Friday Flash 04.09.21

Part I: Duplication in GSA’s BIC MAC and MAS Programs

As previous blogs have noted, the OASIS program is a strategic acquisition asset for GSA’s customers, including the Department of Defense (DoD). Over the last five and a half years, the OASIS program (OASIS other than small, and OASIS Small Business (SB)) has accounted for $30 billion in customer agency mission support for complex professional services, providing over $10 billion in customer agency support in 2020 alone.  

Central to this success was the decision in 2012-2013 to create two separate contract vehicles, OASIS SB and OASIS Unrestricted.  OASIS SB provided a straightforward, streamlined channel for customer agencies seeking socio-economic credit for their services task orders.  As a total set aside contract, OASIS SB provides customer agencies with access to a cross-cutting set of highly capable small business firms from across the various socio-economic categories.  The Air Force uses this contract vehicle to help support its socio-economic goals.  Simultaneously, OASIS Unrestricted provides cross cutting access to highly capable professional services firms from across the commercial market. 

The clear market differentiation between OASIS SB and OASIS Unrestricted, has simplified acquisition planning for customer agencies.  So much so that OASIS SB is the government’s most successful small business contract vehicle for complex professional services, generating more than 40 percent ($13 billion of the $30 billion total) for small businesses over the life of the contract.  Consistent with this effort over the life of the contract, OASIS SB generated over $4 billion for small businesses in 2020.  The success of OASIS SB demonstrates the importance of having a complex professional services contract vehicle set aside dedicated to creating opportunities for small businesses.

The success of the OASIS program is built on a best value framework for professional services, efficiency, ease of use for customer agency acquisition planning, and the effective promotion of opportunities for small businesses.  OASIS is also a success as it compliments GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) in much the same way that Alliant and the MAS program work well together in delivering IT mission support for customer agencies. 

As such, GSA’s ongoing development of a business case for BIC MAC should examine the customer agency mission support and market implications of abandoning the successful OASIS model.  The business case should also examine the market and contract duplication impacts of the convergence between BIC MAC and the MAS program.  Significantly, the current approach for BIC MAC largely duplicates the existing MAS program, leaving few key features that differentiate between the two programs.  The following table highlights key aspects of the convergence. 

Features MAS BIC MAC
Continuous open seasons
Large pool of qualified contractors
Simplified, lower evaluation criteria, lower threshold for entry
Use of the Section 876 authority to increase task order competition*
Professional and complex professional services
Commercial Items
Solutions buying
Small and large businesses in a single contract
Competitive ordering procedures
Flexibility to set-aside orders
Order Types
     Firm fixed price
     Labor hour
     Time & material**
     Cost reimbursement, non-commercial services ***

How will customer agencies and GSA’s industry partners react to the blurring of the lines between BIC MAC and the MAS program?  There are opportunities to enhance the current complimentary OASIS and MAS models to enhance opportunities for innovation.  Next week’s blog will continue the discussion focusing opportunities for innovation via an OASIS-like follow-on procurement and cost reimbursement on the MAS program.  

* GSA is examining implementing this authority for the MAS program as well as potentially using it for BIC MAC.

** GSA implemented Order Level Materials on MAS contracts.

*** Look for Part II of this blog coming April 16th.  

President Nominates Robin Carnahan as GSA Administrator  

President Biden announced that Robin Carnahan has been nominated as the Administrator for the General Services Administration (GSA). Carnahan served as leader of the State and Local Government Practice at 18F from 2016-2020. In that role, Carnahan focused on helping Federal, state, and local governments improve their digital services. Additionally, Carnahan has served as the Secretary of State of Missouri. Carnahan’s nomination will be sent to the Senate for ratification. 

 

Biden Announces Three DoD Nominations

On April 2, President Biden announced his intention to nominate Michael Brown as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S). Since 2018, Brown has served as the Director of the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). The DIU helps the Department of Defense (DoD) prototype and field technologies with rapid acquisition techniques. Previously, Brown was a White House Innovation Fellow for DoD. 

Additionally, President Biden announced two other nominees: Ronald Moultrie for Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, and Michael J. McCord for Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). 

 

White House Outlines $2 Trillion Infrastructure Package  

Federal Computer Week reported that on March 31, President Biden outlined his proposed $2 trillion infrastructure package. The package aims to create jobs and leverage the purchasing power of the Government to also encourage the adoption of green technology. The plan includes $10 billion for modernizing federal buildings, and $18 billion for the modernization of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) medical facilities. The package also intends to convert the federal vehicle inventory, including the Post Office vehicle fleet, to electric or hydrogen power. Ultimately, the plan’s goal is to have carbon-free electricity by 2035. 

