From Different Backgrounds and Hardship, They Came Together as One in Service to Their Country
Today, our nation honors the heroism, sacrifice, and service of all brave men and women who offer their lives in the defense of our country. As we have done in the past, the Coalition focuses on stories of that service, either unexplored or forgotten over the course of time, to shine a light on the different people and acts of selflessness that have contributed to the safeguarding of our nation. Today, we highlight examples of Italian and Japanese American heroism during World War II and the backdrop against which that heroism took place.
On an October night in 1942, battle raged on Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands. A regiment of 3000 Japanese soldiers relentlessly rained down grenades and mortar fire on two Marine .30-caliber machine gun crews defending land at the Tenaru River. When one crew was disabled, the crews’ leader, Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, carried heavy munitions and weapons 200 yards between gun locations, relaying back and forth between those locations to keep them supplied and defending himself with nothing but a Colt .45 in hand. He and his Marines spent the evening repulsing an onslaught of Japanese soldiers. For his part, Basilone’s hands and arms were burned as he painfully exchanged hot machine guns barrels in the repeated barrages of gunfire. As enemy bodies piled up and impeded fire, he exited cover, again putting his life at risk, to clear those bodies away. So effective were the efforts of Basilone and his fellow Marines that the Japanese were impeded, but at a great cost. When reinforcements arrived, they found only Basilone and two other Marines. After the battle on Guadalcanal, for which, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor, Basilone was killed on Iwo Jima, and for his sacrifice, he received the Purple Heart and the Navy Cross.
That same year, segregated units for Nisei (Japanese Americans) were created: the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Sadao Munemori, having enlisted in 1941, served in the Military Intelligence Language School, and achieved the rank of Technical Sergeant, transferred to the 100th Infantry Battalion (later merged with the 442nd), even though it required him to drop down in rank to Private First Class. The move afforded Munemori the opportunity to demonstrate his allegiance and avoid battle in the Pacific. He saw combat in Italy and participated in the famous, heroic rescue of the Lost Battalion in France, an operation where the 442nd Japanese Americans suffered significant casualties. In the spring of 1945, his unit participated in a mission to break through German defenses in the mountains of Northern Italy. They moved at night, and by morning, they encountered significant defensive resistance, during which, on his own, Munemori took out enemy machine guns. While undertaking a strategic withdrawal, an enemy grenade landed in a ditch where two of his men were positioned. Instantly, Munemori jumped on the grenade, dying to protect his fellow soldiers. For his actions, he was the first Nisei to receive the Medal of Honor.
As a nation, we are blessed with many such stories of valor demonstrated by those called to defend our homeland. What makes these stories of courage so noteworthy, however, is the fact that they involve representatives of communities that encountered, certainly by today’s standards, significant discrimination before the war and, more directly, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which served as the basis for removing 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent from their homes to internment camps. Likewise, it caused the relocation of 10,000 Italian Americans. Under President Roosevelt’s Presidential Proclamations 2525, 2526, and 2527, Japanese, German, and Italian individuals, that is, “natives, citizens, denizens, or subjects of the hostile nation or government, being of the age of fourteen years and upward, who shall be within the United States and not actually naturalized” were “liable to be apprehended, restrained, secured, and removed as alien enemies.” Hundreds of thousands had their movements restricted. Yet, in the face of the foregoing, after our nation was attacked and the call to service arose, representatives of these groups, along with representatives from other backgrounds, stepped up without hesitation to defend our country. Indeed, Italian Americans alone made-up ten percent of the nation’s fighting force in World War II, and the Nisei 442nd was an exemplar of heroism, becoming “one of the most decorated units in U.S. military history.”
Perhaps it was their embrace of the exceptional freedoms embodied in our Constitution. Perhaps it was a spirit of pride, a desire to defend the honor of their heritage by manifesting allegiance to their new homeland. We leave it for scholars to study and discuss such motivations. For our part, we are thankful for their courage and willingness to embrace their new homeland and defend it with their lives. Their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of their brothers and sisters in arms, represent the best of American character, for which, we should be ever grateful.
