Changes A-Comin’ With the Biden Administration

Contractors can expect to see a new executive order requiring federal contractors to pay a $15 minimum wage and provide emergency paid leave. Additionally, this week President Biden signed an executive order pressing federal agencies to buy more American-made products and services. The buy-American order “will ensure that the federal government is investing taxpayer dollars in American businesses—both small and large.” (The White House Statements and Releases, January 25, 2021)

Employers of the largest federal contracting workforce are cheering the minimum wage increase. Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, said Biden issued the minimum wage mandate because “he felt it was something that was not just right to do, but something that was necessary to do.”  (Government Executive, January 22, 2021)

The new buy-American order enhances the Buy American statute passed in 1933 and the Buy America statute passed in 1982. It calls for the following:

  • Closing current loopholes on how domestic content is measured and increasing domestic content requirements.
  • Appoint a new senior leader in the Executive Office of the President in charge of the government’s Made-in-America policy approach.
  • Increase oversight of potential waivers to domestic preference laws. (a GSA-built website will publish waivers publicly)
  • Connect new businesses to contracting opportunities by requiring active use of supplier scouting by agencies.
  • Reiteration of the President’s strong support for the Jones Act.
  • Direct a cross-agency review of all domestic preferences.
  • Support America’s Workers through Federal Purchasing. (The White House Statements and Releases January 25, 2021)

The buy-American order allows American manufacturers and workers to see how federal dollars are spent and where the money is funneled and used, providing transparency promised by the new administration. The higher minimum wage will empower the workforce and provide much needed economic relief. (Government Executive, January 22, 2021)

Questions concerning the new minimum wage or the buy-American order and their effect on future procurements? Give us a call.

Born in the USA

Last week DOD set in motion the Trusted Capital Digital Marketplace, the goal of which is to give companies an alternative to foreign investors. Often, using foreign investors prohibits contracting with the Department of Defense (DoD). The marketplace originally piloted last year with the official launch last month.

Both companies and investors apply to join the marketplace and are screened by DoD. Those accepted are listed in the digital marketplace as trusted receivers or sources of funds and may connect with each other. As of this writing, 128 companies and 30 investors have logged into the marketplace.

Tax cuts and the Jobs Act of 2017, creating new designations for special national security-related companies in the tax code, are crucial components of the marketplace. Additionally, the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act references the marketplace program. Combined, these will increase use of the program; as users report on the program efforts, it expands. The goal is to help start-ups obtain funding without looking to foreign investors who may have adversarial ties.

Are you looking to work with the Department of Defense and trying to figure out how to get funding? Give us a call.

Polaris Replacing Alliant 2

This past July, GSA put to rest the Aliant 2 Small Business contract. The just last week, GSA released a draft RFP named Polaris, a Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) to provide customized Information Technology (IT) services-based solutions.  The draft RFP breaks out small business contractors into specific “pools,” for Small Business, HUBZone Small Businesses, and Women Owned Small Businesses. GSA reserves the right to add additional pools when deemed necessary. (beta.SAM.gov, December 31, 2020)

According to the draft RFP, Polaris will provide agencies with customized IT services and IT services-based solutions, which can be tailored to meet particular mission needs and may include any combination of IT services and new and emerging technologies. (ibid)

GSA encourages contractors to provide innovative solutions to task order requirements prioritizing emerging technologies.  Examples of emerging technologies included within the draft RFP are:

  • Advanced and Quantum Computing — cryptography/encryption, secure communications, design of high-performance computers, computer clusters, and networks, Quantum Machine Learning
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) — Computer Vision, Deep Learning, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing (NLP),  Spatial Computing, Speech Recognition
  • Automation technology — Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Automated Messaging Services, Data Cleaning Scripts, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Smart Notification
  • Distributed ledger technology — Blockchain Implementation Solutions, DLT Network Design Services, Smart Contract Programming Services
  • Edge computing — 5G Implementation Services, Edge Analytics, Edge Application Services, Edge Computing Architecture Design Services, Internet of Things (IoT) Services
  • Immersive technology  — Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality

Examples of Performance areas within the draft RFP are as follows:

  • Cloud Services
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Management
  • Information and Communications Technologies
  • IT Operations and Maintenance
  • Software Development
  • System Design

Contractors may “provide ancillary support as necessary to offer an IT services-based solution,” but, as with the GSA Schedule, only “when it is integral to and necessary for the IT services-based effort.” (ibid)

Contractors should take note of the security considerations as purchasers may be from the Department of Defense as well as civilian agencies. In particular, the Defense Department’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification is a developing regulation and requirement included in the draft RFP. Additional Cybersecurity and Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) requirements are expected to also be included. (ibid)

All draft RFP feedback is due by 4:00 PM Central Time, January 29, 2021.

Have questions concerning the draft RFP, who can respond, and how? Give us a call.