GSA’s Guide to Non-Christmas Shopping

GSA is starting small with its commercially-operated online purchasing portals, with a pilot scheduled by the end of 2019.

Initially, only commercial products/services below the government’s micro-purchase limit will be offered. But the threshold of $10,000 differs from the $250,000 Congressional limit put into place at the time the e-commerce experiment was ordered, which allows GSA to sidestep policy requirements such as the Buy American Act and the Trade Agreements Act. We aren’t certain how these will apply to the new e-commerce portal, as purchases below the $10,000 threshold are already exempt from a wide variety of procurement laws. GSA wants the portals to show agency buyers the vendor’s business size and qualification as a preferred supplier in other categories. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018)

There is a current gap between what the government procures through open market procurement  (often via a purchase card) and what the government knows it buys for commercial items. GSA intends that the centrally managed and monitored portal will assist the government in determining the products agencies are purchasing and introducing into the federal supply chain. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018)

The draft terms and conditions seem to deviate substantially from the FAR, and are a little “gray,” so we need to wait and see how this turns out. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018) We all know that our Ts and Cs are of the utmost importance to government auditors and regulatory compliance. Other important questions include:

  • why would agencies use the new e-commerce platform when they can get good commercial item prices via GSA Schedules and the Advantage portal?
  • will the new e-commerce portal actually save the Government money?

This nifty e-commerce pilot portal will help determine the answer to these questions. Do you have a question about the e-commerce portal or GSA Schedules? Give us a call at 301-913-5000: we are here to help.

 

 

Speak now or forever hold your piece

GSA Extends Comment Period

Good news for the procrastinators among you! GSA extended the deadline to comment on rules governing acquisition, federal travel, and property management. This extension could signal an increase in flexibility and a re-commitment to vendor and customer relations on GSA’s part.

If you haven’t yet commented on  these policies, now is your chance! Head on over to the federal register to offer your input on leasing acquisition policy, federal travel rules, and property management regulations.

GSA Surveys the Crowd

Today is the 2017 GSA Supplier survey!

The annual GSA partner survey helps shape the Federal Acquisition Service’s efforts to improve processes and policies. Data from 2016 suggested the launch of the Startup Springboard and FAStlane initiatives, making it easier to bring innovative companies to the Multiple Award Schedules pool.

GSA also used survey data to expand employee training opportunities. In addition, GSA scheduled more industry days and check-ins to increase collaboration.

For more information, contact surveys@gsa.gov

How EZGSA makes your life easier!

Many contractors experience confusion when stepping into the word of GSA.There are huge amounts of information, and government language can make sense on the surface; however, in actuality this masks some rather complicated concepts. For instance, when your CO notifies you about a need to adjust your 72a report for last quarter because you reported $0 sales under 03FAC, you may not immediately understand that it was because your contract migrated to a new Schedule in October.
This actually happened with a client of ours recently. Our contract management team responded to the $0 sales by investigating and finding that second Schedule. In short, we know we can fix this issue.
Here’s the detail of this situation:
  • According to the government, the contractor has skipped out on payment to GSA. This can lead to harsh financial penalties, a cancelation of the GSA Schedule, and a big black mark on their government compliance record, labeled as either dishonesty (which could bar you from ever working with the government again) or negligence (which would require a lot of time and work to demonstrate that the failure in internal processes have been fixed).
  • The contractor assured us that they have reported sales to GSA, which lead us to deduce that there is likely another Schedule under either this DUNS number or company name or that another administrative flaw is afoot. After further analysis, we found that the contractor still had multiple Schedule contracts listed, and task orders being executed under the original contract are not referencing the new contract, while the IFF is.
  • This means that there is an unresolved technical glitch that will continue to cause problems until it is fixed, but it cannot be fixed until:
  • the 72a issue is addressed;
  • the Contracting Officer authorizes the fix, and;
  • the Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO) works with us to address possible additional problems for 72a reporting on the NEW contract, which currently registers at $0 sales.
  • Work currently being performed must be reissued under the new contract once the technical error is fixed so that the contractor is not in violation of the law. This causes more work for the client, and the thing they hired us to do was make them have less work.

Not only that, we have only 30 days from notification to solve the issue.

At EZGSA, we find the true source of the problem and understand its urgency. And, most importantly, we know how to fix it.

Most of our clients have no reason to comprehend this entire situation because we do. It’s our job, not theirs. We keep the pain-staking and time-dumping search for solutions out of their hair. We keep them from panic.

Playing the Long Game with RFP Proposals

People often ask, “how can I sell to the government when the RFPs are so highly specific I can’t meet the technical qualifications?”  They point out seemingly impossible specifications: “Must have performance experience in Juno, Alaska and uses 2.78 in. LG fiber optic cable. I can’t even bid for this!”

We stand by our opinion that GSA asks for you to tell them what the specifications should be! So, talk to them earlier. We recognize that this can be a difficult task. Running a business is a full time job. Sales outreach and marketing efforts can absorb buckets of your reps’ time. Moreover, compliance and administration require their own language and constant vigilance.  So the idea that you need to invest additional time into activities that will not necessarily produce immediate nor guaranteed financial payouts, basically to help the government do its job better, sounds absurd.

But it is not.

It is essential.

This can be illustrated by the following story.  Several years ago, I attended an informational session, the kind you can find on GSA’s Website. I didn’t know anything about anything, really, but I wanted to learn. I went down to 18th and F Streets in Washington, DC and sat in a government building  that looked like a high school built in the 1950s. We sat in an auditorium, with the built-in wooden fold-down chairs that are mostly indestructible, and listened to an official talk about technology infrastructure change. Long (long) story short, the government was replacing all of its copper wiring with fiber and cloud technology.

And there I sat, in the dullest lecture of my life, surrounded by several hundred business men. Everyone was furiously taking notes. At the end of the presentation, 40 hands shot up for questions. And the very first one, by a man who’s name tag listed his employer as Verizon was: “who do we talk to about shaping the technical specifications?” Thirty hands went down. GSA answered that they had established GSA Interact, a collaborative site where government and commercial sectors could communicate rapidly and openly on this and every other topic.

Those executives were in that dusty auditorium because $50 billion dollars was on the line. They were determined to ensure that the government understood why they needed to buy from them.

We’re not saying that all RFI processes take years and result in the opportunity to win billions of dollars. But for a small business, it could take weeks and result in millions: is that worth it? Simply stated, if you don’t put in the work, your competitors will.

If you have any questions about a RFP, don’t hesitate to contact us.  You may reach us at (301) 913-5000 or sales@ezgsa.com.