Speedy Payments? Yes Please.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is changing to allow government contracting small businesses to get paid within 15 days of invoicing. Furthermore, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of the Treasury (Treasury), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the General Services Administration (GSA) are working together to issue a memorandum that authorizes the expedited payments in advance of the updated changes to the FAR. (JDSUPRA, May 14, 2020)

Contractors should contact their government Contracting Officer to facilitate those payments. For example, a DHS Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) recipient currently paid within 30 days of invoicing may be eligible for a contract modification to accelerate payments upon the exercise of any options under that contract. (ibid)

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, Section 873, requires agencies to establish an accelerated payment date for certain contracts with a goal of payment 15 days after an invoice is received, if a specific payment date is not established by the contract. The change will be implemented via an applicable FAR revision.

Other formal additions to the FAR include 52.212-5 (Contract Terms and Conditions Required to Implement Statutes or Executive Orders – Commercial items), FAR 52.213-4 (Terms and Conditions – Simplified Acquisitions (Other Thank Commercial Items)), and FAR 52.244-6 (Subcontracts and Commercial Items.) (ibid)

This is great news for small businesses looking to decrease hardships produced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Questions about the FAR changes and the expedited payment memorandum? Give us a call.

Bye Bye Self Certify

Certification changes for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) and Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs (EDWOSBs) will occur this summer. The Small Business Administration (SBA) expects the updated regulation to be published on 30 June 2020, and to go into effect 30 days after. (U.S. Small Business Administration)

Info we have so far includes:

  • Self-certification as a WOSB or EDWOSB will end
  • Certification, going forward, will be accomplished through an approved third-party entity or through SBA’s free online certification at certify.sba.gov. (ibid)

To assist in awarding women-owned business contracts, the government limits competition, by including just those businesses participating in the women’s contracting program. The goal of the government is to award the contracts to women-owned businesses in industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Some contracts are restricted even further to include economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs) only. The SBA keeps a current list of those eligible industries. (ibid)

Eligibility for the women’s contracting program:

  • Qualify as a small business
  • Company at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens
  • A company with the day-to-day management of operations and long-term decisions controlled by women

Eligibility for the economically disadvantaged business within the women’s contracting program:

  • Meet all requirements of the women’s contracting program
  • Business is owned/controlled by one or more women, each with a personal net worth less than $750,000
  • Business is owned/controlled by one or more women, each with $350,000 or less in adjusted gross income averaged over the previous three years
  • Business is owned/controlled by one or more women, each $6 million or less in personal assets

The eligibility requirements are spelled out in Title 13 Part 127 Subpart B of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). (ibid)

To participate in the women’s contracting program, you must be certified as a women-owned business. First the company must have a profile on SAM.gov, and then go through the aforemention process at certify.SBA.gov. The SBA has approved the following four organizations to provide third-party certifications:

Updating certification information annually through both SAM.gov and certify.SBA.gov will maintain your status within the program as well as make contracting officers aware that your business meets the eligibility requirements to compete under the WOSB or EDWOSB umbrella.

Questions about self-certification, third-party certification, or the women-owned business contracting arena? Give us a call.

 

Lead Times! Get Your Lead Times Here!

When is the actual start and end of Procurement Administrative Lead Times (PALT)? The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) is working on a measurement to answer this question, which seems to be not only a grey area in the procurement arena but a disputed one, as well.

OFPP is looking at the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, section 878, which describes PALT as “the time between the date on which an initial solicitation for a contract or order is issued by a federal department or agency and the date of the award of the contract or order.”  OFPP would like to marginalize procurement process delays and believes having this definition in place will minimize those delays. (FCW, February 24, 2020)

The Professional Services Council and the Council of Defense and Space Industry Associations both welcome the definition being put in place. However, naysayers argue the OFPP language misses pre-solicitation work, such as: creating a requirements planning package that provides solicitation facts prior to issue; or when a particular contract is initially funded. According to some, the current definition ignores pre-solicitation lead time factors which do contribute to the time needed for a contracting officer to move from contract request to contract requirement in solicitation. (ibid)

Wondering how this affects your upcoming proposal efforts? Give us a call.

