Seeing STARS

The 8(a) STARS II contract has roughly 800 small business contractors that furnish custom IT services-based solutions tailored to meet government agency needs. STARS III contract will soon replace the current STARS II contract, with a higher dollar threshold and customized IT solutions. (Federal Computer Week, August 21, 2020)

Over the life of 8(a) STARS II, GSA has repeatedly raised the ceiling to meet federal agency needs and to support their small business contracting objectives. In April of this year the contract reached a $15 billion ceiling and by the end of July is was at $22 billion. In an effort to meet growing government agency needs, the 8(a) STARS III contract will accommodate more bidders with a $50 billion ceiling. 8(a) STARS III focuses on new technologies as well as meeting the needs of federal agencies outside the continental U.S.

According to Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel at the Professional Services Counsel, “rules have changed a lot over the years, the current contract vehicle, dating back to 2011 is kind of clunky and not as nimble as newer contracts. The new contract will help GSA fine new technology companies as well as requalify existing companies.” (ibid)

Questions about the 8(a) STARS III contract and if you currently do business under 8(a) STARS II how you will requalify? Give us a call.

Paying for COVID Absences

DoD has been steadily compensating contractors for work they are not able to complete due to the pandemic. According to Ellen Lord, chief acquisition chief for the Pentagon, payments are about to speed up. (Federal News Network, August 14, 2020)

Lord explained, “We have developed a streamlined path forward for low dollar value reimbursements under $2 million, and a path to settle globally at a company or division level that will eliminate the need to have proposals and negotiations on the contract-by-contract basis.”  DoD plans to make payments based on a tiered structure, depending on the size of the payments.

Questions about getting paid during the pandemic, or if you will get paid? Give us a call.

Update Update Update!

On 17 October 2020, the contract data reports function in FPDS.gov will retire. The reports function is moving to beta.SAM.gov. GSA highly recommends that all users become familiar with contract data reports in beta.SAM.gov as the move on 17 October is permanent. (GSA Interact, August 3, 2020)

Currently, reports are available in both places in an effort to ease into the change. GSA suggests that new users acclimate themselves through the following user guides and video:

  • Static Reports Reference Guide
  • Standard Reports Reference Guide
  • Ad Hoc Reports Reference Guide
  • Standard, Static, and Admin Reports Video Basic Ad Hoc Reports Video

Experienced users may find these resources helpful:

  • Contract Data Reports Before and After Transition from FPDS.gov to beta.SAM.gov
  • Quick Start Guide for Static, Standard, and Administrative Reports
  • Quick Start Guide for Ad Hoc Reports (ibid)

Feedback will be used to determine time frames and functionality, giving stakeholders a voice in beta.SAM.gov outcomes. One example is the search capability to assist in finding more applicable search results. Multiple words or phrases may be searched and beta.SAM.gov will prioritize the search by relevance. Use the feedback button in beta.SAM.gov to give GSA your thoughts on the reports function. (ibid)

Have questions about the new functionality of beta.SAM.gov? Give us a call.

Practical Applications on the Chinese Tech Ban

On 23 July, the Defense Department released a memo explaining requirements for companies and contractors when the ban of telecommunications equipment made by Huawei and other China-based companies goes into effect. (Federal Computer Week, July 27, 2020)

Beginning 13 August, no contracts will be issued or extended to contractors using technologies or services and equipment made by Hikvision, ZTE or those listed in section 889(a)(1)(B) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019. Any contract, task/delivery order, and off-the-shelf items purchased after 13 August must include language invoking regulation for the ban. Additionally, indefinite delivery contracts are required to be modified. (ibid)

There is a waiver process, however, pursuable by agencies. According to Alan Dhvotkin PSC executive vice president and counsel, the waiver “will most likely begin with issues identified by the telecommunications provider to its federal agency customer. The federal agency then asks for an ODNI review, which will conduct a risk assessment.” A granted waiver lasts two years and may be requested at any time. (Federal Computer Week, July 22, 2020)

Have questions or need a waiver? Give us a call.

 

What Brand is Your Telcom and Video?

Section 889 of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act was passed to fight national security and intellectual property threats to the United States.  The legislation includes two prohibitions Part A and Part B. (GSA Section 889 Industry Focused Flyer, GSA.gov, July 16, 2020)

Part A, which became effective on August 13, 2019 bans telecommunications/video surveillance equipment made by the following companies:

  • Huawei Technologies Company
  • ZTE Corporation
  • Hytera Communications Corporation
  • Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company
  • Dahua Technology Company

Part A can be found in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) at FAR subpart 2.1.

Part B, effective 13 August 2020, prohibits the government from contracting with any organization that uses equipment or services of any of the companies listed under Part A. Part B applies, whether or not that usage is in performance of work under a Federal contract. In other words, if you use any of the banned companies in the fulfillment of a  non-government contract, you will be prohibited from working with the government. All contractors must verify whether they do or do not use prohibited telecommunications/video surveillance equipment or services. Part B has been added to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) at FAR subpart 4.21. (ibid)

GSA recommends companies to complete an in-depth review of all in-house technology to rule out using banned companies in Part A . If prohibited equipment or services are being used, companies that wish to continue doing business with the government must eliminate them. GSA does not take responsibility for changes contractors make, unless done so by a modification to a current contract.

However, two possible waiver procedures with extremely high standards are available. This is to ensure waivers are not used to get “around” the prohibitions.

GSA is modifying all solicitations, Indefinite Delivery Vehicles (IDVs), GWACs, and other IDIQ contracts, to include Section 889 Part B requirements immediately. These requirements will be added to GSA’s existing non-IDV contracts as those contracts have their periods of performance extended.

GSA is hosting the following events so that industry may obtain additional guidance:

  1. The GSA Office of Small Business Utilization webinar on Section 889, July 30, 2020, 2:00 p.m. EST, registration may be found here.
  2. GSA recorded virtual webinar August 12, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. EST, registration forthcoming. This webinar will include leaders from GSA’s business lines explaining how they are implementing Section 889 into their business lines and panelists will answer pre-collected questions. (Questions may be sent to gsaombudsman@gsa.gov to arrive by COB August 5, 2020.) (ibid)

GSA recommends that vendors study the tools and publications to aid their understanding and compliance, as provided in Acquisition.gov.

Not certain if your contract is affected by Section 889 Part B and if so, what you can do? Give us a call.