Friday Flash 03.04.22

FAR & Beyond: Credit Where Credit is Due

This week, GSA posted on the Interact site some welcome news regarding the upcoming Services Multi-Agency Contract (MAC), which is the follow-on to the One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) program. GSA announced that, after considering discussions with various stakeholders and conducting additional market research, it had finalized a small business acquisition strategy for the program. The announced strategy responds positively to the feedback provided by the Coalition and its members over the past year. 

Services MAC will employ the OASIS model, providing one set IDIQ contracts open to other than small businesses and a second, separate set of contracts set aside for small businesses. Specifically, the announcement states that, in addition to solicitating proposals from other than small businesses, GSA’s Office of Professional Services and Human Capital (PSHC) will solicit and award separate Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts under the following categories: 

    • Total Small Business 
    • 8(a) Small Business 
    • HUBZone Small Business 
    • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business 
    • Woman-Owned Small Business 
    • Unrestricted 

PSHC stated that, to reduce industry and customer agency burden, it will seek to provide offerors that propose on more than one solicitation the ability to leverage one proposal as much as possible. This announcement aligns with the messaging from Sheri Meadema, GSA’s Director of Program Operations for Professional Services and Human Capital Categories, and her team during a meeting with Coalition members this past Tuesday.   

GSA’s decision provides a sound, best value procurement foundation for Services MAC.  GSA’s approach will streamline acquisition planning and reduce complexity at the task order level for customer agencies and small business contractors. It leverages the current regulatory framework for a small business set aside multiple award IDIQ contract. The result will further promote opportunities for small business of all types, including small, disadvantaged businesses. It is the first step in ensuring Services MAC is a best-in-class contract for customer agencies, GSA, and industry partners.   

In the wake of GSA’s announcement effectively embracing this approach, the Coalition and its members are gratified, not only in the result, but also in the level of engagement leading to that result. The GSA Administrator’s PSHC took the time to proactively engage with stakeholders across the procurement community, and it continues to take the time, to engage with all stakeholders in the program, to solicit input, and to review and consider that input. By so doing, GSA gives agencies a powerful example of “how it’s done,” i.e. how to assess the market, engage with users and other stakeholders, and exercise the flexibility to develop an acquisition approach based on a history of success in servicing customer agency needs. 

Members and readers of this blog will remember that the Coalition has been actively engaged on the follow-on to OASIS. Indeed, we filed multiple consensus member comments and blogs articulating, among other things, support for the OASIS approach that created two separate contract vehicles, OASIS SB and OASIS Unrestricted. The Coalition remains engaged for the benefit of all stakeholders and to promote what is our core mission: common sense in government procurement. 

A copy of the GSA Interact notice on the Services MAC can be found here.   

 

White House Requests $10 Billion in Ukraine Aid

According to Defense News, the White House requested $10 billion in “critical assistance” on Thursday to support Ukraine in response to the Russian invasion. The request is part of a broader $3.25 billion updated supplemental spending request that also covers pandemic relief. The $10 billion request would provide the Pentagon “troop deployments in Eastern Europe, covert support to replace U.S. weapons sent to Ukraine” and “humanitarian, economic and military aid” for the U.S. State Department. The request in funds to support Ukraine are significantly higher than the $6.4 billion requested just days ago.

The White House is also urging Congress to pass full-year appropriations for FY 2022. The current continuing resolution is due to expire on March 11 and the Administration is concerned that, “[t]he absence of full-year appropriations would continue to constrain Department of Defense (DoD) resources, readiness, and operations around the globe.”

 

President Calls on Federal Government to Increase In-Person Work

Federal News Network reported that the President called for the return of more Federal employees to the office in his State of the Union address this week due to significant progress made in the fight against COVID-19. He wants Federal employees to serve as the model for the return to the workplace for all Americans. However, he does not anticipate that the workplace will return to the “pre-COVID-19 status quo.” In a recent letter to Federal workers, he said As we look to the year ahead, we must build on the innovations and technologies that we put to work serving the American people throughout the pandemic, making our Government more efficient, resilient, and effective. And because of our progress combatting the pandemic, we can safely increase in-person work, while continuing to protect your health and safety. 

