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.

Happy Birthday eBuy!

If you’ve not heard of eBuy it is the paperless request-for-quote (RFQ) system GSA put into place 20 years ago. It was set up to connect suppliers to the contracting process for various products and services. According to eBuy’s Senior Program Analyst Rich Carlson, “in 2001, this online program revolutionized how government connected buyers and sellers for contracting quotes. eBuy streamlined the process, allowing more suppliers, especially small businesses, to participate and connect in ways that they couldn’t before.”  (gsa.gov/blog June 25, 2021)

eBuy offers a single, user-friendly electronic platform with the appropriate supporting documentation and approved supplier oversight. eBuy provides the ability for federal clients, state and local governments to post RFQs, make changes in real-time, and connect buyers with suppliers to secure the best pricing and value for competitive quotes. Additionally, eBuy is available for use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (ibid)

eBuy gives clients the confidence that suppliers meet all FAR and acquisition regulations. Additionally, companies of all sizes find opportunities to bid on contracts, with these opportunities all on a centralized platform. Multiple types of RFQs have been added to eBuy such as blanket purchase agreements (BPAs), set-asides, and governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACS) for complex IT solutions. 2020 saw a complete redesign and refresh of functionality. (ibid)

When eBuy was created, 5 RFQs were launched on the site. 22 years later, more than $22 billion in awards have been contracted through eBuy with no slow down in sight. (ibid)

Questions about eBuy and how you can take advantage of it? 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.

 

 

 

GSA is going green!

GSA is off and running to make the May 27, White House deadline to deliver a plan around clean energy vehicles and green electricity. According to the executive order, GSA must deliver a plan to address clean energy vehicles and green electricity. (Federal News Network, April 28, 2021)

Sonal Kemkar Larsen, the senior adviser to the GSA administrator on climate said, “one thing that is really important to us at GSA across the board is to be looking at how we can decarbonize our entire supply chain. We procure a lot of different things: Energy, buildings, government goods, and vehicles. In all of those, we need to look at our supply chains, the manufacturers, the businesses we are working with all the way to the design and installation in all of this. There is carbon from the beginning to the end so decarbonization is going to be a big lift as we look across the supply chain. A new focus for us is to look across all aspects of procurement.” (ibid)

Under the order, GSA must address how it will attain:

  • A carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035
  • Clean/zero-emission vehicles for federal, state, local, and tribal government fleets, including Postal Service vehicles
  • Additional legislation required to accomplish these objectives
  • Certifying the U.S. retains the union jobs integral to and involved in managing and maintaining clean and zero-emission fleets while adding union jobs in the manufacture of the clean fleets (ibid)

Katy Kale, the acting GSA administrator, said the Federal Green Building Advisory Committee created two new task forces – the environmental justice and equity task group and the federal building decarbonization task group. (ibid)

According to Kale, “the decarbonization task group will explore opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emission in buildings in the federal real estate portfolio through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, electrification, and smart building technologies. They will provide some recommendations to GSA this fall so we can begin to develop a roadmap for the decarbonization of federal buildings. The environmental justice and equity task group will improve engagement with diverse communities and key partners throughout the design, construction, operations, renewal, and occupancy. We believe this engagement will lead to increased inclusion, opportunities, and green jobs in the federal sustainability building process.” (ibid)

Kale went on to say, “when we are talking about decarbonization in building, it’s all of the things that we need to do to reduce and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by the operation of the building. That could include replacing gas boilers with solar hot water or using ground source heat pumps. Really we need to make sure we are including every efficiency measure that we can, including using smaller, more local equipment for heating and cooling, making sure motors are high-efficiency motors, adjusting control strategies to reduce peak loads. It’s A to Z, we’ve got everything covered.” This is quite a large opportunity for GSA as 60% of its leases held are going to expire between fiscal 2019 through 2023. (ibid)

The other area of “green” opportunity for GSA is through the vehicles it manages. GSA owns and manages over 670,000 cars and trucks and manages more than 200,000 leased vehicles. As of today, GSA has a fleet of 16 types of battery-operated vehicles and 5 plug-in electric vehicles. (ibid)

According to Charlotte Phelan, the assistant commissioner of the Office of Travel, Transportation, and Logistics in the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), “the biggest challenge that we are looking at is actually the charging infrastructure. We need to deploy electric vehicle infrastructure to make sure we are able to do large-scale vehicle deployment while also ensuring agencies are able to accomplish their mission.” Phelan expects a plan to address the charging infrastructure to be out in the coming months. (ibid)

According to Sonny Hashmi, the commissioner of the FAS, the goal is to get to zero emissions.

Are you looking to be part of GSA’s mission to decarbonize its supply chain? Give us a call.