FAR and Beyond Blog
The Multiple Award Double-Standard, Part II
April’s blog focused on the Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy’s (DPAP’s) double standard regarding the treatment of orders under the GSA Schedules program versus other multiple award contracts. This month’s blog answers the question, why the double standard? Simply put, there is no reasonable basis for the disparate treatment of orders under the GSA Schedules program as compared to orders under other multiple award contracts.
First, as explained in my April blog, the regulations governing orders under the GSA Schedules program (FAR 8.404) and orders under multiple award contracts (FAR 16.505(b)(3) contain the same fundamental guidance regard the determination of fair and reasonable pricing. Moreover, there is guidance throughout FAR 8.4 requiring price analysis or determination of fair and reasonable pricing when competing and placing an order that includes a statement of work.
Second, by statute and regulation, the competition requirements (i.e. the government’s obligation to provide contractors with notice and an opportunity to compete) for task and delivery orders are essentially the same. As a threshold matter under both GSA Schedules and other multiple award contracts, statute and regulation require the ordering activity to provide notice (including description of supplies and services to be acquired and the evaluation criteria) and an opportunity to compete to all contractors capable of meeting the requirement. Further, the ordering procedures for both GSA Schedules (FAR 8.4) and other multiple award contracts (FAR 16.505) require written determinations or justification when a contracting officer does not provide the required notice. The competition requirements for multiple award contracts, including GSA Schedules, were recommended by the Acquisition Advisory Panel (AAP), established by the Services Acquisition Reform Act of 2003 to make recommendations on improving the procurement system. The AAP’s recommendations regarding task order competition under multiple award contracts were enacted into law as Section 863 of the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act.
Third, GSA’s continuous open seasons ensure ongoing access to the commercial marketplace. Commercial firms can submit an offer for a schedule contract every business day of the year. Continuous open seasons are the answer to those critics of multiple award contracts that argue they are uncompetitive because they close federal markets to new offers. In the GSA Schedules world, the market is always open to new offers. Moreover, other multiple award contracts are increasingly adopting “on-ramps.” On-ramps are a form of continuous open season as they allow firms that are not on a multiple award contract to submit offers to join the contractor pool. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
Finally, GSA Advantage!, the electronic catalog for the GSA Schedules program, and e-Buy, GSA’s electronic quote tool, support transparency of pricing, market research, and task order competition. In fact, e-Buy is identified in FAR 8.4 as the method of providing notice and an opportunity to compete to all schedule contractors consistent with the statutory competition requirements.
Given the competitive features of the GSA Schedules program, that DPAP’s guidance is targeted solely at the GSA Schedules program is perplexing. More recently, in explaining the rationale behind the deviation, DPAP focused on pricing of orders below the micro-purchase threshold ($3,000). Perhaps the focus on micro-purchases reflects a realization that the GSA Schedules ordering process is as competitive, if not more competitive, than other multiple award contracts. After all, competition is not required for purchases at or below the micro-purchase threshold; the government can go directly to a single source whether it is buying open market or ordering from a pre-existing contract like the GSA Schedules.
If DPAP’s real concern is the pricing for orders below the micro-purchase threshold, than invocation of FAR 15.404-1 is a case of over regulation. The deviation creates confusion and uncertainty in the GSA Schedules marketplace. As such, the deviation will foster increased contract duplication. Unfortunately, the costs associated with increased contract duplication will far outweigh any savings achieved for GSA orders resulting from the deviation.
The facts and circumstances surrounding DPAP’s deviation raise several questions.
■ Did DPAP conduct a cost/benefit analysis before issuing the deviation?
■ Did DPAP consider the potential for increased contract duplication resulting from the deviation?
■ Did DPAP review the entirety of FAR 8.4 before issuing the deviation?
■ Did DPAP review FAR 16.505 and compare it to FAR 8.4 before issuing the deviation?
■ Will DPAP issue a deviation regarding FAR 16.505?
■ Finally, again, why the multiple award double standard?
This week GSA’s FAS Commissioner Tom Sharpe spoke at a Premier Member event about the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) strategic vision for the next three years. Commissioner Sharpe delivered a presentation on the Government Acquisition Marketplace, a new initiative at GSA. As a part of the strategic vision, GSA plans to build, operate and maintain this marketplace to generate savings, improve efficiency and deliver excellent customer service for agencies across the federal government. The initiative is focused on:
The Coalition and its members sincerely appreciate the Myth-buster’s dialogue with Commissioner Sharpe. We look forward to participating in future discussions with GSA about how to best achieve FAS’s strategic vision while providing best value solutions to customer agencies and the American taxpayer.
