Contractor costs in whistle-blower cases no longer reimbursable

Contractors and subcontractors can no longer receive reimbursement from the  government for the costs of defending themselves against whistle-blower lawsuits  deemed legitimate.

The fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L.112-239)  called for the change. On Oct. 22, the Defense Department, the General Services  Administration and NASA published an interim  rule, which was effective Sept. 30, to implement the law.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation previously only forbade contractor reimbursement for legal costs incurred in proceedings brought by a  government–federal, state, local or foreign. The new rule amends the FAR to  include legal costs from proceedings brought by a contractor or subcontractor  employee “submitting a whistleblower complaint of reprisal.”

The rule also broadens the scenarios that render the whistle-blower complaint  legitimate. Previously, the FAR said the contractor would have to be found  liable or fined in a civil proceeding in order to disqualify it from reimbursement. In the case of a criminal proceeding, it would have to be  convicted.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/contractor-costs-whistle-blower-cases-no-longer-reimbursable/2013-10-22

The interim rule can be found in the Federal Register at: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/09/30/2013-23702/federal-acquisition-regulation-allowability-of-legal-costs-for-whistleblower-proceedings.  Comments are due by Nov. 29, 2013.

Shutdown leaves GAO with massive backlog of contractors’ bid protests

Contractors could, and did, complain plenty during the government shutdown — but what they couldn’t do was lodge those complaints formally.

Bid protests, which allow government contractors to contest a lost contract with the Government Accountability Office, have become an increasingly significant part of the federal procurement process. In fiscal 2012, companies filed nearly 2,500 protests, up from about 1,650 in 2008.Typically, contractors argue that some part of their evaluation for a bid wasn’t fair — that the agency’s contracting officer didn’t give them enough credit for the good work they did in the past or unfairly judged the technical merits of their proposal, for example.

But after the GAO was forced to close Oct. 1, contractors couldn’t officially file new protests and couldn’t get responses to the ones they’d already filed. (The GAO allowed companies to e-mail their protests, but said the protests would be marked as filed the day the government reopened.)

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/shutdown-leaves-gao-with-massive-backlog-of-contractors-bid-protests/2013/10/18/75783a20-375a-11e3-80c6-7e6dd8d22d8f_story.html

Do contractors need to take out government shutdown insurance?

Now that it looks like a deal to reopen the government  and raise the debt ceiling is upon us, I’ve been thinking about where this leaves the government services industry. If the shutdown ends today, we’ll all get back to work, assess the damage, and begin digging out of the hole this lost time has dug. In a month or so, it might seem like we’re back to normal, but I think that’s a bit of a leap.

At the beginning of the shutdown, I posited that this kind of instability in budgeting and appropriations might be the new normal. We’ve had essentially the same debate between Republicans and Democrats since 2010 about entitlement spending and government revenue/taxes with no resolution. The fundamental positions have not changed despite many skirmishes and an election. All signs now point to a 2014 mid-term that might tweak at the margins but will still likely result in a Republican controlled House and a Democratically controlled Senate.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/excellence/promising-practices/2013/10/do-contractors-need-take-out-government-shutdown-insurance.

Federal IT spending to plateau for next 5 years

Total known and unclassified federal information technology spending will  hover around $70 billion annually through fiscal 2019 when measured in today’s  dollars, predicts the TechAmerica Foundation in its annual near-term forecast.

The forecast, based on federal budget data and interviews with federal IT  executives, assumes an overall discretionary topline lower than the Office of  Management and Budget’s projections but slightly greater in out-years than  Budget Control Act caps. TechAmerica Foundation conducted the research before  the House of Representatives reached an impasse with present year funding bills and so doesn’t take into account the government  shutdown, now in its third week. The foundation is the nonprofit arm of  technology firm lobbying group TechAmerica.

For fiscal 2014, the research finds (.pdf) that IT spending will add up to $70 billion, down considerably from the $86 billion (adjusted for inflation to be in today’s dollars) spent during  fiscal 2009. This year’s figure will stay more or less steady through fiscal  2009, when it’ll reach $72.2 billion in constant dollars, or $78.5 billion in a  number unadjusted for inflation.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/federal-it-spending-plateau-next-5-years-says-techamerica-foundation/2013-10-15

 

Pentagon contracting surged before shutdown

The U.S. Defense Department awarded several hundred contracts last month in a fiscal year-end surge of activity as officials raced to ink deals before the government shutdown.

