Friday Flash 10.8.21

Far & Beyond: Coalition Year-End Training and Meeting Schedule 

As we begin a new government fiscal year and close out the 2021 calendar year, the Coalition is busier than ever providing valuable content on Federal contracting for our members! Just this week, the Coalition hosted an all-member training on GSA’s e-Systems with Tim Dempsey, Lead Program Manager of the Operations Division in GSA’s Office of Systems Management (OSM) and Josh Royko, Catalog Data Lead, FAS Catalog Management Office. They provided an extensive overview and update on GSA Advantage!, eBuy, eLibrary, Mass Mod System, and the Vendor Product Portal, in addition to discussing the upcoming Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) that will replace the use of DUNS, FAS ID, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and Schedule Refresh 7. 

There is more in store for members over the next few weeks. Please mark your calendars for the following important committee meetings, trainings, and of course, our 2021 Fall Training Conference.  We look forward to your participation! 

October 8 at 10:00 am – Small Business Committee Meeting 

The Small Business Committee will host a meeting to discuss barriers to entry for small business when working with the Department of Defense DoD. This discussion will be in preparation for the Coalition’s response to DoD’s request for comments released on September 8th. This input will be used to update the Department’s Small Business Strategy led by the DoD Office of Small Business Programs. In addition, DoD is focusing on complying with recent Executive Orders, like EO 14017, “America’s Supply Chains,” to reduce entry barriers of small businesses. If you would like to attend the virtual meeting, please RSVP to Michael Hanafin at Mhanafin@thecgp.org. 

October 12 at 12:00 pm EDT – Joint Cyber & Supply Chain Security Committee and Business Regulatory Issues Committee (BRIC) Meeting 

During this meeting, members will learn about federal contractor telework policy, including cyber requirements, labor rates, workplace environment changes and more. The speakers for the meeting are Townsend BourneJonathan Aronie, and Ryan Roberts from Sheppard Mullin. Please RSVP to Michael Hanafin at Mhanafin@thecgp.org if you would like to attend this event.  

October 14 at 1:00 pm EDT – Joint IT/Services and GWAC/MAC Committee Meeting with Jeff Koses, GSA 

Jeff Koses, Senior Procurement Executive for the General Services Administration (GSA), will provide an update on GSA’s recent efforts/actions in support of the Biden Administration’s policy priorities. The virtual session will include time for Q&As. If you are interested in attending the virtual meeting, please RSVP to Michael Hanafin at Mhanafin@thecgp.org.  

October 27 at 9:00 am EDT – Assisted Acquisition Services Forum: Delivering Best Value Mission IT and Professional Services Support to Customer Agencies 

The Coalition will be hosting senior leaders from the Federal Acquisition Service’s Office of Assisted Acquisition Services (AAS) for a forum focusing on the AAS mission and the outlook for Fiscal Year 2022. The forum will provide an opportunity for AAS leadership to share updates on vehicle utilization strategies and current customer mission support opportunities and will include an update on ASTRO. AAS uses the IT GWACs, OASIS and the FSS to support customer agency needs. ASTRO joins this pool of contract vehicles.  

The forum also will address procurement and management best practices and priorities from the regional offices and FEDSIM. AAS has seen unprecedented growth in its portfolio of customer agency support projects and will share insights on where things are headed over the next year from a business and organizational perspective. The event will feature two panels: 1) Vehicle Utilization and Customer Mission Support—the Picture for AAS, with speakers Chris Bennethum, Assistant Commissioner, AAS, and Chris Hamm, Director, FEDSIM; and 2) Best Practices and Priorities, with speakers Erin Quick, Acquisition Quality Director, FEDSIM, Kari Santora, AAS Director, Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic), Jack Wise, Director, Acquisition Operations, Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic), Garett Nelson, Branch Manager, Region 4 (Southeast Sunbelt), and Joel Fada, AAS Director, Region 9 (Pacific Rim). 

This event will be complimentary for all Coalition Members, but registration is required. Please CLICK HERE to register. 

November 17-18 – Fall Training Conference: What’s Next for the Business of Government? 