Federal Times reported this week on GSA’s plans to increase its market share from 14 to 33 percent by the end of fiscal year 2016. Key to reaching this goal according to Commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Tom Sharpe is the Common Acquisition Portal, a “one-stop digital shop for government acquisition.” The portal will be designed to help agencies with their acquisitions by providing them with market information, prices paid data, best practices and the ability to “compare the prices and costs of all government-wide acquisition contracts before finally making a purchase or contract decision. “ This information will be categorized into 5 industry “hallways” in the initial launch of CAP. They are IT hardware, IT software, professional services, human resources and transportation services. According to Federal Times, the Common Acquisition Portal is expected to be launched by the end of FY 2014.
Join the Federal Buildings Committee on June 5th for a tour at GSA headquarters and a discussion with Bart Bush, Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Client Solutions in the Public Buildings Service (PBS). Mr. Bush will discuss GSA’s efforts to reduce the Federal footprint through consolidation projects. GSA recently announced a $70 million investment in 19 consolidation projects with agencies across the country. He will also provide an update on GSA’s Total Workplace Furniture and Information Technology (FIT) program designed to minimize agency capital investments in these products.
The meeting with Bart Bush and tour will begin at 10:00am. Members interested in attending, please RSVP to Roy Dicharry at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. Space is limited so please RSVP soon.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report this week on Federal software licenses. At the request of Chairman Tom Carper of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, GAO reviewed how agencies manage software licenses and what associated policies exist from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and internally within agencies. The GAO found that OMB and the majority of the 24 agencies reviewed did not have adequate software license management policies. Based on GAO’s research, they identified seven areas that should be a part of such a policy. They are:
- Identify clear roles, responsibilities, and central oversight authority within the department for managing enterprise software license agreements and commercial software licenses;
- Establish a comprehensive inventory (80 percent of software license spending and/or enterprise licenses in the department) by identifying and collecting information about software license agreements using automated discovery and inventory tools;
- Regularly track and maintain software licenses to assist the agency in implementing decisions throughout the software license management life cycle;
- Analyze software usage and other data to make cost-effective decisions;
- Provide training relevant to software license management;
- Establish goals and objectives of the software license management program; and
- Consider the software license management life-cycle phases (i.e., requisition, reception, deployment and maintenance, retirement, and disposal phases) to implement effective decision making and incorporate existing standards, processes, and metrics.
GAO recommended that OMB issue a government-wide directive to agencies requiring that they develop comprehensive software licensing policies that include these 7 areas. According to GAO, the lack of an OMB policy has resulted in an inability to analyze software license data. GAO stated in the report that “while agencies were able to identify millions in savings for software, there is the potential for even greater savings and additional opportunities to reduce software license spending and duplication than what agencies have reported.”
OMB did not agree with the need for a government-wide directive on software licensing. In a response letter, U.S. Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel pointed to existing policies that set a framework for agencies to effectively manage their own software licenses. GAO maintains however, that “until agencies have sufficient direction from OMB, opportunities to systematically identify software license related cost savings across the Federal government will likely continue to be missed.”
Federal Times reported this week that GSA is including sustainability requirements in their largest contracts in order to reduce the environmental impact of their supply chain. According to Federal Times, GSA is incorporating greenhouse gas emission related requirements as their largest contracts are created or come up for renewal. An example is the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) BPA for Domestic Delivery Services which encourages contractors to participate in the EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership. The Managed Print Services FSSI BPA also included a special green designation for awarded contractors that completed a greenhouse gas inventory. In the Federal Times article, Jed Ela, sustainability coordinator at GSA said that “GSA is looking at new ways to encourage companies to report carbon emissions and is working within the industry to see what companies are already doing and to promote the economic benefits of environmental sustainability.” The Coalition will be reaching out to GSA to see what information from industry would be helpful for their market research.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report this week detailing the impact of sequestration during fiscal year 2013 at five specific agencies. Sequestration reduced funding to selected components of federal agencies and their program partners. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was one of the agencies GAO reviewed. In the report, GAO highlights how CBP responded to sequestration during FY 2013 and some of the areas CBP targeted for reductions.