Unpricing GSA

The Coalition for Government Procurement has been lobbying for an unpriced schedule, and Section 876 of Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act provides just that. It authorizes agencies, specifically GSA and its Schedules (41 USC 152) to not include price or cost as an evaluation criterion when awarding hourly rate and service contracts.  (Federal News Network, January 10, 2020)

An unpriced schedule is seen as more efficient by:

  • Allowing for evaluation against actual requirements
  • Reducing oversight activities associated with auditing of the award and the Price Reductions Clause
  • Honing competition by permitting customers to highlight speed and need for agency-specific service requirements
  • Allowing for common commercial practices in structuring contracts
  • Reducing hurdles to market entry for small businesses by allowing federal customers to leverage technology to meet end mission goals (ibid)

As we mentioned earlier in the week, GSA’s IG found that current pricing tools are resulting in insufficient price determinations. In many cases, the use of the CALC and CODCD pricing tools result in agency overpayment. The IG report stated, the “intent of the MAS Program is to leverage the government’s buying power in an effort to provide customer agencies with competitive, market-based pricing… GSA’s contracting officers are required to seek the best price granted to the contractor’s most favored commercial customer.”

The report outlines GSAM requirements that guide pricing determinations, such as requiring the government to pursue most favored customer pricing. It also defines methods that contracting officers should use to compare the terms and conditions of the MAS solicitation with those of the offeror’s commercial customers. MAS allows agencies to take advantage of the government’s purchasing power; moreover, it offers a channel for agencies to obtain commercial services and products swiftly. Per the statute, all responsible sources participate in the program, and all orders “result in the lowest overall cost alternative to meet the needs of the Federal Government (41 USC 152).” (ibid)

GSAR 538.270-1, states, “the Government recognizes that the terms and conditions of commercial sales vary and there may be legitimate reasons why the best price is not achieved.” This language actually reinforces leveraging the unpriced schedule. It highlights the complexity around contract-level pricing that is removed from government requirements reflected in a specific order. (ibid)

Federal News Network editorializes that an unpriced schedule focuses the price evaluation on actual requirements in real-time as they are being sought in the market. This type of competition, for agency-specific requirements, results in the most cost-effective, best value outcome for the agency.When resources are focused on competition, it’s a win for agencies, GSA and industry providers.

If you’re interested in learning more, give us a call.

GSA Updating their e-Market Portal

On October 1st, GSA issued a solicitation requesting proposals from e-marketplace portal providers. The solicitation is for the initial proof of concept of the Commercial Platforms program, part of the foundation of GSA’s Federal Marketplace Strategy (FMP) to simplify federal buying and selling and how federal agencies buy commercial off-the-shelf products. Proof of concept implementation is through partnerships with many commercial e-marketplace platform providers currently offering business-to-business capabilities. This gives federal agencies greater visibility into their online spending. (GSA.gov, October 2, 2019)

GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said, “As federal procurement continues to evolve, simplifying how we purchase basic commodities will allow agencies to focus more on work that directly serves their missions. Federal agencies spent approximately $260 million using online portals last year and it is critical that we use the Commercial Platforms program to better understand and manage this.” (ibid)

The proof of concept is GSA’s kickoff for changing the way federal agencies purchase commercial products via the open market, implementing the requirement of Section 846 in the FY 18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Last year GSA conducted stakeholder outreach and market research to get a better understanding of the open market place. They determined to take small steps through an iterative program management approach to Commercial Platforms. (ibid)

Proposals are due by November 1, 2019, at 5 PM EST. (FedBizOpps.gov, October 1, 2019)

Are you wondering how the e-marketplace will affect your current contract? Do you provide B2B services in the private sector and have questions about the solicitation? Give us a call.