Happy New Year! We begin the new year with the “watchwords” that we expect will drive the procurement system and government operations through 2023 and beyond.
Cybersecurity is a fundamental requirement for government operations and the contractors that deliver mission support. The cyber threat from near-peer adversaries and other bad actors is an ever-present reality. In 2023 we will see several policy and procurement measures addressing cybersecurity. Among these measures, this spring we anticipate the public release of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) DFARs rule. A threshold issue is whether it will be an interim or proposed rule. Of note, in 2022 the Coalition submitted comments on the CMMC Pre-decisional Draft Assessment Guide, which can be found here.
In addition, implementation of the Software Bill of Materials (SBOMs) will continue apace across government, with agencies executing on the directives from the President’s executive order. Cyber information sharing between the private sector and government will continue to grow, becoming central to our combined efforts in combating cyber theft and cyber threats. The “devil will be in the details,” however, in advancing collective cyber information sharing. A key issue, for instance, will be whether government contractors will be subject to a Tik Tok ban in 2023.
In connection with all the foregoing, there is the Cyber Solarium Commission 2.0 (CSC 2). Specifically, it remains to be seen what role the CSC2 will play in advancing cybersecurity in 2023.
Supply Chain Resiliency
The next watch phrase for 2023 is Supply Chain Resiliency. The pandemic laid bare the vulnerabilities in the nation’s supply chains, especially the over-reliance on China as a source for critical supplies. Over the last three years, several steps have been taken to prohibit certain purchases from China. First, it was Section 889, the so-called Huawei ban on certain telecommunications products and services, followed by restrictions in connection with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and certain printed circuit boards. Following up on these prohibitions, this year’s NDAA includes prohibitions in connection with semiconductors and rare earth and energetic materials. It is clear that China is a source of concern, prompting questions as to what other areas might be ripe for some form of de-coupling. Look no further than the recommendations of the 2022 US-China Economic and Security Commission Report to Congress, which includes specific recommendations regarding active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and pharmaceutical products.
More generally, 2023 will be a year for the implementation of current laws and regulations focusing on supply chain resiliency. The effectiveness of the government’s implementation will go a long way to determining the success in making supply chains more resilient. Proactive, ongoing government-industry engagement will be vital to the success of these efforts. Additionally, it will be important to understand and assess the use of the Defense Production Act authorities in addressing domestic capabilities. Finally, 2023 will reveal whether an evolution from solely Buy America to Buy Allied, inklings of which we have seen recently, continues. Over the long term, a resilient supply chain, by necessity, will include multiple, redundant, domestic, near shore, and allied capabilities.
Sustainability as a performance measure and a potential discriminator among government contractors enters the federal procurement system in 2023. In November of 2023, FAR CASE 2021-015, Disclosure of Greenhouse GAS Emissions and Climate Related Financial Risk, was published. The FAR proposes to establish public disclosure of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate related risks by major and significant government contractors with Federal sales over $7.5 million. It also, over time, would establish reduction targets for emissions. Over time the intent is to make sustainability one of the criteria for award of contracts. Comments on the proposed rule are due on February 13, 2023 and look for the Coalition to submit comments through our Green Committee.
Market Continuity will drive governmentwide contracting in 2023. While GSA’s Polaris small business GWAC procurement is ongoing, three major governmentwide contract vehicles will launch this year. The NASA SEWP team had its first industry day in November 2022, kicking off the public engagement for the NASA SEWP VI procurement. NASA SEWP is the oldest IT GWAC program in government. Over the last few years it has been the largest GWAC in terms of annual contract purchases by customer agencies. The OASIS+ procurement is off and running, with a draft RFP issued in the fall of 2022 and comments received on December 31st. GSA intends to issue a second draft RFP for comment, with the goal of issuing the final RFP this Spring. OASIS has been a highly successful contracting program representing tens of billions of dollars in professional services support for customer agencies over its contract life. Alliant 3 is moving forward, as well, with GSA seeking public comments on a draft set of RFP documents. Those comments were due today, January 6th. Finally, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical/Surgical Prime Vendor (MSPV) program supporting the healthcare supply needs of VA healthcare facilities is extending to the next generation through its MSPV Gen-Z V1 Distribution and Supply Management contract—the RFP of which was released by the VA this week.
These governmentwide procurements are critical to market continuity for government customer and industry partners, and GSA and NASA are to be commended for their ongoing engagement to move these vital procurements forward. The Coalition, along with our NASA SEWP, OASIS+, and Alliant 3 working groups, looks forward to working with GSA and NASA on ensuring these procurements provide best value solutions to meet customer agency needs.
While Cybersecurity, Supply Chain Resiliency, Sustainability, and Market Continuity are watchwords for 2023, there remain other critical issues and opportunities that will demand the focus of the procurement community. The continuing impact of inflation and the contracting policy and procedures intended to mitigate its impact remain a high priority for 2023. Likewise, efforts to increase access to innovative, non-traditional commercial firms will continue through OTAs, small business programs, and acquisition streamlining.
As for the Coalition, our watchword for 2023 is “engagement.” The Coalition remains committed to engaging with interested parties across government and industry to foster/promote a procurement system that delivers best value commercial solutions to support customer agency mission requirements.