GSA has some big changes coming

Over the last few years, the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) has focused on improving customer and employee experiences. FAS is building on that foundation with the following four new initiatives:

  1. Modernize and consolidate the schedule contracts
  2. Develop commercial platforms under Section 876
  3. Develop a contract acquisition lifecycle management system
  4. Move toward catalog management for all products and services (Federal News Network July 1, 2021)

According to Sonny Hashmi, FAS Commissioner, the goal is to reduce friction for agency customers and contractors selling their products and services. (ibid)

At a recent Government Procurement Conference Hashami said, “if you look at the transactions that are going through, the majority are in the service marketplaces, whether it’s in IT or non-IT services. Then we have a products catalog marketplace and those experiences are slightly different how you buy a product is slightly different than how you engage with a vendor on services. We have to kind of provide that distinction. When it comes to products, we’re seeing customers increasingly wanting to see a self-service type, model, more of an e-commerce model. So that begs the question of what’s the future of GSA Advantage? How do we scale it? How do we make it more powerful? Then, of course, there’s a new policy frameworks coming our way from Section 889, supply chain risk management, cybersecurity and cybersecurity maturity model certification (CMMC) compliance. We have to incorporate all of those as part of our thinking as well.” Hashmi noted that the effort to consolidate is 90% complete. (ibid)

The deputy commissioner at FAS, Tom Howder, expects GSA to make an award near the end of fiscal 2021 to develop the catalog management system. The contractor awarded will help manage data and catalog listings. The goal is to “make it easier for contractors to get on GSA contracts” according to Howder. (ibid)

Hashmi noted the focus on the customer is guiding its request for information and the possibility of setting up a new cloud services blanket purchase agreement. He noted that FAS is aware that the more GWACs and multiple award contracts they create, such the OASIS replacement including POLARIS, ASTRO and 8(a)STARS III, the more confusing it may become. (ibid)

Hashmi said, “give us some time. We don’t want to break what works. Industry should not worry that we’re going to take opportunity away from them. If you’re a company that’s been very successful on OASIS, engage in the OASIS replacement conversation, make sure that you are also going to be very successful on the new contract. But if you’re a company that was left out of OASIS, guess what, you now have an opportunity to also be successful in the new contract vehicle. That’s where I’m looking at it. Now we want to make sure that we talk constantly with our customers and our suppliers. So we can wait until this thing gets released and then say, ‘Well, this is not going to work for us.’ Or you can engage with us now to make sure we build something that’s going to actually work for you. We’re a couple of years away from this being fully figured out and issued. That’s plenty of time for us to rethink how we are going to do competition. Engage with us, give us some ideas, and then let’s make it so that it’s accessible for you.” (ibid)

Questions about the Federal Marketplace Strategy or how you can provide input? Give us a call.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday eBuy!

If you’ve not heard of eBuy it is the paperless request-for-quote (RFQ) system GSA put into place 20 years ago. It was set up to connect suppliers to the contracting process for various products and services. According to eBuy’s Senior Program Analyst Rich Carlson, “in 2001, this online program revolutionized how government connected buyers and sellers for contracting quotes. eBuy streamlined the process, allowing more suppliers, especially small businesses, to participate and connect in ways that they couldn’t before.”  (gsa.gov/blog June 25, 2021)

eBuy offers a single, user-friendly electronic platform with the appropriate supporting documentation and approved supplier oversight. eBuy provides the ability for federal clients, state and local governments to post RFQs, make changes in real-time, and connect buyers with suppliers to secure the best pricing and value for competitive quotes. Additionally, eBuy is available for use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (ibid)

eBuy gives clients the confidence that suppliers meet all FAR and acquisition regulations. Additionally, companies of all sizes find opportunities to bid on contracts, with these opportunities all on a centralized platform. Multiple types of RFQs have been added to eBuy such as blanket purchase agreements (BPAs), set-asides, and governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACS) for complex IT solutions. 2020 saw a complete redesign and refresh of functionality. (ibid)

When eBuy was created, 5 RFQs were launched on the site. 22 years later, more than $22 billion in awards have been contracted through eBuy with no slow down in sight. (ibid)

Questions about eBuy and how you can take advantage of it? Give us a call.

 

 

 

Biden doubling up on Small Disadvantaged Business contracts

In June the Biden -Harris administration announced a plan to increase the small disadvantage business (SDB) contracting goal by 50% or $100 billion over the next 5 years. If met, this goal would represent the largest increase in SDB contracting in 30 years. The Biden-Harris administration is requiring agencies to assess every available tool to lower hurdles to entry and increase opportunities for small businesses to compete for federal contracts. (PilieroMazza.com June 21, 2021)

In addition, the Biden-Harris Administration also released the particulars of Biden’s American Jobs Plan. The Plan will inject $30 billion into new Small Business Administration (SBA) initiatives, reducing small business ownership and success obstacles. The Plan will increase access to capital by creating a new direct loan program for the smallest businesses, developing new loan products, available through the new Small Business Investment Corporation, to support small manufacturers who invest in clean energy. (ibid)

The American Jobs Plan will also invest in SBA technical assistance programs that incubate and offer technical assistance to 8(a) firms. The investment should encourage Fortune 500 firms to work with more socially and economically disadvantaged businesses. The investments include a $1 billion grant program through the Minority Business Development Agency. The grant program is to assist minority-owned manufacturers access to private capital. (ibid)

Curious about the American Jobs Plan and the new SDB contracting goal? Give us a call.