The 2021 Fall Training Conference’s theme will continue the Coalition’s focus on the Biden Administration’s priorities for the federal acquisition system and what it means for government and industry. We have invited a host of speakers from across the federal acquisition community for a dialogue on key policy, operational, and management initiatives shaping the business of government. Topics will include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Cyber and Supply Chain Compliance  
  • DoD Cybersecurity Initiatives and CMMC  
  • VA Procurement and Contracting  
  • Future of VA Medical Logistics  
  • GSA Interagency Contracting Portfolio Panel (GWACs, OASIS, and More)  
  • Made in America/Buy American and Domestic Sourcing  
  • Medical Supply Chain  
  • Observations from FAS Commissioners – Present and Past  
  • Priorities for IT Modernization Fund  
  • Schedules  
  • View from the Hill 

As always, both days will conclude with smaller breakout sessions where you will be able to ask your questions directly to the speakers covering topics such as GSA Systems; Office Products; Industrial Products/Update from the SSAC; Services on GSA Schedules; IT; VA Public Law Pricing; DLA MSPV and ECAT; Small Business Opportunities; VA MSPV – Operations; e-Commerce: Update on Commercial Platforms Initiative; Cloud Marketplace; DHA Pharmaceuticals; GWAC/MAC; Global Supply/4PL; Services MAC; and Furniture. 

Please click HERE to see the full DRAFT agenda. 

Please click HERE to register! 

For sponsorship inquiries, please contact Matt Cahill at mcahill@thecgp.org or 202-315-1054. 

 

December TBD – MAS Basic Training: The Nuts & Bolts 

This training will be presented by numerous subject matter experts covering a wide range of topics, including an introduction to the GSA Schedules Program, obtaining your GSA Schedule or Schedule Modification, MAS audits, ethics and Schedule business, e-Tools, and option extensions. 

As you can see, the Coalition will continue its non-stop business support until the end of the year. Our aim is to provide our members with as much actionable business information as possible to help navigate these challenging times.   

In closing, we ask that you mark December 15 on your calendars. On that date, the Excellence in Partnership (EIP) Award nominations are due. The EIP Awards honor individuals and organizations in the acquisition community who have made significant contributions to the procurement system that deliver best value and meet agency missions. Historically, these awards have been given to individuals, organizations, and contractors involved in procurement with GSA, VA, DOD, DHS, and other government agencies. The nomination window and award categories will be announced shortly, and, again, all nominations will be due by December 15. Awardees will be announced in the Spring of 2022. 

We hope to see you at all the aforementioned events over the remaining weeks of 2021! 

GSA, DoD and VA Release COVID-19 Class Deviations

On September 30, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council released a memo providing guidance to agencies about how to incorporate a new FAR clause that requires certain contractors to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols, including vaccination, issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. The Task Force issued guidance based on Executive Order (EO) 14042, Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors, that requires  all covered contractor employees follow the CDC guidance for masking and physical distancing at the workplace and be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021. There are limited legal exceptions to the vaccination requirement for medical and religious reasons. Contractors must also designate a person to implement and comply with the workplace safety protocols within their organization. Agencies are required to implement the clause in: 

  • New contracts awarded on or after November 14 from solicitations issued before October 15 (this includes new orders awarded on or after November 14 from solicitations issued before October 15 under existing indefinite-delivery contracts);  
  • New solicitations issued on or after October 15 and contracts awarded pursuant to those solicitations (this includes new solicitations issued on or after October 15 for orders awarded pursuant to those solicitations under existing indefinite-delivery contracts);  
  • Extensions or renewals of existing contracts and orders awarded on or after October 15, 2021; and  
  • Options on existing contracts and orders exercised on or after October 15, 2021. 

Agencies are encouraged to include the clause in contracts that will be or have been awarded prior to November 14 and in solicitations issued before October 15. The memo also suggests that agencies include the clause in contracts, that are not covered by EO 14042, because the contract or subcontract is under the simplified acquisition threshold or is for the manufacturing of products. Agencies are encouraged to include clauses in these contracts to increase vaccination and decrease the spread of COVD-19.  

Class Deviations 

General Services Administration (GSA) 

On September 30, GSA released a memo that approves the class deviation from the FAR to implement EO 14042, Ensuring Adequate COVID-19 Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors. GSA’s class deviation includes GSA-specific implementation timelines for solicitations, new contracts, and existing contracts. GSA is requiring the clause to be included in new solicitations issued on or after October 15, 2021 and amendments to existing solicitations that have not closed or been awarded by October 15, 2021. The amendment to existing solicitations will be sent as a cover letter and a modification request from the contracting officers (COs). COs will complete as many modifications as possible before November 14, 2021. For IDIQs, there may be interim actions taken if a signed modification is not returned to GSA by November 14, 2021. The class deviation also provides guidance to COs about which contracts they are required to apply the clause to and which contracts they are encouraged to implement the clause in (despite not being required per EO 14042).    

