Easier Contract Awards Paper a Silver Lining

The General Services Administration (GSA), The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and IRS raised the micro-purchase threshold (MPT) and the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT) last week, in response to the coronavirus relief effort This allows these agencies to expedite contract award timeframes. (Federal News Network, March 20, 2020)

As required under the 2020 Defense Authorization bill, the Defense Department raised the threshold for sole-source 8(a) contracts up to $100 million as well. The non-emergency threshold for 8(a) contracts is $22 million. (ibid)

GSA and VA have raised their MPT and SAT threshold for purchases both in and outside of the US while the IRS raised theirs for purchases within the US only, to speed up the time it takes to make contract awards.

The MPT is increased to:

  • $20,000 for contracts awarded and performed or purchases made within the U.S.
  • $30,000 for contracts awarded and performed or purchases made outside the U.S.

The SAT is increased to:

  • $750,000 for contracts performed or awarded and purchases made within the U.S.
  • $1.5 million for contracts awarded, performed or purchases made outside the U.S.

The SAT supporting contingency operations or major disaster recovery is increased to $13 million.

All thresholds, in place through at least 30 June, give agencies the ability to be nimble and make purchases quickly. They are “specific to only to support the designated National Emergency COVID-19. FAR Part 6 also provides the opportunity to expedite purchases after justifying exceptions to competition. There may also be opportunities to use existing contracts by negotiating a bilateral modification to allow for additional quantities of goods or a surge for services included in concurrent awards,” according to Angela Billups, VA’s executive director in the Office of Acquisition and Logistics and senior procurement executive. (ibid)

To track acquisition costs for the coronavirus response, the Federal Acquisition Regulations Council set up a new code in the Federal Procurement Data System, P20C. (ibid)

Jeff Koses, GSA’s senior procurement executive stated in a recent memo that local set-aside rules are not applicable because this is a national emergency and not a strictly local one. According to Koses, some exceptions that allow agencies to restrict or limit competition are:

  • phoning a reasonable number of vendors
  • obtaining “on the spot” quotes
  • keeping the period of performance brief (ibid)

The changes to the MPT and SAT were made prior to the Defense Production Act being invoked. The Defense Production Act, authorizes certain agencies providing specific products or services with relation to the coronavirus relief efforts, to move to the front of the line. However, GSA strongly advises contracting officers to verify pricing and contractor details on GSA Advantage and GSA eLibrary. (ibid)

Interested in contracting for relief efforts? Give us a call.

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.

Lead Times! Get Your Lead Times Here!

When is the actual start and end of Procurement Administrative Lead Times (PALT)? The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) is working on a measurement to answer this question, which seems to be not only a grey area in the procurement arena but a disputed one, as well.

OFPP is looking at the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, section 878, which describes PALT as “the time between the date on which an initial solicitation for a contract or order is issued by a federal department or agency and the date of the award of the contract or order.”  OFPP would like to marginalize procurement process delays and believes having this definition in place will minimize those delays. (FCW, February 24, 2020)

The Professional Services Council and the Council of Defense and Space Industry Associations both welcome the definition being put in place. However, naysayers argue the OFPP language misses pre-solicitation work, such as: creating a requirements planning package that provides solicitation facts prior to issue; or when a particular contract is initially funded. According to some, the current definition ignores pre-solicitation lead time factors which do contribute to the time needed for a contracting officer to move from contract request to contract requirement in solicitation. (ibid)

Wondering how this affects your upcoming proposal efforts? Give us a call.

beta.sam.gov Hiccup Hiccup

When FedBizOpps (FBO) migrated to beta.sam.gov, everyone expected a few hiccups. Now three months in, it’s fair to say government contractors have been experiencing more than just a few hiccups. GSA says the number of help desk calls they get is no more than they got with FBO. However, the frustration over beta.sam.gov runs deep.

Last week contractor discouragement came to a head when the Professional Services Council sent GSA a letter airing not only their complaints but also their concerns. The 22-page letter outlined the four areas of greatest concern:

  • Access Challenges;
  • Search Parameters;
  • Capability to receive contract information;
  • Difficulties in how the site displays information. (Federal News Network, February 17, 2020)

At EZGSA, we have found problems with data organization, standardization, and even saving information. GSA seems ready to add new capabilities next month, but should they? Many feel the backend structure should be fixed before the next phase, moving the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation (FPDS-NG) reporting capabilities to beta.sam.gov in March. (ibid)

Large companies are better able to handle the costs associated with down time or lost data. Small businesses that must  spend thousands of dollars on software, just to get what they got before the FBO migration, are at a great disadvantage.

Need help navigating beta.sam.gov? We will do our best to help and take away some of the frustration. Give us a call.