Money, money, money!

It’s the fourth fiscal quarter for the federal government and that means it’s time to use that budget or risk losing it. The fourth quarter generally holds great opportunities for contractors from July to September as agencies are keen to use up their budgets. (Federal Times August 3, 2021)

During the month of September, federal contract awards account for nearly 16 percent of all contract activity, with 40% of small business spending taking place in the last quarter of the fiscal year. Although not all agencies are the same in how they treat fourth-quarter spending, the State Department and U.S. Department of Agriculture tend to do some of their “big spending” in Q4. (ibid)

COVID-19 spending continues to account for a large share of federal contracting. The heavy COVID spending has changed the spending cycles and thrown them out of balance. This might make the Q4 rush a little less robust than in past years however it remains one of the best times of the year to be well-positioned for contract opportunities. (ibid)

Contractors should have a strategy for getting the most out of Q4 spending, especially from agencies known to rely on it.

Hoping to get the most out of Q4 spending but no strategy in place? 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.

 

 

 

Expected Growth in 2021 – Don’t miss out!

The federal government adapted to many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.  At the same time, government contractors were dealing with their own set of challenges. Declining margins and watching nearly 70% of projects that were ahead of schedule, fall behind in 2020. (Nextgov June 7, 2021)

The hardest hit were small business contractors. Their profit margins dropped nearly 35%, with costs to bid on contracts rising exponentially. (ibid)

With all the changes in 2020, government contractors still remain optimistic that government contracting will increase into 2021 and 2022. Vendors trust that the changes to government operations will prove beneficial, in the long run. Especially with remote workforces expanding the available talent pool since companies will no longer be limited to specific geographic areas. (ibid)

A recent study showed contractors in the federal information technology sector expecting significant growth in 2021. Additionally professional services and aerospace and defense expect large gains as well as state, with local and higher education spending growing too. (ibid)

The study also shows industry is focused on exploring new ways to do business in a more virtual world. In-person meetings and events are still rare, forcing companies to seek new business opportunities from their existing client base. Fewer companies rely on public bid notices such as those found on SAM.gov or industry events or conferences. (ibid)

Companies must acclimate to doing business in a virtual world. Many may find, the best use of their resources is no longer face-to-face meetings.  Working virtually may be the optimum use of their assets, going forward. (ibid)

Are you looking to benefit from the predicted growth trend? 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.

 

 

EZ-ier requirements for COVID efforts at GSA says EZGSA

GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program may be used by state and local governments to procure commercial products, services, and solutions necessary to respond to the pandemic. GSA is providing additional support by issuing Acquisition Letter (AL) MV-21-03 and Supplement to further aid America in response to COVID-19. (GSA Interact April 14, 2021)

AL achieves this by:

  • Temporarily waiving (3) MAS solicitation requirements in MAS provision SCP-FSS-001 when a company is proposing products/services to support COVID-19 efforts.
  • The AL waives:
  1. The requirement to possess two years of Corporate Experience
  2. The requirement to submit a Relevant Project Experience for each SIN proposed
  3. The requirement to submit an Annual Financial Statement for the previous two years (ibid)

The AL, however, does not change the following:

  • Certain vendor instructions regarding the submission of a Corporate Experience narrative, Letter of Commitment/Supply, Past Performance Information, Quality Control Plans
  • Category/SIN specific technical requirements outlined in the MAS Solicitation category attachments
  • A Contracting Officer’s overarching responsibilities especially determining fair/reasonable pricing, ensuring compliance with vendor instructions, and making a responsibility determination in accordance with FAR subpart 9.1 (ibid)

AL applies to all MAS large categories, subcategories, and SINs under the following conditions:

  • New vendors proposing products, services, and/or solutions in direct support of COVID-19 efforts
  • Current MAS contractors adding service SINs in direct support of COVID-19 efforts (ibid)

AL does not apply under the following conditions:

  • Any offers or modifications which include products, services/solutions that do not directly support COVID-19 efforts
  • To VA MAS for medical equipment, pharmaceutical services, or supplies (ibid)

GSA is doing a number of things to support the ongoing COVID-19 efforts. The following are to name a few:

  • Deferring MAS contract cancellations when minimum sales haven’t been met under I-FSS-639 Contract Sales Criteria
  • Issuing a non-availability determination for Trade Agreement, Buy American Statute Class Determination, allowing contracting officers to temporarily award non-TAA compliant product to support COVID-19 requirements
  • Purchase Exceptions from the AbilityOne Program
  • Implementation of Emergency Acquisition Flexibilities (ibid)

GSA/FAS has many mechanisms for its Federal Partners to access the vital supplies and services required to meet the COVID-19 pandemic. For companies who would like to reach the government market beyond the MAS program, the Commercial Platforms program provides options to partner with several commercial e-marketplace platforms. It is also possible to partner with an existing MAS contractor as a subcontractor, providing part of a total solution to an agency’s COVID requirements. (ibid)

Questions concerning AL, what it does, doesn’t do, or do you now qualify for GSA? Give us a call.