The following served as sources for the foregoing:
Join Us Next Week at the 2022 Fall Training Conference, Nov 16-17
The Coalition for Government Procurement is looking forward to seeing members at the 2022 Fall Training Conference – Expectations for Fiscal Year 2023 – next week! The Fall Training Conference provides an excellent opportunity for cross-cutting dialogue between industry partners and government officials. This hybrid two-day conference will be held on November 16-17 at the Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church, Virginia, with virtual attendance available, as well. We are excited to share additional updates to the agenda below.
November 16 – Governmentwide Focus
The first day of the conference has a governmentwide focus. Officials from the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), General Services Administration (GSA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Small Business Administration (SBA), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will be participating on numerous panels. This year’s conference will begin with a Keynote Address from the knowledgeable Tom Davis, former Congressman and current Holland & Knight Partner, who will provide analysis of the midterm election results, detailing what happened and what these results mean for the Federal government and for contractors.
Following Congressman Davis’ remarks, the morning panels will begin with the return of the popular “Rogers Awards,” which will cover recent procurement-related legal matters. Next up is the Acquisition Policy Expectations session, which features an interagency panel of Procurement Executives, including Angela Billups, Executive Director, Office of Acquisition and Logistics, VA; Paul Courtney, Chief Procurement Officer, DHS; Jeff Koses, Senior Procurement Executive, GSA; and John Tenaglia, Director, Defense Pricing and Contracting (DPC), DoD. During the Lunch Keynote Address, we are excited to share that GSA Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Commissioner Sonny Hashmi will be joined by Katie Miller, GSA Climate Senior Leader, for a ‘fireside chat’ session discussing sustainability and procurement.
After lunch, attendees can choose to attend the Expectations for FAS Procurement Programs Panel consisting of GSA FAS Assistant Commissioners Laura Stanton, Office of IT Category; Charlotte Phelan, Office of Enterprise Strategy Management; Tiffany Hixson, Office of Professional Services and Human Capital Categories; and Erv Koehler, Office of General Supplies and Services, or the Cyber Expectations Panel with industry experts Townsend Bourne, Partner, Sheppard Mullin; Michael Gruden, Associate, Crowell & Moring; and Leo Alvarez, Principal, Baker Tilly, covering the latest cybersecurity requirements impacting contractors such as CMMC. We will then move into the afternoon Business Intelligence Panels, where participants will have several sessions to choose from. Attendees can expect to be informed on GSA systems, the cloud marketplace, e-commerce, legislative updates from the Hill, policies impacting small businesses, the latest developments on contract vehicles such as SEWP, OASIS+, Alliant, and CIO-SP, and more. The full day one draft agenda can be viewed here.
Officials from the Defense Health Agency (DHA), Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and VA are invited to participate in the second day, which focuses on healthcare procurement. We are excited to announce that Michael Parrish, VA Principal Executive and Chief Acquisition Officer, is confirmed to deliver the Keynote Address. Mr. Parrish will provide his priorities and initiatives for fiscal year 2023, as well as outline next steps for VA supply chain modernization.
Phil Christy, OALC Deputy Executive Director, VA and Andrew Centineo, Executive Director, Procurement and Logistics, VHA will share insights on VA programs and policies during the first panel, the Expectations for VA Logistics and Procurement. Participants can then look forward to learning about the latest legal developments and policies impacting the federal healthcare sector during the Healthcare Legal Panel. We are fortunate to have Moshe Schwartz, President of Etherton and Associates, wrap up the networking lunch by providing his insights on the healthcare supply chain and legislation. Following Schwartz’s remarks, we will continue the conversation and dive deeper into how to support healthcare supply chain resiliency during the Expectations for the Medical Supply Chain and Domestic Capabilities Panel featuring Joe Hamel, Strategic Innovation and Emerging Technology Manager, HHS; Deborah Haywood, McKesson; James Kim, Partner, Arnold & Porter; and Jen Plitsch, Partner, Covington & Burling. The afternoon Business Intelligence Panels will touch on a number of topics, such as the DLA MSPV and ECAT programs, VA MSPV-Gen Z and T2, DHA pharmacy operations, and more. View the full agenda for day two here.
Ask the PMO – Stop by to ask your questions in person!
