Friday Flash 03.26.21

The OASIS Follow-on (BIC MAC): The Conversation Continues! 

Over the last three months, GSA has been engaging stakeholders across the procurement community, sharing its initial thoughts on the potential acquisition strategy for the One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) follow-on, which GSA has named the Best-in-Class Multi-Agency Contract, or “BIC MAC.” Coalition members appreciate the opportunity to engage with GSA, and they appreciate the agency’s commitment to stakeholder engagement. The three meetings GSA has held with Coalition members have been helpful in clarifying the agency’s thought process and outlook regarding this critical follow-on procurement. To this end, the conversation continues. Next week GSA will be hosting a virtual industry day focusing on BIC MAC. The public announcement of the meeting can be found here. 

 In 2013, GSA launched the OASIS program with small and other-than-small business contracts for complex, integrated services.  Since that time, the program has been transformational. After contract performance began in 2014, both OASIS and OASIS SB quickly became strategic acquisition vehicles for GSA’s customers, including DoD. Over the last five and a half years, the contracts accounted for $30 billion in customer agency mission support, with over $10 billion of acquisitions in 2020 alone. Given the strategic role OASIS has played and will continue to play in support agency missions, GSA’s outreach to customer agencies and industry partners is timely and vital in assessing the way forward for BIC MAC, as this program will be a critical channel within the overall services marketplace managed by GSA.

With GSA’s outreach regarding BIC MAC continuing, customer agencies and industry partners will look forward to sharing their views and insights regarding the costs and benefits of various acquisition strategies. Likewise, Coalition members will look forward to hearing more from GSA regarding its analysis of the services market, BIC MAC’s place in that market, and the business metric drivers  supporting whatever acquisition strategy unfolds. In this regard, a fulsome dialogue among all stakeholders addressing the plusses and minuses of various potential acquisition strategies for BIC MAC will be foundational to sound acquisition planning. 

As GSA considers all alternatives for the BIC MAC acquisition strategy, Coalition members look forward to continuing the conversation. See you all (virtually) at next week’s industry day. 

 

House Committee Holds Hearing on VA Medical Supply Chain 

On Wednesday, March 24, the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on supply chain modernization at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Deborah Kramer, Acting Assistant Under Secretary for Health for Support; Andrew Centineo, Executive Director, Procurement and Logistics Office; and Phil Christy, Deputy Executive Director for Acquisitions, Logistics, and Construction, testified on behalf of the VA. Additionally, Michael Missal, VA Inspector General, and Shelby Oakley, Director of Contracting and National Security Acquisition with the Government Accountability Office, also testified. 

During the hearing, the VA outlined their efforts to modernize their supply chain and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The VA continues to implement Category Management and also exceeded their goal for spend under management. The VA also announced that they exceeded their service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) contracting goal by five percent.  

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) noted in its testimony that the VA worked tirelessly in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that IT, contracting, and the lack of an effective inventory management system, increased the difficulty in responding to the pandemic.  

The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) testimony reviewed the VA’s initiatives to modernize the supply chain, including utilizing the Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support (DMLSS) system and the Medical/Surgical Prime Vendor (MSPV). GAO recommended that the VA develop a comprehensive supply chain management strategy and addresses how the VA’s modernization infinitives relate to each other. 

Click here to listen to the full hearing.  

 

Senators Request Suspension of Waiver to Buy American Act 

On March 15, 13 Senators sent a letter to President Biden requesting a temporary suspension of the trade-pact waiver to Buy American and other domestic procurement preferences that allow foreign companies to bid as American companies. The President has the authority to waive these restrictions under the Trade Agreement Act of 1979.  

Currently, 60 countries qualify for the trade-pact waiver. The Senators would like the suspension of these waivers for all COVID-19 relief and recovery-related spending, so that these funds are reinvested in the U.S. While the Senators do not want a “go it alone” approach to trade, they believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the risks of our nation’s reliance on foreign supply chains and would like to better support domestic manufacturing and unemployed Americans through Federal procurement.  

 

VA Secretary to Conduct Review of EHR System 

Federal Computer Week reported that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Dennis McDonough announced that the agency will be conducting a 12-week strategic review of its $16 billion Electronic Health Record (EHR) Modernization program. The review comes 20 weeks after the system was launched in Spokane, Washington and Las Vegas, Nevada. On March 17, Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) wrote a letter to McDonough about issues with the EHR system, stating that it “has put new stress on the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center.” Additionally, Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), said that the program is not on the right track, and called on the VA to fix the process, strategy, and management challenges before moving forward with the system.  