The infrastructure plan also includes investments to protect against future pandemics and other biological and chemical threats. $30 billion is proposed to support medical countermeasures manufacturing, research and development, and related biopreparedness and biosecurity investments. These funds may be used to boost the strategic national stockpile and onshore the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients, among other activities. 

 

CRS Reports on Buy American Act and Other Domestic Content Restrictions 

On March 31, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report titled the “Buy American Act and Other Federal Procurement Domestic Content Restrictions.” The report provides an overview of the Buy American Act (BAA), the Trade Agreements Act (TAA), and the Berry Amendment and other Federal procurement domestic content restrictions. The CRS report provides a useful summary on this topic for members of Congress and the public who want to better understand the existing laws, regulations and Executive Orders that support “buy American,” especially as the Government seeks to boost American production and U.S. jobs as part of the economic recovery. 

These Federal laws generally require Federal agencies to acquire items that are produced or manufactured in the U.S, and in the case of the TAA, certain “designated countries.” The BAA requires that agencies apply a price preference for “domestic ends products,” and/or use “domestic construction materials” for contracts performed in the U.S. The TAA allows for some of the restrictions imposed by the BAA to be waived if they discriminate against eligible products or suppliers from countries that have trade agreements with the U.S. The Berry Amendment generally requires that the Department of Defense (DoD) purchase certain items that have been entirely grown, reprocessed, reused, or produced within the U.S., with certain exceptions. The other federal laws are mostly intended to address perceived gaps that are left by these three major provisions. Click here to read the full report. 

 

GAO Reports on COVID-19 Response as Pandemic Enters Second Year 

On March 31, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report on the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, titled “COVID-19: Sustained Federal Action Is Crucial as Pandemic Enters Its Second Year.” GAO found that more than a year after the U.S. declared COVID-19 a public health emergency, the pandemic continues to cause devastating loss of life and substantial damage to the global economy, stability, and security. Economic challenges, particularly for the labor market, have continued to rise. As of February 2021, the number of unemployed individuals in the U.S. reached about 10 million, compared to the roughly 5.8 million individuals at the start of 2020.  

GAO had previously made 44 recommendations for agencies to implement. The Biden Administration has taken actions consistent with the recommendations, such as issuing the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, and issuing Executive Orders that call for the development of a pandemic supply chain resilience strategy and economic relief.  

GAO is making 28 new recommendations, focusing on the areas of public health, the economy, and program integrity, that would help to improve the Government’s pandemic response. These recommendations address emergency use authorizations (EUAs), COVID-19 data centralization, veterans’ healthcare, small business assistance programs, and more. 

GAO recommended that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) develop metrics to assess the number of vaccines administered by each rollout phase to better assess its progress and to make any necessary adjustments. The VA should also develop preliminary vaccination targets for when to move from one phase to another. Additionally, GAO recommended that the VA collect data on the number of staff and veterans who do not show up for a vaccination appointment so that the agency can better monitor for the completion of the second dose of the vaccine.  

 

GSA Forum on beta.SAM.gov 

The General Services Administration (GSA) will hold a stakeholder forum on April 20 at 1:00 pm EDT to help users search for contract opportunities on beta.SAM.gov. The forum will also preview the new design of beta.SAM.gov and the transition to SAM.gov in May. Topics for the forum include: 

  • How to navigate the new beta.SAM.gov design; 
  • How to search for opportunities; 
  • How to save searches; 
  • How to filter and download search results; and
  • How to use the interested vendor list. 

Click here to register for the stakeholder forum.  

 

DoD IG Reports on Transition to Telework During Pandemic

On March 30, the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report, which evaluated how DoD Components provided access to DoD information technology and communications during the COVID-19 pandemic. DoD’s emergency preparedness plan states that DoD will promote and implement telework throughout a pandemic.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, DoD transitioned 88.2 percent of employees to telework. Of those who continued to work on site, the majority could not perform their duties while teleworking, or were not eligible to telework. Of the respondents who teleworked, only 11.9 percent stated that their productivity decreased. During the beginning of teleworking, about 34 percent of respondents said they experienced slow network speeds often or very often. This number declined to about 18 percent in five months.  

While most DoD employees experienced a positive transition to telework, the OIG has the following recommendations: 

  • The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security (ASD(HD&GS)) is to revise the DoD Implementation Plan for Pandemic Influenza to update planning assumptions with the use of telework for essential and non-essential personnel, align the DoD Implementation Plan with the DoD Telework Policy, and require DoD Components to update their plans to include revised assumptions regarding telework for personnel and the resources required to support telework personnel; 
  • The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD[P]), in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, should establish management oversight procedures to verify that DoD Components have performed the testing, training, and exercise requirements of the DoD Implementation Plan and the DoD Telework Policy; and 
  • The oversight procedures should assess the ability of DoD Components to support Government-wide mandated telework, including the results of tests of network and communications systems and telework exercises with personnel. 