We are thrilled to share that the very popular ‘Ask the PMO’ table will return at the Fall Training Conference. Ask the PMO, which debuted at the 2022 Spring Training Conference, gives attendees the opportunity to engage in dialogue with Program Managers from GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule Program Management Office and the VA’s Federal Supply Schedule (FSS). Attendees can schedule one-on-one meetings throughout the day to ask questions and have their concerns addressed. On November 16, Stephanie Shutt, MAS PMO Director, Steve Sizemore, MAS PMO Deputy Director, and Stacy Lowe, IT Schedule 70 Contracting Officer will be available at the table. On November 17, the VA FSS program will be available to answer member questions. Bob Satterfield, Chief of Services, and Deborah Zuckswerth, Chief of Med Surg B of VA FSS will be present. We hope that everyone takes the opportunity to get their GSA and VA Schedules questions answered and to say hello to their government colleagues who are participating.
Finally, we would like to thank our sponsors for Day 1: Raytheon, Gold Sponsor; GDIT, Gold Sponsor; Sheppard Mullin, Silver Sponsor; The Gormley Group, Silver Sponsor, and The Center for Procurement Advocacy, Lunch Sponsor. Thank you also to our Day 2 sponsors: AvKARE, Title Sponsor; McKesson, Gold and Lunch Sponsor; and The Center for Procurement Advocacy, Breakfast Sponsor.
If you need assistance with event registration, please contact Matt Cahill, Vice President of Membership & Marketing, at email@example.com or 202-315-1054.
VHA Honors Veterans Day Through Release of New National Veteran Health Equity Report
In honor of Veterans Day, the VHA Office of Health Equity released the second National Veteran Health Equity Report (NVHER). The report highlights patient experiences and healthcare quality disparities for Veterans obtaining care through the VHA. Furthermore, the report aims to build on the initial NVHER that reported on VHA healthcare utilization patterns, rates of diagnosed health conditions, and sociodemographic characteristics. This NVHER considers VHA patient experiences in primary care as an overarching area of focus and offers comparisons to the first NVHER where relevant.
Examining measures across six domains of healthcare quality and patient experiences, the new NVHER explores racial/ethnic disparities, gender disparities, age group disparities, rural vs. urban disparities, socio-economic disparities, service-connected disability rating disparities, and disparities based on the presence vs. absence of cardiovascular disease risk factors.
The Office of Health Equity aims to use the information in the report to reduce and eliminate Veteran health disparities nationwide.
Celebrate the Holidays with Off the Shelf: Live and In-Person!
Celebrate the holiday season with the Coalition for Government Procurement! The Coalition cordially invites you to join us on the evening of December 15 at the Tower Club in Tysons Corner for a complimentary holiday gathering to commemorate the past year and toast to the new one ahead! Enjoy food, beverages, and the company of friends and colleagues during this cheerful event. Not only will there be great conversation, but also a special live and in-person episode of President Roger Waldron’s Off the Shelf podcast! Off the Shelf, aired on Federal News Network, covers the latest and most pressing issues in federal procurement with guests from both government and industry. Roger will be joined by Bill Gormley, President of the Gormley Group, and Tim Cook, Executive Director of the Center for Procurement Advocacy, for a live discussion on the state of governmentwide contracting and key legislative developments affecting procurement policy. Don’t miss out on the chance to hear from these recognized experts and join in on the discussion with your questions. We hope that you will join us for this special holiday occasion that will be equally educational and lively!
To register for the event, click here. Registration is complimentary to all attendees!
Senate to Consider Measure that Would Increase Defense Department Funding for EPAs
After the Senate returns from recess, it will begin work on the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress’s annual defense authorization bill, and its more than 900 amendments. Among them, Federal Times reports, is one introduced by Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) that would direct funds to be used by the Department of Defense (DoD) for economic price adjustments (EPAs) to contracts and options. Per a press release from Cramer’s office, the goal of the amendment is to allow DoD more flexibility to address inflation and “rising costs in the supply chain.” It would not, however, allow the funds to be used for contracts without existing EPA clauses, as some in the defense industry have called for in order to address the inflationary environment. The amendment would also require the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment to issue guidance to DoD’s front-line contracting personnel on how to use the new funding. The current guidance from DoD on addressing inflation directs contracting officers to use existing measures, but has not provided any additional authority or flexibility.