The review will focus on workflow issues and improvements to the patient portal. The system is set to next launch in Columbus, Ohio. According to the VA, the order of subsequent launches may be changed due to the review. 

In February, GAO released a report on the VA’s EHR system recommending that the VA postpone further deployment until certain critical and high severity findings with the system are resolved. 
 

Congress Sets Defense Budget Priorities 

Federal Computer Week reported that Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), a ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, is pushing for a three to five percent increase in the Department of Defense (DoD) budget for 2022. Rep. Rogers wants to invest the funds in training and education for cybersecurity and emerging technologies. House Democrats, however, have requested that President Biden cut Defense spending and focus instead on diplomacy, humanitarian aid, and global public health. 

According to a report from the Hillthe Administration plans to submit a budget for DoD of $704 billion to $708 billion, which would be similar to the Defense budget for 2021. The President’s budget request is expected to be released in May.  

 

SBA Focusing on Small Business Recovery under New Administrator 

According to Federal News Networkthe new Administrator for the Small Business Administration (SBA), Isabella Casillas Guzman, wants to make changes to support small businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to becoming SBA Administrator, Guzman was a deputy Chief of Staff at the SBA during the Obama Administration.  

Guzman wants to implement the small business provisions from the most recent $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue package, which includes $10 billion to support state lending to small businesses, and $100 million for a new program called Community Navigator. Community Navigator provides education and advice to struggling business owners. Since the pandemic, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been the primary means of direct aid to small business. Outside the pandemic, the main vehicles for SBA lending have been the 7(a) and 504 Programs. According to Guzman, these programs may have some changes. Lastly, Guzman wants to make sure that SBA improves and modernizes its technology to make it more accessible to businesses. 

 

Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Protect Healthcare Supply Chain 

This week, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (VA) ranking member, Senator Jerry Moran, and chairman, Senator Jon Tester, introduced legislationThe VA Supply Chain Resiliency Act, to make sure that the VA has access to critical health care supplies in future pandemics. This legislation would include the VA in the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Warstopper Program.

In the Warstopper Program, DoD partners with manufacturers and suppliers to keep a medical inventory ready in case of emergency. The legislation would require DoD and VA to work together through the Warstopper Program to build a resilient supply chain. The VA would also be required to assess its supply chain and report to Congress the items that are critical for its response to COVID-19 and other emergency situations. The VA would also have to provide Congress with an implementation plan to include the items that would be best maintained through the Warstopper Program. Read more here. 

 

Watch GSA’s Instructional Videos on Changes to beta.SAM.gov 

The General Services Administration (GSA) announced the release of two videos to help guide users through the changes coming to beta.SAM.gov. On April 26, beta.SAM.gov will introduce a new user interface experience before the final SAM.gov integration in May 2021. The Before and After Guide video demonstrates what changes users can expect across the site, where key functions can be found, and how to find help resources. The How to Search video shows the different ways users can start a new search from the revamped homepage, how to use keywords and filters, how to download your search results, and how to save searches. 

 

BIC MAC Industry Day 

The General Services Administration (GSA) is hosting an industry day for BIC MAC on April 1 at 1 pm EDT. The Coalition plans to attend. Clickhereto register.

Additionally, the Coalition has created a BIC MAC and OASIS Working Group to coordinate member efforts on this initiative. If members have any questions on BIC MAC or they would like to join the working group, please reach out to Sean Nulty at SNulty@thecgp.org 

 

Biden Administration Pushes Ambitious Cybersecurity Plan 

Federal Computer Week reported that the $1 billion in funding, provided through the most recent COVID-19 relief bill, for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) is a starting point to fund cybersecurity under the Biden Administration. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) will have a role in the modernization efforts and will coordinate these efforts between agencies and industry. CISA will share new information at the executive level, including agency and industry leaders. The SolarWinds breach has added to the push to improve cybersecurity. The National Security Agency (NSA) released guidelines to help agencies with the Zero Trust process, which the Department of Defense (DoD) is also implementing.  

 

DoD Announces Deputy CIO for Information Enterprise 

On March 17, Fedscoop reported that Danielle Metz will serve as the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Deputy Chief Information Officer (DCIO) for Information Enterprise. In this position, Metz will lead DoD’s enterprise information systems and IT modernization efforts. Metz is currently serving as the DCIO in an acting capacity. Previously, she served in the White House as a Policy Advisor to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and as Deputy Director for DoD’s Information Network Modernization. The CIO Office congratulated Metz in a tweet 

DoD’s CIO role is still unfilled, and former Principle Deputy CIO, John Sherman, is currently serving as Acting CIO. The Biden Administration has not yet nominated a new CIO. 

