The Price Reduction Clause needs to go

On July 9th, the Biden administration issued the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. Much of the focus of the Order is on fair and open competition. One way to accomplish this is the elimination of the Price Reduction Clause (PRC). The elimination of the PRC will streamline the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) program by removing barriers to entry into the federal marketplace. (Federal News Network July 19, 2021)

Robin Carnahan, General Services Administration Administrator, during her confirmation hearing, said, “I’ve talked to businesses that have tried to get on GSA Schedules… [T]hey’ve told me about how difficult that process is, and I’m interested in learning more about how we can streamline that.” The Price Reduction Clause elimination is a start. (ibid)

One could argue the following points to eliminate PRC:

  • The advancement of technology and the use of new purchasing practices have all but rendered the PRC obsolete.
  • The PRC can keep agencies from purchasing ground-breaking technologies from new vendors.
  • The PRC puts an undue compliance burden on small, medium, and large FSS contractors, costing them millions of dollars each year.
  • Price and value are driven by competition, at the task order level and in real-time. The PRC pre-determines contract-level pricing, often negotiating against presumed requirements from the past.
  • Compliance costs of the PRC can be detrimental to small businesses attempting to address the PRC’s complex compliance requirements.
  • The PRC is the only governmentwide contract term that can restrict contractors working with the government from competing in the commercial marketplace. This hurts jobs and economic growth. (ibid)

The elimination of the PRC will increase competition. Small businesses will more easily compete as price and value will drive task order-level competition. Without PRC’s complex compliance requirements,  small businesses will finally be able to afford to compete.

Looking to provide services to the government but the PRC has been a stumbling block? Give us a call.

 

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.

 

 

 

Small Businesses getting their fair shake

GSA is stepping up its game to support underserved communities across the federal government. Their goal is for every small business to have equal access to the federal marketplace and the opportunities the marketplace holds. (GSABLOG June 16, 2021)

The GSA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) is working on behalf of the small business community in these ways:

  • The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. The program encourages participation in innovation by women, people of color, and people with disabilities. The SBIR contracts will fund a varied portfolio of start-ups to encourage technological innovation, meet research and development (R&D) needs and increase commercialization to transition R&D into impact.
  • Furthering the Federal Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Competitiveness Strategy Framework, thereby making it easier for HBCUs to compete for federal opportunities.
  • Improvements to the certification process for the U.S. Small Business Administration Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Businesses (EDWOSB). These improvements will strengthen oversight, improve customer experience, facilitate participation in the WOSB Federal Contracting Program, and maintaining the integrity of the certification process. (ibid)

GSA is committed to working with small businesses, often considered the backbone of the nation’s economy. Their goal is to break down barriers for small disadvantaged and socioeconomic small businesses advancing their ability to do business with the government. The intent is to create an equal opportunity for everyone. (ibid)

Are you a small business, a women-owned small business, or an economically disadvantaged women-owned small business trying to do work with the federal government? Give us a call.

Selling to the Government in a digital world

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a major change in the way consumers make purchases. What was once a predominately in-person purchasing scenario has moved online. The Business to Government (B2G) segment has not moved as easily into the digital marketplace.

From a social media standpoint, government marketing spending is likely one of the lowest in the world. Therefore, it is not feasible for social media platforms to segment their offerings to accommodate B2G audience segmentation. LinkedIn however, is the one social media platform that does offer government-industry segmentation and programs, making it a powerful tool for those in the federal government acquisition arena.

Small and medium-sized contractors, however, should consider getting in on the ground floor of other social media outlets, before the digital environment begins to get crowded. When setting up your digital marketing plan, keep in mind the most used digital tools are search engine marketing, social media marketing, and programmatic marketing.

A procurement team or official might search for organization information such as past performance and proof of competence when evaluating bidders for requests for proposal compliance. As a contractor, this makes a contractor’s digital strategy extremely important.

The most effective B2G digital strategies include:

  • Consistent brand message across all social media platforms
  • Content compatible with SEO strategy.
  • Expanded or enhanced digital footprint/leverage content to stay “on brand.”
  • Powerful organic content – the original content copy and image posted on social media platforms.
  • Visibility – growth of followers by paid media within specific audiences.

Contractors’ digital content can bring their message to key influencers and decision-makers. Visibility during the RPF or RFQ phase is crucial, especially for small businesses and those on the ground floor looking to start or further their work with government agencies.

Digital strategy questions? 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.