Several large agencies, including the Department of Justice and the Department of Agriculture, have recently released return to office plans stating that more employees will return in the coming months. The Social Security Administration anticipates that about 45,000 employees will return to the workplace by the end of March. On February 28, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued new guidance for masking and COVID-19 testing for Federal agencies. The guidance states that Federal offices with “low” or “medium” community levels of COVID-19 do not need to require masking, and that “medium” level offices should continue using their existing protocols for COVID-19 testing. Locations deemed “high” level should enforce both masks and testing. The guidance applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees.  

Tony Reardon, President of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), said that the union is working with Congress to bring back emergency paid leave for Federal employees who are still dealing with COVID-19. Reardon also urges agencies to continue to support expanded telework for its employees.  

Many lawmakers have praised the Federal workforce and vowed to fight for safe working conditions and adequate pay.

 

Safer Federal Workforce Task Force Relaxes Mask and Testing Guidance

On February 28, the Safer Workforce Task Force released guidance to relax mask-wearing and testing requirements. The updated guidance instructs Federal agencies to implement mask-wearing and testing requirements based on the CDC COVID-19 Community Levels. Each Federal agency should base its safety protocols on the county-level data. The Community Levels do not apply to healthcare settings. Healthcare settings should continue to follow appropriate regulations. 

Agencies have until Friday, March 4, 2022 to implement the updated guidance. The Community Level data should be reviewed weekly by agencies, then used to update safety protocols.   

 

Questions from GSA on Impacts of Inflation and Economic Price Adjustments 

Last week, the Coalition met with GSA Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Policy and Compliance, Mark Lee, in response to our letter to GSA expressing members’ concerns about the impacts of inflation on the supply chain and the ability of GSA’s pricing policies to appropriately respond.  Our members sincerely appreciated the open dialogue with GSA on this topic and the opportunity to learn more about their efforts to modify the existing economic price adjustment (EPA) policy to adjust to historic inflation and supply chain challenges.   

As a follow-up to the meeting, GSA is seeking your feedback to gather information to create a robust business case to justify future more lasting changes of the EPA process. Your inputs are extremely valuable to explain the challenges industry is experiencing with the current clause, the impact on businesses, and the potential consequences for GSA’s customers. Below are the questions discussed during the meeting that GSA is interested in member feedback on. Please provide any additional input you have by COB March 8.  

  1. What are the main sectors that you believe have been impacted by inflation? 
  2. How is inflation impacting your business in terms of labor, materials, and transportation costs? 
  3. Are you experiencing issues with your lower tiers?  Are the issues related to price increases, supply chain disruptions, workforce shortages, or other factors?  How are you solving these issues? 
  4. Did you submit an EPA request in the last two years due to changes in the market?  What was the outcome (approved/denied)?  How long was the process from the time you submitted the request until you received notification of the decision? 
  5. EPA ceiling rates set an aggregate limit on price increases per 12-month period based on the applicable MAS large category, and are indicated under General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) clause 552.216-70 EPA – FSS Multiple Award Schedule Contracts and FAS clause I-FSS-969 EPA – FSS Multiple Award Schedule (and alternates). How does this 12-month period requirement impact your business and ability to stay in the MAS program? 
  6. According to the EPA clause, increases are only allowed on or after the first 12 months of the contract period, and no more than three price increases will be considered during each succeeding 12-month period of the contract. Under what circumstances do you need to request increases during the first 12 months, or more than three increases each 12-month period thereafter?  Please provide examples.  How does this limitation impact your ability to do business with GSA? 
  7. How is the inflation issue being addressed under other commercial IDIQs? 

Please provide any business cases that can be used to understand limitations in the current regulations and justify changes and recommendations to improve current processes.   

 

CMMC Assessment Guide to be Released in Coming Weeks  

Federal News Network reported that the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) Accreditation Body (AB) expects that voluntary assessments for defense contractors will begin in Spring 2022. The AB is currently in the process of finalizing the CMMC Assessment Process Guide which details how assessments will be carried out. They hope to have the completed guide posted within the next few weeks. CMMC was created almost three years ago.  However there have not yet been any program certifications. Last November, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that the program would be undergoing major changes after a months-long review. The program was rebranded as “CMMC 2.0” and restructured so that most contractors would not have to be certified by third-party assessors. According to the DoD, up to 80,000 contractors may one day be required to have a third-party assessment.  

