STARS in Your Eyes?

After spending more than $1.6 billion on STARS 2 in 2018, GSA is constructing the third version of the 8(a) government-wide Streamlined Technology Acquisition Resource for services or better known as STARS. The third draft solicitation focuses on IT services. Those services include:

  • Software Development
  • Software Maintenance
  • Emerging Technology such as artificial intelligence (AI)

STARS 3 will be an eight-year contract, with a $20 billion ceiling. All responses to the draft RFP are due September 6, 2019. (Federal News Network, August 12, 2019)

Have questions concerning the STARS 3 draft RFP? Give us a call.

Setting Aside the Small Biz Set Asides

The National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) is moving from the Office of Personnel Management to the Department of Defense (DoD), merging with the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA). Of interest to many of EZGSA clients, sources say the move anticipates plans to significantly diminish small business goals at the agency from 65 percent to 10 percent, according to Elizabeth Mudd, small business program manager. (Defense Systems, August 7, 2019)

Mudd believes that the whopping decline in small business goals intends to promote more subcontracting to supplement the four primes that oversee background investigation services. While this may be true, the bottom lines remains that in this fiscal year, NBIB is contributing about $804 million in small business eligible dollars compared to DCSA’s $73.4 million. (ibid)  Maybe the merger won’t actually change the dollar amount contracted with small businesses in the long run, but we’re not holding our breath.

Want to gripe or discuss strategy? We’re here.

FOIA FOIA FOIA

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests keep growing. A lot. In order to keep up, the Chief FOIA Officers Council’s technology subcommittee recommends adding commercial, FOIA, and records management software to GSA’s Schedule program. (Federal News Network, August 2019)

According to Michael Sarich, the Veterans Health Administrations’ FOIA director and subcommittee co-chair, functionality and pricing for similar off-the-shelf FOIA software varies a great deal. He believes agencies may be experiencing difficulty implementing technological improvements in large part due to the exhaustive number of systems available. Eric Stein, director of the State Department’s Office of Information Programs and the subcommittee’s other co-chair, said the subcommittee’s final report will review ways agencies can standardize redaction and case processing tools. (ibid)

The subcommittee views their recommendations as the first step for greater adoption of artificial intelligence tools. They expect these tools will become a “force multiplier” and allow the FOIA workforce to reduce case backlog requests. (ibid)

With over 800,000 FOIA requests in fiscal 2018 and only 4,500 FOIA officers to manage the requests, each FOIA officer holds responsibility for 200 FOIA requests per year. On top of that, FOIA fees cover only 1 percent of the half-billion dollars that agencies spent in 2016 processing FOIA requests, and the number of requests increases each year. (ibid)

The Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy continues to work on new FOIA guidance, as well. A June Supreme Court decision redefines the scope of information available under FOIA. Most important to private industry is the financial data piece: financial data shared with the government will not be subject to FOIA requests under the new guidelines. (ibid)

Trying to figure out exactly what the government can share from your recent bid? Give us a call.

Reforming the Reformers

Over the next few years, GSA will institute approximately 25 reforms to improve the federal marketplace, with a goal of easing the buying and selling process for all involved. (Federal Times, July 24, 2019)

Alan Thomas, the commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, has named the following four initiatives as ‘cornerstones,’ bound to the success of the other ‘stones’ around them:

  1. Developing an enterprise-wide contract writing system — provides the contracting workforce “a single, core system that stores all of our data and has a set of common business processes”
  2. Managing catalog data — changing how industry systems and processes are represented to buying agencies
  3. Consolidating the Multiple Award Schedule program — occurring as we write, the current 24 multiple award schedules are merging into a single Schedule.
  4. Instituting a commercial platform initiative — an online buying platform, much like Amazon, which will allow government purchasers to order products without a contracting process. (ibid)

Many other reforms will go into effect over time. Additionally, GSA is working to make smaller improvements that make contractors and customer agencies more aware of available tools. These tools should simplify the contracting process. (ibid)

Have questions about the reforms and how they will affect the current procurement process? Give us a call.

Guard Sale ;-(

If you’re experiencing difficulty with the crazy, required mass mod GSA just released for the Schedule 84 guard services SINs, we wanted you to know that we’re here to help! Didn’t know about the mod? Here are some of the more important details:
  • GSA is calling this a Terms and Conditions mod, but it’s really much much more. In some cases, it will involve a completely new pricelist.
  • The mass mod was released at the end of June; you have until 31 August to accept it, and 30 September to upload your new pricelist (meaning all changes must have been approved at least a week prior to that) to remain in contract compliance.
  • Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) no longer hold precedence on pricing.
  • You will need to use the new, beta-version SAM website to obtain your Service Contract Act (SCA) pricing.
  • Contractors must use market pricing only (no more Commercial Pricelists), based on SCA.
  • Your Most Favored Customer (MFC) will now be based on the highest percentage of sales to a customer type (federal, state/local, commercial, etc.).
Yes, this is a big, bad mod. EZGSA is on top of it, and ready and willing to assist you in keeping your GSA Schedule compliant. Just give us a call at 301-913-5000, or email us at mbotello@ezgsa.com, so we can get right to work for you.