Industry Looking to GSA for Guidance

Agencies are pressuring GSA to provide guidance for meeting deadlines to modernize telecommunications. The  pandemic has delayed many agency transitions, thus making those deadlines nearly impossible to meet. (FEDSCOOP, May 12, 2020)

COVID-19 slowed task order awards under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract, the government’s $50 billion telecom and network modernization channel. In some cases where task orders have been awarded, agencies can’t provide contractors clear instructions. Many believe the task order award delays impede the move from Networx, Washington Interagency Telecommunications System 3, and local service area contracts.

Legacy contracts are set to expire in May 2023. The GAO expects 19 of the agencies who spend the most on EIS to be transitioned over by the legacy expiration date; however many will not meet the GSA’s more aggressive 30 September 2022 deadline. (ibid)

Allen Hill, executive director of telecom services in the Office of IT Category at GSA believes agencies will make GSA aware of the effects of the pandemic, and GSA will in turn work with agencies on a case by case basis. (ibid)

The Department of Defense has their own strategy. They are beginning to rely on the lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) source selection for EIS. DoD plans to report the methodology used to award contracts and task orders in June, once the Federal Procurement Data System modification is complete. Meanwhile, the Defense Information Systems Agency executed six EIS awards last month. Most EIS solicitations are “best value” yet agencies need to balance the overall cost of their transition with the time for implementation. (ibid)

Unfortunately, when agencies speed up transition, companies have less time to address task order requirements properly. This puts the risk on industry to provide the best value while accurately responding to agency requirements. Many task orders were written prior to the pandemic, therefore contractors are forced to address network issues while teleworking. The time it takes to address issues is naturally increased. (ibid)

“Agencies are encouraged to examine any gaps in their network infrastructures and ensure they make appropriate adjustments to their EIS task orders to provide needed capabilities. Modern IT demands modern infrastructure,” Hill stated. (ibid)

Have questions concerning a delayed task order or need one? Give us a call.

More COVID-19 Guidance

Last week the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) updated its agency guidance for federal contractors, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The three main takeaways are:

  • Agencies are encouraged to work with their contractors to allow for the maximization of telework.
  • Agencies must be flexible providing extensions to performance dates if working virtually isn’t possible or if a contractor must quarantine. Agencies should also weigh whether to keep key personnel in a mobile-ready state for national security measures.
  • Agencies are urged to leverage the special emergency procurement authorized in connection with the emergency declaration under the “Stafford Act”. These include increases to: the micro-purchase threshold; the simplified acquisition threshold; and the threshold for using simplified procedures for certain commercial items. These are designed to reduce discord for contractors, especially small businesses, allowing for a more rapid response to the increasing demands agencies face. (Nextgov, March 22, 2020)

The agency guidance comes after trade groups and lawmakers strongly voiced the need for contractor guidance. The updated guidance includes a section of frequently asked questions, including contractor exposure to COVID-19. (ibid)

OMB also issued technology guidance for use during the COVID-19 national emergency. The technology guidance also includes a FAQ section, with steps to ensure IT and cybersecurity measures are met while working remotely. It urges agencies to continue updating their websites to enable public access to government services.

Need some help figuring out OMBs agency guidance for contractors? Give us a call.

Cybersecurity Knowledge for Free

Who should understand cybersecurity? According to the Department of Homeland Security, everyone.  Whether or not you work in IT,  a basic understanding of cybersecurity is necessary. Now, thanks to the National Security Agency (NSA) and Penn State University, you can learn online at no charge. (Federal News Network, October 11, 2019)

NSA and Penn State, as part of an undertaking directed by the Department of Homeland Security, have created an online course to educate people on cybersecurity operations, law, and policy. Geared toward non-lawyers, no technical background is required. The entire course can be taken as a whole or in modules. In addition, anyone interested in the course can teach it or take it. It is offered through the Clark Center, with a variety of other cybersecurity courses.

The course begins with an overview of the U.S. government and the legal system and how they operate, providing a legal framework around cyber operations and cybersecurity. It gives similar overviews of technology concepts, then steps into the legal foundations for modern cyber law and policy focusing on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and their application to these concepts. 

The third and final module reviews cyber operations. This is taught as a cyber threat response framework using real-world cases to keep students engaged. Many examples are taken from actual current events and show how domestic law, national security, and technology intersect. (ibid)

Wondering if you should hone up on your cyber education? Give us a call and we can discuss it with you.

It’s Heeeeere…

The new, single GSA Multiple Award Schedule solicitation was released today, 1 October, and it’s mostly what we expected.

Solicitation number 47QSMD20R0001, refresh 00 (!!) points you to the correct NAICS number for your product or service. The first page of the solicitation references the MAS Roadmap, which includes a guide to preparing your offer and required forms such as the:

  • Agent authorization letter
  • Letter of supply
  • Categories and appropriate NAICS (formerly SIN) numbers
  • Labor category matrix

as well as information about the:

  • Price proposal template, pricing narrative, and pricing support
  • Financial statements
  • Subcontracting plan
  • Technical proposal
  • Professional compensation plan
  • Commercial supplier agreements
  • Previous cancellation and rejection letters
  • Commercial sales practices
  • Commercial or market pricing

You must download separate documents, depending on your proposed product/service. Option categories include: office management, facilities, furniture and furnishings, human capital, industrial products and services, information technology, miscellaneous, professional services, scientific management and solutions, security and protection, transportation and logistics, and travel.

The old standards survive. You must submit via eOffer, the pilot TDR still applies, and you must sell $25,000 per year from the Schedule to keep it. Pathways to Success and the Readiness Assessment remain, as does AbilityOne and SCA.

All service AND product offers must now provide corporate experience and quality control narratives. Furthermore, you now have the option to submit CPARS reports instead of Open Ratings or even a narrative if your company hasn’t six references required by Open Ratings. One positive: GSA now requires only one past project description per service.

The following ominous clause has been included: “The offeror must provide a full and broad array of proposed products/services. An offer will not be accepted with limited product/service offerings unless it represents a total solution for the offeror or proposed product/service offering.” Will small, niche businesses have a more difficult time obtaining an award? Hope not.

Also, until SAM has added representations for the new FAR clause regarding covered telecommunication equipment and services (see our Blog post from 10 September) from particular Chinese companies, proposal submissions must include a statement noting compliance with n 52.204-24 Representation Regarding Telecommunications and Video Surveillance Services or Equipment.

Once awarded, yearly increases for contractors will be capped at four percent for the Human Capital Category, five percent for Professional Services and Travel, and ten percent for all others.

Yes, it’s complicated, and yes we have a handle on it. We are primed and ready to answer all your questions either about a new proposal or your current Schedule. Just 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.