CBP Headquarters was responsible for managing high-level budget changes due to sequestration agency-wide. CBP Headquarters funding reductions changed over time as events developed on Capitol Hill and as the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provided guidance to agencies. The following chart shows the adjustments CBP made during FY 2013 as a result of these events:
The following chart shows some of the areas that the CBP was looking at targeting for reductions as of January 2013:
In GAO’s report, CBP officials noted that the actions taken in fiscal year 2013 to address sequestration would be difficult or impossible to replicate in future fiscal years in the event of additional budget cuts. For example, CBP’s transfer and reprogramming actions allowed program officials to make more specific implementation decisions, mitigating furloughs in fiscal year 2013. However, depending on the levels of and conditions on any future funding, these actions may not be possible in future years to absorb funding redactions. Overall, officials also believe CBP is in a better position to respond to potential future budget cuts given its experience in the planning and implementation of the fiscal year 2013 sequestration. To access the full report, visit www.gao.gov/assets/670/663620.pdf.
By: Jack Horan, Partner, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP
Effective and compliant contract administration should be a primary goal for all government contractors, including, of course, contractors with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). As with any other business goal, compliance should be attained efficiently. Within the web of statutory, regulatory, and contractual requirements, VA contractors should understand the areas where noncompliance creates the greatest risk and exposure, and spend their resources accordingly.
As with the Offices of Inspectors General throughout the government, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) is a central player in the oversight of contracts, enforcing compliance with all major VA statutory, regulatory, and contractual requirements, and redressing compliance failures. As part of its responsibilities, the VA OIG reports to Congress twice annually on the audits, reviews, and investigations it conducts. Although intended for other purposes, these reports can assist VA contractors in identifying the requirements that are of the most importance to the VA, and should be most important to the contractor. In short, VA OIG’s actions over the prior year serve as a lesson to contractors on where to spend their time and money (and the effect of noncompliance).
The VA OIG has “a nationwide staff of auditors, investigators, health care inspectors, and support personnel” in six major component “offices” that conduct “independent oversight reviews to improve the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of VA programs, and to prevent and detect criminal activity, waste, abuse, and fraud.” For a VA contractor, the three component offices that are of most importance are: (1) the Immediate Office of the IG; (2) the Office of Counselor to the IG; and (3) Office of Investigations.
The Immediate Office of the IG is top-tier management, with the Deputy Inspector General operating as the “Chief Operating Officer.” In addition to planning, directing and monitoring all [IG] operations,” the Immediate Office establishes investigative priorities for the Office, and identifies and promotes legislative initiatives to Congress.
The new year should bring a new IG to the VA. On November 6, 2013, GeorgeOpfer announced his retirement as IG after more than 44 years of government service. Mr.Opfer assumed responsibility as Inspector General on November 17, 2005, after being nominated by President GeorgeW.Bush. Although President Obama has not nominated a replacement, Mr.Opfer’s long-time Deputy, RichardGriffin, is currently serving as Acting Inspector General. Mr.Griffin has been a Deputy Inspector General since November 23, 2008, and previously served as Inspector General from November 1997 to June 2005.
A change in Inspector General can have a significant effect on the priorities, policies, and procedures of an office – as demonstrated by the GSA’s OIG under the direction of the current IG, Brian Miller. Given his status as Acting Inspector General and his long service under Mr.Opfer, it would be surprising if Mr.Griffin made dramatic changes to the VA OIG’s policies or procedures. Significant changes will likely come, if at all, under the next IG.
The Office of Counselor provides counsel to the OIG on False Claims Act cases affecting the VA and serves as liaison to the Department of Justice on False Claims Act cases. The Office of Counselor also manages the Office of Contract Review, which provides pre-award and post-award audits of contractors’ proposals and contracts under an agreement with VA’s Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction (OALC). The majority of pre-award audits of proposals for contracts or modifications under the VA’s Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) program. The Office automatically reviews the pricing for all proposals when the estimated contract or modification exceeds $5,000,000 under Schedule 65IB, Drugs, Pharmaceuticals, and Hematology Related Products, and $3,000,000 for the other VA Schedules. The Office of Contract Review also reviews pharmaceutical manufacturers’ compliance with the pricing requirements of the Veterans Health Care Act. Thus, the Office of Contract Review reviews pricing for major VA contracts and ensures the pricing is compliant with contractual, regulatory, and statutory requirements, and provides a recommendation to the contracting officer on the prices the VA should pay for items on large FSS contracts.
