Government Contractor Aid

A recent study conducted by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) found that over half of small business government contractors are losing money due to a reduction in billable hours as a direct result of stay-at-home orders. To assist, the DoD is adjusting approximately 1,500 contracts to aid with cash flow for those contractors suffering financial strain. (Federal News Network, March 30, 2020)

The Defense Contract Management Agency is administering a mass modification to increase the amount of money allowed to pay vendors who have not finished their work under their current contracts. These “progress payments” will be increased to 95 percent for small companies and 90 percent for large companies. (ibid)

Additionally, provisions for contractors that cannot telework due to the nature of their work were signed into law on 27 March 27 2020 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, aimed at supporting individuals and businesses struggling with the economic downturn,  as a result of the pandemic. (Government Executive, March 31, 2020)

For some contractors, agencies may “modify the terms and conditions of a contract or other agreement” to reimburse at the minimum applicable contract billing rates” up to an “average of 40 hours per week for any paid leave a contractor provides to keep its employees or subcontractors in a ready state” as stated under the Act. (ibid)

The National Defense Industrial Association and the Professional Services Council both commend the act. During the pandemic, the Act will assist in ensuring contractors are part of the economic relief efforts and kept in a ready state. The legislation runs through the end of the fiscal year, 30 September 2020.

Questions about your minimum billing rates or how to obtain reimbursement? Give us a call.

Easier Contract Awards Paper a Silver Lining

The General Services Administration (GSA), The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and IRS raised the micro-purchase threshold (MPT) and the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT) last week, in response to the coronavirus relief effort This allows these agencies to expedite contract award timeframes. (Federal News Network, March 20, 2020)

As required under the 2020 Defense Authorization bill, the Defense Department raised the threshold for sole-source 8(a) contracts up to $100 million as well. The non-emergency threshold for 8(a) contracts is $22 million. (ibid)

GSA and VA have raised their MPT and SAT threshold for purchases both in and outside of the US while the IRS raised theirs for purchases within the US only, to speed up the time it takes to make contract awards.

The MPT is increased to:

  • $20,000 for contracts awarded and performed or purchases made within the U.S.
  • $30,000 for contracts awarded and performed or purchases made outside the U.S.

The SAT is increased to:

  • $750,000 for contracts performed or awarded and purchases made within the U.S.
  • $1.5 million for contracts awarded, performed or purchases made outside the U.S.

The SAT supporting contingency operations or major disaster recovery is increased to $13 million.

All thresholds, in place through at least 30 June, give agencies the ability to be nimble and make purchases quickly. They are “specific to only to support the designated National Emergency COVID-19. FAR Part 6 also provides the opportunity to expedite purchases after justifying exceptions to competition. There may also be opportunities to use existing contracts by negotiating a bilateral modification to allow for additional quantities of goods or a surge for services included in concurrent awards,” according to Angela Billups, VA’s executive director in the Office of Acquisition and Logistics and senior procurement executive. (ibid)

To track acquisition costs for the coronavirus response, the Federal Acquisition Regulations Council set up a new code in the Federal Procurement Data System, P20C. (ibid)

Jeff Koses, GSA’s senior procurement executive stated in a recent memo that local set-aside rules are not applicable because this is a national emergency and not a strictly local one. According to Koses, some exceptions that allow agencies to restrict or limit competition are:

  • phoning a reasonable number of vendors
  • obtaining “on the spot” quotes
  • keeping the period of performance brief (ibid)

The changes to the MPT and SAT were made prior to the Defense Production Act being invoked. The Defense Production Act, authorizes certain agencies providing specific products or services with relation to the coronavirus relief efforts, to move to the front of the line. However, GSA strongly advises contracting officers to verify pricing and contractor details on GSA Advantage and GSA eLibrary. (ibid)

Interested in contracting for relief efforts? Give us a call.

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.