Show Me the Money! All the Money!

End of fiscal year 2019 spending will likely exceed that of 2018. So much so that hours are being extended for the largest Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts. (Federal Computer Week, August 30, 2019)

A few contributing factors precipitating  the uptick in spending:

  • The credit card threshold for micro-purchases increased from $3,500 to $10,000
  • A stable budget allows agencies the ideal scenario to plan and use their funding.
  • The last day of the fiscal year falls on a weekday this year. (ibid)

For instance, the National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) expect a very busy September. They have been designated “best in class” across all three of their GWACs, which will likely bring in additional work. as extended hours in September as does the Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP). According to Joanne Woytek, manager for NASA’s SEWP,  processing systems have been updated to a High Availability System. The update took place earlier in the year and additional staff was added overall not just to respond to the additional spending in September.

NITAAC has improved its e-GOS next-generation customer ordering portal, which mirrors commercial online shopping and makes shopping easier for contracting officers. Item comparisons and photos will be part of the buying experience. The changes will be a key factor in streamlining the purchasing process, thus making ordering easier and faster. (ibid)

Not to be outdone, GSA also expects September to be the busiest month of the year for their Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts. (ibid)

Questions about the September buying frenzy and how you can take advantage? Give us a call.

Time to Uncover Some Chinese Equipment

Recently, GSA sent a letter to contractors explaining the new FAR interim rule regarding supply chain security, which went into effect last month. The rule prohibits federal agencies from procuring, obtaining, extending, or renewing a contract to procure or obtain “any equipment, system, or service that uses covered telecommunications equipment or services  as a substantial or essential component of any system or as critical technology as part of any system.” (Acquisition.gov)

Covered equipment encompasses telecommunications and video surveillance products and services by Hauwei Technologies Company, ZTE Corporation, Hytera Communications Corporation, Hikvision Digital Technology Company, or Hahua Technology Company, or any company that the head of a relevant federal agency reasonably believes is controlled by the government of the Peoples Republic of China.

The interim rule:

  • Prohibits contractors from providing covered telecommunications services/equipment unless an exception or waiver is granted
  • Mandates every offeror represent whether it will provide covered telecommunications equipment/services as part of its offer, and if that is the case, the offeror must provide details about the covered equipment or services
  • Requires contractors to report any covered equipment/services throughout the life of the contract. (ibid)

At the same time, the FAR interim rule went into effect, GSA issued a class deviation. This essentially takes a risk-based approach to the new FAR interim rule by limiting the representation requirement for GSA funded orders to the indefinite-delivery contract level. The deviation necessitates the following:

  • At all times requires an order-level representation for acquisition vehicles that carry a “high risk” of including covered telecommunications equipment or services.
  • Must have an order-level representation for all orders that could include information technology or communications technology under all GSA acquisitions.
  • The creation of a GSA Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) representation clause, requiring the GSAR and FAR reporting clauses in all new and ongoing GSA contracts.
  • Initiates GSA specific implementation targets for modification of existing contracts.
  • Simplifies the application of Section 889 of the NDAA to other GSA program areas. (ibid)

The interim rule affects ALL contractors. As a contractor, you are responsible for determining whether covered telecommunications equipment/services will be provided under both new and existing contracts and orders.

Below is some fundamental information to help you prepare as GSA puts into place the interim rule and class deviation:

  • FAS contracting activity will issue a mod requiring you to respond to incorporate FAR clause 52.204-25 and GSAR clause 552.204-70.
  • Your mod response must delineate if you will or will not provide covered telecommunications equipment/services in the performance of any contract, subcontract, order, or any other contractual instrument.
  • The substance of FAR clause 52.204-25 must be inserted into all subcontracts.
  • You must report any covered telecommunication equipment or services you discover during the course of contract performance.
  • For new GSA solicitations, you are required to represent at the contract level if you will or won’t provide covered telecommunications equipment/services to the Government in the performance of a contract or subcontract.
  • Contract level solicitations will include FAR provision 52.204-24, clause 52.204-25and GSAR clause 552.204-70.
  • In responses to solicitations and orders under indefinite-delivery contracts, representation of FAR 52.204-24 is required when there is a high risk of inclusion of covered telecommunications equipment/services. (ibid)

Wondering how all this might affect your current contract or upcoming bid? Give us a call.

Ready for the Single Schedule?