The clause is not applicable to:  

  • Micro-Purchases; 
  • Site Acquisition; 
  • Sales of surplus real and personal property; 
  • Solicitations and contracts if performance is outside the United States or its outlying areas (the exclusion is limited to employees who are performing work only outside the U.S. or its outlying areas); or 
  • Contracts and subcontracts with Indian Tribes under the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (Public Law 93-638) (the exclusion would not apply to a procurement contract or subcontract under the FAR to an Indian-owned or tribally-owned business entity). 

The deviation is effective immediately until the FAR and GSAR are amended or the deviation is cancelled.  

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 

On October 1, the VA released a class deviation implementing the FAR Council’s COVID-19 memorandum immediately. The VA deviation applies to “solicitation[s] and contracts for services, including construction.” The Coalition is awaiting guidance from the VA Federal Supply Schedules program about how the new contract clause will be implemented in VA Schedule contracts, especially whether certain services that support products will be covered.

Department of Defense (DoD) 

DoD released a class deviation, on October 1, immediately implementing the FAR Council’s COVID-19 memorandum. The clause may be inserted into: 

  • Solicitations issued prior to October 15, 2021; 
  • Contracts, task orders, or delivery orders awarded before November 14, 2021, resulting from solicitations issued before October 15, 2021; 
  • Solicitations, contracts, task orders, and delivery orders that are valued at or below the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT) and are for services (including construction) performed in whole or in part within the United States and its outlying areas; or 
  • Solicitations, contracts, task orders, and delivery orders for the manufacturing of products. 

COs will use bilateral modifications when modifying existing contracts with the clause. The deviation will be in effect until incorporated into the FAR clause or otherwise rescinded.  

 

GSA Industry Event on COVID-19 Safety Protocols for Contractors, Oct. 13

On Wednesday, October 13 at 1 pm EDT, GSA will host a Virtual Industry Engagement Event on Ensuring Adequate COVID-19 Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors. GSA’s Senior Acquisition Officials will discuss the agency’s implementation of Executive Order 14042 on Ensuring Adequate COVID-19 Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors. Registration for the event is available here. 

 

Registration Now Open for the 2021 Fall Training Conference, Nov. 17-18 

The Coalition for Government Procurement (Coalition) is pleased to announce that registration officially is open for our 2021 Fall Training Conference, What’s Next for the Business of Government?  This two-day virtual conference will take place on November 17-18 and will utilize the same technology as our previous two conferences.    

The Fall Training Conference’s theme will continue the Coalition’s focus on the Biden Administration’s priorities for the Federal acquisition system and what it means for Government and industry.  We have invited a host of speakers from across the federal acquisition community for a dialogue on key policy, operational, and management initiatives shaping the business of Government.    

 Of course, the agenda includes the critically acclaimed Legal Panel announcing this year’s “The Rogers.”  In addition, cyber security and supply chain resilience, Buy America and Buy Allied, safe workplace implementation, the Multiple Awards Schedule consolidation, TDR, the Medical Surgical Prime Vendor program, GWACs, MACs, and more will be covered over the course of two-day virtual training conference.  Here is a listing of just some of the subjects being address in the panels:    

  • Cyber and Supply Chain Compliance  
  • DoD Cybersecurity Initiatives and CMMC  
  • VA Procurement and Contracting  
  • Future of VA Medical Logistics  
  • GSA Interagency Contracting Portfolio Panel (GWACs, OASIS, and More)  
  • Made in America/Buy American and Domestic Sourcing  
  • Medical Supply Chain  
  • Observations from FAS Commissioners – Present and Past  
  • Priorities for IT Modernization Fund  
  • Schedules  
  • View from the Hill  

As always, both days will conclude with smaller breakout sessions where you will be able to ask your questions directly to the speakers covering topics such as GSA Systems; Office Products; Industrial Products/Update from the SSAC; Services on GSA Schedules; IT; VA PBM; DLA MSPV and ECAT; VA MSPV – Operations; Small Business Opportunities; the e-Commerce Update on Commercial Platforms Initiative; Cloud Marketplace; DHA Pharmaceuticals; GWAC/MAC; Global Supply/4PL; Services MAC; and Furniture!  

 Please click HERE to see the full DRAFT agenda.   

 Please click HERE to register!  

 For sponsorship inquiries, please contact Matt Cahill atmcahill@thecgp.orgor 202-315-1054. 

