Emergency Relief for GSA Schedule Holders

GSA is instituting a 60-day extension to SAM.gov registrations with an expiration date between March 19 and May 17, 2020, to provide relief for those required to re-register during this time frame. (GSA Interact, March 24, 2020)

For example, if your entity registration is set to expire on April 1, 2020, you are granted an automatic extension to May 31, 2020. No action is required, other than to get re-registered by your new extension due date. (ibid)

GSA plans to process the extensions gradually to lessen the impact on their interfacing systems. Therefore, the entity administrators who are affected by the extension will receive an email with the subject line: “60-day SAM.gov Extension Granted for [Entity Name/DUNS/CAGE]. (ibid)

Once the records are extended, the revised expiration dates will be included in the SAM entity management extracts. (ibid)

Unclear if you are one of the 61,298 entities impacted by the extension? Give us a call.

MAS Modification Guidance

GSA used industry feedback from over 90 current schedule holders and prospective contractors, who completed the MAS Modification Guidance RFI, to create the final MAS Modification Guidance. (GSA Interact, March 6, 2020)

Here’s a quick recap of the MAS Modification Guidance RFI findings:

  • Approximately 91% of participants find the guidance clear for various types of modifications
  • 93% agree the guidance will benefit industry.
  • Approximately 75% find the price proposal template instructions clear.
  • 60% feel the price proposal template will not add an additional burden. (ibid)

Based on industry feedback, the following guidance updates are now in effect:

  • Updates to the actual guidance document to improve the flow.
  • Addition of an Executive summary section describing what to expect after a modification submission.
  • Clarification of requirements. (ibid)

Industry feedback guided the following price proposal template changes:

  • Improved instructions for the Price Proposal Template.
  • A glossary was added.
  • Additional instructions for contractors with large catalogs.
  • Designed sample Price Proposal Templates including examples of different modification possibilities. (ibid)

Some commonly asked questions from the RFI:

  1. How do contractors participate in the Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) pilot? Contractors can opt to participate in TDR by submitting an eMod request. Please review the requirement for TDR on the Vendor Support Center carefully, as it is not possible to opt-out of TDR once you opt-in.
  2. Does a modification to participate in TDR need to be processed before a contractor can omit information related to the Basis of Award/Most Favored Customer (BOA/MFC) in the price proposal template/modification guidance? Yes.
  3. Does GSA intend to standardize the modification guidance according to North American Industry Specific Classification (NAICS) code and/or Special Item Number (SIN), or will the guidance be the same for all MAS contract holders? The MAS Modification Guidance will be the same for all MAS contract holders and will allow flexibility for Large Category, Subcategory, and SIN requirements.
  4. How is GSA ensuring consistent interpretation and application of MAS Modification Guidance by contracting personnel? Training will be ongoing for GSA’s internal workforce. GSA is looking to build consistency and continuously improve the modification process across the MAS program.
  5. Are contractors required to perform market research when submitting the Price Proposal Template (PPT)?  No, but may consider in order to be competitive.
  6. Which Contracting Officer/Contracting Specialist (CO/CS) will a contractor with multiple contracts work with? Contractors will work with the CO/CS assigned to each individual contract. (ibid)

GSA expects the conversation to be ongoing with industry partners and contractors through emails and various industry days. Changes and updates will continue as necessary.

Questions about the Price Proposal Templates or the recent Mass Mods? Give us a call.

Federal Supply Schedules: VA=GSA????

Earlier this year the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the report, “VA Acquisition Management: Steps Needed to Ensure Healthcare Federal Supply Schedules Remain Useful (GAO-20-132).” (Federal News Network, February 21, 2020)

The report dives into the non-pharmaceutical Federal Supply Schedules and lays out 11 recommendations, nine to the Department of Veterans Affairs and two to the General Services Administration (GSA). The report also outlines how the VA and GSA should address their contracting operations supporting veterans healthcare. (ibid)

For some background, the Veterans Administration manages nine healthcare-related Federal Supply Schedules (VA FSS) that provide medical devices as well as services. Included in the VA FSS are medical-surgical equipment, pharmaceuticals, patient mobility devices, laboratory testing, and analysis services. The VA FSS accounts for about $15.4 billion in annual purchases, the pharmaceutical schedule making up $12.6 billion, with the additional eight schedules coming in at about $2.8 billion. For the last four years, sales under the eight non-pharmaceutical schedules have been somewhat flat. (ibid)

