FAR Changes

With the end of the Fiscal Year looming, the push is on to exhaust agency budgets. In an effort to make acquisitions move through the process more quickly and smoothly, DOD, GSA, and NASA have issued an amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). The amendment fine-tunes the  FAR and eliminates a step in the acquisition process. (Fedscoop, July 15, 2019)

Per the FAR, agencies were required to justify the best procurement approach when using GSA’s IT Schedule 70, Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts, or assisted acquisition solutions. As of June 5, the new FAR amendment allows agencies to skip that step. Agencies are now able to quickly find GSA IT category contracts and acquisition solutions. (ibid)

According to Bill Zielinski, assistant commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition services office, agencies “can now identify and quickly use GSA IT Category contracts and acquisition solutions, especially as they embark on their end-of-year IT spending and acquisition efforts.” Zielinski feels the new change to the FAR reduces the administrative burden for agencies procuring through GSA’s IT Schedule 70 or through GWACs such as 8(a) STARS 2 and Alliant 2, as well as through assisted acquisition programs. (Federal Computer Week, July 15, 2019)

Curious about the new FAR language and how it affects your GSA schedule? Give us a call and we can review it with you.

 

 

GSAmazon

GSA recently asked for feedback on proposed requirements for the upcoming e-commerce portals program. (Fedscoop, July 2, 2019)

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act requires GSA put into place a multiple-award proof of concept site similar to those of Amazon and other large online commerce sites. This will update the way agencies purchase products outside of existing contracts. (ibid)

An estimated $6 billion is spent on open-market purchases through government-issued credit cards. The e-commerce portals program pilot will launch with hand-picked agencies and a spending limit of $10,000 on any one order. GSA is asking Congress to raise the threshold to $25,000 for the five-year pilot to better evaluate the program. (ibid)

“During the initial proof of concept, GSA will encourage robust competition through the implementation of multiple e-marketplace platforms,” said a deputy assistant commissioner at the Federal Acquisition Service within GSA. “We are looking to leverage business-to-business terms whenever practicable, to allow for streamlined buying while obtaining a more transparent and centralized view of the type of government-wide spend.” (ibid)

The goal of the Commercial Platforms Program is to start small and refine. The Commercial Platforms Initiative is just one of four Federal Marketplace Strategy projects. The draft solicitation was issued on July 2nd and is open for public comment for 30 days. (GSA interact July 2, 2019)

Interested in how you might fit into the e-commerce portals program? Give us a call.

GSA Schedules’ Summer Diet

GSA decided it’s high time that 24 multiple award schedules shrink all the way down to one.

To accomplish this, GSA is conducting an analysis across all Schedules, which include 10 million commercial products and services that bring in more than $31 billion in sales annually. Public feedback can be provided on the consolidation through a recently released request for information (RFI); it asks the public to weight in on the contents as well as clauses and provisions being considered. (Nextgov, June 2019)

According to Stephanie Shutt, director of the MAS Program Management Office, streamlining terms and conditions will make if it far easier for vendors to work with the government and vice versa. (ibid)

The current plan is a single schedule for services and products that are “mapped to the current government-wide category structure.” Special Item Numbers (which help identify products) are also falling under review. New SINs will follow shortly and as with the MAS, will be open for public comment. (ibid) We’ve also heard rumors that GSA will be dispensing with SINs all together, and will instead use NAICS codes.

Big changes! Give us a call with any questions about the RFI or how your current contract might be affected.

COMET Commeth!

The General Services Administration (GSA) has released the second and much sought after piece of the IT services procurement known as COMET. The solicitation aims to create a multiple-award blanket purchase agreement (BPA) on top of IT schedule 70.

GSA plans to make between 10 and 12 awards with a minimum of 25 percent set aside for small businesses. The BPA will require a host of IT services, including operations and maintenance, cloud and the continued development, and support of the acquisition systems portal beta.SAM.gov. GSA’s goal is a three-step evaluation approach, including an in-person technical challenge.

In April, GSA issued the RFP for the first and substantially smaller piece of COMET focused on architecture, engineering, and advisory support. (FedBizOpps)

Have questions about COMET and how your company fits in? Give us a call at 301-913-5000.

We See the Future and it is … Single Sign On

By now you’ve likely heard of Single Sign On (SSO). It’s not exactly new, and it’s currently used by just a few agencies, but it is the wave of the future as agencies move to more cloud-based apps. In fact, 6 U.S. Code § 1523(b)(1)(D), a provision of law governing federal cybersecurity regulations, states that agency heads must “implement a single sign-on trusted identity platform for individuals accessing each public website of the agency that requires user authentication.” This provision was created by GSA working with the Department of Homeland Security. (FedTech, May 24, 2019)

What exactly is SSO? SSO allows a user to sign in one time with one high-strength password and access all that specific user’s authorized applications. With SSO, a user need not memorize a different password for each and every application they access. SSO uses the Security Assertion Markup Language protocol that gives the user the ability to log on once for affiliated but separate websites. According to Tracy David, a cloud client executive at CDW, SSO uses “highly complex encrypted keys, which the end user has no access to view or change.” Ultimately, this makes for a much higher level of security for each agency. (ibid)

At this time, you must log in to each app with a different password. More often than not, passwords across applications are similar (if not the same) and easily remembered. This weakens the security level of the agency as stolen credentials account for roughly 80 percent of breaches. With SSO, you have one complex, single-sign-on password protected with multi-factor authentication.  (ibid)

Many agencies are still using on-premises SSO, which will be more difficult as apps move to the cloud. Insiders believe that the Defense Department’s forthcoming Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract signals cloud adoption becoming the “norm” in government.

Questions about how this affects your current government contract, or how you might work with the government on SSO Technology? Give us a call at 301-913-5000.