 

Technology Modernization Fund Announces Seven Project Awards 

Fedscoop reported that the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) Board has announced seven awards for agency IT modernization. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM), GSA, and the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Education will receive support for new projects focused on cybersecurity, data privacy concerns, and the move to Zero Trust. The total amount awarded was $311 million. This is the seventh round of funding for projects by the TMF Board which responds directly to the Biden Administration’s cybersecurity executive order mandating that agencies improve their digital security.  

OPM will receive $9.9 million for a Zero Trust networking project focused on protecting the privacy of about two million civilian Federal employees. GSA will receive a total of $231.4 million for three projects, including one to improve its Zero Trust architecture, one to improve digital security for login.gov, and another to support the rollout of the interagency collaboration site max.gov. DHS is receiving $50 million to support a technology integration program intended to “more efficiently, effectively, and humanely process noncitizens encountered at our Southwest Border.” Education will receive $20 million to assist with the adoption of Zero Trust architecture that will help protect the data of over 100 million students. There is also one classified project in which the Board has not provided further funding details.  

In March, the TMF Board received $1 billion through the American Rescue Act for emergency relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and significant cybersecurity incidents. The boost was intended to support projects where service upgrades could be shared across agencies, that address cybersecurity gaps, and that improve the public’s ability to access Government services. 

 

GSA Launches Made in America Website 

This week, GSA launched a new Made in America website pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 14005Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers. The site is designed to promote transparency in Federal procurement by allowing manufacturers and other stakeholders to easily identify opportunities by reviewing waivers to Made in America laws. The site provides initial information on historical and current waivers resulting from the initial implementation of Executive Order 14005.  

 

DLA Briefs Industry on Demand Forecast

On October 6, DLA hosted a briefing to update Industry on their Demand Forecast. DLA gave an overview of the forecast environment, which includes strengthening the supply chain and the industrial base.  

While DLA is still crunching the final numbers for FY21, they have exceeded their yearly small business goal for the ninth year in a row. DLA also exceeded its HUBZone goal for the first time in a few years. There has been a decline in supply chain demand, but there is an accelerated transition for Industrial Hardware items to move to Aviation and Land. The projected service contract spend for FY22 is $1.34 billion, which is a slight increase from FY21. DLA stated that every year they identify and achieve efficiencies. View slides from the briefing here. 

 

GSA Polaris Industry Forum, Oct. 20

On Wednesday, October 20 at 1 pm EDT, GSA will be hosting a Polaris Industry Forum for small businesses and those interested in helping Federal agencies with IT services solutions. In this session, GSA will discuss the path forward for their new, innovative, and exciting small business Governmentwide Acquisition Contract, or GWAC, and what it could mean for your business. To register, click here. 

 

Senators Rosen and Cassidy Introduce Medical Supply Chain Bill

On October 4, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Dr. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), both members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), announced the introduction of the Strategic Planning for Emergency Medical Manufacturing Act. This bipartisan legislation would direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop and maintain a voluntary list of domestic manufacturers to produce medical supplies during severe shortages, and create a streamlined process for U.S. manufacturers to work with the department to determine production capacity, technical assistance needs, and opportunities for Federal contracts. 

The Strategic Planning for Emergency Medical Manufacturing Act would direct the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response to develop and maintain a voluntary list of domestic manufacturers interested in shifting production to critical supplies during times of need. Companies would have a direct point of contact within HHS and a streamlined process to work with the department to develop plans for production capacity, technical assistance needs, and opportunities for Federal contracts for the purchase of goods produced through this process. State, local, and Tribal governments, medical suppliers, hospitals, and other healthcare providers would also have access to this network as a back-up system when critical supply shortfalls are anticipated. 

The Coalition has put together a list of current medical supply chain bills for members.  To access the medical supply chain legislation chart, click here.
 

VA Modernization Effort Raises Concerns from Lawmakers

This week Federal News Network reported on concerns from members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee about the VA’s supply chain modernization plans.  Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif) and ranking member Mike Bost (R-Ill.) and Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman and ranking member of the upper chamber’s Veterans Affairs Committee wrote to the VA in July requesting that VA explain its response to a recent Court of Federal Claims opinion and its overall supply chain strategy.  

During a recent hearing on the VA’s IT Infrasturucture, Todd Simpson, the deputy assistant secretary of DevSecOps, said the VA medical health centers in VISN 20 will transition to DMLSS during mid-fiscal 2022.  

According to Federal News Network, “a committee aide for the minority said VA’s current plan is to move fully to DMLSS by 2027, three years longer than initially planned.”  Further, “there are some discussions about accelerating the timeline to be completed by 2025 by skipping the initial on-premise implementation of data centers and moving directly to the cloud through the Defense Health Agency’s system called LogiCole when it’s available in 2025.”  For the full Federal News Network article, click here. 

