New E-Commerce Platform

The 2018 Defense Authorization Act requires the government to utilize a new e-commerce platform. Well, after several protests, several solicitation rewrites, and the COVID-19 pandemic, we now have the proof-of-concept phase, with three vendors: Amazon Business, Overstock.com, and Fischer Scientific will allow access to their e-commerce sites with micropurchases of $10,000 or less. By awarding a contract to three vendors, GSA hopes to ensure pricing competition and high service levels. (Federal News Network, June 29, 2020)

During the 30 day proof-of-concept phase, agencies receive access to order from vendors’ e-commerce platforms for testing and stakeholder feedback. Participating agencies include Veterans Affairs, Justice and Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, and GSA. Additional agencies may join in the coming months.

However, contractors are still questioning the apparent two sets of rules for micropurchases; those made under e-commerce and those made from other platforms, such as GSA Advantage. They believe transparency to be vital as well as understanding the pilot parameters. Remaining questions include e-marketplace conflict of interest issues, restriction on platform provider uses of third party transactional data, and how country of origin and counterfeit products are handled.” (ibid)

Not sure how government agencies ordering from e-commerce platforms will affect your ability to do business with them? Give us a call.

Pilot Programs to Decrease Bid Cycle Time

Selling to the government can be a difficult and lengthy process for the most patient of vendors. The buying process in private industry might take a week or two whereas federal buying can take a year or more. Added to that, the costs associated with bidding on government contracts, with no guarantee of a contract, often makes doing business with the government less than appealing. Unfortunately, this makes many companies with innovative products and services steer clear of working with the government.

Now two agencies, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), are introducing programs to address costly and time-consuming barriers. (Washington Technology, June 2, 2020)

DHS created the Procurement Innovation Lab; its mission to diminish barriers to competition while opening up the competition to nontraditional companies and by creating multiple awards from a single solicitation. Within the lab, teams test Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) flexibilities. Working with the Department of Defense GSA, DHS created the Commercial Solutions Opening Pilot. This affords participants greater latitude when purchasing innovative products below $10 million. (ibid)

DHS is also working to greatly reduce the lengthy proposal process through a phased proposal model. Phase one might involve a lightweight proposal of five pages or possibly a 30-minute phone interview. Then DHS would advise the vendor on how competitive their idea is and let the vendor decide whether it makes sense to move forward with a proposal. Additionally, DHS is working to receive oral presentations and product demonstrations using a paperless process. This allows vendors an opportunity to showcase their wares, and gives the government insight into those vendors they might award contracts to.  The phased proposal allows many vendors the opportunity to engage with the government when otherwise they would not be able to afford to do so. It allows the government to stay on top of innovative solutions that they otherwise might have missed out on. (ibid)

The IRS wants to phase in a pilot program as well. Their goal is to work with non-traditional small businesses to rapidly prototype and test emerging technologies. Project phasing will help to circumvent locking into a single vendor’s solutions as new (and often better) solutions are made available. (ibid)

Questions about the DHS and IRS programs and how you might prepare a lightweight proposal? Give us a call.

CMMC Coming to Solicitations

Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) requirements may show up in solicitations within six months. (GOVCONWire, May 12, 2020)

A Department of Defense spokesperson expects about 10 DoD RFIs in June to include the new requirements. She said, “As we release the RFIs, we’ll have the certified and trained auditors who will be able to go out to industry and certify companies at the level of maturity required for the work that they’re bidding on.” (ibid)

Additionally, changes to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement 252.204-7012 should be finalized by October. “You will not see the CMMC in any Department of Defense contracts or RFPs until the rule change is completed.” (ibid)

Questions on the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification and whether you can bid on upcoming solicitations? Give us a call.

GSA Extends Contract Data Reports Transition

GSA is extending the transition period for Contract Data reports in beta.SAM.gov. We don’t have a final transition date yet, although it’s expected later this year. This applies only to the reports function of FPDS.gov; everything else will remain as is. (GSA Interact, May 12, 2020)

GSA wants users to familiarize themselves with beta.SAM.gov while reports are available on both platforms. Furthermore, they want users to provide input on running reports. GSA is providing videos, FAQs, and reference guides to assist with the transition. (ibid)

GSA sees the following benefits to beta.SAM.gov:

  • Increased maximum number of rows returned from 30,000 to 150,000 rows in each report
  • Increased maximum number of years of reportable data from five years to 12 years
  • Additional data fields available for creating ad hoc reports
  • Tools for sharing ad hoc report structure with others, such as attributes and filters
  • Report Builder, a “wizard” that helps create new ad hoc reports
  • Intuitive tools to build, save, and share reports (ibid)

GSA used earlier feedback to determine the need for additional time before making the final transition to beta.SAM.gov. They will continue to take all feedback into consideration while transitioning. Any user can still use the feedback button to participate.

Trying to figure out if your reports will change and if you can retrieve them on the new platform? Give us a call.

 

CMMC not for COTS

A recent modification to DoD’s website spells out a small but very specific change about the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC): it’s not applicable to DoD suppliers that only provide commercial-off-the-shelf products. (FedScoop, May 5, 2020)

Originally, DoD and CMMC administrators explained that all contractors and subcontractors must be certified under  CMMC by a third-party assessor. However, a few weeks ago, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment changed the official website. The revised FAQ section states: “Companies that solely produce Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) products do not require a CMMC certification.” (ibid)

CMMC is in place to certify contractors have the cybersecurity practices in place to work with controlled unclassified information, the actual products themselves. (ibid)

Wondering if CMMC applies to the products and or services you provide? Give us a call.