The AB is looking to grow the “CMMC ecosystem” of trainers, consultants, and assessors to be prepared for these future certifications. Matthew Travis, CMMC AB said that the number of trained assessors grew from 111 to 759 over the past year. Travis added that the AB plans to use promotional campaigns to encourage more professionals to become assessors. The CMMC timeline remains unclear. Officials have estimated that the rulemaking process for CMMC could potentially take up to two years. DoD officials also stated that they were considering incentives for contractors who achieved CMMC certification before the rulemaking takes effect, however there have been no additional details provided. DoD does not have plans to fully implement CMMC requirements across all contracts until fiscal year 2026. 

 

CISA Publishes Free Cybersecurity Services and Tools in Response to Global Threat 

Federal Computer Week reported that due to increased tensions with Russia over Ukraine, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published a digital catalog of free tools for organizations to combat cyber threats. The catalog addresses different aspects of potential cyber threats, such as reducing the likelihood of a damaging cyber incident and maximizing organizational preparedness. Among the resources included in the catalog are antivirus programs, remote penetration tests, and vulnerability scanning. CISA Director Jen Easterly said that the catalog is an important resource because “Our critical infrastructure is integrated into a larger global cyber ecosystem, which means that we all need to be ready, or as I like to say, ‘shields up.’ So given the rising tensions and the potential invasion of Ukraine by Russia, we’ve actually been leaning forward to inform our industry partners of potential threats.” 

CISA said that currently there are no credible threats to the U.S.’ critical infrastructure, but still recommends that all organizations adopt heightened cybersecurity measures. The catalog, along with guidance released by CISA earlier this year, provide industry with appropriate measures to take to improve cyber posture, such as implementing multi-factor authentication and using the agency’s automated vulnerability scanning service. CISA plans to increase the list of tools available in its catalog. 

 

GSA Releases Winter 2022 MAS Newsletter

On March 1, GSA announced the release of its 2021-2022 Winter edition of the Quarterly Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Industry Newsletter. The newsletter includes updates on MAS programs and new MAS initiatives, such as: 

  • Transition to Unique Entity ID (SAM); 
  • GSA Advantage! Updates; 
  • FAS’s Implementation of E.O.14026: Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors; 
  • Preliminary Injunction – E.O. 14042: Ensuring Adequate COVID-19 Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors; 
  • Launch of the new Vendor Support Center (VSC); 
  • Vendor Education Center Retired; 
  • 2022 FAST Conference & Monthly Training Series; 
  • MAS Consolidation Phase 3; 
  • Catalog Management Updates; and 
  • MAS Office Hours. 

The newsletter includes resource links for all of the topics discussed. Archives of all MAS Newsletters can be accessed here. If you have any questions, email maspmo@gsa.gov or register to attend the next MAS Office Hours for industry here.   

 

SAM.gov down for Maintenance Apr 1-4 due to UEI Transition

GSA posted a notice on Interact stating that SAM.gov will be down for maintenance to complete the April 4 transition from the DUNS Number to the Unique Entity ID beginning April 1 at 8 pm EST until no later than 9 am EST on April 4. March 29 is the last day to obtain a new DUNS Number from Dun & Bradstreet for registering an entity or getting a Unique Entity ID. After April 4, entities will need to go to SAM.gov to obtain a Unique Entity ID instead of Dun & Bradstreet. April 1 will be the last day that entities can use a DUNS Number to receive a Unique Entity ID or register an entity in SAM.gov. All work progress in SAM.gov should be saved before 8 pm EST on April 1 to ensure that it will be available on April 4.  

GSA posted another notice on Interact alerting users that the DUNS Number filter or attribute on an ad hoc data report in the SAM.gov databank must be replaced with a Unique Entity ID field. If these filters and attributes are not updated, then expected results may not be displayed after April 4, or errors may be generated until the DUNS fields are replaced. The steps to update ad hoc reports are laid out in this user guide 

  

GSA Releases Updated Small Business Strategy for Services MAC  

On February 28, GSA released an update on the Services Multi-Agency Contract (MAC) Program. The update focuses on the new small business strategy for the program. Services MAC will support Federal agencies’ services-related procurement needs. As part of their strategy, GSA plans to award separate Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts for the following categories: 

  • 8(a) Small Business; 
  • HUBZone Small Business; 
  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business; 
  • Total Small Business; 
  • Woman-Owned Small Business; and 
  • Unrestricted. 