Proposed Regulation for Contractors on Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change
On Monday, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council will publish a major proposed rule that would require Federal contractors to report greenhouse gas emissions and climate-related financial risks and set targets to reduce emissions. Currently on inspection in its unpublished version, the proposed rule divides Federal contractors into three tiers for compliance and would, according to White House estimates, cover approximately 85 percent of the Federal supply chain.
The first group—contractors who receive less than $7.5 million a year in Federal obligations—will not incur any new reporting or reduction obligations. Contractors who earn at least $7.5 million a year, but less than $50 million, are required to report direct greenhouse gas emissions and emissions from their power consumption (also known as Scope 1 and 2 emissions) on an annual basis.
Contractors who earn $50 million or more will also be required to report Scope 1 and 2 emissions on an annual basis; additionally, they will have to report emissions from their supply chain and the use of their products (so-called Scope 3 Emissions), submit an annual public climate disclosure that identifies risks climate change poses to their operations, and set “science-based targets” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Contractor targets must be validated by the Science-Based Targets Initiative, an international partnership devoted to helping companies reduce emissions. For required reporting and assessments, contractors will use existing third-party standards like the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard and the CDP Climate Change Questionnaire.
According to a White House fact sheet, adopting the proposed rule would make the U.S. the first country to align its procurement system with the emissions goals set by the Paris Climate Accords, an international treaty that aims to limit global warming.
The proposed rule is part of the Biden Administration’s broader efforts to address climate change in the Federal government through executive action. Last year, President Biden issued two major executive orders addressing sustainability which set ambitious targets, including achieving net-zero emissions in Federal procurement by 2050, net-zero Federal operations by the same date, and a zero-emissions vehicle fleet by 2035. The Administration also released its Federal Sustainability Plan in December 2021, which provides a more detailed roadmap for Federal agencies and climate equity and justice. The White House claims that since the goals were set last year, energy use by Federal buildings and vehicles has dropped 32 percent, saving $11.8 billion.
At a briefing on the rule for industry associations yesterday, White House officials emphasized that the Biden Administration sees the proposed rule not only as a sustainability measure, but as a way to improve the efficiency of the supply chain, address financial risks and ensure good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
A link to submit comments regarding the proposed rule will be provided when the rule is published on Monday. The comment period ends on January 13, 2023.
The Coalition plans to submit comments regarding the proposed rule through its Green Committee. For those interested in contributing to the development of the comments, please email Aubrey Woolley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join the Coalition’s OASIS+ Working Group
As GSA works towards the release of a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) for the OASIS+ Multi Agency Contract, the Coalition is forming an OASIS+ Working Group to respond to the RFP and engage with GSA on the procurement vehicle. In addition, the Coalition plans to schedule a meeting with GSA on OASIS+ after the Fall Training Conference. (The Fall Training Conference will take place on November 16-17.) If you are interested in joining the OASIS+ Working Group, please contact Joseph Snyderwine at email@example.com.
VA CIO Describes Vision for Digital Transformation
In an op-ed for NextGov, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Chief Information Officer Kurt DelBene described how the Office of Information and Technology (OIT) plans to carry out a “digital transformation” of the agency. Basing his remarks on the “vision for digital transformation” the VA released in October, DelBene emphasized that OIT’s approach to improving VA IT requires addressing two concerns. On the one hand, the VA must “get back to basics” by appropriately planning and funding requirements so that it can overcome major engineering, maintenance, support and security problems. These issues are especially important to key systems like the VA Electronic Healthcare Records system and its financial management system. At the same time, however, the VA cannot lose sight of key outcomes like customer experience and diversity and inclusion.
To balance competing concerns, DelBene described “four cornerstones” of OIT’s plan for the digital transformation. First, OIT will focus on vision-driven execution. Rather than executing on short-term assignments, teams will follow long-term roadmaps that are connected to VA’s vision and strategic plans. OIT’s key benchmarks for its work will be “operational excellence” and a “delightful end-user experience,” mirroring the VA’s two fundamental concerns for its systems. Finally, DelBene said that OIT will achieve “people excellence” by providing a workforce development program, creating career pathways and finding and retaining top talent.
