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Are you a MAS contractor or want to be one?

GSA is working to make it easier for prospective and current Multiple Award Schedule contractors to work with them. They have recently launched a new and improved Vendor Support Center (VSC).

According to eBuy’s Senior Program Analyst Rich Carlson, “our goals for this website overhaul were three-fold. One, we wanted to modernize the bedrock technology and make security enhancements, which aligns with VSC with other websites we’ve updated like GSA Advantage!. Second, we prioritized improving the user experience. And third, we needed to make business process improvements so the website is easier to maintain.” (GSA Blog January 12, 2022)

For the VSC update, GSA went straight to industry. An RFI was released in November with site navigation, help desk availability, and plain language as the main areas of focus. Based on the information obtained from feedback the VSC is searchable content takes less time and is much easier to find. The dynamic search function allows users to see all content when a word or phrase is entered into the search box. (ibid)

Another benefit of the VSC update is the ease of finding help desk information. The home page contains three types of locators for users individual Procurement Contracting Officer (PCO), Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO), and Industrial Operations Analyst (IOA). (ibid)

VSC site navigation is organized by: “I Want a Contract,” “Managing my Contract,” and “Contract Sales.” In addition, the new page “MAS Project Center,” stores resources for all MAS special projects. (ibid)

GSA is continually looking for ways to improve the customer experience and make it easier to do business with them. The new VSC is located at vsc.gsa.gov/vsc/. (ibid)

Questions about the new VSC or how to get started on your journey to a contract with GSA? Give us a call.

How to find the perfect partner – in government contracting

The government contracting arena is not only tough to navigate but also highly competitive. Many businesses turn to business partnerships to better align their products and services to meet the requirements of the government. While there are many forms of business partnerships, the most common are subcontracting, joint ventures, and contractor team arrangements.

Subcontracting is the most popular form of partnership in government contracting. Generally, a prime contractor (possibly with an established government presence) looks for a small business entity to assist with a government contract. This type of partnership works particularly well for a small business trying to “break” into government contracting. Govconwire December 20, 2021

Another form of partnership is a joint venture. This is when a small business especially those under the Small Business Administration’s mentor-protege program form a partnership to execute specific tasks within a government contract. Small businesses will integrate their specific skills to perform under contract guidelines. (ibid)

The third type of partnership is the contractor team arrangement (CTS). This is when two or more businesses, all with GSA Schedule contracts, come together to work on very specific government contracts. (ibid)

There are several ways to meet prospective partners. There are government contracting events, sponsored by businesses and on occasion, the government. Government websites, also publish various subcontracting opportunities, such as eLibrary, SubNet, the SBA Directory of Federal Government Prime Contractors with a Subcontracting Plan, and the Department of Defense’s Subcontracting Opportunity Directory. (ibid)

Being prepared when pitching a potential business partner is the most effective way to learn whether or not the partnership will work for both parties. Knowledge of your potential partner is key, company background, products and services offered, benefits to both parties, and a product demonstration all help to determine if the businesses are the right fit to work together. (ibid)

It can be hard to know if two companies are right for each other. One way to determine a good fit is to work on a project together before heading into the government arena. Look at their performance under pressure. Did they handle expectations well? Did the pressure cause hiccups in performance? Did communication take place or were there bottlenecks? These are just a few questions to be answered when determining whether a business relationship will be positive as well as productive. (ibid)

Finally, is there a commitment from both parties? Like any lasting, strong relationship, there must be dedication on both sides to make the partnership work.

Struggling to get your first government contract? Looking for a business to partner with? Give us a call.

Biden’s Management Agenda Vision includes Acquisition Priorities

The Biden Management Agenda was released last week. The Agenda includes the critical areas of strengthening the federal workforce, upgrading the customer experience, and administering the business of government. Government CIO Media and Research, November 19, 2021

The goal of the Agenda is to restore Americans’ faith in the government. The Agenda has three main objectives:

  • Strengthen/empower the federal workforce.
  • Deliver secure, equitable, and outstanding federal services as well as customer experiences.
  • Manage the business of government to “build back better.”

