Game Planning, Not a Game

Federal News Network surveyed 100 or so government contractors during the final week of the shutdown about current contracted projects and expectations once the shutdown ended.

Not surprisingly, 71 percent said projects would be delayed and 40 percent believe it would take more than four weeks to get up to speed. Respondents also thought high costs would accrue during the re-start. Comments included the following:

  • Significant costs associated with re-start include rescheduled travel, reworked program plans, and employee hiring
  • Security clearance waits
  • Awaiting payment of invoices submitted before the shutdown
  • Permanent loss of employees to commercial firms due in part to fear of future shutdowns. (Federal News Network February 2019)

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requested that agencies move swiftly to pay contractors along with federal employees. However, agencies themselves are experiencing payment backlog, as several of the government’s invoice processing agencies had large portions of their own workforces furloughed. Before they returned, contractors’ unpaid invoices had been stacking up, awaiting formal acceptance and payment since 22 December 2018. (ibid)

We are hopeful that Congress passes legislation to make contractors ‘whole’ once future shutdowns ends, but we’re not holding our breath. Prudent contractors should plan for fiscal management upon another shutdown, possibly as early as 15 February.

Questions about your payments? We can try to help at 301-913-5000.

Open. Shut. Ajar?

By now, everyone is acutely aware that the government experienced the longest shutdown in US history. Doors opened on Monday but it is hardly back to business as usual. Contractors face countless bottlenecks as well as hurry-up-and-wait scenarios. Has the stop work order been rescinded? Does the contractor’s badge still work? If not, is a new clearance necessary? When work starts up again, will all employees be in place and ready to go? While it took no time at all to close the doors, opening them and getting back to business, as usual, is likely going to take some time. This, coupled with the looming possibility of yet another shut down, adds to the already less than perfect predicament in which government contractors finds themselves.

Homeland Security offered expectations with the re-start. Soraya Correa, chief procurement officer at DHS issued a notice stating, “If the particular RFP or RFQ established a deadline for submission of a proposal or quotation after Dec. 21, 2018 and the DHS funding lapse is not resolved prior to the deadline established in the RFP, then the proposal or quotations shall be due within seven business days following the resolution of the DHS funding lapse.” Correa also wrote, “If the particular RFP or RFQ provided for the submission of questions, comments or other forms of inquiry after Dec. 21, 2018 and the DHS funding lapse is not resolved prior to the deadline established in the RFP for this type of submission, then the submission shall be due within five business days following the resolution of the DHS funding lapse and resumption of business operations.” She explained that responses to RFIs are due three business days following the resumption of DHSs business operations. (Federal News Network January 2019)

OMB revised its guidance to agencies on 22 January, suggesting a recall of workers in order to pay contractors who billed the government before the 21 December shutdown. (ibid) Small businesses need those payments as soon as possible, whereas larger contractors have a little more room to work with as their pockets are deeper. Whether large or small, the pain is real and expected to last for a long time to come.

Hopefully, should the government shut its doors again, agencies are more prepared with notices to contractors. Setting expectations could relieve at least some of the panic.

Are you trying to figure out how to navigate through this trying time? Give us a call at 301-913-5000, We can help.

 

Upcoming Events

If it’s been a while since you attended a live event, training, or a webinar, it might be time to consider checking into as updates and changes are happening. Stay ahead of the curve. Give us a call at (301) 913-5000 if we can answer questions about any of the following:

Building Maintenance and Operations Overview & DPA Training – Virtual 10/25/2018
Announcing the Building Maintenance and Operations Overview and Delegation of Procurement Authority Training. The training will provide detailed ordering procedures for the new BMO government-wide strategic sourcing contract vehicle.

 

GSA Schedule 66 Training 11-6
What’s up with Schedule 66? Drones and a whole lot more!

 

Building Maintenance and Operations Overview & DPA Training – Virtual 12/13/2018
Announcing the Building Maintenance and Operations Overview and Delegation of Procurement Authority Training. The training will provide detailed ordering procedures for the new BMO government-wide strategic sourcing contract vehicle.

FAS Boss Talks Shop

In a recent interview, Alan Thomas, the Federal Acquisition Service commissioner, promises that agency customer and industry partners are helping to drive the schedules’ modernization strategy. This includes making it easier to buy products and services, such as allowing agencies to combine products and services —  order level materials (OLMs) or other direct costs (ODCs) — under one buy. Although the impact will likely not be felt until 2019, vendors and buyers can take advantage of the change today, according to Thomas. The “one buy” option requires a contract modification and special item number addition.  

Another major change is the elimination of minimum purchase thresholds, which is extremely helpful for those needing only one of an item, and not 5 or 10.

The next fiscal year is likely to see major changes to the Schedules program. Thomas said FAS will possibly consolidate schedules down to one or a smaller set of Schedule contracts, in order to make it easier for customer purchasing. This will remove the difficulty of figuring out which schedule to buy from in perceived overlaps. Thomas wants to reduce confusion for agency customers and make it less burdensome for vendors who may be managing many schedules. Implementation of this change would not take place until late 2019 or possibly 2020.

Another change Thomas is looking to implement is the reduction in the number of contractors on schedules, beginning with those who have not had any sales in two or more years. Schedule holders, be aware: sell your products/services through the Schedule and claim these on your 72(a) to ensure you aren’t on the chopping block. 

Other major changes coming to schedules revolve around transparency and fee adjustments. Thomas said vendors must be able to see what agencies are buying through RFQs or task orders so they know whether the Schedules are being utilized.  Will the new e-Buy pilot provide that transparency? Who knows. And we wonder what making the fee structure consistent across Schedules will actually ‘look’ like.

Finally, GSA and VA are trying to improve their collaboration across similar contracts. Thomas said VA is looking at the technology that GSA uses to manage its Schedule program and global supply program for more control, visibility and greater efficiencies in its micro-purchase expenditures.

Hard Shutdown

Shutdown? Shut up!

Since Saturday, the United States government has been closed, shut down, unplugged (etc.), including the General Services Administration (GSA) and FAS. Right now, GSA is deferring to 4220.1K ADM, the Order which dictates “Operations in the Absence of Appropriations.”

What does this mean for our clients? Unfortunately, if you currently hold a GSA Schedule, you will not see any work done on your contract modifications and will not receive any government payments. Work for government agencies under the GSA Schedule must be halted during this time unless it is of mission critical importance (you will have been notified if this is you). Companies with proposals into GSA will be in a holding pattern for now, whether they are recently submitted and being triaged to the correct Contracting Officer, under administrative review, in negotiations, or awaiting final award.

“GSA’s role as an aggregator of large numbers of government assets and a supplier of critical tools, equipment, and supplies to other Federal agencies requires that GSA retain adequate staffing under a lapse in appropriations in order to protect Federal property under GSA’s custody and control and to continue to provide critical support to other Federal agencies’ exempt and excepted activities necessary for the protection of life and Federal property.”

In other words, GSA is mostly shut down. Buildings remain open for maintenance, power, and cleaning in a reduced capacity. Small crews are also being kept around to ensure protection of GSA assets and property, and to support other essential Federal agencies. GSA is held more responsible than other agencies to maintain their regular tasks. Think of it as a GSA skeleton crew. When the shutdown is over, GSA will update plans, decide what to do about missed events, and catch up with all the work piling up right now.

We are hopeful this shutdown ends soon. Stay vigilant, folks!