GSA noted that the small business strategy will not affect the overall contract structure, which includes the use of domains that were previously introduced in a December 2021 Interact Post. GSA plans to share another program update on the Services MAC evaluation criteria later this month. Any questions or feedback on the Services MAC Program can be sent to PSHC-dev@gsa.gov 

 

Legal Corner: Going Green: Biden Administration Kick Starts Green Procurement Efforts

Authored by Elizabeth Cappiello, Jason Workmaster, and Sarah Barney; Miller & Chevalier

The Legal Corner provides the legal community with an opportunity to share insights and comments on legal issues of the day. The comments herein do not necessarily reflect the views of The Coalition for Government Procurement.

On February 15, 2022, the Biden-Harris administration took another step towards its goal of achieving a net-zero carbon emissions economy by 2050, announcing a slew of new initiatives to support “clean” manufacturing and reinvigorate the American industrial sector. The administration believes these initiatives will “clean up industrial processes that have long been challenging sources of pollution; create good-paying, union jobs across American manufacturing; and use domestic procurement and global trade policy to reward clean, American-made materials.” Government contractors in the industrial sector will want to consider how their businesses may be impacted by the federal government’s prioritization of low-carbon materials and technologies and how they can remain competitive in light of these new initiatives and policies.

Below we highlight some of the key new efforts including policies aimed at accelerating the production and use of clean hydrogen, Buy Clean procurement efforts, trade policies to reward clean manufacturing, and investments in technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from heavy industry. Some of these new initiatives seek comments from industry stakeholders.

Accelerating Clean Hydrogen

The administration views clean hydrogen as an integral part of its plan to reduce emissions in many sectors of the American economy and is particularly important “for hard-to-decarbonize sectors and industrial processes, such as steel manufacturing.” To bolster the use of clean hydrogen, the Department of Energy (DOE) is launching three new clean hydrogen initiatives of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) by issuing Requests for Information (RFI). These RFIs seek public input from industry players and impacted communities on “future implementation and priorities” for DOE to consider when implementing the clean hydrogen programs of the BIL:

  • $8 billion for Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs: The BIL authorizes appropriations of $8 billion for the development of regional clean hydrogen hubs that demonstrate “the production, processing, delivery, storage, and end-use of clean hydrogen.” DOE will support the development of networks of clean hydrogen hubs and prioritize hubs that can “provide significant training and long-term job opportunities.” The deadline for comments is March 8, 2022.
  • $1 billion for a Clean Hydrogen Electrolysis Program: The BIL authorizes appropriations of $1 billion to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen produced using electrolyzers. This program seeks to lower the costs of electrolysis technologies by supporting the entire innovation chain, from research to deployment. The deadline for comments is March 29, 2022.
  • $500 million for Clean Hydrogen Manufacturing and Recycling Research, Development, and Demonstration Activities: The BIL authorizes appropriations of $500 million to DOE for Clean Hydrogen Manufacturing and Recycling Initiatives. DOE is launching the Clean Hydrogen Manufacturing program to support domestic manufacturing of clean hydrogen equipment and the Clean Hydrogen Recycling Research, Development, and Demonstration program to “support innovative approaches to increase the reuse and recycling of clean hydrogen technologies.” The deadline for comments is March 29, 2022.

Launching “Buy Clean” Procurement Task Force

As outlined in our previous alert, the administration is creating a Buy Clean Task Force to provide recommendations on policies and procedures to promote the purchase of construction materials with lower embodied emissions and pollutants. The Task Force is established by the Council on Environmental Quality and White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. It includes as members the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),. the General Services Administration (GSA), and the White House Office of Management and Budget. The now-established Buy Clean Task Force is convening to develop recommendations on how to increase the use of low-carbon construction materials.

GSA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) are also undertaking new Buy Clean efforts to support the use of low-carbon materials in federally funded construction projects. GSA issued two RFIs to gather information from industry on sustainable, low-emission concrete and asphalt to shape standards for upcoming land port of entry projects funded by the BIL. DOT is creating a new pilot program that will target key products and services to incentivize the use of low-carbon materials and increase the use of Environmental Product Declarations on federal transportation projects.

The administration is also expanding the coverage of the First Movers Coalition — a public-private partnership led by the State Department through the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate which was created to secure corporate purchasing commitments for low-carbon materials beginning with “steel, shipping, trucking, and aviation.” According to the administration’s February 15 announcement, the First Movers Coalition will expand to cover four additional sectors in 2022: aluminum, cement, chemicals, and carbon removal.

