and OFPP’s plans for addressing the court’s decision across government and within the MAS program.  We stand ready to engage in a robust “Myth-Busters” dialogue to put the “commercial” back in “commercial item” contracting.    In this regard, we look forward to inviting you to speak to our members about this important issue.



Roger Waldron


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