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.

Telework, the New (Temporary?) Norm

In a recent letter to her contracting staff, Soraya Correa, Homeland Security’s chief procurement officer, asked her contracting staff to stay apprised of the outbreak of COVID-19, before taking any trips. She is relying on the honor system for employees who must take trips to “affected areas, to contact their managers prior to their return to discuss possible telework or leave options.” Also, if they’ve been in close contact with a person “known to have COVID-19” or if airport screeners told them to self-quarantine after returning from overseas travel. Correa went on to say, “if contract performance is affected due to the COVID-19 situation, such as the need for alternate work locations, or travel or schedule changes, the contracting officer is the authority to discuss this with your company.” (FCW, March 9, 2020)

A spokesman for the Professional Services Council expects adjustments of this nature to be the new normal. He expects alternatives to how and where contracting personnel work, with programs necessitating a high level of security being prioritized. (ibid)

Federal agencies are already beginning to shake things up. One example is a recent notice on beta.SAM.gov, where the Department of Defense suggested that attendees of its National Cyber Range Complex Event Planning, Operations, and Support contracting meeting in Florida next week, have alternates at the ready. The notice also mentioned staying tuned in, as the outbreak could cancel the event. (ibid)

Need help determining if your contract may be at risk due to travel/work restrictions as a result of the virus outbreak ? 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.