Using Trade Policy to Reward Clean Manufacturing

The administration’s announcement reiterates its plan to use trade policies to reduce carbon emissions and support domestic manufacturers of clean steel and aluminum. In October 2021, the United States and European Union announced their plan to negotiate the “world’s first emissions-based sectoral arrangement on steel and aluminum trade by 2024.” Currently, the United States and EU are working to align their trade policies to “restrict access to their markets for dirty steel and limit access to countries that dump steel in both markets” with the goal of increasing investment in green steel and aluminum production in the United States, Europe, and beyond.

Responsibly Advancing CCUS Technologies

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is issuing new guidance on the responsible use of Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration (CCUS) technologies that can reduce emissions and help fulfill the administration’s goal of achieving a net-zero emissions economy. The guidance covers the following issues:

  • Environmental reviews for CCUS projects
  • Environmental justice and equity considerations to protect communities from cumulative pollution impacts
  • Public engagement and Tribal consultations from early in the contracting process
  • Opportunities to create union jobs and training programs
  • Life cycle analyses of carbon capture and utilization and carbon dioxide removal projects

This guidance, directed at the federal agencies responsible for implementing more than $12 billion in CCUS investments, will help ensure that the advancement of CCUS technologies is done in a responsible manner that considers “community perspectives” and is aligned with the best available science. The deadline for the public to submit comments on the guidance is March 18, 2022.

Supporting Equitable Innovation Across the Industrial Sector

The administration is launching a new Initiative for Interdisciplinary Industrial Decarbonatization Research to ensure that innovations in the industrial sector support the needs of diverse stakeholders and equitably advance innovation. The Initiative will be focused on ensuring a “just transition to clean industry, with new, good-paying jobs for American workers and health and economic benefits for communities.”

The announcement also details how DOE is working to establish the Industrial Technology Innovation Advisory Committee (ITIAC) to bring together entities from across the industrial sector to “find viable decarbonization pathways that will equitably benefit the industrial workforce and surrounding communities.” DOE has issued an RFI that seeks information on emerging technologies to reduce emissions and increase competitiveness. Responses are due by February 28, 2022.

Conclusion and Takeaways

The February 15 announcement outlines an ambitious and far-reaching plan across agencies to create a cleaner industrial sector. The administration sees the industrial sector as “central to tackling the climate crisis” and believes that its support of “cleaner industry” will create the “next generation of products and materials for a net-zero economy.” Many of the new initiatives could significantly impact federal contractors in a number of ways, including increasing supplier reporting requirements and creating new opportunities for manufacturers offering low-carbon materials and technologies.

Contractors will want to carefully consider how their businesses fit into this new procurement landscape to put themselves in the best position to compete for future contracts. Contractors, industry groups, and trade associations should also consider submitting comments in response to the recently issued RFIs to ensure that their views on these new policies and initiatives are considered. We will continue to monitor and report on any developments in climate-centric procurement policies and initiatives. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the announcement or how it will impact your company, please contact the Miller & Chevalier attorneys listed below:

Elizabeth J. Cappielloecappiello@milchev.com, 202-626-5975

Jason N. Workmasterjworkmaster@milchev.com, 202-626-5893

Sarah Barneysbarney@milchev.com, 202-626-5920

 

Healthcare Spotlight: Member Questions for the VA PBM due March 9

The Pharmaceutical Subcommittee will be meeting with Dr. Jennifer Martin, Deputy Chief Consultant, VA Pharmacy Benefits Management (PBM) Services on Wednesday, March 16 from 12:30 – 1:30 pm EST. Dr. Martin has agreed to address members’ questions for her remarks. To submit questions for Dr. Martin, please email Aubrey Woolley at awoolley@thecgp.org by Wednesday, March 9. We will also cover other topics of relevance to the pharmaceutical industry like the recent collaboration between GSA and the VA FSS program, the HHS Public Supply Chain one year report, and other topics.

Discounted Training Offerings for Coalition Members

To complement the Coalition’s current education and training offerings, we have partnered with Federal Publications Seminars (FPS) to provide even more online training courses to our members at an affordable price.

FPS will provide Coalition members access to an annual training subscription to both the FPSOnline Professional and FPSOnline Premium curriculum for $395 and $1,795 per person/year, respectively. These fees represent nearly a 50% discount off the FPS retail price of each online curriculum.