Legal Corner: Executive Order 14042 Survival Guide

Authored by Jonathan Aronie, Anne Perry, Nikole Snyder, Denise Giraudo, and Ryan Roberts

Sheppard Mullin

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 September 9, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) to implement COVID safety protocols for Federal service contractors and subcontractors. While the EO did not outline specific rules, it did direct a Federal task force (the “Safer Federal Workforce Task Force,” created by Executive Order in January 2021) to issue COVID-19-related workplace safety guidance for prime contractors and subcontractors. On September 24, 2021, the Task Force issued that Guidance, setting out specific workplace safety protocols and providing a few Questions and Answers to aid in interpretation of those protocols. Most notably, the Guidance mandates that a wide swath of the federal contracting and subcontracting communities receive COVID vaccinations. The EO and Guidance are broadly worded; and, while they do NOT apply to all contractors, they will impose new compliance obligations upon many, including: • Businesses that sell to the Government, • Businesses that sell to businesses that sell to the Government, • Colleges and universities, • Hospitals and healthcare facilities, • Hotels, • Financial institutions, including participants in GSA’s SmartPay program, • Concessionaires, and • Almost any other entity that receives Federal, non-grant dollars. At the same time President Biden announced the EO, he also announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be developing an emergency standard that will require employers with more than 100 employees to mandate that employees be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. While much remains unknown about the OSHA rule, we do know it does not preempt the EO.

Does The EO And Guidance Apply To Me?

It’s likely. As discussed in more detail below, the new rules apply very broadly. If you sell a service to the U.S. Government or to a business that sells to the U.S. Government, you likely will be impacted by the rule in some way. Additionally, because the rule “urges” federal contracting officers to incorporate the new clause in contracts that go beyond the express scope of the rule, even product manufacturers are likely to be impacted in some way.

What Does The Rule Require?

Broadly speaking, the Task Force Guidance requires vaccinations (with certain limited exceptions), proper masking, and physical distancing. The specifics are spelled out in the Task Force Guidance and will not be repeated here. One point is worth emphasizing, though – all Covered Contractor Employees must be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021 (unless entitled to a legal accommodation), including covered contractor employees working from home. If you do the math, this means contractors that will be covered by the rule better get started NOW because employees are only considered “fully vaccinated” once they are two-weeks past the second dose of a two-shot vaccine, or two weeks after receiving a one-shot vaccine. What this means is that October 27, 2021 is the last day a Covered Contractor Employee can receive the first shot of a Moderna two-shot vaccine in order to be in compliance with the new rules considering the four-week waiting period between shots, November 3, 2021 is the last day to receive the first shot of a Pfizer-BioNTech two-shot vaccine considering the three-week waiting period between shots, and November 17, 2021 is the last day to receive the Johnson & Johnson single shot vaccine. After December 8, all Covered Contractor Employees must be fully vaccinated by the first day the clause is incorporated into your contract(s) (e.g., the period of performance for a new contract, the first day of the period of performance on an exercised option or extended/renewed contract when the clause has been incorporated into the covered contract, or the first day the Government issues a modification to your contract incorporating the clause). The Guidance also requires Covered Contractors to follow the CDC’s guidelines for masking and physical distancing at a Covered Contractor Workplace (including indoor and outdoor facilities), which applies to employees and visitors. The applicable guidelines depend on whether the Covered Contractor Workplace is located in an area of high or substantial community transmission. These guidelines also vary (i.e., are less stringent) depending on whether an individual is fully vaccinated.

Are There Exceptions To The Vaccination Requirement?