Legal Corner: Finding the Weak Links – President Biden Executive Order Demands Review of Critical U.S. Supply Chains

By 

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 24, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14017,Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains,” requiring a review of global supply chains that support key U.S. industries in an attempt to improve supply chain security for the U.S. government and U.S. companies. The new Executive Order appears to be an initial step focused on information gathering. Comprehensive reforms and supply chain strategies are likely to follow once the White House has collected key information.

The Order outlines two types of assessments by government agencies: (1) an initial 100-Day Supply Chain Review focusing on key supply chain risks relating to semiconductors, batteries, strategic minerals, and pharmaceuticals; and (2) Sectoral Supply Chain Assessments in certain critical business sectors (e.g., national defense, public health, information and communication technology, energy, transportation, and agriculture), which will determine the extent to which these critical sectors are reliant on products from so-called “competitor nations.” Both categories of assessments require coordination among various executive agency heads, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (“APNSA”), and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy (“APEP”).

The initial “100-Day Supply Chain Review” requires, over the next 100-days, various agencies to assess vulnerabilities and consider potential improvements in four areas:

Supply Chain Area Responsible Agency
Semiconductor manufacturing Department of Commerce
High-capacity batteries (including those for electric vehicles) Department of Energy
Rare earth elements Department of Defense
Pharmaceuticals Department of Health and Human Services

The broader “Sectoral Supply Chain Assessments” must be completed within the next year. For these assessments, the Order requires similar reports, but covering a broader range of supply chains, not focused as much on specific products or technologies:

Supply Chain Area Responsible Agency
Defense Department of Defense
Public health and biological preparedness Department of Health and Human Services
Information and communications technology Department of Commerce / Department of Homeland Security
Energy Department of Energy
Transportation Department of Transportation
Agriculture and food production Department of Agriculture

The review called for in the Executive Order was prompted, at least in part, by a global shortage of semiconductors (a key component in card and electronic devices), which began shortly after the Coronavirus pandemic began in 2020. The shortage highlighted the need for the U.S. to refocus on its supply chain security for critical items by reducing its dependency on foreign countries.  But, as noted in the Order, the government is looking at other issues more broadly beyond semiconductors, attempting to ensure that the U.S. (and other friendly nations) continue to have access to cutting-edge technologies while reducing reliance on supply chains that are vulnerable to disruptions and to interference by foreign powers.

The Administration has noted this Order is intended to be a successor to theEnsuring the Future is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers” Order that President Biden signed on January 25, 2021. (You can read our previous blog about that Order here). This Order, along with the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, Pub. L. No. 116-283 (you can read about the key provisions, including those on supply chain security, here), continue to indicate supply chain security likely will be a primary focus for the Biden Administration.

Industry partners may find themselves asked by agencies for input on these reports. To ensure that the government has the latest information, especially regarding supply chain risks, companies may find it useful to cooperate with these reviews. Where the end-result will inevitably be tightened restrictions requiring more U.S.-sourced products (including, potentially, products sourced from U.S. allies), and where the heightened restrictions will almost invariably mean higher costs, industry should be prepared to help government agencies conduct a proper cost-benefit analysis when making supply chain recommendations to the White House.

Healthcare Spotlight: DHA to Complete MTF Transition by Fall 2021

An article was posted on the Military Health System website this week about plans by the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to complete its Military Treatment Facility (MTF) transition by Fall 2021. The article highlights remarks made by Dr. Brian Lein, DHA’s assistant director of Health Care Administration, at the AMSUS-SM Quarterly meeting on March 18. 

According to the article, Lein provided the following update on the MTF transition from the services to DHA, which was halted in April 2020 due to the pandemic.

  1. The first four “markets” have been successfully launched in the National Capital region, the central North Carolina region, Jackson Naval Hospital and surrounding healthcare facilities, and in the coastal Mississippi region.
  2. The next five markets to transition will be in the Tidewater region of Virginia; San Antonio, Texas; Puget Sound region in Washington state; Hawaii; and Colorado Springs. DHA began the planning for these five markets in November 2020 when they restarted the transition.
  3. Later this year, DHA will transition smaller hospitals and clinics which will be the next 11 markets. There will also be overseas markets in Europe and the IndoPacific.

DHA is required to report to Congress on its progress and, according to Dr. Lein, must “ensure that the managed care support contractor has got the capability for caring for our beneficiaries to the same quality, and to the same standard, and to the same access that was provided on the base.”  To read the full article, click here.