GSA Administrator Makes Commitment to Green Infrastructure
In her keynote address at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, Administrator Robin Carnahan announced that GSA will not use funds from the Inflation Reduction Act to install any fossil fuel-based equipment. Carnahan highlighted the importance of using the funds to achieve the Biden Administration’s goals for net-zero emissions in Federal operations by 2050 and a net-zero buildings portfolio by 2045. The act provides $2.15 billion for low-embodied carbon materials in construction, $975 million for supporting sustainable technologies, and $250 million for converting existing Federal facilities into High Performance Green Buildings.
GSA Releases Beta Version of Updated USA.gov
FCW reported that GSA recently released new beta versions of USA.gov and USA.gov en Español. The sites are being redesigned to serve as a new “front door” for the Federal government which will allow the public to access all Federal programs and services in one location. During the design process, GSA took a “life experience” driven approach that focuses on designing around users’ needs and reasons for visiting the site. One example of this approach, provided by Leilani Martínez, acting director of the public experience portfolio at GSA, is the benefit finder, where an updated version of the tool has been released to support those, like surviving military spouses, seeking government assistance after losing a loved one. In addition to other life experience tools, Martinez stated that the site will be rolling out a new homepage to highlight the “life experience” framework. Martinez stated that beta testing will continue for the next six months.
The Gap Widens Between COFC and GAO on Late is Late Rule
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.
By Anne Perry & Lauren Weiss, SheppardMullin
We all know that failure to submit your bid proposal on time typically results in rejection. And the list of exceptions to this “late is late” rule is very short, providing only four notable exceptions: (1) an offeror has acceptable evidence of government control of a proposal; (2) an offeror can establish a systemic failure of government procedures resulting in multiple instances of lost information; (3) if electronically submitted, a proposal was received by government infrastructure by 5:00 p.m. one working day prior to the proposal submission date; and (4) if there is only one offeror. But what if you submitted your proposal on time and the agency’s server rejects the submission without bothering to inform you? And what if the basis for rejection was an undisclosed limitation within a server on email size? Does such delay qualify as an exception to the “late is late” rule? The answer depends on which forum you ask.
According to the GAO in Ace Electronics Defense Systems, LLC, B-420863, September 2, 2022, the offeror is at fault and the proposal is properly rejected. However, according to the Court of Federal Claims in eSimplicity, Inc. v. United States, No. 22-543C, Oct 13, 2022, the government is at fault for not informing the offeror of the limitation.
In Ace Electronics, a Department of the Navy, Naval Surface Warfare solicitation instructed offerors to submit their proposals electronically directly to the email accounts of the contracting officer and contract specialist. The protester did so for its initial proposal and the agency included the protester in the competitive range. Final Proposal Revisions (FPRs) also were required to be submitted directly to the contracting officer and contract specialist’s email accounts.
It was undisputed that the protester complied with the directions and electronically submitted its FPR to the contracting officer and contract specialist prior to the time set for receipt of FPRs. However, emails sent within the Navy’s email system first are routed to an Enterprise Email Security Gateway for screening. If the email passes screening, it then proceeds to a Navy-specific security screening gateway, and then to the Navy’s server (called FlankSpeed) specialist. The FlankSpeed server has a file size limitation of 30MB for email from external sources; blocking all emails that exceed this limit. The protester was unaware of this size limitation as it was not disclosed in the solicitation or otherwise. Because the protester’s FPR was 31.58MB, the FlankSpeed server rejected the email and thus did not deliver it to the contracting officer and contract specialist. There also was no indication that the protester was timely notified of this rejection.
The protester argued that it timely submitted its proposal in accordance with the solicitation’s instructions, the Navy thus had received the proposal in a timely manner, and an offeror cannot reasonably be held to be “responsible for the inner workings of government communications.” But the GAO disagreed.
GAO reasoned that the email, though technically within the Navy’s system in a timely manner, never made it to the email boxes designated in the solicitation, and so were not technically “received.” The GAO was unfazed by the fact that the solicitation never disclosed there was a size limitation for the email server. Rather, the GAO found the offeror was nonetheless responsible for ensuring that the email was received. As a result, the GAO held the Navy was within its rights to exclude the protester’s proposal as late.
Compare GAO’s holding with the Court of Federal Claims decision in eSimplicity. In eSimplicity, a Navy solicitation required that proposals be submitted by email and included instructions about proposal formatting, but did not include information on maximum file size. The protester emailed its proposal before the deadline in accordance with these instructions, but did not receive a confirmation of receipt or delivery failure notice. Like in Ace Electronics, a forensic investigation showed that the protester’s email timely reached a Department of Defense server, but was bounced back by the Navy server because it exceeded the maximum file size. The Navy rejected the proposal as late.