So how did the pricing proposed by potential contractors fare with Office of Contract Review? During fiscal year 2013, the Office conducted 83 pre-award audits of proposals of all types, and identified $655,056,285 in cost savings, or an average of $7.9 million in cost savings per audit. It’s safe to say that the Office did not routinely accept pricing as proposed by the contractors.
How about proposals for FSS awards, renewals or modifications? Forty-six of the 83 pre-award audits were of proposals for awards, renewals or modifications under the FSS program – 32 for initial award, ten for renewals, and four for modifications to add products. The Office recommended a price reduction for 72% (23 of 32) of the audited proposals for initial award. The Office recommended a total of $470,428,110 in price reductions, with an average of $14.7 million per audit (including all 32 audits). Thus, offerors submitting proposals for an initial award of an FSS contract fared worse than the average contractor subject to pre-award audits.
With pricing established by the existing contracts, one would expect that the contractor would fare better in pre-award audits for contract renewals. Contractors did fare better but the Office frequently challenged the proposed pricing. The Office recommended a total of $18,577,827 in price reductions, with an average of $1,857,783 per audit. The OIG recommended a price reduction for 60% (six of ten) renewal proposals.
Contractors seeking product additions fared the best over the past year with the OIG recommending price reductions in only 25% (one of four) of its audits. The one price reduction was a significant one though — $8,615,256.
So, here are the lessons learned from the pre-award audits:
- Most obviously, the OIG takes a hard look at proposed pricing, in the past year rejecting 72% of pricing proposed for initial award, 60% for renewals, and 25% for modifications.
- A contractor needs to be prepared to support its pricing not only when it is seeking the initial FSS contract, but also at renewal and for each modification.
Now let’s look at post award audits – audits conducted to determine whether a contractor is complying with its pricing obligations. The Office reported 33 post-award audits in fiscal year 2013, which resulted in the VA recovering contract overcharges totaling over $17.6 million. According to the OIG, approximately $11.7 million of that recovery resulted from Veterans Health Care Act compliance with pricing requirements, recalculation of Federal ceiling prices, and appropriate classification of pharmaceutical products.
Fourteen of the post-award audits were of voluntary disclosures. The Office claimed more than offered by the contractor in nine of 14 voluntary disclosures. The average recovery to the VA from voluntary disclosures was $1,157,117.
The VA recovered 100 percent of recommended recoveries for post-award audits.
Lessons learned from post-award audits:
- Pay close attention to your Veterans Health Care Act pricing – it is a major compliance area for the OIG, comprising the largest recovery area.
- Be prepared to support your accounting and rationale for any voluntary disclosures. The disclosure is likely to be audited and the proposed repayment amount is likely to be challenged.
- Your opportunity to affect the government’s view of your liability is through negotiations with the OIG. The Office has an excellent record – 100% of the time – of recovering what it determines the VA is due.
Now, a look at the focus of the Office of Investigations over the past fiscal year. The Office of Investigations (OI) investigates crimes committed against programs and operations of the VA. Within the OI, the Criminal Investigations division investigates all types of crimes (including criminal fraud as well as rape and murder) and civil fraud. For fiscal year 2013, the OI reported opening 45 cases, making 11 arrests, and obtaining more than $564.1 million in fines, restitution, penalties, and civil judgments “in the area of procurement practices.”
The OI specifically identified twelve criminal cases involving procurement violations by contractors – all twelve involved service-disabled, veteran-owned small business fraud. In those cases, the SDVOSB business either misrepresented the eligibility of its owner, or the true ownership of the business.
Lessons learned from the OI:
- Exposure under the False Claims Act for VA contracts can be very significant – reaching over $500 million in 2013.
- People get arrested and go to jail for defrauding the VA.
- If you tell the VA that you are a serviced-disabled veteran and own and operate a SDVOSB, you better be a service-disabled veteran and own and operate the SDVOSB.
Finally, one other lesson learned – this one from the structure of the VA OIG. Contact by the Office of Contract Review and the Office of Investigations can both lead to civil or even criminal liability, but there is a significant difference. If the contact comes from the Office of Investigations, the issue has already likely been determined to be a potential civil fraud or criminal violation. There is no doubt that it is time to call your lawyer.