 

Off the Shelf: Acquisition Agility in the Federal Government

This week’s guest onOff the Shelf is Rebecca Weaver, Vice President and Solution Architect for Contract Writing Systems Solutions, Department of Defense (DoD) Programs atCGI Federal. 

Weaver discusses acquisition agility and opportunities to streamline processes to deliver IT modernization for federal customers, and shares her thoughts on the biggest hurdles facing contracting officers and contractors in navigating the procurement processes, as well as how agile approaches are overcoming those hurdles. 

Among the challenges Weaver discusses is the balance between agile practices and the imperative of compliance. 

She also comments on the increasing use of Other Transactions Authorities (OTAs) and the implications for agile procurement, and tackles the growing trend in the use of BOTS in Robotic Process Automation (RPA). 

Click here to listen to the full show. 

 

DoD Simplifies Acquisition Process Through New Adaptive Framework 

According to Federal News Network, the Department of Defense (DoD) is aiming to make its acquisition system easier for the workforce to navigate and understand through its Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF) guidebook. The guidebook outlines a “one-size-fits-all” approach to Defense acquisition. The AAF splits main instruction into six small sections, known as pathways. These pathways include major capability acquisition, urgent capabilities, software, business systems, services, and middle-tier acquisitions that use Section 804 authority for rapid fielding and rapid prototyping.

Through the AAF, program managers can utilize the baseline of rules that apply to the pathway that best fits their program, and then “tailor-in” additional requirements that fit their product or service. This differs from DoD’s previous instruction, in which program managers started with a list of requirements and had to filter out those that did not fit their program. 

Program managers also have the ability to combine aspects from multiple pathways for complex acquisition projects. Each pathway is led by a designated senior official. These officials provide advice to individual programs through the Office of Acquisition Enablers (AE). This office is led by Stacy Cummings, DoD’s Acting Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment. Cummings also spearheaded the development of the AAF guidebook. The Defense Acquisition University (DAU) is taking on a larger role in the implementation of the AAF. Its new website provides guidance on the fundamentals of each pathway and how they might be used.  

 

Webinar: CIO-SP4: Is Your Business Equipped to Compete? March 29

The Coalition is pleased to host Cy Alba and Meghan Leemon of PilieroMazza’s Government Contracts Group on March 29, 2021 as they dissect the potential impacts of CIO-SP4 for the government contracting community. CIO-SP4 may be one of the most significant opportunities for both small and large government contractors, particularly those in the healthcare IT space.

Key takeaways include:

  • Key requirements and differences from the draft RFP;
  • CTAs under CIO-SP4;
  • Past performance use for teams, subs, and JVs;
  • Off-ramp provisions restricting growth of M&A activity; and
  • Moving from a CIO-SP4 small to a large CIO-SP4 and back again.

Click here to register.

Webinar: Investigations, False Claims, Suspension & Debarment – What to Expect in 2021, March 30

The Coalition is pleased to announce we will be hosting a two hour virtual panel discussion on March 30 with Mayer Brown regarding Investigations, False Claims, Suspension & Debarment – What to Expect in 2021.

The scale of government spending for pandemic relief and stimulus programs is unprecedented. Multiple new oversight and investigative bodies have been established, including the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Relief. DOJ has made it clear that Pandemic related fraud is its top priority. Qui Tam plaintiffs’ counsel are geared up and looking for new whistleblower cases.

This webinar will provide insights from attorneys experienced in investigating and prosecuting fraud in government programs and also defending companies in investigations, civil fraud and criminal fraud litigation, and suspension/debarment actions. They will discuss how these investigations work, what types of issues head the list, steps companies can take now to protect themselves. The panelists include the former Chief Investigative Counsel for the TARP bailout and leading prosecutor in securities fraud cases, a former senior executive AUSA who focuses on Cyber fraud and Congressional investigations, and a team of lawyers who advise and companies participating in federal programs and defend actions involving programs across the government.

Click here to register.

 

Join GSA’s Virtual FAST Monthly Conferences Series  

This week, the General Services Administration (GSA) announced that the Office of Customer Accounts & Stakeholder Engagement (CASE) will host an online Federal Acquisition Service Training (FAST) Monthly Conference Series. The FAST Conference Series consists of five online training sessions to support prospective and current federal buyers, as well as industry partners. The first session was held on March 18, and covered best practices, tools, and techniques for management & advisory services procurement. The full lineup of dates and topics for the FAST Conference Series can be found here.