Cloud services bought “by the drink”

In May, Jeff Koses, GSA’s senior procurement executive, released a second draft policy allowing agencies to buy cloud services “by the drink”, via schedule contract. Koses includes in the draft, how the policy will work, the Price Reduction Clause, and how the funding works.

Koses said, “GSA anticipates purchasing cloud computing on a consumption basis will increase competition, as the move towards commercial practices will encourage new entrants to the FSS program. With a contract structure more closely tied to real-time demand, this approach also provides greater flexibility to take advantage of technology improvements and better support cybersecurity. Tying cloud computing procurements to commercial market prices will also provide cost transparency without burdening contractors with additional transactional price reporting requirements. Plus, this approach promotes cost efficiency as it reduces the need to lock into long term contracts in markets where falling prices are reasonably anticipated.”

Nick West, GSA’s deputy director of the Office of Policy, Integrity and Workforce said, “We hope the policy lays out a clear way to execute the pay by the drink execution strategy using the schedules. We hope to have some sort of language in the schedule contracts by the fall or maybe earlier, hopefully. We really are looking to build something that the IOs will use and [industry] will offer solutions for them to use.”

Keith Nakasone, who recently served as deputy assistant commissioner for acquisition in GSA’s Office of IT Category, feels the pay-by-the-drink model to the schedules allows the Federal Acquisition Service to develop special item number 518210C (previously 132-40).

The second and first draft memos differ slightly. The second draft memo directs agencies to buy off cloud service provider pricelists receiving discounts as prices change. This allows agencies to incrementally fund task orders for cloud services as opposed to putting all of the money on a specific contract at once. Although this doesn’t allow for heavy discounts upfront, it does mirror how private industry acquires cloud services.

The new policy will allow GSA to make it easier for agencies to buy cloud services. A long-time goal of the agency.  Have cloud services you want to get on schedule?  Give us a call.

 

 

GSA contracting just got a whole lot easier – well, maybe

This past May, the General Services (GSA) issued Refresh #6 to the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Program solicitation. The goal of Refresh #6 is to modernize and simplify the way contractors do business with the Federal Government. (SecurityInfowatch.com June 14, 2021)

Some of the most significant changes are:

  • Establishment of a Verified Products Portal (VPP). The VPP aims to keep vendors from unauthorized selling of products to the government, under the Federal Supply Schedule.  In most cases, manufacturers who did provide a Letter of Supply (LOS) to resellers will use the VPP as an alternative authorization. (The VPP will not replace GSA Advantage or the SIP program, see VPP@gsa.gov)
  • COVID-19 Waiver which creates a temporary waiver for some requirements of the GSA submission application for vendors who offer products or services supporting the government’s response to COVID-19. The two-year corporate experience requirement is waived.
  • MAS contract cancellation deferrals. This is extremely helpful to contractors who haven’t met the minimum sales requirements per the I-FSS-639 Contract Sales Criteria.
  • Consolidation of the GSA Schedules Program. GSA, by consolidating, hopes to eliminate duplication and standardize processes while at the same time updating terms and conditions. The original 25 GSA Schedules became one, with 12 large categories and 83 subcategories. Contractors may now add new SINs beyond their legacy SINs previously awarded. Current GSA contractors had their awarded SINs mapped to new SINs that correspond to NAICS Codes. (All integrators and contractors are advised to speak with their Contracting Officer to figure out the next steps for SINs from a different large category.)
  • Order Level Materials (OLM) SIN added across all categories. OLMs are acquired at the order level giving the contracting officer (OCO) responsibility for making a fair and reasonable price determination. OLMs are authorized for use in direct support of another awarded SIN, they are not Open Market Items.
  • Phase III of the MAS Consolidation requiring all current contractors to consolidate their contracts under one unique identifier  – Dunn & Bradstreet number. This gives contractors a single point of contact within GSA. GSA provides Modification Guidance with each refresh. Contractors should register for the GSA FAS ID and keep passwords up to date.
  • Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) will be issued to contractors in early 2022. This identifier will eliminate the usage of the Dunn & Bradstreet number as a contractor’s government identity. For contractors registered in SAM.gov, the process will take place automatically. (ibid)

GSA is making some major changes over the next 12 months to their GSA Schedules Program. However, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is not expected to be included in the MAS solicitation. Agency-specific requirements for technical certification will be outlined in each specific request for quotation. (ibid)

Are any or all of the above changes a little confusing? Give us a call.