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Contract management

A New Rule for Cleaner Contracts

The Department of Defense, General Services Administration, and NASA have jointly issued a final rule amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation to enforce the procurement and utilization of sustainable products and services as identified or recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This initiative aims to align federal agencies with environmentally responsible practices, promoting the purchase of products and services that meet specific sustainability criteria. Notably, the rule mandates the acquisition of WaterSense-label water-efficient products and services, as well as Safer Choice-certified products containing safer chemical ingredients, as outlined by the White House. (Executive Gov April 22, 2024)

In addition to the specified product requirements, the final rule compels federal agencies to adhere to the EPA’s recommended environmental standards and ecolabels, which were updated in October 2023. These standards serve as guidance for purchasers to accurately identify and procure environmentally preferable products and services, contributing to the overall sustainability efforts of the government. EPA Administrator Michael Regan emphasized the significance of these enhanced purchasing standards in advancing the administration’s environmental objectives while concurrently bolstering domestic manufacturing and fostering economic growth nationwide. (ibid)

Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Brenda Mallory, underscored the role of the new standards in supporting President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. By prioritizing the purchase of sustainable products and services certified to EPA-recommended standards and ecolabels, federal agencies can contribute to job creation within the United States while advancing climate action and environmental sustainability goals. Ultimately, this final rule is aligned with the Biden administration’s Federal Sustainability Plan, which aims to achieve net-zero emissions and other procurement objectives by 2050, signaling a significant step towards a more sustainable future.

Looking to align your contracts more closely to the GSA/NASA final FAR regulation? Give us a call.

Are you listening, it’s me your government customer?

Business development expert Nic Coppins reveals eight habits that government contractors exhibit, alienating customers and stakeholders. While many deny these habits, they do exhibit them. This begs the question, are you customer-focused or just acting?

  1. Talking Too Much: Dominating conversations hinders engagement, prioritizing your voice over the customers’. Remember, if you are talking, you are losing. (Washington Technology, February 23, 2024)
  2. Jargon Overload: Speak plainly to ensure clarity; ditch confusing acronyms and tech terms to ensure your message hits home. (ibid)
  3. “Solution-itis” is an actual disease: Slow down, diagnose first, and tailor your solutions to fit customer needs. (ibid)
  4. Question Quality: Craft insightful questions to uncover unique challenges and differentiate yourself from the competition. (ibid)
  5. The Disengaged Listener: Be present and engaged; absorb what’s being said instead of rehearsing responses. (ibid)
  6. Self-Centered Approaches: Align with the customer’s needs, not overshadowing them with your agenda.
  7. Skipping Personal Connection: Take time to build rapport and trust before diving into business.
  8. The blame game, look inwards: Take responsibility for your communication style and actively seek feedback.

Confront these habits head-on to improve customer relationships and prioritize effective communication and genuine engagement.

Not certain how to get back on track? Give us a call.

GSA streamlines and saves you time

The General Services Administration (GSA) appears to have successfully modernized its catalog management system for the Advantage! program. (Federal News Network February 5, 2024)

GSA is increasing the user base of the new FAS Catalog Platform (FCP) after a successful trial period with Office Supplies 4 vendors. (ibid)

Mike Shepherd, the director of GSA’s catalog management office, explains the significant improvements of the FCP over the previous SIP system. He states that the FCP, replacing SIP, offers new features benefiting suppliers, acquisition workforce, and customers. It integrates with e-modification, capturing catalog updates and automating publishing modifications to GSA Advantage!. This greatly reduces the time it takes for vendors to add new products and delete items. It saves vendors an averge of 34 days by adding the products to their catalogs. Catalog deletions take place within 1 to 2 days of a modication submitted by the contractor, whereas it was common for it to take 10 or more days to delete products prior to the improvements. (ibid)

In addition to addressing long-standing issues, the platform includes automated data validation, a central hub for catalog actions, access to catalog history and a shared user interface. (ibid)

GSA plans to add more users and initiate a pilot for professional services on the platform. In addition, GSA aims to migrate the majority of Advantage! catalogs to the new platform by fiscal year-end. The plan also includes expanding the catalog platform to services contractors later this year, aiming for a simplified submission process. (ibid)

The new catalog is part of a broader effort to modernize GSA Advantage!, including consolidating schedules and updating user tools and backend systems, that both run and feed Advantage!. (ibid)

GSA will continue to gather feedback from users to address challenges and ensure ongoing improvement.(ibid)

Questions about the FCP improvements and how they might affect your contract? Give us a call.