There are two types of exceptions to the vaccination requirement — employees who need to be accommodated due to their sincerely held religious belief and/or a disability/medical condition. The Guidance also includes an exception for an urgent or mission-critical need for a Covered Contractor to have Covered Contractor Employees begin work on a Covered Contract or www.sheppardmullin.com EXECUTIVE ORDER 14042 SURVIAL GUIDE | PAGE 5 in a Covered workplace prior to being fully vaccinated (but such employee must get fully vaccinated within 60 days thereafter). Keep in mind, these exceptions are different from “opting out.” The Guidance does NOT permit individuals to opt-out of the vaccination requirements by subjecting themselves to regular testing (as will be permitted under the OSHA regulation). Further, the Guidance does not allow employees to demonstrate natural immunity via proof of prior COVID infection or positive results from an antibody test. The only actual exceptions are religious and medical exceptions. Frustratingly, the Guidance fails to provide the necessary details in two key areas. First, the Guidance does not provide any direction to Covered Contractors to assist with the evaluation of religious/medical exception requests, although Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act have guidance as to what can be considered by an employer. Covered Contractors will be required to evaluate these requests pursuant to the existing rules. This reality increases the likelihood of law suits against contractors: reject a request and risk being sued by the employee; grant a request and risk being sued by all other employees who work near the exempted individual. We have urged GSA to work toward providing at least some limited immunity to companies that make a good faith exemption decision, in the way the Government provides limited immunity under the Defense Production Act, the PREP Act, and the SAFETY Act, but we are not optimistic our advice will be adopted any time soon. Second, the Guidance fails to provide the parameters to assist Covered Contractors in understanding what types of accommodations can be made available to employees granted an accommodation due to a sincerely held religious belief and/or a disability/medical condition. For example, will the EO allow for an employee that meets the criteria for a religious accommodation to be in the workplace if they are masked at all times while distancing from others? Or, will the EO require that employee to work remotely? What if the position cannot be remote? These questions remain unanswered and we have urged GSA to provide guidance.

To view the entirety of the Executive Order 14042 Survival Guide, please click here.

DHA Establishes Central Texas Market 

On October 4, the official website of the Military Health System reported thatThe Defense Health Agency (DHA) marked the establishment of the Central Texas Market, a critical milestone in once-in-a-generation Military Health System (MHS) reform effort to improve the readiness of the force and the healthcare service provided to warfighters, retirees, and military families. The Central Texas Market will enable greater collaboration across military hospitals and clinics in the Central Texas region to strengthen the medical readiness of service members and enable these facilities to deliver better care and a better patient experience. The MHS is transitioning administration and management of all military hospitals and clinics from the military departments to the DHA. To do so effectively, the DHA chose a “market approach” based on the six enhanced Multi-Service Markets already in place.  

Markets are groups of hospitals and clinics in one geographic area working together with their TRICARE partners, VA hospitals, other Federal healthcare organizations, private sector teaching hospitals and medical universities, and other healthcare partners. They operate as a system, sharing patients, staff, budget, and other functions to improve the readiness, delivery, and coordination of health services. 

These changes are designed to increase overall access to care for beneficiaries, as well as improve coordination, standardization, and best practices across the MHS.  They also provide more opportunities for military medical providers to get the training they need to meet readiness goals. 

For more information about the status of DHA’s MHS transition, see the Coalition’s recent paper on this topic here. 

 

GSA Releases RFI on Governmentwide Cloud BPA 

GSA posted a Request for Information (RFI) on its Governmentwide Cloud Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA). GSA’s Information Technology Category (ITC) intends to establish, on a competitive basis, a Multiple Award BPA against the following MAS Special Item Numbers (SINs): 518210C “Cloud and Cloud-Related IT Professional Services”, 54151S IT Professional Services, Ancillary, and Order Level Materials (OLM). The multiple award BPA will allow Federal agencies to acquire and implement secure, integrated commercial cloud service solutions. 

The Coalition plans on submitting comments in response to the RFI. Please submit your input on the RFI to Mhanafin@thecgp.org by COB today, Friday, October 8.  GSA’s deadline for comments is 5pm next Thursday, October 14. 

 

GSA Releases Plan to Address Climate Change Risk Management

On October 7, GSA announced the publication of its Climate Change Risk Management Plan. According to GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan, GSA wants to lead the way when it comes to making their facilities and supply chains more resilient to a changing climate states. The plan identifies and defines GSA’s top vulnerabilities to climate change which are “ real property, information and communications technology supply chains, water and wastewater utilities, transportation and transit access, and global supply chains and their infrastructure.” 

GSA also lays out strategies and actions to put climate risk management practices into the agency’s operation. For example, to:  

  • Develop criteria and metrics to consider environmental justice in real property, services, and supply business decisions. 
  • Use climate science to partner with GSA customers on climate-ready facilities, products and services to achieve their missions in a changing climate.  
  • Compile building elevation data across GSA’s portfolio to assess flooding risks and integrate this data into information systems and asset business planning processes.  
  • Integrate considerations for the financial effects of the physical and transition risks of climate change into formal agency decision-making processes. 
  • Enhance GSA’s Building Assessment Tool to identify, quantify and prioritize climate change risks and liabilities. 
  • Review government-wide telecommunications and information technology acquisitions $100 million and greater to ensure climate risk is addressed in their supply chains. 