To achieve this, cybersecurity and IT modernization will be foundational tools for government management and mission delivery. (ibid)

According to the Agenda vision statement, “Agencies will continue to work together to enhance and secure government information technology as vital support and a catalyst for mission delivery. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us how critical IT investments are to supporting mission delivery and the essential work of government.” (ibid)

The vision statement reads, “OPM and OMB also will continue to build out tools to support agency human resources professionals in data-driven strategic workforce planning and decision-making related to employee engagement, inclusion, and organizational performance.” The focus will be to ” make every federal job a good job.” The plan is to accomplish this through competitive compensation, enhanced engagement, and mission delivery, and union opportunities. (ibid)

The second objective is to make the delivery of improved customer service, a priority. The Biden administration wants to meet people where they are rather than ask the public to navigate through the many, and often hidden, government services areas. (ibid)

The vision statement reads, “Human-centered design research will drive the management of federal programs to develop a comprehensive understanding of how individuals interact with federal services. Through this process, agencies will identify barriers to service delivery and how those barriers create undue burdens on those the government serves, in particular for underserviced communities.” (ibid)

The third objective is improving federal acquisition and financial management systems. The Biden administration plans to prioritize US manufacturing as a way to stop future supply chain disruptions. The Administration plans for upcoming major acquisitions to support a reduction in carbon output. (ibid)

The agenda vision statement reads, “accomplishing these collective and activities will also require continuous improvements in our procurement, financial assistance, and financial management ecosystems. This shift will require new measures and processes, new training for the federal workforce, and new tradeoffs that agencies will need to address going forward.” (ibid)

The “next steps” within the Management Agenda are set to be released in early 2022. (ibid)

 

Questions about how this will affect future procurements? Give us a call.

 

 

 

Procurement vs. Purchase

If we can be certain of one thing, it is that the pandemic wreaked havoc on many businesses and their business models. We tend to see government procurement growth during times of crisis. Once the media blasted us with headlines of medical device and personal protective equipment shortages, procurement officials found themselves in a precarious position. How to get supplies and get them fast.

Rick Grimm, chief executive officer of NIGP, the Institute of Public Procurement worries that procurements may slow down, now that shortages are being met. According to a brief from NIGP, “when skilled, professional procurement is buried within an organization and disconnected from the decision-making process, key business opportunities efficiencies and full value for money may be lost.” (Route Fifty May 7, 2021)

We witness the word “purchasing”  being substituted for the more comprehensive term “procurement.” Many believe this field should cover a broad scope of activities such as developing suppliers, strategizing to enhance supplier relationships, actively managing acquisitions and supervising contracts, and evaluating supplier performance. (ibid)

State governments made great inroads with suppliers during the pandemic. Many incentivized the private sector. In Maryland, where weapons systems are made for the Department of Defense, producers pivoted to make ventilators. Hand sanitizers were also retooled and made locally. (ibid)

The challenge to governments was understanding how vendors could best be utilized. There was no way to work with overseas manufacturers. Local product lines were evaluated and swiftly shifted. (ibid)

What does the future hold? Hopefully, the speed of procurement progress over the past year will not be in vain. Grim stated, “leveraging the value of procurement in achieving the government’s mission, helps you achieve those goals and becomes procurement’s mission as well. The big challenge, still, is getting the bosses of procurement to understand its strategic value.”(ibid)

Ready to get into federal procurement? Give us a call.

 

 

GSA’s Guide to Non-Christmas Shopping

GSA is starting small with its commercially-operated online purchasing portals, with a pilot scheduled by the end of 2019.

Initially, only commercial products/services below the government’s micro-purchase limit will be offered. But the threshold of $10,000 differs from the $250,000 Congressional limit put into place at the time the e-commerce experiment was ordered, which allows GSA to sidestep policy requirements such as the Buy American Act and the Trade Agreements Act. We aren’t certain how these will apply to the new e-commerce portal, as purchases below the $10,000 threshold are already exempt from a wide variety of procurement laws. GSA wants the portals to show agency buyers the vendor’s business size and qualification as a preferred supplier in other categories. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018)

There is a current gap between what the government procures through open market procurement  (often via a purchase card) and what the government knows it buys for commercial items. GSA intends that the centrally managed and monitored portal will assist the government in determining the products agencies are purchasing and introducing into the federal supply chain. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018)

The draft terms and conditions seem to deviate substantially from the FAR, and are a little “gray,” so we need to wait and see how this turns out. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018) We all know that our Ts and Cs are of the utmost importance to government auditors and regulatory compliance. Other important questions include:

  • why would agencies use the new e-commerce platform when they can get good commercial item prices via GSA Schedules and the Advantage portal?
  • will the new e-commerce portal actually save the Government money?

This nifty e-commerce pilot portal will help determine the answer to these questions. Do you have a question about the e-commerce portal or GSA Schedules? Give us a call at 301-913-5000: we are here to help.