New E-Commerce Platform

The 2018 Defense Authorization Act requires the government to utilize a new e-commerce platform. Well, after several protests, several solicitation rewrites, and the COVID-19 pandemic, we now have the proof-of-concept phase, with three vendors: Amazon Business, Overstock.com, and Fischer Scientific will allow access to their e-commerce sites with micropurchases of $10,000 or less. By awarding a contract to three vendors, GSA hopes to ensure pricing competition and high service levels. (Federal News Network, June 29, 2020)

During the 30 day proof-of-concept phase, agencies receive access to order from vendors’ e-commerce platforms for testing and stakeholder feedback. Participating agencies include Veterans Affairs, Justice and Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, and GSA. Additional agencies may join in the coming months.

However, contractors are still questioning the apparent two sets of rules for micropurchases; those made under e-commerce and those made from other platforms, such as GSA Advantage. They believe transparency to be vital as well as understanding the pilot parameters. Remaining questions include e-marketplace conflict of interest issues, restriction on platform provider uses of third party transactional data, and how country of origin and counterfeit products are handled.” (ibid)

Not sure how government agencies ordering from e-commerce platforms will affect your ability to do business with them? Give us a call.

New SIN for Office Admin Services

Under the new Multiple Award Schedule, GSA is changing the Special Item Numbers (SINs) in the Office Management and Human Capital large categories. GSA’s Northeast and Caribbean Supply and Acquisition Center and the Office of Customer and Stakeholder Engagement (CASE) are adding the new NACIS-based SIN56110 for Office Administrative Services. In addition, GSA is combining the two current SINs for Human Resources Line of Business into SIN 541612LOB. These changes all take effect on 1 July 2020. (GSA Interact June 24, 2020)

SIN 56110 will make it easier for searching and identifying specific support services to meet mission-critical needs. These services include a range of day-to-day activities, such as office administrative support, data entry, payroll administration, recordkeeping, travel preparation, scheduling, meeting management, purchasing supplies, and logistics.

To better meet agency needs, GSA is merging two SINs of the consolidated schedule, into one new SIN. The two SINs 541612OPM and 541612PSSC will be combined into 541612LOB. This new SIN provides technology solutions in support of other SINs in the Human Capital category. This category may include software, technology, systems, and related solutions. To be a function under this SIN, the services and products offered must support one or more of the 15 functions/54 sub-functions in the human capital lifecycle. To obtain a list of theses functions, visit the Human Capital Business Reference Model (HCBRM).

GSA is holding a webinar tomorrow, Friday, 26 June 2020, to review details and answer your questions. The link to join the webinar is https://meet.gsa.gov/r2newsins/. (ibid)

Questions about the Office Management and Human Capital large categories? Give us a call.

Migrate to MAS — Or Else!

This is a time-sensitive reminder that before you submit changes to your catalog through SIP/EDI, migrating to MAS is essential. Even if you have updated your Text File information, you must make sure the migration step has been completed for all of your contracts. (GSA, June 16, 2020)

GSA is deleting all legacy catalogs (product and service) from Advantage, on July 31, 2020. You can continue to use the migrate to MAS function in SIP. Additionally, Catalogs pending approval in CORS should not be impacted by the deletion of legacy catalogs.

Beginning 1 July 2020 updates to legacy catalogs will no longer be allowed. They may only be made once you sign the MAS Mass Mod and migrate your catalog to MAS SINs. (ibid)

Need some help with your contract migration? Give us a call.

Pilot Programs to Decrease Bid Cycle Time

Selling to the government can be a difficult and lengthy process for the most patient of vendors. The buying process in private industry might take a week or two whereas federal buying can take a year or more. Added to that, the costs associated with bidding on government contracts, with no guarantee of a contract, often makes doing business with the government less than appealing. Unfortunately, this makes many companies with innovative products and services steer clear of working with the government.

Now two agencies, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), are introducing programs to address costly and time-consuming barriers. (Washington Technology, June 2, 2020)

DHS created the Procurement Innovation Lab; its mission to diminish barriers to competition while opening up the competition to nontraditional companies and by creating multiple awards from a single solicitation. Within the lab, teams test Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) flexibilities. Working with the Department of Defense GSA, DHS created the Commercial Solutions Opening Pilot. This affords participants greater latitude when purchasing innovative products below $10 million. (ibid)

DHS is also working to greatly reduce the lengthy proposal process through a phased proposal model. Phase one might involve a lightweight proposal of five pages or possibly a 30-minute phone interview. Then DHS would advise the vendor on how competitive their idea is and let the vendor decide whether it makes sense to move forward with a proposal. Additionally, DHS is working to receive oral presentations and product demonstrations using a paperless process. This allows vendors an opportunity to showcase their wares, and gives the government insight into those vendors they might award contracts to.  The phased proposal allows many vendors the opportunity to engage with the government when otherwise they would not be able to afford to do so. It allows the government to stay on top of innovative solutions that they otherwise might have missed out on. (ibid)

The IRS wants to phase in a pilot program as well. Their goal is to work with non-traditional small businesses to rapidly prototype and test emerging technologies. Project phasing will help to circumvent locking into a single vendor’s solutions as new (and often better) solutions are made available. (ibid)

Questions about the DHS and IRS programs and how you might prepare a lightweight proposal? Give us a call.

Updating Govt Cloud Security

Cloud vendors will soon see standardized security liability language in all government contracts. This is partly due to agencies’ migration to the cloud being sped up once the pandemic hit and increased teleworking, making the need for cybersecurity assurances essential. (Nextgov, May 20, 2020)

Thomas Santucci, the director of the Data Center and Cloud Optimization Infrastructure Program Management Office at GSA, recently elaborated on the subject, “I think there is a need to update our [service level agreements] with the cloud providers and we’re actively working on that within [the General Services Administration]…. OMB has just stood up a [program management office] to work on a cloud SLA template for the federal government to be attached to every contract.” (ibid)

When referring to the pandemic, Santucci said, “Users are now remote rather than in a central building or campus. Agencies that are doing well are mostly in the cloud with little or no impact. Remote users do not need a [virtual private network] to gain access to their emails or files, collaboration products have significantly reduced file duplicates, and bandwidth consumption is between the home internet connection and the cloud. It’s a great success story.” (ibid)

Officials at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) believe moving to the cloud does not mean security is a “one and done” feature. There are many considerations that customers may be responsible for under contracts. Increased use of cloud services is not 100 percent secure.

Rep. Doris Matsui, D-California recently wrote to NIST Director Walter Copan, requesting NIST work to establish metrics to accompany their Cybersecurity Framework. The framework allows entities to implement security controls based on their needs. Matsui’s letter to Copan asked for ways to evaluate the security implications of those decisions. Matsui states, “with quantifiable measurement tools, cybersecurity strategies can be compared across industries and between entities. Metrics and measurements that facilitate comparisons and assess risk will be valuable for consumers, companies, and governments.” (ibid)

Wondering how your contract or upcoming proposal might be impacted by cloud migration and updated service level agreements? Give us a call.