It turns out that the VA and GSA have a few areas where they are lacking a “team” mentality. The GAO also finds there is limited guidance and training of the VA contracting staff and it seems the VA FSS and the VA’s Medical-Surgical Prime Vendor program are duplicating efforts. This means longer processing times for contract awards, contract mods and higher admin costs for the VA and industry as a whole. (ibid)

GAO recommends the following:

  1. The VA provide comprehensive FSS guidance and training to the FSS contracting staff
  2. The VA and GSA improve collaboration, including the potential use of GSA’s procurement tools to support the VA FSS
  3. The VA evaluate timeliness goals and barriers to achieving them in the contracting process
  4. The VA assess FSS and MSPV-NB duplication to resource utilization and leverage its buying power (ibid)

The Coalition’s “VA Multiple Award Schedule White Paper” gives recommendations to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the VA FSS. The recommendations are:

  • Recognize commercial practices when possible
  • Consistency with GSA/FSS policy
  • Streamline the evaluation processes
  • Reduce contracting costs for the government as well as industry (ibid)

The white paper goes on to make specific recommendations to align the VA’s price negotiations strategy with GSA’s approach. Additionally, the white paper touches on the use of GSA’s e-Offer and e0Mod systems to streamline the procurement process. As it turns out, the VA and GSA have very different approaches to contract audit support for their FSS programs. The white paper recommends the two align with GSA’s approach. (ibid)

Will there be more opportunities to work with the VA once their processes are synced up to GSAs? Give us a call.

Phase 2: Resistance is Futile

Although we covered this last month, it’s worth another review  as GSA moves to phase two of the MAS consolidation.

As you know, GSA is merging the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program contracts from 24 different schedules into one. Notices of changes to terms and conditions for current contract holders under the MAS program should be received by contract holders in the coming months.

The consolidated schedule makes it simpler for the government to make purchases and will roll out in three parts:

  1. Creation of a new contract vehicle for all future acquisitions
  2. Bring current contract holders onto the new consolidated schedule
  3. Consolidate those businesses that have multiple contracts across many schedules(Federal Times January 31, 2020)

Terms and conditions are being standardized and all current contract holders and contractors, placed on the consolidated schedule, must respond to them by July 31, 2020. (ibid)

Questions about the consolidation and how you and your contracts are affected? Give us a call.

Unpricing GSA

The Coalition for Government Procurement has been lobbying for an unpriced schedule, and Section 876 of Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act provides just that. It authorizes agencies, specifically GSA and its Schedules (41 USC 152) to not include price or cost as an evaluation criterion when awarding hourly rate and service contracts.  (Federal News Network, January 10, 2020)

An unpriced schedule is seen as more efficient by:

  • Allowing for evaluation against actual requirements
  • Reducing oversight activities associated with auditing of the award and the Price Reductions Clause
  • Honing competition by permitting customers to highlight speed and need for agency-specific service requirements
  • Allowing for common commercial practices in structuring contracts
  • Reducing hurdles to market entry for small businesses by allowing federal customers to leverage technology to meet end mission goals (ibid)

As we mentioned earlier in the week, GSA’s IG found that current pricing tools are resulting in insufficient price determinations. In many cases, the use of the CALC and CODCD pricing tools result in agency overpayment. The IG report stated, the “intent of the MAS Program is to leverage the government’s buying power in an effort to provide customer agencies with competitive, market-based pricing… GSA’s contracting officers are required to seek the best price granted to the contractor’s most favored commercial customer.”

The report outlines GSAM requirements that guide pricing determinations, such as requiring the government to pursue most favored customer pricing. It also defines methods that contracting officers should use to compare the terms and conditions of the MAS solicitation with those of the offeror’s commercial customers. MAS allows agencies to take advantage of the government’s purchasing power; moreover, it offers a channel for agencies to obtain commercial services and products swiftly. Per the statute, all responsible sources participate in the program, and all orders “result in the lowest overall cost alternative to meet the needs of the Federal Government (41 USC 152).” (ibid)

GSAR 538.270-1, states, “the Government recognizes that the terms and conditions of commercial sales vary and there may be legitimate reasons why the best price is not achieved.” This language actually reinforces leveraging the unpriced schedule. It highlights the complexity around contract-level pricing that is removed from government requirements reflected in a specific order. (ibid)

Federal News Network editorializes that an unpriced schedule focuses the price evaluation on actual requirements in real-time as they are being sought in the market. This type of competition, for agency-specific requirements, results in the most cost-effective, best value outcome for the agency.When resources are focused on competition, it’s a win for agencies, GSA and industry providers.

If you’re interested in learning more, give us a call.