COVID-19 actually helped small businesses do business

Due to the pandemic, the federal government has expanded remote network access to assist a dispersed workforce. This in turn has motivated reforms to the procurement system.

According to Roya Konzman, acting division director for solutions development at General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), “suddenly there was a need for new hardware, software and network access security, so we advised our Small Business Administration, Department of Veteran Affairs and Social Security Administration on their procurement strategies. GSA empowered its contracting officers to expand its rated orders authority. These orders are issued in accordance with the defense priorities and allocation system, and rated orders applied to IT capabilities included teleworking and health care solutions such as VPN accounts, virtual desktop infrastructure solutions, laptops, and mobile devices, and also covered personal protective equipment such as medical products hand sanitizers and disposable gloves.” (GovernmentCIO Media & Research April 6, 2021)

A national emergency allows the use of rated order authority. It authorizes GSA to prioritize a solicitation on behalf of an agency to buy goods and services. If a contractor receives a rated order, the contractor must prioritize that order ahead of other orders in the queue. (ibid)

There were so many rated orders issued to large contractors that individual suppliers often had a hard time meeting demands within the allotted timeframe. The result was federal agencies looked to enlarge their contracting base to include specialized smaller and mid-sized contractors. (ibid)

Because smaller firms do not have the “red tape’ that larger firms have, they can often change directions quickly. This makes smaller firms extremely valuable during times of national crisis. (ibid)

The federal government invested in video conferencing software and remote connectivity during the pandemic. This affords vendors the opportunity to demonstrate their products to various procurement offices. Additionally, agencies can quickly evaluate a large range of potential contractors. Which helps potential contractors who might have otherwise been overshadowed by larger vendors with preexisting relationships. (ibid)

Do you have a specialized product that the federal government needs? Give us a call.

 

Higher federal procurement standards for IT providers – Are you ready?

The White House is spearheading an interagency endeavor concentrating on software development that will determine federal procurement of information technology (IT). In the coming weeks, vendors can expect to see new IT security standards, governmentwide. This comes after many tech companies complained that the effort under the Trump administration limited the import of information and communications technology from “foreign adversaries.” While leaving the definition of the term “foreign adversary” up to the Commerce Secretary. In addition, the rule as it stands today is broad and raises concerns over due process.

The SolarWinds breach will ultimately raise the bar on vendor security, banning tech from many countries, not just China. It also focuses on vendors and the possibility of vulnerability disclosure policies that encourage reporting weaknesses in their products. Ultimately, vendors providing IT products and services to federal agencies must have the proper level of cybersecurity in place.

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Acting Director Brandon Wales said agencies are working together to ensure consistency in the government’s approach to supply chain security across the Commerce Department rule, an executive order aimed at removing foreign adversaries from the bulk power sector. Wales also said, “the administration is counting on higher federal procurement standards to elevate security across the private sector as well.”

Are your IT products compliant? Give us a call.

 

 

Relax a Little – Expiring SAM Deadline Extended

GSA just announced a 180-day extension for organizations with expiring SAM website registrations. Those with registrations expiring between April 1 and September 30, 2021, will automatically be granted an extension. The extension is an effort to alleviate some of the burden during the implementation of the American Rescue Plan Act. (GSA Interact March 29, 2021)

GSA will send an email from samadmin@sam.gov with the subject line “180-Day SAM.gov Extension Granted for [Entity Name/DUNS/CAGE]” to those affected. The extension will not affect first-time registrants. The updated records will be stored within entity management extracts in SAM.gov and available through web services after the records are extended. (ibid)

Need help with your registration? Give us a call.

New ‘Made in America’ EO

On 25 January, President Biden issued a “Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers” executive order. (Government Executive, February 24, 2021)

Before the executive order takes effect:

  • New rules mandating the executive order must go through the formal rule-making process
  • Within 180 days, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council should consider replacing the “component test” (50 percent of a product’s cost must have a domestic origin)
  • The threshold for domestic content requirements for construction materials and end products will be increased, as well price preferences for domestic construction materials and end products

The order directs the FAR Council to assess exceptions from the Act for commercial information technology (IT). Recommendations will likely influence solution strategies. A Made in America office within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will be created, which will review waivers to purchase goods from outside the United States. Additionally, the Order mandates a list of actions to be performed within 45 days of the office director’s appointment. (ibid)

Biden’s EO also proposes that GSA create a public website for proposed waivers. Justification for all waivers will be publicly available, giving competitors the ability to weigh-in on waiver requests, likely diminishing the issuance of waivers. Contractors should consider this when determining their sourcing approach. (ibid)

Questions concerning your current as well as future government contracts and how the new order will affect them? Give us a call.

GSA Industry Webinar

GSA Federal Acquisition Services (FAS) is hosting an industry webinar on 24 March via Google Meet and focusing on contract holders of two Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) categories, MAS Travel and MAS Transportation and Logistics Services. These categories were formerly on Schedules 48 and 599, respectively. (GSA Interact, February 19, 2021)

The webinar will highlight the following:

  • GSA Advantage! price lists guidance
  • Required documentation when exercising an option period
  • Responses to vendor questions submitted in advance (ibid)

The deadline for questions and comments is 3:00 PM (ET) Monday, March 1, 2021. Questions must be submitted by email to onthego@gsa.vog with the subject line “MAS TTL March 2021 Quarterly Webinar Question” along with your contract number. Copies should go to lily.thompson@gsa.gov and jeanette.quitoriano@gsa.gov. (ibid)

The meeting will begin promptly at 2:00 PM (ET) with the following meeting id: https://meet.google.com/gwu-jgtq-ism.

Questions concerning MAS changes and updates and how they might affect your current contract or upcoming bid? Give us a call.