The FPSOnline Professional subscription, regularly priced at $795, includes unlimited access to all live and on-demand webinars and webinar series. There are more than 550+ webinars in the on-demand library, and 100+ live webinars and series produced each year. The discounted subscription can be purchased here FOR $395 using this promotional code 395THECGP2022.

The FPSOnline Premium subscription, regularly priced at $2,495, includes the Professional subscription benefits listed above plus unlimited access to 150+ live and on-demand 1-5-day virtual training courses which are offered annually. The discounted subscription can be purchased here for $1,795 using this promotional code  1795PREMCGP2022.

Other highlights include:

  • 8-12 NEW live webinars offered each month; most of which are CLE/CPE approved;
  • Live virtual 1-5 day training courses offered annually and in the classroom;
  • Live webinars and on-demand courses are usually 60-90 minutes in length and cover everything from emerging hot topics to more substantive compliance and regulatory issues like CMMC – What this Means for IndustryCost Accounting StandardsEffective Ethics Programs for Suppliers, and FAR Part 37 – Service Contracting
  • A wide collection of government contracting related resources, white papers and job briefs; and 
  • Downloadable course completion certificates.  

(Please note, FPS Classroom Courses, Certificate Programs, and FPSCustom training are not included in the FPSOnline Professional or Premium subscriptions and may be subject to additional charges from FPS.) 

For more information about this member benefit, please contact Matt Cahill at mattcahill@thecgp.org.

 

Cybersecurity Safety Review Board to Assess Log4j Software 

Federal Computer Week reported that leadership of the Cyber Safety Review Board (CSRB) has detailed their plans to immediately conduct a review of Log4j software vulnerability and offer recommendations to businesses and Federal agencies. The CSRB was established under last year’s cybersecurity executive order which gave the board 90 days to conduct an initial assessment of threat activity and provide recommendations to improve cyber practices. The CSRB plans to issue multiple publicly available reports and recommendations to improve cybersecurity for both industry and agencies, with the first report focused on assessing vulnerabilities associated with the Log4j software library and related mitigation efforts. Log4j is software that is used to record activities in a wide range of systems that are found in products and services. The report will also include recommendations for improving incident response practices based on lessons learned from the Log4j assessment.

 

NIST Looking to Improve Cybersecurity Framework 

On February 22, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit information from industry on ways to improve the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity and other cybersecurity resources. The framework was published in 2018.  NIST wants to improve it as several hacks have occurred recently. Some areas NIST wants to focus on include privacy and supply-chain security. NIST would also like feedback on whether supply chain management should have its own framework. Comments are being accepted until April 25, 2022. Comments can be submitted the following three ways: 

See the full RFI here 

 

Proposed Rule: Amendments to FAR Part 19 Small Business Programs 

On February 24, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council released a proposed rule to amend the FAR to implement changes made to Small Business Administration (SBA) regulations in a final rule published in 2019.  In short, the revisions to FAR Part 19 Small Business Programs cover: 

  • The point in the procurement process at which small business size status is determined for offers for multiple-award contracts;
  • A new ground for a socioeconomic status protest; 
  • The eligibility requirements for 8(a) participants under long-term contracts (i.e., contracts with a duration of more than 5 years); and
  • The small business size standard for information technology value-added resellers under North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 541519. 

Small Business Size Standards 

The FAR proposed rule proposes to clarify SBA policy concerning small business size standards. The proposed rule states that size determination will occur at the time of initial offer, which includes price. In instances where an agency uses a solicitation for a multiple-award contract that does not require a price submission, the business concern’s size will be determined “as of the date of the initial offer for the multiple-award contract, whether or not the offer includes price or the price is evaluated.” The associated revision to FAR 19.102 and 19.301-1 does not include guidance for the process if the solicitation does not include price as evaluation factor. The rule proposes that a contractor being “unduly reliant on a small, non-similarly situated entity subcontractor” is a new ground for socioeconomic status protest.  

Setting Aside Orders Under Multiple-Award Contracts  

The proposed rule also addresses set aside orders under multiple award contracts. The proposed rule would allow contracting officers (COs) to set-aside orders for any of the small business socioeconomic programs under multiple award contracts that are total set-asides for small businesses.  

