GSA’s Guide to Non-Christmas Shopping

GSA is starting small with its commercially-operated online purchasing portals, with a pilot scheduled by the end of 2019.

Initially, only commercial products/services below the government’s micro-purchase limit will be offered. But the threshold of $10,000 differs from the $250,000 Congressional limit put into place at the time the e-commerce experiment was ordered, which allows GSA to sidestep policy requirements such as the Buy American Act and the Trade Agreements Act. We aren’t certain how these will apply to the new e-commerce portal, as purchases below the $10,000 threshold are already exempt from a wide variety of procurement laws. GSA wants the portals to show agency buyers the vendor’s business size and qualification as a preferred supplier in other categories. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018)

There is a current gap between what the government procures through open market procurement  (often via a purchase card) and what the government knows it buys for commercial items. GSA intends that the centrally managed and monitored portal will assist the government in determining the products agencies are purchasing and introducing into the federal supply chain. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018)

The draft terms and conditions seem to deviate substantially from the FAR, and are a little “gray,” so we need to wait and see how this turns out. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018) We all know that our Ts and Cs are of the utmost importance to government auditors and regulatory compliance. Other important questions include:

  • why would agencies use the new e-commerce platform when they can get good commercial item prices via GSA Schedules and the Advantage portal?
  • will the new e-commerce portal actually save the Government money?

This nifty e-commerce pilot portal will help determine the answer to these questions. Do you have a question about the e-commerce portal or GSA Schedules? Give us a call at 301-913-5000: we are here to help.

 

 

Government Grinch

All government contractors should be aware of procedures in the event that our federal system shuts down at midnight tonight. GSA sent the following in an email earlier today:

In the event of a Government shutdown Friday night after 11:59pm, GSS acquisition will continue to process orders and will remain open during the Government Shutdown in the near term.

However, Government personnel responsible for receiving delivery or performing inspections at many agencies* may not be available during the period of the funding gap.  The Federal Government is closed Monday, December 24, and Tuesday, December 25th, regardless of whether there is a shutdown. Please review the contingency plans of government agencies posted here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/information-for-agencies/agency-contingency-plans/

Since the status of agency personnel remains uncertain, we advise you to call ahead to confirm that government personnel are available to accept deliveries.  The Government will not be liable for any costs you may incur if you attempt delivery during the period of the funding gap (shutdown). If, after reviewing the affected agencies at the website above, you are still unsure of imminent delivery schedule success, please contact your customer agency for further instructions before attempting delivery during this timeframe.

*Agencies impacted in a potential shutdown include the Departments of Homeland Security, Agriculture, Interior, Treasury, State, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Commerce, and Justice.

Agencies where funding for FY19 has already been passed, and therefore not affected by a shutdown, include the Departments of Defense, Labor, Energy, Health and Human Services, Education, Veterans Affairs and the legislative branch.

If you’re worried about something in particular, give us a call at 301-913-5000. We will be working sporadically next week, but are always available for your emergencies.

You Get What You Pay For

The Commerce Department is succeeding in an area where most other agencies have failed: the shared services arena. Glen Davidson, the former executive director of enterprise services at Commerce, who led the shared service’s effort said, “the initiative is saving millions of dollars, providing better services and setting Commerce up of for future successes.”(Miller, J., Federal News Network December 10, 2018)

According to Davidson, Commerce may have paid less in the past, but the quality of services was substandard. He felt that poor quality and lack of timeliness likely impeded the mission. Davidson believes the impact of shared services is clear particularly around IT services.

Rod Turk, the acting Commerce chief information officer, gave a great example of how shared services work.  He recently shared how something as simple as taking printers off of employees desks and moving to a centralized and secure approach reduced costs for printing and maintenance of the printers. According to Turk, the next big effort will be around IT shared services for identity credentialing and access management (ICAM).

Davidson explained why Commerce has been so successful with shared services

•A long view of the effort was taken. It was a crawl-walk-run scenario.

•Data was painstakingly collected The data set a true baseline of current costs, as in the example above, for printers.

•It was understood that it would take money to save money.

Davidson looked well beyond the cost for labor. He said, “Most people look at labor costs. But I go beyond that and look at the costs of the building, electricity, the operations, and maintenance of the technology platform and other things so I could determine total costs. There is a lot of information that currently exists in the systems that we have, but you have to go and find it. No one even knew exactly how many people were employed at Commerce. My standup costs came from Commerce’s working capital fund that is largely made up of contributions from all the bureaus in order to fund my stand up costs. I was under a great deal of scrutiny because any dollar I received meant another organization was receiving less.” (Miller, J., Federal News Network December 10, 2018)

Commerce has built a one-stop portal so that actions, including acquisition, can be accomplished via an online request. Davidson said Commerce will deliver acquisition services for its eight smallest bureaus of the Office of Secretary, mainly around commodity products and services.

Davidson said, “we can continue to deliver IT services in a more consolidated way. We will look at grants management services too. The list of possibilities is endless.” (Miller, J., Federal News Network December 10, 2018)

The current administration will use Commerce’s success as a model for other agencies.

Questions about shared services? Give us a call at 301-913-5000.

There’s an App for That!

The Per Diem mobile app shows travelers the Federal Government per diem rate by city and zip code for US states and territories. GSA’s per diem rates are the daily allowance for lodging, meals and incidental expenses (excluding taxes).

The Department of State sets rates for foreign locations.

For Apple users, the app is available on the App Store, for Google users, the app is available on Google Play.

Give us a call at 301-913-5000 if you have questions about the app or per diem rates.

New Year Will Bring DEOS, an $8 Billion Contract

DoD and GSA are finishing up the Defense Enterprise Office Solution (DEOS) RFQ, expected in February. Contract award for the $8 billion cloud contract is expected in April. DEOS will replace the Defense Enterprise Email Service run by DISA and used mainly by the Army.

Hassan Harris, DEOS contracting officer, said the final acquisition strategy has yet to be determined. Once it is, everything will move quickly.

Under DEOS, DoD plans to consolidate and upgrade all of its desktop and collaboration services into the commercial cloud. DISA recently partnered with GSA to move DEOS from a standalone contract to one that may come under Schedule 70. (It remains unclear whether DEOS will be a single or multiple awards.)

Margie Graves, federal deputy CIO, said OMB is encouraging agencies to develop an IT modernization roadmap for back-office, command-and-control, and mission space capabilities. She believes a demand signal and clear message is being sent to industry regarding DoD’s, GSA’s and OMB’s commitment to maximizing buying power for all of the federal government and ensures that the government and DoD receive the best market offerings at the best price. She also noted DoD’s experiences with DEOS will give civilian agencies the ability to adopt cloud email and collaboration tools more quickly.

GSA and DoD continue to ask for industry feedback and comments on the best way to approach DEOS. DoD expects a phased implementation with approximately 200,000 users initially, on an unclassified network.

Want to talk about DEOS? Give us a call at 301-913-5000.