In contrast to the GAO’s ruling, the Court of Federal Claims found the Navy erroneously rejected the protester’s proposal simply because of file size. In a novel approach, the Court held the Navy ultimately applied unstated evaluation criteria in doing so, because there was nothing in the solicitation that indicated a file size limitation.
In its analysis, the Court of Federal Claims also discussed divergent opinions on the government control exception outlined in FAR 52.215(1)(c)(3), finding that the government control exception can apply to electronically submitted proposals. The Court contemplates that reaching the initial government server may satisfy the government control exception, but remanded to the Navy to make that determination.
GAO’s decision leaves open some interesting questions. For example, how is an offeror supposed to confirm receipt of a proposal unless it is incumbent upon the agency to do so? If the burden is on an offeror to confirm receipt of a proposal, how much time does an offeror have to seek agency confirmation? And what if the agency fails to provide confirmation of receipt or rejection? If agencies are not obligated to disclose the full requirements and limitations for submission of electronic proposals, then from where does the obligation to confirm receipt arise? Further, is the absence of the identification of the server limitations in a solicitation calling for electronic proposal submission a solicitation defect that needs to be protested prior to the time set for receipt of proposals? The answers to these questions remain to be seen.
The moral of this story is that in submitting proposals, the devil is in the details – even when the agency does not share those details. Companies should be sure to review the proposal submission directions in the solicitation to ensure they are complete and identify any possible limitations – particularly if electronic submission is required.
Further when choosing a venue for protest challenges of alleged late electronic submissions, the Court of Federal Claims likely is a more hospitable venue.
Submit Your Questions for Fall Conference Healthcare Sessions
The Coalition is looking forward to seeing you next week at the Fall Training Conference – Expectations for Government Fiscal Year 2023 on November 16-17. We encourage you to check out the agendas and register for the conference here. We are fortunate to have representation from the VA, DHA, DLA, and HHS present to provide the latest updates on healthcare related policies and programs.
Our Government speakers are very interested in covering the topics and questions that are of most interest to our members. Please submit any questions/topics you have for the following healthcare panels to Michael Hanafin at firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday, November 15 at 3 pm EST.
Expectations for the VA NAC
Bob Satterfield, Chief, Services Team, FSS, VA
Deborah Zuckswerth, Chief of Med Surg B, FSS, VA
Expectations for the DLA Medical/Surgical Prime Vendor (MSPV) Program and ECAT
Moderator: Karol Ann Sharp, AvKARE
Dan Keefe, Director, Supply Operations, Medical, DLA
Bill Dulin, Division Chief, ECAT Lab, Dental and Optical Programs, DLA
Brian Mason, ECAT Medical/Surgical IST Chief, DLA
Moderator: Eamon Lawlor, Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Systems, Inc.
Christopher Parker, Associate Executive Director, SAC, VA
SAC Contracting programs TBD
Expectations for the VA Medical/Surgical Prime Vendor Program
Moderator: Tammy Anderson, BD
Katie Hulse, Director, Acquisition Services 3 (supporting Medical/Surgical Prime Vendor Distribution), SAC, VA
Nate Bradley, Contracting Officer, MSPV Accounts Receivable Reconciliation, SAC, VA
Mike Easley, Deputy Program Manager, Medical Supply Program Office Commodities, VHA
Craig Hilliard, Division Chief, MSPV Supply BPAs, VHA Procurement
Ashley Nguyen, Contracting Officer, MSPV-Generation Z, Strategic Acquisition Center/Acquisition Services 3, VA
Expectations for DHA Pharmaceuticals
Moderator: J’Aime Conrod, Horizon Therapeutics
Dr. Julia Trang, Strategic Sourcing Pharmacist/Industry Technical Liaison, DHA
Thank you in advance for your questions and participation in another great Fall Conference!
The following blog does not necessarily represent the views of the Coalition for Government Procurement.
Government, you have the authority to deal with inflation – use it!