GSA plans to work with customer agencies and industry partners to reduce climate risk across the Federal Government. While working on a comprehensive approach to addressing the climate crisis, GSA is also working on reducing the Federal Government’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

 

DISA Establishes New Cloud Office 

Federal Computer Week reported that the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has reorganized its cloud and enterprise services offices, creating a new office named the Hosting and Compute Center (HaCC). HaCC combines the Cloud Computing Program Office (CCPO) with DISA’s services directorate and ecosystem. Sharon Woods, Executive Director of the Cloud Computing Program Office, will serve as Acting Director of HaCC. Responsibilities for the new office include providing the warfighter with critical hosting and computing functions that use modern data and cloud capabilities. This reorganization is DoD’s most recent effort in relation to cloud capabilities. In January, DISA gained full control of the former CCPO in an effort to centralize DoD’s cloud buying capabilities. HaCC will continue the vision of providing multiple cloud hosting and computing platforms. 

 

 

House VA Subcommittee Seeks True Costs of VA Electronic Health Records

On October 7, the House Veterans Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Technology Modernization held a hearing entitled, “Legislative Hearing on the VA Electronic Health Record Transparency Act of 2021 and IT Reform and Data Collection Bills.” The Subcommittee on Technology Modernization oversees the VA’s modernization effort and ensures that veteran information is secure. The focus of the hearing was on the VA Electronic Health Record Transparency Act of 2021. This bill will require the VA to look at all costs across the Veterans Health Administration, Office of Information Technology, and any other program for any amount expended on Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM). The hearing sought to find out the true cost of the large IT Modernization program.  

They also considered a draft bill that focused on the collection of certain demographic data of beneficiaries of the VA. This bill would improve data collection by the VA for beneficiaries and provide a better understanding of who the VA is serving. 

To hear the full legislative hearing, please click here. 

 

GSA e-Systems 101 Training Recording and Slides

On October 7, the Coalition hosted a GSA e-systems 101 training conducted by Tim Dempsey, Lead Program Manager of the Operations Division in GSA’s Office of Systems Management (OSM) and Josh RoykoCatalog Data Lead in the FAS Catalog Management Office. Our guest speakers provided an extensive overview and update on the following GSA e-systems 

  • GSA Advantage!  
  • eBuy  
  • eLibrary  
  • Mass Mod System  
  • Vendor Product Portal  

The training also included discussion on the upcoming Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) that will replace the use of DUNS, FAS ID, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Schedule Refresh 7. Click here to listen to the recording, and here to view the slides.   

 

Off-The-Shelf: A Deep Dive into the MAS Program

 Robin Bourne, Subject Matter Expert, Federal Acquisition, with the Gormley Group joined host Roger Waldron on this week’s Off the Shelf for a deep dive into all things MAS.  

Bourne discussed the impact and importance of schedules consolidation for GSA, customer agencies, and industry. He also provided his take on the recent decision to expand Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) across the MAS program and what it means for contracting officers and contractors. 

Bourne shared insights on the administrative burdens and challenges associated with the Price Reduction Clause (PRC) and the Commercial Sales Practices (CSP) format. And, he discussed the role the Trade Agreements Act plays in the MAS program in ensuring access to compliant, secure products and services. To listen to the program, click here. 

 

BRIC/Cyber Committee Meeting, Oct. 12

The Coalition will be hosting a joint BRIC and Cyber Committee meeting on Tuesday, October 12 at noon. During this meeting, members will learn about Federal contractor telework policy, including cyber requirements, labor rates, workplace environment changes and more. The speakers for the meeting are Townsend Bourne, Jonathan Aronie, and Ryan Roberts from Sheppard Mullin.    

If you would like to attend the virtual meeting, please RSVP to Michael Hanafin at mhanafin@thecgp.org.    

 

Joint IT/Services and GWAC/MAC Committee Meeting, Oct. 14

The Coalition is pleased to announce that the IT/Services and GWAC/MAC Committees will be holding a virtual joint meeting with guest speaker Jeff Koses, Senior Procurement Executive for GSA on October 14 at 1 pm EDT. Jeff Koses will provide an update on GSA’s recent efforts/actions in support of the Biden Administration’s policy priorities. The session will include time for Q&A.   

