GSA Allowing Some non-TAA Compliant Products

Demand for essential supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated to the point that GSA Senior Procurement Executive (SPE) has issued a Class Determination and Findings (D&F) that temporarily allows procurement of non-Trade Agreement Act (TAA) compliant products through the GSA Schedule contracts. Unavailability of the Federal Supply Classes found in GSA’s SPE memo dated 3 April 2020 is cited as the rationale for the change in contractor procedures. (GSA Interact, April 15, 2020)

All MAS contractors with access to products under these FSCs and able to meet the urgent need should submit a stand-alone modification request via eMod. Information and detailed instructions for submitting the modification along with required templates can be found on the GSA.gov, MAS Contractor and Modification Requirements page. (ibid)

The Federal Acquisition Service will email contractors to which the D&F may apply . If you do not receive an email or your authorized negotiator is not up to date, please contact your Procurement Contracting Officer (PCO). A PCO listing may be found by searching your contract number or company name on gsaelibrary.gsa.gov.

Are you able to meet the urgent needs of the government but do not know how to navigate the MAS Contractor and Modification Requirements? Give us a call.

Telework, the New (Temporary?) Norm

In a recent letter to her contracting staff, Soraya Correa, Homeland Security’s chief procurement officer, asked her contracting staff to stay apprised of the outbreak of COVID-19, before taking any trips. She is relying on the honor system for employees who must take trips to “affected areas, to contact their managers prior to their return to discuss possible telework or leave options.” Also, if they’ve been in close contact with a person “known to have COVID-19” or if airport screeners told them to self-quarantine after returning from overseas travel. Correa went on to say, “if contract performance is affected due to the COVID-19 situation, such as the need for alternate work locations, or travel or schedule changes, the contracting officer is the authority to discuss this with your company.” (FCW, March 9, 2020)

A spokesman for the Professional Services Council expects adjustments of this nature to be the new normal. He expects alternatives to how and where contracting personnel work, with programs necessitating a high level of security being prioritized. (ibid)

Federal agencies are already beginning to shake things up. One example is a recent notice on beta.SAM.gov, where the Department of Defense suggested that attendees of its National Cyber Range Complex Event Planning, Operations, and Support contracting meeting in Florida next week, have alternates at the ready. The notice also mentioned staying tuned in, as the outbreak could cancel the event. (ibid)

Need help determining if your contract may be at risk due to travel/work restrictions as a result of the virus outbreak ? Give us a call.

beta.sam.gov Hiccup Hiccup

When FedBizOpps (FBO) migrated to beta.sam.gov, everyone expected a few hiccups. Now three months in, it’s fair to say government contractors have been experiencing more than just a few hiccups. GSA says the number of help desk calls they get is no more than they got with FBO. However, the frustration over beta.sam.gov runs deep.

Last week contractor discouragement came to a head when the Professional Services Council sent GSA a letter airing not only their complaints but also their concerns. The 22-page letter outlined the four areas of greatest concern:

  • Access Challenges;
  • Search Parameters;
  • Capability to receive contract information;
  • Difficulties in how the site displays information. (Federal News Network, February 17, 2020)

At EZGSA, we have found problems with data organization, standardization, and even saving information. GSA seems ready to add new capabilities next month, but should they? Many feel the backend structure should be fixed before the next phase, moving the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation (FPDS-NG) reporting capabilities to beta.sam.gov in March. (ibid)

Large companies are better able to handle the costs associated with down time or lost data. Small businesses that must  spend thousands of dollars on software, just to get what they got before the FBO migration, are at a great disadvantage.

Need help navigating beta.sam.gov? We will do our best to help and take away some of the frustration. Give us a call.

Program UnSupport Center

Back in June, the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) announced it would halt assisted acquisition services for non-HHS customers after September 30, 2020. Until the announcement, HHS provided assistance through the Program Support Center (PSC). After the deadline, all 19 agencies (with more than $1.4 billion in contracts per year) who had contracts administered by HHS will have to look elsewhere or figure out how to administer the contracts themselves. (Government Executive, September 13, 2019)

PSC lacks the procedures, policies, and internal controls to work with agencies outside of HHS. In addition, questions have been raised as to whether the PSC is actually legally authorized to administer contracts for agencies outside of HHS. (ibid)

Many questions remain unanswered, such as the fate of bids in the process of evaluation. Unfortunately, the PSC is not communicating with customers at this time, according to Federal News Network. This is surprising, as the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Administration focused on the need for “continuous communication” in customer service. (ibid)

So where will all of these contracts be administered? An EPA spokesperson said EPA contracts will either placed on new or existing EPA contract vehicles or handled through interagency agreements with other federal agencies. The Office of Special Counsel is partnering with Merit Systems Protection Board to process a number of mission-critical procurements. In 2020 GSA is assisting OSC with their procurement requirements. (ibid)

If you have questions about how this affects a current bid or your current HHS-administered contract, give us a call.

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.