Coalition Member Meeting with the MAS PMO, April 22 

The Coalition will hold a member meeting with Stephanie Shutt, the Director of the MAS PMO on Thursday, April 22 at 10:00 am EDT. The meeting will focus on the GSA Schedules, including Schedule pricing policies. If you have any questions for Stephanie, please email them to Sean Nulty atSNulty@thecgp.orgby Thursday, April 15. 

Virtual Coalition Meeting with MAS PMO 
Tuesday, April 22 at 10:00 am EDT  
Please RSVP to Michael Hanafin atMHanafin@thecgp.orgto receive the dial-in.
 

GSA’s OSDBU Supporting Small Business with the New COVID Relief Bill 

On March 31, General Services Administration (GSA) published a blog stating how the agency will continue to support underserved communities through the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) and funding received from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, which Biden signed into law on March 11. The ARP Act includes $100 million in funding to establish the Community Navigator Pilot Program. The Program will have a call center, outreach, and education and technical assistance to increase awareness of the initiatives offered by the SBA. GSA’s OSDBU will support these efforts by promoting and providing resources that connect small businesses with the appropriate SBA COVID-19 relief resources like the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), and Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). Learn more about GSA’s commitment to small businesses here. 

 

Resources from GSA’s New Services IDIQ Industry Day  

On April 1, the General Services Administration (GSA) hosted an Industry Day for the New Services Indefinite-Delivery Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract program. GSA discussed the goals for the program, as well as the results of the recent Request for Information (RFI). The presentation from the Industry day can be found here.recording is also available. The GSA Interact notice also contains a number of additional resources on the New Services IDIQ, including a fact sheet and an FAQ page. Questions about the New Services IDIQ can be submitted to pshc-dev@gsa.gov. 

 

New CMMC CEO Focuses on Training Assessors 

According to FedScoopthe new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) Accreditation Board (AB) CEO, Matthew Travis, is leading the development of assessors who will review the networks of approximately 300,000 defense contractors. While industry is concerned that there will not be enough assessors to certify contractors, Karlton Johnson, CMMC AB Board Chairman, stated that that AB will be able to meet the demand. Currently, the AB has trained about 100 provisional assessors and cleared about 100 assessment organizations through its first application screening. Johnson says the Board remains on target and will commit to engaging with industry and the media regularly during the decision-making process.  

DoD is internally reviewing CMMC. DoD did not give specific details on the review, but stated it is routine for high-impact programs. Despite agreement about the need to improve the cybersecurity posture posture of the Defense Industrial Base (DIB), CMMC has received some criticism during its rollout. One concern is about the decision to have much of the CMMC implementation responsibility fall to a third-party volunteer organization. Read the full article here. 

 

April 22 Webinar: Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF): How You Can Reduce Your Antitrust Risk

The Coalition is pleased to host an upcoming webinar on April 22 titled, Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF): How You Can Reduce Your Antitrust Risk. Our presenter will be recent DOJ Antitrust Division prosecutor and original member of the PCSF, Justin P. Murphy, who is currently a Partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP.

With a 10% budget increase for FY2021 and proposed legislation that would increase the Antitrust Division’s budget by $300 million, antitrust criminal enforcement is poised to accelerate. Historically, cartel enforcement has increased following economic downturns and substantial federal stimulus packages. For example, after the 2008 financial crash and the 2009 Recovery Act, DOJ filed 60% more criminal cases than in prior years. We expect this trend to continue in the wake of the unprecedented government stimulus packages passed in 2020 and 2021. Beyond the increased resources, the Antitrust Division has stepped up their criminal enforcement program with the creation of the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF), the expansion of criminal prosecutions into labor markets, and new potential benefits for corporate entities with compliance programs addressing antitrust violations.

In this webinar, Justin will be addressing the following topics:

  • Criminal antitrust violations, including case examples of price fixing, bid rigging, market/customer allocation, and recent investigations and prosecutions into labor markets;
  • The expected industry focus of the Biden Administration;
  • The PCSF and “red flags of collusion”;
  • The Antitrust Division’s new Corporate Compliance Guidance which for the first time permits credit for compliance programs at the charging recommendation stage and could result in a non-prosecution or deferred prosecution agreement; and
  • What companies can do to reduce their antitrust risk.

Click here to register. 

 

AFCEA Bethesda’s 2021 Monthly Breakfast Webinar 

The Coalition is proud to sponsor AFCEA Bethesda’s 2021 Monthly Breakfast Webinar Series. Join AFCEA Bethesda on Wednesday, April 14 at 8 AM EDT for the first Breakfast Series webinar in the Data chapter. Federal leaders will discuss how agencies can use AI/ML at scale to accelerate decision-making while improving the effectiveness and efficiency of government services. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with government speakers and industry leaders during the video networking session. Coalition members who are interested in attending can register here.