 See Semiannual Report to Congress, Issue 69, (October 1, 2012 – March 31, 2013),VA OIG; Semiannual Report to Congress, Issue 70 (April 1 – September 30, 2013), VA OIG.
 The three other component offices are the following: (1) the Office of Audits and Evaluations, which audits and evaluates the effectiveness of the Veterans Health Administration programs and Veterans Benefits Administration programs; (2) the Office of Healthcare Inspections, which monitors the healthcare provided to the veterans; and (3) the Office of Management and Administration, which provides comprehensive support services to the VA OIG, and administers the VA OIG Hotline.
 The Office of Counselor also supervises the Release of Information Office, which primarily processes Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act requests for OIG records, as well as other requests for information.
 The reports describe the pre-award audits results as “potential cost savings” and “savings and cost avoidance” so it is not clear whether these amounts include audit recommendations ultimately rejected by the contractors.
 To provide some perspective, the VA estimates that there are currently 1900 contract holders under its FSS program.
 The categorization of the pre-award and post-award audits in this article are based on the description of the audits in Appendix A of the reports.
 The OIG’s reports labeled eleven post-award reviews as involving voluntary disclosures with a total recovery to the VA of $12,728,288.
 This amount includes a $500 million fine resulting from a False Claims Act case against a large pharmaceutical company.
Proposed Rule Reflects Questionable Implementation of Statute to Expand Application of Personal Conflict of Interest Rules
By: Jason A. “Jay” Carey, Partner, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP; Alison L. Doyle, Partner, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP; John W. Sorrenti, Associate, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) currently imposes personal conflict of interest (“PCI”) requirements on contractors performing acquisition functions closely associated with inherently governmental functions. FAR subpart 3.11. Contractors performing such work must screen for and prevent PCIs, and the screening process includes disclosure and review of covered employees’ financial interests and other relationships. Compliance can be a significant burden and understandably raises concerns about the proliferation of personal financial information in the hands of contractors and the government.
On April 2, 2014, the FAR Council issued a proposed rule that would greatly expand the application of those PCI requirements to contractors performing a number of other (non-acquisition) “functions closely associated with inherently governmental functions,” as well as contracts for personal services. 79 Fed. Reg. 18503 (Apr. 2, 2014). The proposed rule’s implementation of the underlying statute raises red flags, and would require many new contractors to accept significant and ambiguous compliance burdens. Comments are due by June 2, 2014.
The proposed rule purports to implement section 829 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, which required the Secretary of Defense to review existing PCI requirements to determine whether they should be extended to other defense contractors through a revision of the Department of Defense supplement to the FAR. The proposed rule, however, goes beyond the stated intent of section 829, extending the requirement to all agencies, not just the Department of Defense. Contractors and industry groups submitting comments may want to address the propriety of this approach given the statutory language.
With respect to the substantive requirements of the proposed rule, it deletes the current limitation to acquisition-related functions, and applies PCI rules to all contractor “functions closely associated with inherently governmental functions.” Section 829 referred to 10 U.S.C. § 2838(b)(3) to define the term “functions closely associated with inherently governmental functions,” and that statutory provision defined the term as the list of functions in FAR § 7.503(d). The proposed rule, however, does not adopt this definition — and, in fact, does not define the term at all. Rather, the rule refers generally to FAR subpart 7.5. But that subpart does not define the term, or even contain the words “closely associated.” As a result, the proposed rule provides no guidance to contracting officers regarding what it means for a function to be “closely associated” with inherently governmental functions. Leaving this essential term undefined will assuredly create confusion, and lead to an inconsistent and uneven application of the rule from agency to agency and contracting officer to contracting officer. And over time, agencies will gravitate to the most conservative approach — i.e., the broadest application — without any systematic assessment of whether that approach makes sense, or is worth the cost to contractors and the procurement system.
Further complicating matters is the ambiguity of the functions listed in FAR § 7.503(d), which sweep in a wide range of services that support government operations, including:
- Budget preparation (including workload modeling, fact-finding, efficiency studies, and should-cost analyses);
- Reorganization and planning activities;
- Development of policies or regulations (including analyses, feasibility studies, and strategy options);
- Any situation that might permit a contractor to gain access to confidential business information or other sensitive information;
- Support for responses to Freedom of Information Act requests;
- Some legal, security, and inspection-related services.
