COVID-19 actually helped small businesses do business

Due to the pandemic, the federal government has expanded remote network access to assist a dispersed workforce. This in turn has motivated reforms to the procurement system.

According to Roya Konzman, acting division director for solutions development at General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), “suddenly there was a need for new hardware, software and network access security, so we advised our Small Business Administration, Department of Veteran Affairs and Social Security Administration on their procurement strategies. GSA empowered its contracting officers to expand its rated orders authority. These orders are issued in accordance with the defense priorities and allocation system, and rated orders applied to IT capabilities included teleworking and health care solutions such as VPN accounts, virtual desktop infrastructure solutions, laptops, and mobile devices, and also covered personal protective equipment such as medical products hand sanitizers and disposable gloves.” (GovernmentCIO Media & Research April 6, 2021)

A national emergency allows the use of rated order authority. It authorizes GSA to prioritize a solicitation on behalf of an agency to buy goods and services. If a contractor receives a rated order, the contractor must prioritize that order ahead of other orders in the queue. (ibid)

There were so many rated orders issued to large contractors that individual suppliers often had a hard time meeting demands within the allotted timeframe. The result was federal agencies looked to enlarge their contracting base to include specialized smaller and mid-sized contractors. (ibid)

Because smaller firms do not have the “red tape’ that larger firms have, they can often change directions quickly. This makes smaller firms extremely valuable during times of national crisis. (ibid)

The federal government invested in video conferencing software and remote connectivity during the pandemic. This affords vendors the opportunity to demonstrate their products to various procurement offices. Additionally, agencies can quickly evaluate a large range of potential contractors. Which helps potential contractors who might have otherwise been overshadowed by larger vendors with preexisting relationships. (ibid)

Do you have a specialized product that the federal government needs? Give us a call.

 

FY 2021 SubK Reporting Deadline Extended

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is extending the period for subcontract reporting for fiscal year 2021. The extension allows Federal Contractors (FCs) extra time to correct any issues experienced during the pandemic as well as Federal Agencies (FAs) extra time to review the reports. This will be the final Subcontract Reporting extension. The timeframe for FCs to revise rejected reports is not extended and remains unchanged. (Small Business Administration Notification March 5, 2021)

Extensions provided by the SBA include:

  • 15 days for FC’s report submission due dates and for  the FA’s review periods for the FY 2021 ISRs and SSRs
  • 45 days after the end of the reporting period for FCs to submit their ISR and SSR and 45 days after contract completion if applicable
  • 75 days from the reports’ ending dates for FAs to acknowledge receipt or reject the initial reports
  • 30 days after receipt of a rejection notice, per FAR § 52.219-9(l), for FCs to revise rejected reports
  • 30 days after submittal for FAs to review revised reports

The subcontract report extensions are effective immediately. This pdf contains the formal notice SBA provided for the extension notification. (ibid)

Have questions concerning your ISR or SSR or a rejected report notice? Give us a call.

GSA Industry Webinar

GSA Federal Acquisition Services (FAS) is hosting an industry webinar on 24 March via Google Meet and focusing on contract holders of two Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) categories, MAS Travel and MAS Transportation and Logistics Services. These categories were formerly on Schedules 48 and 599, respectively. (GSA Interact, February 19, 2021)

The webinar will highlight the following:

  • GSA Advantage! price lists guidance
  • Required documentation when exercising an option period
  • Responses to vendor questions submitted in advance (ibid)

The deadline for questions and comments is 3:00 PM (ET) Monday, March 1, 2021. Questions must be submitted by email to onthego@gsa.vog with the subject line “MAS TTL March 2021 Quarterly Webinar Question” along with your contract number. Copies should go to lily.thompson@gsa.gov and jeanette.quitoriano@gsa.gov. (ibid)

The meeting will begin promptly at 2:00 PM (ET) with the following meeting id: https://meet.google.com/gwu-jgtq-ism.

Questions concerning MAS changes and updates and how they might affect your current contract or upcoming bid? Give us a call.

Improved FedRAMP

A new and improved FedRAMP now awaits users. The updated website is largely based on feedback from users and gives an in-depth description of the authorization process, enabling Cloud Service Providers and Third-Party Assessment Organizations a more user-friendly way to access relevant information on their role in the FedRAMP Authorization process. (FedRamp.gov February 16, 2021)

A few of the fundamental features include:

  • Authorization Process – the homepage highlights an interactive graphic to give participants a better understanding of the steps involved in the process of the various Authorization paths
  • Program Basics – this new page to FedRAMP details the mission, history, goals, and legal framework of FedRAMP
  • Documents and Templates – a new searchable function within FedRAMP
  • FAQs – functionality enabling participants to search for answers to the most common questions
  • Site notifications – participants are notified of updates, additions, and new blog postings
  • Enhanced Marketplace – design and accessibility and performance updates (ibid)

GSA plans to use web analytics and ongoing feedback to evolve the website over time to meet users’ needs.

Have questions about the new FedRAMP website? Give us a call.

Alliant 2 is Out/Polaris is In

After a year of protests and federal court hearings, the Government Accountability Office has canceled its $15 billion Alliant 2 Small Business contract. GAO is calling the replacement contract “Polaris.” A GSA spokesperson said, “Polaris will not only guide small businesses through the federal market, it will also help GSA customer agencies through the acquisition of IT service-based solutions, and give GSA a chance to improve our offerings and set the agency on a solid course for the future.” (GSAblogs.gsa.gov, October 1, 2020)

Administration sees the industrial base broadening by:

  • Pricing Strategy: GSA plans to increase its pool of qualified small businesses that serve federal agencies. GSA will employ Section 876 of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, allowing contract awards to qualifying contractors without consideration of prices for hourly services. Focus on price competition ultimately takes place at the task order level.
  • On-ramps: Allows for an expanded industrial base as technology changes and for vendors to be considered on the GWAC following an initial award period.
  • Opportunity Expansion: An increased opportunity for HUBZone and woman-owned businesses.
  • Embracing Technology to Maximize Efficiency: Polaris will provide agencies with access to emerging technology providers, especially those offering artificial intelligence, automated technologies, blockchain, 5G implementation, cybersecurity, and cloud. (ibid)

The vendor evaluation strategy will be similar to that used in the Veterans Technology Services 2 and Alliant 2 contracts. Both were guided by industry comments. FAS may utilize an online proposal submission tool to speed up Polaris contract awards, as well as a modified evaluation strategy. (Federal Computer Week, October 5, 2020)

Questions about the Polaris evaluation strategy and how your company might do business on the platform? Give us a call.