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.

TDR Pilot Still Flying

GSA is extending the Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) pilot program for an additional year, giving everyone ample time to work on the pilot while preparing for the upcoming Schedule consolidation.  The TDR pilot program collects pricing data, including cost to the government for services and products sold under GSA contracts. Ultimately, TDR will replace GSA’s Commercial Sales Practices. (Federal Computer Week, August 19, 2019)

TDR was implemented as a noncompulsory, three-year pilot that included eight schedules and their associated SINs. GSA created TDR to reduce bureaucratic burden and increase transparency by requiring monthly reporting of transactional sales data from government-wide contracts, including Multiple Award Schedules contracts. Ultimately, TDR promotes smarter purchasing by federal agencies by allowing expedited and more comprehensive data to assure best value. (ibid)

The GSA Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report last summer pointing out that the TDR pilot will not produce a quantifiable measurement. According to the OIG, data is not available for use and there are no performance targets. The IG asked GSA to set performance targets for each metric used and to verify the data is available and valid. (ibid) GSA and the FAS Commissioner Alan Thomas stated that the pilot was just getting ramped up and that some tweaks might be necessary based on the OIG report. However, the extension to the TDR pilot will allow more time for additional data gathering. According to Roger Waldron, president for the Coalition for Government Procurement, the extra time will give the pilot stability while allowing the price reductions clause to be removed. (ibid)

GSA will review the pilot at the end of fiscal year 2020 and at that time determine whether to cancel or expand the program to all GSA Schedule SINs. (ibid)

Still wondering how you can take part in the TDR pilot or how GSAs multiple schedule consolidation might work in your favor? Give us a call.

 

Setting Aside the Small Biz Set Asides

The National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) is moving from the Office of Personnel Management to the Department of Defense (DoD), merging with the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA). Of interest to many of EZGSA clients, sources say the move anticipates plans to significantly diminish small business goals at the agency from 65 percent to 10 percent, according to Elizabeth Mudd, small business program manager. (Defense Systems, August 7, 2019)

Mudd believes that the whopping decline in small business goals intends to promote more subcontracting to supplement the four primes that oversee background investigation services. While this may be true, the bottom lines remains that in this fiscal year, NBIB is contributing about $804 million in small business eligible dollars compared to DCSA’s $73.4 million. (ibid)  Maybe the merger won’t actually change the dollar amount contracted with small businesses in the long run, but we’re not holding our breath.

Want to gripe or discuss strategy? We’re here.