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.

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.

beta.sam.gov Hiccup Hiccup

When FedBizOpps (FBO) migrated to beta.sam.gov, everyone expected a few hiccups. Now three months in, it’s fair to say government contractors have been experiencing more than just a few hiccups. GSA says the number of help desk calls they get is no more than they got with FBO. However, the frustration over beta.sam.gov runs deep.

Last week contractor discouragement came to a head when the Professional Services Council sent GSA a letter airing not only their complaints but also their concerns. The 22-page letter outlined the four areas of greatest concern:

  • Access Challenges;
  • Search Parameters;
  • Capability to receive contract information;
  • Difficulties in how the site displays information. (Federal News Network, February 17, 2020)

At EZGSA, we have found problems with data organization, standardization, and even saving information. GSA seems ready to add new capabilities next month, but should they? Many feel the backend structure should be fixed before the next phase, moving the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation (FPDS-NG) reporting capabilities to beta.sam.gov in March. (ibid)

Large companies are better able to handle the costs associated with down time or lost data. Small businesses that must  spend thousands of dollars on software, just to get what they got before the FBO migration, are at a great disadvantage.

Need help navigating beta.sam.gov? We will do our best to help and take away some of the frustration. Give us a call.

FAR 51 Deviation Authority is expired!

Here’s what you need to know.  Contracting officers were permitted to give contractors access to the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) and GSA Global Supply Programs if appropriate, for the fulfillment of their agency requirements. They used the FAR 51 Deviation Authority vehicle for this purpose. On 23 October, the FAR 51 Deviation expired. It will no longer be used on orders placed after this date. Under Refresh 1, clause CI-FSS-056 Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 51 Deviation Authority (Federal Supply Schedules) (Jan 2010) is deleted.

In lieu of FAR 51 Deviation, agencies may use Order Level Material (OLM) procedures to acquire other direct costs (OCDs) and material support items to meet specific order requirements. Additional information for OLMs may be found at www.gsa.gov/olm.

Many question if a contracting officer can issue a letter of authority (required by the Deviation) anytime during the life of the order, if the order or BPA was awarded on or before 23 October 2019. The short answer is yes, as long as the order was issued prior to the 23 October Deviation expiration date. However, if the BPA was awarded prior to then, and subsequent award terms were awarded after 23 October, those subsequent award terms may not use the deviation.

Wondering if you are grandfathered in and still able to take advantage of the FAR 51 Deviation Authority? Give us a call.

Self Certification — No More ;-(

The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act mandated that the Small Business Administration (SBA) discontinue self-certification of women-owned and other small businesses. In 2020, SBA plans to finalize a self-certification rule that closes a loophole allowing participants in the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program to self-certify. (Federal News Network, June 2019)

Approximately one-quarter of all federal contracts are held by small businesses, which over the past six years has helped federal agencies to  exceed  SBA’s governmentwide small business contracting goal. This year’s spending of more than $120 billion on small business contracts surpasses last year’s spending by nearly $15 billion.

The Government Accountability Office reported in March that almost 40 percent of WOSB-certified businesses were ineligible. Meanwhile, SBA’s Office of Inspector General June 2018 audit found 89 percent of sole-source (50 out of 56 contracts) did not meet all program criteria. Basically, there is currently no way to know if the contracts, listed in the chart below, were actually eligible for the sole-source awards. (ibid)

Rob Wong, SBA’s associate administrator of the Office of Government promotes a formal certification to  give the program some much-needed integrity. Wong said, “simply put, the wrong companies were receiving our contracts, we want to make sure that, if a company receives a contract through these programs, they’re actually eligible to receive it.” (ibid)

SBA has subsequently published a proposed rule in the Federal Register eliminating self-certification and providing a free online certification application to WOSB. Comments on the proposed rule are being accepted until July 15. In Wong’s opinion, it is high time to streamline the vetting process for the many other set-aside programs, all of which have different sets of eligibility criteria. Wong feels that going to three formal certifications for 8(a), Historically Underutilized Business Zones, women-owned, and service-disabled veterans will unify the processes. The rule with set-aside screening is expected to take a year for the changes to take effect. (ibid)

Do you have questions about the new certification process and how it may affect your current contract or an upcoming opportunity? Give us a call at 301-913-5000.