The FAR Council is interested in receiving comments on which functions listed in FAR § 7.503(d) should be included or excluded from the PCI requirements. In addition to addressing that question, contractors and industry groups should consider commenting on the ambiguous scope of the covered functions in FAR § 7.503, which is certain to lead to uneven implementation. For example, the new PCI rule would apply to contracts where the contractor may have access to “confidential business information” or “other sensitive information.” See FAR § 7.503(d)(11). Those terms are not defined, and have potentially broad application — not just to contractor proprietary information and source selection information, but also to any information the government views as confidential or sensitive. The reference to “planning activities” in FAR § 7.503(d)(2) is similarly broad and undefined.
Given the absence of any definition of “closely associated,” the lack of clarity in FAR § 7.503, and the conservative nature of many in the acquisition workforce, a broad application of PCI requirements seems likely if the proposed rule is adopted as-is. As currently drafted, the proposed rule has far-reaching implications, and is likely to impose substantial costs and compliance burdens on contractors — beyond what even Congress intended. Contractors should consider submitting comments, and closely monitor the progress of the proposed rule.
Compliance Requirements – Service Contracts
Clause 52.204-15 15 Service Contract Reporting Requirements for Indefinite-Delivery Contracts is being included in GSA Schedules. The clause requires contractors that receive orders at specified dollar thresholds to report the following information to www.sam.gov:
- Contract number and order number
- The total dollar amount invoiced for services performed during the previous Government fiscal year under the order.
- The number of Contractor direct labor hours expended on the services performed during the previous Government fiscal year.
The prime contractor must collect and report similar data from its first tier subcontractors.
FAR 4.1703 requires reporting at the following thresholds:
- All cost-reimbursement, time-and-materials, and labor-hour service contracts and orders with an estimated total value above the simplified acquisition threshold.
- All fixed-price service contracts awarded and orders issued according to the following thresholds:
- Awarded or issued in Fiscal Year 2014, with an estimated total value of $2.5 million or greater.
- Awarded or issued in Fiscal Year 2015, with an estimated total value of $1 million or greater.
- Awarded or issued in Fiscal Year 2016, and subsequent years, with an estimated total value of $500,000 or greater.
The report is due annually by October 31. This clause is not required for actions entirely funded by DoD, contracts awarded with a generic DUNS number, or in classified solicitations, contracts, or orders
The June release for SAM will contain the updates to enable Service Contract Inventory Reporting. We understand that the release will have a variety of enhancements and updates to include testing changes in the registration process, entering and managing exclusions, managing user accounts and roles, Service Contract Reporting, viewing Federal Hierarchy. GSA plans user acceptance testing in mid –June.
Cyber Workforce Bill Introduced
This week Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced legislation to address critical challenges that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) faces in hiring and retaining cybersecurity professionals. A press release notes that the DHS Cybersecurity Workforce Recruitment and Retention Act of 2014 (S. 2354) would grant the Secretary of Homeland Security hiring and compensation authorities for cybersecurity experts similar to those of the Secretary of Defense. The legislation is scheduled for consideration during the Committee’s Business Meeting on May 21, 2014.
An accompanying one page summary of the bill outlines in more detail some of the provisions:
- Gives the Secretary of Homeland Security recruitment and retention authorities including the ability to establish positions in the excepted service to direct appointments, set rates of basic pay, and provide additional compensation benefits, incentives, and allowances.
- Requires the Secretary to report annually on the progress of the program and to ensure adequate transparency and oversight of the recruitment and retention program.
- Allows DHS to hire at the speed salaries comparable to DoD.
Proposed Rule: DFARS Special Contracting Methods
This week the the Department of Defense (DoD) released a proposed rule to revise and update clauses and their prescriptions for special contracting methods, major system acquisition, and service contracting. The update would create clauses to facilitate the use of automated contract writing systems. The rule includes the full text of each alternate, rather than only showing the paragraphs that differ from the basic clause. A list of the affected clauses is provided below:
- 252.217-7000, Exercise of Option to Fulfill Foreign Military Sales Commitments, with one alternate;
- 252.234-7003 Notice of Cost and Software Data Reporting System, with one alternate;
- 252.234-7004 Cost and Software Data Reporting System, with one alternate;
- 252.237-7002 Award to Single Offeror, with one alternate; and
- 252.237-7016 Delivery Tickets, with two alternates.
Comments on the proposed rule should be submitted by July 28, 2014 to be considered in the formation of a final rule. If you have any feedback on the rule, please contact Roy Dicharry at email@example.com.