A Quick Dive into GSA’s Game-Changing Proposed Economic Price Adjustment Clause

The General Services Administration’s (GSA) recently proposed to revise the General Services Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) Federal Supply Schedule Economic Price Adjustment (EPA) clauses. Issued on November 16, 2023, the rule aims to align with commercial standards and practices by eliminating specific EPA requirements and introducing a standardized clause: 552.238-118, Economic Price Adjustment, Federal Supply Schedule Contracts. (Federal News Network, January 12, 2024)

This new clause mirrors the principles outlined in GSA Acquisition Letter MV-22-02 from March 2022, which temporarily suspended certain procedural limits within FSS clauses. This move provided contractors with increased flexibility in processing EPAs, responding more effectively to shifts in the commercial market. The proposed rule extends this market-driven flexibility into the GSAR. (ibid)

The EPA proposed rule is defined as the “agreed-upon procedure” for adjusting pricing throughout a contract period.” The proposed clause empowers contracting officers and contractors to negotiate the mechanism, timing, and frequency of price adjustments. This streamlined, flexible approach is poised to enhance responsiveness to market changes. (ibid)

When contract prices are based on commercial catalog pricing, adjustments can align with changes in the catalog price. Similarly, if an index determines adjustments, changes in the index can dictate price adjustments. These mechanisms, being part of the contract, underscore the proposal’s pragmatic approach. (ibid)

For the success of this flexible EPA, implementation across the FSS program is crucial. Proper training for the acquisition workforce, focusing on pricing context and accurate data usage, is paramount. The proposed rule’s success depends on aligning the FSS program with the commercial market, necessitating revisions to current policies such as Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Policy and Procedure (PAP) 2021-05. (ibid)

The PAP, as it stands, contains contradictory guidance inconsistent with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, escalating data submission burdens on FSS contractors. To streamline the EPA process effectively, reforming, revising, and reissuing the PAP in accordance with legal and operational goals is a logical starting point. (ibid)

Beyond reducing regulatory burdens, success hinges on comprehensive training, clear guidance, and accountability. Stakeholders, including coalition members, stand ready to assist the agency in operationalizing the rule successfully. (ibid)

Questions concerning price adjustments to your current contract? Give us a call.

A workflow for everyone

The Catalog Management Office (CMO) is actively finalizing the workflow for Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) services between eMod and the new FAS Catalog Platform (FCP). Simultaneously, they are completing the new Services Plus File for FCP use, marking progress towards launching MAS service functionality in FCP by fiscal year-end 2024 (refer to the attached file for the Services Plus file). (BUY.GSA.GOV NOVEMBER 30, 2023)

The Services Plus file, formerly the Service File, will now accommodate all service contract and catalog data from the Services and Training, and the Language Services Price Proposal Templates. Vendors will also utilize it for non-GSA Advantage! publishable products, such as highly customizable items. (ibid)

Vendors can categorize their offerings in the new template under eight catalog item types:

  1. Commercial Labor Categories: Vendor-defined labor categories, using the hour (HR) unit of measure.
  2. Service Contract Labor Standards (SCLS) labor categories: Governed by Service Contract Act laws and regulations, using the HR unit of measure.
  3. Fixed Price Solutions: Services outside the labor category paradigm, using any unit of measure.
  4. Courses and Training: Sessions with minimum and maximum student constraints.
  5. Other Direct Costs (ODCs): Contract-level items sold, supporting public relations and marketing services.
  6. Language Services: Translation services, translating languages, one or both ways.
  7. Highly Customizable Products: Products with multiple options, that cannot be sold on GSA Advantage! Priced as a discount to a manufacturer group or family, as opposed to pricing products as a discrete set of line items.
  8. Ancillary Items: Products or services supporting the dominant service in the Services Plus File, and not sold on GSA Advantage! (ibid)

Questions about how to categorize your offerings? Give us a call.