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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

$355M for Women Owned Small Businesses

Over the past 20 years, the government has aimed to award at least 5 percent of contracts to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs). In FY2020, WOSBs received $561.7 million in contracts. However, GSA has only set aside $354.9 million for WOSB contracts in FY2021. (ExecutiveGov, March 4, 2021)

According to GSA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, 10.47 percent of the total FY2020 contracting obligations for women-owned vendors were prime awards. To lend a hand to these vendors, GSA provides support through training resources and Forecast of Contracting Opportunities. These tools and other activities earned GSA a grade of A+ from the Small Business Administration in FY2019 for their work to support small businesses. (ibid)

Are you a Small or Woman-Owned Small Business looking to prime or sub on an upcoming procurement? Give us a call.

Polaris Replacing Alliant 2

This past July, GSA put to rest the Aliant 2 Small Business contract. The just last week, GSA released a draft RFP named Polaris, a Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) to provide customized Information Technology (IT) services-based solutions.  The draft RFP breaks out small business contractors into specific “pools,” for Small Business, HUBZone Small Businesses, and Women Owned Small Businesses. GSA reserves the right to add additional pools when deemed necessary. (beta.SAM.gov, December 31, 2020)

According to the draft RFP, Polaris will provide agencies with customized IT services and IT services-based solutions, which can be tailored to meet particular mission needs and may include any combination of IT services and new and emerging technologies. (ibid)

GSA encourages contractors to provide innovative solutions to task order requirements prioritizing emerging technologies.  Examples of emerging technologies included within the draft RFP are:

  • Advanced and Quantum Computing — cryptography/encryption, secure communications, design of high-performance computers, computer clusters, and networks, Quantum Machine Learning
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) — Computer Vision, Deep Learning, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing (NLP),  Spatial Computing, Speech Recognition
  • Automation technology — Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Automated Messaging Services, Data Cleaning Scripts, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Smart Notification
  • Distributed ledger technology — Blockchain Implementation Solutions, DLT Network Design Services, Smart Contract Programming Services
  • Edge computing — 5G Implementation Services, Edge Analytics, Edge Application Services, Edge Computing Architecture Design Services, Internet of Things (IoT) Services
  • Immersive technology  — Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality

Examples of Performance areas within the draft RFP are as follows:

  • Cloud Services
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Management
  • Information and Communications Technologies
  • IT Operations and Maintenance
  • Software Development
  • System Design

Contractors may “provide ancillary support as necessary to offer an IT services-based solution,” but, as with the GSA Schedule, only “when it is integral to and necessary for the IT services-based effort.” (ibid)

Contractors should take note of the security considerations as purchasers may be from the Department of Defense as well as civilian agencies. In particular, the Defense Department’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification is a developing regulation and requirement included in the draft RFP. Additional Cybersecurity and Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) requirements are expected to also be included. (ibid)

All draft RFP feedback is due by 4:00 PM Central Time, January 29, 2021.

Have questions concerning the draft RFP, who can respond, and how? Give us a call.

Seeing STARS

The 8(a) STARS II contract has roughly 800 small business contractors that furnish custom IT services-based solutions tailored to meet government agency needs. STARS III contract will soon replace the current STARS II contract, with a higher dollar threshold and customized IT solutions. (Federal Computer Week, August 21, 2020)

Over the life of 8(a) STARS II, GSA has repeatedly raised the ceiling to meet federal agency needs and to support their small business contracting objectives. In April of this year the contract reached a $15 billion ceiling and by the end of July is was at $22 billion. In an effort to meet growing government agency needs, the 8(a) STARS III contract will accommodate more bidders with a $50 billion ceiling. 8(a) STARS III focuses on new technologies as well as meeting the needs of federal agencies outside the continental U.S.

According to Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel at the Professional Services Counsel, “rules have changed a lot over the years, the current contract vehicle, dating back to 2011 is kind of clunky and not as nimble as newer contracts. The new contract will help GSA fine new technology companies as well as requalify existing companies.” (ibid)

Questions about the 8(a) STARS III contract and if you currently do business under 8(a) STARS II how you will requalify? Give us a call.