Cybersecurity: Supply Chain Assurance (SSCA) Forum, June 9-11
Consistent with continued industry engagement on cybersecurity acquisition guidance, the Joint Working Group on Cybersecurity is inviting Coalition members to the Software and Supply Chain Assurance (SSCA) Forum.
GSA has recently joined DoD, DHS, and NIST as a co-sponsor of this active, well-informed, public-private partnership, and the agency will leverage its new role as co-sponsor to engage more Federal Acquisition Service stakeholders in the SSCA. The next SSCA meeting is scheduled to occur June 9-11, 2014, and will be hosted by The MITRE Corporation, at its offices located at 7525 Colshire Drive, McLean, VA 22102. Registration for the meeting is available at https://register.mitre.org/ssca/.
Also, a slide deck on the implementation of cybersecurity guidance can be found here; the last slide shows the types of questions the government will be seeking industry assistance in answering.
Bill Gormley on Off the Shelf
This week on “Off the Shelf”, Bill Gormley, president of the Gormley Group, tackles procurement “buzzwords.”
“Price versus cost”, “innovation” and “contract duplication” are among the topics Gormley addresses in a wide ranging discussion of current federal procurement operations. He also provides his insights on lowering costs and delivering value to government and the American taxpayer. To listen to the program online, visit www.federalnewsradio.com/80/3627084/Procurement-buzzwords.
New Date: Analyzing The New $60 Billion Contract Opportunity, June 4th
In late May, the General Services Administration (GSA) announced the final awardees on their long-awaited OASIS multiple-award contracts (MACs), expected to become the largest professional services program in the federal government. OASIS offers opportunities worth $60 billion in task orders during the next decade, but with significant uncertainty in the market where do we go from here?
Join Bloomberg Government in partnership with the Coalition for Government Procurement for a free webinar on June 4 at 3:00 PM EDT where we will preview the structure, scope and competitive landscape on OASIS.
Topics Will Include:
- The structure of OASIS and its relation to other contract vehicles
- The type of work that is likely to shift towards OASIS
- Analysis of awardees and a preview of the competitive landscape
- Prospects for small businesses
- A preview of the top agencies that are likely to use OASIS
Speakers Will Include:
Roger Waldron, President, The Coalition for Government Procurement
Kevin Brancato, Senior Defense Analyst, Bloomberg Government
Miguel Garrido, Quantitative Analyst, Bloomberg Government
To register, visit http://platform.cinchcast.com/permalink/#/reg/6zBgRk4cJprB7IzVmgu7cw~~ .
Two-Part Webinar Series for GSA Schedule Contractors
The Coalition for Government Procurement, in conjunction with Baker Tilly, is pleased to announce an upcoming Two-Part Webinar Series for GSA Schedule Contractors:
The landscape for GSA Schedule contractors has become increasingly difficult. Both products and services contractors are facing new challenges as they negotiate new GSA Schedule contracts or administer their existing GSA Schedule contracts. Pricing, contract terms and conditions, and post-award compliance have all come under the microscope, and contractors must be ready to respond. This two part series will address some of GSA’s and GSA OIG’s recent focal points so that contractors can consider potential impacts to their business and how they can best prepare.
Part 1: Challenges Facing Professional Services Contractors
Thursday, June 24th, at Noon EDT
Presented by Jeff Clayton and Jenn Thorson
A disconnect has always existed between services contracting and the GSA contracting model, but big changes are afoot within GSA that could make the Schedules program even more difficult to navigate. Topics for discussion include: challenges related to labor category mapping, pricing strategies, CSP-1 disclosures and PRC obligations, GSA’s category management initiative and the push for standardized labor categories. The pressure that GSA is facing from a pricing perspective and its impact on interactions with professional services contractors will also be discussed.
Part 2: Challenges Facing Products Contractors
Thursday, August 14th, at Noon EDT
Presented by Jeff Clayton and Steven Brewer
GSA is facing immense pressure to achieve lower prices for its federal government customers. This has impacted the government’s negotiation tactics and in turn it has impacted, and will continue to impact, products contractors. Prices paid data is being tracked and horizontal pricing comparisons are becoming the norm. Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiatives, an increasingly popular tool for GSA, continue their march across the supply side of the Schedules program. The presentation will discuss all of this and more, including best practices, so that contractors can prepare themselves to respond to these issues.