HHS Did What?

The Department of Health and Human Services Program Support Center (PSC) has decided to end assisted acquisition services. Some agencies under the PSC umbrella include: the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Special counsel, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Defense Department (DoD).  (DoD accounts for roughly $1 billion of the $1.4 billion total contract amount under the PSC.) (Federal News Network, July 22, 2019)

It appears HHS stopped offering assisted acquisition services in mid June, just as agencies are preparing for fourth quarter acquisitions. This likely includes the $150 million multiple-award contract PSC was about to award for EPA along with a number of “in-process” contracts for DoD. Additionally, any award for the prior four years must be moved to other agencies or absorbed by the “home” agency by September 20, 2020. (ibid)

So why exactly did HHS decide to stop its assisted acquisition services? In a memo to the civilian agency customers, they said they do not have the internal controls, policies, or procedures necessary. DoD customers received a comparable memo. (ibid)

Why now? Possibly due to the manner in which PSC has handled classified information for DoD and other agencies’ procurements through the self-certification process. The self-certification process is achieved through the DD-254 form. However, a recent audit found that PSC does not actually perform classified work. (ibid)

Unfortunately, this abrupt change is putting a burden on many agencies. Since the decision was made and will affect the fourth-quarter spending, agencies must now scramble to get other assisted acquisition service provider help. The decision also affects vendors, who spend time and money to bid on solicitations that must restart. And the question remains: will vendors lose work from existing contract awards that they bid on and won?

Roughly one-third of all federal spending occurs in the fourth quarter, with one-quarter of the spending in September. Administrators plan to meet with member companies, DoD ,and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to arrive at  a game plan going forward. (Federal News Network, July 22, 2019)

Will this affect a bid you are working on or a recent contract award? If so, give us a call.

HHS is buying smarter

Over the past 18 months, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has been developing the Buy Smarter Initiative. The production phase has ended, and with it a new name: “Reimagined Buy Smarter.” Reimagined Buy Smarter uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze vast amounts of data, comparing prices along with other money saving plans. (Federal News Network, May 17, 2019)

Last year, 97,000 contracts were fed into an AI solution. Algorithms and a proof of concept of 10 product categories demonstrated significant price differentials on the same items. For instance, the same case of copy paper was $27 a case in one instance and $59 in another. (ibid)

DHHS wants requirements operating across all divisions in order to use of economies of scale. Through the development process, they have found that many departments order the same items, but from different contracts at pricing all over the map and duplication of efforts. With Reimagined Buy Smarter, DHHS  departments can consolidate requirements, utilize economies of scale, and eliminate unnecessary contracts. (ibid)

They plan to introduce 18 steps of technology for buyers.  The program has a $49 million multi-award Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract for a catalog of new and emerging technologies. DHHS hopes “to get a very large number of vendors who can provide services that can be shared/scaled across HHS and ultimately the entire government.” (ibid)

DHHS created the new contract due to older contracts being so outdated. The Program Support Center for DHHS receives many requests for new technologies, but by the time the contracts are awarded, they are already obsolete. Additionally, contracting officers have spent a lot of time cutting and pasting from a “paper” system, which will be answered by a pre-populating process automation. (ibid)

Findings suggest the following categories of spending:

  • Medical and lab supplies
  • Software licenses
  • Professional services (ibid)

Workgroups are forming to address consolidating contracts for shared opportunities, eliminating overlapping or unnecessary contracts, and taking advantage of economies of scale. (ibid)

Interested in discussing Reimagined Buy Smarter? Give us a call at (301) 913-5000.