Eligibility for the 8(a) Program 

Another proposed change to the FAR addresses 8(a) program determination. The rule calls for the Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) to show if firms are a part of the 8(a) program. The proposed rule would require, for contracts longer than five years, that COs verify in the DSBS or SAM that firms are SBA-certified 8(a) participants no more than 120 days prior to the end of the fifth year of the contract. 

Comments must be submitted by April 25, 2022, and can be submitted here 

 

Off the Shelf: The State of Government Contracting Programs 

This week on Off the Shelf, Larry Allen, President of Allen Federal Business Partners, discussed the state of GSA’s major governmentwide contracting programs. 

Inflation is a current pricing and performance challenge for GSA and its MAS contractors. Allen discussed the strategies and opportunities to address inflation through effective contract management by GSA with its industry partners. 

He also provided his insights on current IT GWAC performance at GSA with additional thoughts on the future of the GWAC portfolio in meeting market conditions and agency mission needs. 

Services MAC, the proposed follow-on to OASIS, is one of the pillars of GSA’s Services Marketplace, and Allen discusses the current acquisition strategy and what it means for customer agencies and contractors. 

Finally, Allen shared his observations and analysis of GSA’s EIS contract and the transition process bringing agencies across the contractual divide onto EIS. 

Listen to the full episode here. 

  

FAST 2022: Securing Next-Generation Hybrid Work Environments, March 16 

On March 16, GSA will host the next part of its FAST 2022 series, Securing Next-Generation Hybrid Work Environments, where they will discuss how GSA can help Federal agencies and industry with acquisition planning and contract administration. The speakers will discuss the following topics: 

  • Contracting for cloud computing solutions billed on a consumption basis; 
  • Delivering telework capabilities effectively; 
  • Emerging tech for the hybrid work environment; 
  • How to build out Zero Trust Architecture in a remote workforce environment; and 
  • How GSA can help agencies comply with recent laws, regulations, and executive orders requiring improved cybersecurity in the acquisition process.  

Register for the event here 

Find the list of upcoming FAST 2022 series events here 

 

DHA Will Host an Industry Day on March 30 

On March 30 at 9am EST, Defense Health Agency (DHA) will host a virtual Industry Day Requirement Exchange (IDRE) to inform Industry on upcoming requirements and business opportunities. Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions throughout the event. If you have any questions you would like addressed at this event, submit them to dha.ncr.acquis-procure.mbx.industry@mail.mil. DHA requests that you include “IDRE Vendor Question – [Insert Company Name] – [Insert Detail Here]” in the subject line. 

Registration is available here and will close on March 26. All IDRE materials, including a detailed agenda and speaker presentations, will be posted to the SAM.gov (https://sam.gov/) and Health.mil (https://www.health.mil/) pages accordingly. 

  

Webinar: Foreign Sourcing and Supply Chain Issues, April 12 

The Coalition is pleased to host an upcoming webinar on Foreign Sourcing and Supply Chain Issues. This webinar will take place on April 12 from 12 -1 pm EST and will feature speakers from Covington, including Susan Cassidy, Partner; Mike Wagner, Partner; and Anna Menzel, Associate. 

The recent stress on worldwide supply chains is causing contractors to look for new sources of supply. This webinar considers the implications of U.S. Government sourcing obligations when making supply chain adjustments, including the requirements of the Trade Agreements Act, Buy American Act, limitations on using certain foreign telecommunications equipment (even if such equipment is not sold to the U.S. Government), and other emerging sourcing requirements and restrictions in this time of intensifying U.S.-China tension. The three presenters will review the sourcing limitations imposed by the U.S. Government and address the need to update certifications and contract documents when making changes to the supply chain. 

Click here to register. 

 

Upcoming Coalition Meetings   

To RSVP for any upcoming meetings, please contact Michael Hanafin at mhanafin@thecgp.org. 

IT/Services Committee Meeting - Contracting Trends Update with The Gormley Group, March 8     

On March 8 from 11 am – 12 pm EST, the Coalition will host an IT/Services Meeting with guest presenters from The Gormley Group. During the meeting, they will provide updates on recent MAS contracting trends related to IT and professional services.

General/Office Products Committee Meeting, March 10    

On March 10 from 1 – 2:15 pm EST, the General/Office Products Committee will host a virtual meeting with Jeff Lau to discuss the next steps of the e-commerce pilot. Jeff and his team will also provide a Region 2 update. If you have any questions or concerns that you would like addressed at the meeting, please email them to Samantha Holt at sholt@thecgp.org.  