If you would like to attend the virtual meeting, please RSVP to Michael Hanafin at Mhanafin@thecgp.org 

 

Assisted Acquisition Services Forum: Delivering Best Value Mission IT and Professional Services Support to Customer Agencies 

On October 27th, the Coalition will be hosting senior leaders from the Federal Acquisition Service’s Office of Assisted Acquisition Services (AAS) for a forum focusing on the AAS mission and the outlook for Fiscal Year 2022.  The forum will provide an opportunity for AAS leadership to share updates on vehicle utilization strategies and current customer mission support opportunities and will include an update on ASTRO.  AAS uses the IT GWACs, OASIS and the FSS to support customer agency needs.  ASTRO joins this pool of contract vehicles.  

 The forum will also address procurement and management best practices and priorities from the regional offices and FEDSIM.  AAS has seen unprecedented growth in its portfolio of customer agency support projects and will share insights on where things are headed over the next year from a business and organizational perspective.  The forum will feature the two following panel discussions:   

 9:00 am to 10:00am EDT – Vehicle Utilization and Customer Mission Support—the picture for AAS  

Chris Bennethum, Assistant Commissioner, AAS                 

Chris Hamm, Director, FEDSIM                                                                               

10:00am to 11:00am EDT – Best Practices and Priorities  

Erin Quick, Acquisition Quality Director, FEDSIM 

Kari Santora, AAS Director, Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic) 

Jack Wise, Director, Acquisition Operations, Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic) 

Garett Nelson, Branch Manager, Region 4 (Southeast Sunbelt) 

Joel Fada, AAS Director, Region 9 (Pacific Rim) 

This event will be complimentary for all Coalition Members, but registration is required.  Please CLICK HERE to register.  

DoD Request for Comments: Reducing Barriers for Small Businesses

On September 8, DoD released a request for comments. To increase opportunities for small businesses, DoD is requesting feedback on barriers small businesses are facing in working with them. According to DoD’s request, the participation of dynamic, resilient, and innovative small businesses in the defense industrial base is critical to the United States’ efforts to maintain its technological superiority, military readiness, and warfighting advantage. Industry’s input will be used to update the Department’s Small Business Strategy led by the DoD Office of Small Business Programs. In addition, DoD is focusing on complying with recent Executive Orders, like EO 14017 “America’s Supply Chains,” to reduce entry barriers of small businesses.     

The Coalition will submit comments through the Small Business Committee. Please send any input to Samantha Holt at sholt@thecgp.org by COB, October 13. Comments are due to DoD by October 25.   

 

Buy American Act NPRM Deadline for Comments Extended to Oct. 28

The FAR Council has extended the comment period on the amendments to the Buy American Act from September 28, 2021 to October 28, 2021 to give additional time for interested parties to develop comments on the proposed rule and provide feedback on the questions posed in the preamble. On July 28, the FAR Council published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would make changes to the implementation of the Buy American Act.

The proposed rule addresses section eight of Executive Order (EO) 140005, Ensuring the Future is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers signed by President Biden in January 2021. Specifically, the proposed rule calls for an increase to the domestic content threshold, a framework for application of an enhanced price preference for a domestic product that is considered a critical product or made up of critical components, and a post-award domestic content reporting requirement for contractors.   

The Coalition is submitting comments in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by October 28. The Coalition’s draft comments can be read here. Please submit any feedback on the draft comments to Tsisti@thecgp.org by COB Wed., October 20.   

 

Proposed Rule: Accelerating Payments to Small Businesses 

On September 29, the FAR Council released a proposed rule, which proposes to accelerate payments to small business contractors and subcontractors. The change will implement Section 873 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Fiscal Year 2020. Section 873 requires agencies to establish an accelerated payment date for small business prime business contracts. The goal is fifteen days after receipt of proper invoice unless a specific payment date is established by the contract. Section 873 requires that agencies establish an accelerated payment date for a small business subcontractor if a specific payment date is not established by contract and the prime contractor agrees to make accelerated payments without any additional consideration form or fees charged to the subcontractor. 

Currently in the FAR clause 52.232-40, Providing Accelerated Payments to Small Business Subcontractors, prime contractors are required to provide accelerated payments to their small business subcontractors when the prime is provided accelerated payments. The proposed changes to the FAR will include accelerated payments to small business contractors. While Section 873 does not include a specific number of days for the prime to make accelerated payments to the subcontractor, the FAR Council proposes that the prime contractor makes payment within 15 days of receiving accelerated payment if there is receipt of proper invoice and other required documents from the subcontractor.  

The FAR Council wants to improve cash flow and access to the Federal Marketplace, so they want to receive comments on how to best achieve this goal. Comments on the proposed rule are due by November 29, 2021 and can be submitted here