By Aaron Wasserman, SAP
Inflation seems to be held in a category all to itself recently in terms of intractable factors that impact the cost or price of federal procurement. Why is this? What makes it uniquely vexing when compared to other factors driving cost and price? In reality, nothing.
We are currently experiencing a steep rise in prices that has impacted the government and industrial base across large segments of the economy. However, this is not new. The U.S. economy has experienced inflation several times before. Moreover, the regulations for writing and administering contracts have for decades included mechanisms to account for instability in pricing, such as economic price adjustment clauses.
Despite years of experience dealing with past inflationary periods, there does not seem to be an accepted path forward for dealing with the latest round of inflation. Industry has great concerns executing existing contracts and negotiating new ones. The executive branch has responded with an array of feedback ranging from making it easier to utilize economic price adjustment clauses to utilizing a special authority. Congress is exploring the merits of authorizing new flexibility or additional funding.
While beneficial, these actions overlook one fundamental truth; inflation does not suspend existing authorities or available options for acquisition professionals to solicit, award, and administer contracts. What makes inflation different from other acquisition challenges is that it impacts programs across the board. However, this macroeconomic phenomenon does not limit the microeconomic options of the acquisition team. Contracting officers retain all existing authority and program managers must still balance requirements, cost, and schedule.
Despite its rigidity, federal acquisition law and regulation offers immense discretion to satisfy the underlying requirement. The ability to exercise this discretion is the path forward to deal with inflation. For example, prior to contract award, acquisition professionals must be given the freedom to scope a requirement based on relevant market trends to make realistic economic assumptions and determine the length a contract. During contract performance, contracting officers—with the advice of the program office and legal counsel— should consider what constitutes an in- or out-of-scope change when considering modifications, and whether a contract should be maintained if it significantly hurts the viability of the contractor.
Like all other challenges in federal procurement, the acquisition workforce is our most effective tool to dealing with inflation. Its strength lies in its ability to think critically and determine what steps to take in a variety of circumstances. Government acquisition executives need to provide the acquisition workforce room to use their skills, accept risk, and make the best out of the existing available tools within existing authority.
DoD Considering New Catalog Data Standard
Last Friday, DoD published a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register announcing that it is developing a new data standard for catalogs to help capture commercial pricing data. The draft Catalog Data Standard (CDS), based on the American National Standard X12 832 Price/Sales Catalog, would create a single, XML-based format for contractors to submit their catalog offerings to DoD and keep them up to date.
DoD anticipates that CDS would ease identifying identical products across suppliers — currently a major challenge for the 95 percent of DoD items not assigned a National Stock Number – and improve price comparison for purchasers. It would also reduce quoting, ensure data uniformity, improve supply-chain security, and allow DoD to track pricing over time.
Comments on technical aspects of the CDS and its potential use in procurements are due by January 3, 2023. DoD will be holding a public meeting to gather private-sector feedback on December 6 from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. Those wishing to register should email their full name, email address, telephone number, and organization name to email@example.com by November 22.
VA Prioritizes PACT Act Benefits for Veterans with Cancer
In a press release published on Wednesday, the VA announced that it will prioritize processing cancer-related benefits claims made under the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. Signed by President Biden in August, the PACT Act creates a presumption of service connection for more than 20 medical conditions connected to burn pits (a waste disposal method known to produce toxic compounds) or other toxic exposures, including respiratory and radiation-related illnesses in addition to cancer. Under the act, Vietnam, Gulf-War, and post-9/11-era veterans suffering from toxic-exposure conditions can claim up to $4,000 in compensation. The act also expands VA healthcare enrollment eligibility for some groups of Veterans.
Commenting on the prioritization of cancer in processing the claims, Secretary Denis McDonough said the measure was necessary because “veterans living with cancer are at particular risk.” The VA plans to begin processing PACT claims starting on January 1, 2023, and payments are set to start in the spring. Officials have warned, however, that a high case load—more than 113,000 veterans have filed claims so far—may cause a processing backlog.
GSA Announces New Version of SIP Software
GSA announced via its Interact blog that a new version (9.0) of the Schedule Input Program (SIP), used by GSA Schedule contractors to add catalogs to the GSA Advantage! marketplace, is now available. Although the notice does not specify a date, it warns that submissions from older SIP versions will no longer be accepted “in the near future.” For instructions on upgrading and to download the software, click here.