Pharmaceutical Subcommittee Meeting with VA PBM, March 16     

Join the Pharmaceutical Subcommittee on Wednesday, March 16 from 12:30 – 1:30 pm EST for a dialogue with Dr. Jennifer Martin, Deputy Chief Consultant, VA Pharmacy Benefits Management (PBM) Services. Dr. Martin will provide members with an update on the latest initiatives at the VA PBM and also respond to member questions. To submit questions for Dr. Martin, please send them to Aubrey Woolley at awoolley@thecgp.org.  The Pharmaceutical Subcommittee will also address other issues of relevance to our pharmaceutical industry members.    

All-Member Meeting with GSA’s Senior Procurement Executive Jeff Koses, March 22     

The Coalition is pleased to announce a virtual all-member meeting on March 22 from 1 – 2 pm EST with Jeff Koses, GSA Senior Procurement Executive. The Coalition is collecting questions and topics in advance of the meeting. Please submit any feedback to Michael Hanafin at mhanafin@thecgp.org.       

Medical/Surgical Subcommittee Meeting with VHA Procurement and Logistics, March 24   

Join the Medical/Surgical Subcommittee for a virtual meeting with Ricky Lemmon, Executive Deputy Chief Procurement Officer for the Veterans Health Administration, on Thursday, March 24 at 1:30pm EST.  Mr. Lemmon will discuss the ECAT order process at the VA as well as the latest on the MSPV Supply BPAs. To attend, please RSVP to Michael Hanafin at mhanafin@thecgp.org.     

 

Coalition Hiring a Senior Director for Procurement Policy     

The Coalition for Government Procurement (Coalition) is a Washington D.C.-based non-profit association of firms selling commercial services, products and solutions to the Federal Government. Its members collectively account for a significant percentage of the sales generated through GSA contracts, including the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program. These members include small, medium, and large business concerns. The Coalition is proud to have collaborated with Government officials for more than 40 years in promoting the mutual goal of common-sense acquisition.     

The Coalition seeks a candidate to serve as Senior Director for Procurement Policy. The successful candidate for this position will possess experience in, and understanding of, the Federal Government procurement process; commercial product and services acquisition; the fundamental policy and regulation governing the acquisition process; and familiarity with the Legislative Branch authorization, appropriation, and oversight processes. Finally, the successful candidate will have familiarity with the contracting activities of the General Services Administration and/or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).       

The Senior Director of Procurement Policy will be responsible for working with the Coalition President to formulate policy and acquisition strategy recommendations to the Government, representing industry with key Federal agencies and contracting programs (e.g., GSA, Department of Defense, and/or Department of Homeland Security) on behalf of member committees, and contributing to the association’s publications.     

Other skills that would enhance the attractiveness of a candidate are:     

  • The ability to work both collaboratively and independently     
  • The characteristics of a strategic, accountable team member dedicated to the project at hand     
  • Strong analytical skills     
  • Strong written and oral communication skills     
  • High levels of motivation to a task at hand    
  • Advanced degree a plus    

Interested candidates please send a resume and cover letter to Rob Rendely atrrendely@thecgp.org.    

   

Coalition Hiring a Program Assistant    

The Coalition for Government Procurement (Coalition) is a Washington D.C.-based non-profit association of firms selling commercial services, products and solutions to the Federal Government. Its members collectively account for a significant percentage of the sales generated through GSA contracts, including the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program. These members include small, medium, and large business concerns. The Coalition is proud to have collaborated with Government officials for more than 40 years in promoting the mutual goal of common-sense acquisition.      

The Coalition seeks a candidate to serve as Program Assistant. As a member of the Coalition team, the position will perform association program and administrative responsibilities including:     

  • Serving as the initial contact for members about association activities and events     
  • Providing administrative support for the Coalition President    
  • Supporting the management of content on the association website and the member portal with Marketing     
  • Managing the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system     
  • Supporting Coalition meetings and events from a logistics and technical perspective     
  • Preparing articles and other written materials for the association’s publications and events     

 The ideal candidate for the position will have:     

  • Excellent writing skills      
  • Ability to work independently      
  • Ability to multi-task and remain flexible in a fast-paced work environment      
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office and ability to use other office software programs      

 Interested candidates please send a resume and cover letter to Rob Rendely atrrendely@thecgp.org.