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.

Scared of the CAV or IOA?

Is your GSA Schedule in good health? The government ensures that your GSA Schedule stays sound by performing occasional audits, checking that your business is following the rules under which the contract was awarded. While you may have the best intentions of remaining in compliance, new hires, misunderstandings about regulatory requirements, and price changes can trip you up, causing problems in the audit itself.

EZGSA offers a Schedule Check-Up that helps to prevent negative audit findings. Many of our clients utilize this service once a year, just as you get a physical once a year — as an objective view of your GSA Schedule’s soundness.

In the GSA Schedule Check-Up, we review:

  • invoices;
  • sales to your Most Favored Customer;
  • sales to all government agencies;
  • internal Commercial Sales Practices procedures;
  • 72A reporting and payments; and
  • open market sales.

If discrepancies are found, we assist you in correcting the problems as well as developing new procedures that will prevent replication of the problems.

Contact us at 301-913-5000 or sales@ezgsa.com to see if your business can benefit from a Schedule Check-Up, either as a yearly preventative or before the Auditor visits.

Alliant 2 is now open for contractors after the GOA dismisses the protests over the contract rules and point system for awarding

The $50 billion Alliant 2 IT contract has moved forward with evaluations and awards for the General Services Administration after several protests were denied against it. On Wednesday, the head of GSA’s IT office, Mary Davie, tweeted:

“We had a few protests on Alliant 2 on several issues,” “They have all been dismissed. We are proceeding with evaluations and award.”

The first Alliant IT contract was launched in 2007 to meet the everchanging IT needs of federal agencies on one full-range vehicles.

Some IT companies found issue with the details of the arrangement. It was protested “that the RFP’s evaluation scheme is improper, that the agency is unreasonably assigning certain points to small businesses, and that limiting the number of awardees to 60 will not result in competition at the task order level,” to the Government Accountability Office by IT contractors based in Northern Virginia such as Enterprise Information Services, Buchanan & Edwards, Sevatec and InfoReliance Corporation.

However, GAO found the protests unfounded, as summarized by FedScoop:

On the evaluation scheme: It’s “impermissible for failing to properly consider price is denied; the Federal Acquisition Regulation permits agencies to use any one or a combination of source selection approaches to obtain the best value.”
On the assignment of points to small businesses: “[T]he protesters have not shown that the agency’s allocation of points is unreasonable, or otherwise alleged that the agency is engaging in improper disparate treatment.”
On limiting awardees to 60: “Record shows that the agency intends to award approximately 60 contracts, and has taken other steps to encourage competition at the task order level.”

Base period of performance will be 5 years with an option for 5 year extension and a maximum of $50 billion all in for Alliant 2 contracts.

GSA’s New Tech Service headed by former Pixar suit

Formerly of Pixar, Rob Cook has been named head of the General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Service and has been impressed with the civic-minded technology workers he has met in the agency’s 18F group.
“I felt like I was in a group that was full of people that were as good as people I’d ever met in the private technology sector,” said Cook.
Cook aims to save the government money over the years by better IT acquisition and implementation.
“By far the largest impact I think we can have is to make the government a better buyer of technology,” he said. “It’s just not a very good buyer of technology. The way it works excluded a huge amount of the talent out in the private sector. It requires companies to go through a process that almost sets it up to be super expensive and a lot of extra work and frustrating and not work very well in the end. It’s amazing people can get anything done through that process.”
He continued “It’s just a matter of getting the best brains in here”, while emphasizing that the organization would not grow much because “the impact we’re going to have is through the leverage into the agencies and industry.”

Will GSA Reopen Schedule 75: Office Products and Supplies?

Schedule 75 was first closed in October of  2010 and was originally intended to be closed for 24 months. A GSA review determined an additional 12 months of inactivity was appropriate for the schedule, pushing the reopening date back to 2013. It has yet to reopen.

The GSA has issued a new RFI (request for information) regarding reopening Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) 75: Office Products and Supplies.  According to the GSA website:

“Throughout 2016, GSA has been working closely with the vendor community, customers, various industry associations, wholesalers and suppliers in the office supply community to determine the best course of action for re-opening MAS 75…

“We received great comments from our customers, various industry associations, wholesalers and manufacturers in the office supply industry and have come up with ideas that we think will make MAS 75 a new and improved solution for purchasing office supplies,” said Peter Han, GSA Northeast Caribbean Supply and Acquisition Center director“ A major goal of the new solution remains increasing [the] opportunity for small business participation by at least 5 percent.”

To find more information you may join the Schedule 75 Community Group or contact us at EZGSA for any questions about how this will affect you.