As heard at the water cooler of every GSA Schedule holder, the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) is consolidating the 24 Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) into one single Schedule for services and products. The first announcement arrived in November 2018. And it does appear that GSA will meet their deadline of 1 October  2019 for creating the new solicitation. (GSA.gov, August 28, 2019)

“The new solicitation with its simplified format is going to make it much easier for customers to find and purchase the solutions they need to meet their missions,” said GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Alan Thomas. “It will also make working with the government easier by streamlining and simplifying the offer process for new contractors. One Schedule means vendors no longer have to manage contracts across multiple schedules.” (ibid)

We’re betting it won’t be so streamlined and simplified for at least six months. Those applying for a new Schedule may experience less confusion with SIN selection, but the mass mods and changes that current Schedule holders will have to deal with … let’s just say we expect there to be some pain.

The new single Schedule was put together using feedback from consumer agencies and industry. GSA asked for feedback through two RFQs. A final solicitation for industry review prior to the October 1, 2019 release has been provided by GSA. Comments on the new draft solicitation should be sent to maspmo@gsa.gov. Alternatively, comments on the draft can be left directly on the GSA interact landing page. (ibid)

GSA urges all industry members to review the most recent version of Frequently Asked Questions. Additionally, GSA is offering two webinars which will allow questions to be asked of GSA subject matter experts. The registration link for the first webinar, September 17 can be found by clicking here. The registration link for the second webinar, September 19, can be found by clicking here. (ibid)

Wondering how this affects the schedule contract you currrently hold? Questions about the new single Schedule and how it will affect bidding? Give us a call.

 

Refurbishing Fraud

Yeow! GSA will be removing refurbished technology from the Schedules as part of the upcoming consolidation. We can thank cybercriminals for this lovely change.

Individuals not associated with the government have been placing IT orders. They trick small businesses into sending used hardware to empty warehouses, where they remove the equipment and sell it on the black market. Meanwhile, they never pay the original bill.

Additionally, some of the equipment has been discovered as counterfeit — which of course doesn’t meet government standards — as refurbished. This leaves the purchasing agencies open to risk. (FEDSCOOP, August 21, 2019)

According to Lawrence Hale, a director within the GSA Federal Acquisition Service, fraudsters phish small businesses, and GSA cannot guarantee the origin of refurbished products. “It’s a supply chain attack.” The only way to stop it is to shut the SIN down. (ibid)

As GSA consolidates 24 of its Multiple Award Schedules into one on October 1, 2019, a request for information is looking for industry feedback on supply and service categories and SINs that the forthcoming solicitation will be split into. (ibid)

Do you resell refurbished technology equipment to the government? Are you wondering how to provide feedback on the removal of SIN 132-9, allowing for the purchase of refurbished technology?  Give us a call.

TDR Pilot Still Flying

GSA is extending the Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) pilot program for an additional year, giving everyone ample time to work on the pilot while preparing for the upcoming Schedule consolidation.  The TDR pilot program collects pricing data, including cost to the government for services and products sold under GSA contracts. Ultimately, TDR will replace GSA’s Commercial Sales Practices. (Federal Computer Week, August 19, 2019)

TDR was implemented as a noncompulsory, three-year pilot that included eight schedules and their associated SINs. GSA created TDR to reduce bureaucratic burden and increase transparency by requiring monthly reporting of transactional sales data from government-wide contracts, including Multiple Award Schedules contracts. Ultimately, TDR promotes smarter purchasing by federal agencies by allowing expedited and more comprehensive data to assure best value. (ibid)

The GSA Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report last summer pointing out that the TDR pilot will not produce a quantifiable measurement. According to the OIG, data is not available for use and there are no performance targets. The IG asked GSA to set performance targets for each metric used and to verify the data is available and valid. (ibid) GSA and the FAS Commissioner Alan Thomas stated that the pilot was just getting ramped up and that some tweaks might be necessary based on the OIG report. However, the extension to the TDR pilot will allow more time for additional data gathering. According to Roger Waldron, president for the Coalition for Government Procurement, the extra time will give the pilot stability while allowing the price reductions clause to be removed. (ibid)

GSA will review the pilot at the end of fiscal year 2020 and at that time determine whether to cancel or expand the program to all GSA Schedule SINs. (ibid)

Still wondering how you can take part in the TDR pilot or how GSAs multiple schedule consolidation might work in your favor? Give us a call.