The Pentagon in September announced almost 730 awards potentially worth about $47 billion, according to a Military​.com analysis of the Pentagon’s daily contract announcements.

The value doesn’t include tens of billions of dollars in previously announced Army alternative-energy contracts, or reflect what is actually spent, or obligated, because many deals are only partially funded at first.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2013/10/11/pentagon-contracting-surged-before-shutdown/ 

July-Sept. 2013 DoD Spending

Federal contractors’ pain won’t vanish after shutdown ends

The U.S. government shutdown may hurt contractors long after Congress and President Barack Obama find a way to open federal offices and resolve the debt ceiling dispute.

Federal agencies award more than $500 billion a year, or a rough average of $1.4 billion a day, to tens of thousands of contractors. With each day of the partial shutdown, the pipeline gets more clogged by late payments, halted work and canceled solicitations for new contracts. That bottleneck may affect contractors’ fourth-quarter results.

“Even if the government suddenly opens for business, we can’t expect everything to get back to normal right away,” said Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners, a McLean, Virginia-based consulting company. “This is going to be a wave that makes its way through the government’s operational infrastructure probably at least until the end of the calendar year.”

If the shutdown continues through the end of the week, it will be difficult for big contractors to make up for lost revenue before the end of the year, said Michael Lewis, managing director at McLean, Virginia-based Silverline Group LLC, a strategic consulting firm for aerospace and defense.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-09/federal-contractors-pain-won-t-vanish-after-shutdown-end.html.

Janitorial supply and maintenance equipment contract opportunities designated for GSA Schedule-holders

The General Services Administration (GSA) has just announced two contract opportunities for bulk purchases, one for janitorial supplies and the other for maintenance equipment.

If you are a GSA Schedule contractor, these opportunities may be of interest to you.  In order to bid on the janitorial supplies contract, you must be an existing holder of a GSA Schedule contract in categories 51V, 73 or 75.  In order to bid on the maintenance equipment contract, you must hold GSA Schedule 51V.

These new opportunities are part of GSA’s “strategic sourcing initiative” whereby multiple Government agencies agree to pool their contracting needs in certain categories of purchasing.  The two solicitations now open for bid involve products that cost the Government more than $1 billion annually, and GSA estimates that strategic sourcing will reduce the Government’s costs by 10-20 percent.

The departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force have committed to use GSA’s strategic sourcing solution for janitorial and sanitation supplies, as did the Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Treasury and Energy departments, and others.  Many of those departments also committed to the other solution GSA announced — the one for maintenance, repair and operations supplies.

GSA will issue blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) to multiple contractors under both of these solicitations.  Under BPAs, agencies can repeatedly buy the same supplies or services from a contractor without having to redo the procurement process each time.

For both the janitorial and maintenance solicitations, GSA says it is reserving a majority of the awards for small businesses and service-disabled-veteran-owned small businesses.

You can find the solicitations posted as follows:

* RFQ for janitorial and sanitation – https://interact.gsa.gov/node/62442

* RFQ for maintenance, repair and operations – https://interact.gsa.gov/blog/request-quote-rfq-issued-fssi-mro

Right now, the deadline for responses to these solicitations is Nov. 12, 2013, although you should always check the web sites listed above for any changes.

Questions about either of these solicitations are due not later than Oct. 22, 2013. For questions regarding the janitorial/sanitation RFQ or attachments, contact JoAnn Stanley at joann.stanley@gsa.gov and Steve Nieswiadomy at steve.nieswiadomy@gsa.gov.  For questions regarding the maintenance equipment RFQ or attachments, please contact Glenda Lambert at glenda.lambert@gsa.gov and Shaun Hankton at shaun.hankton@gsa.gov.

FY14’s top contracts will see growth

The government’s largest contracts slated for release this fiscal year will be significantly larger than previous years, according to a new analysis.

The top 20 contract opportunities represent a combined potential business worth $160 billion over the contracts’ lifetime, or a 74 percent increase over the $92 billion value of last year’s top contracts, according to a new report by market research firm Deltek.

Request for proposals are expected to start rolling out in January, which should provide some breathing room for agencies to recover from the partial shutdown, said Jennifer Sakole, principal analyst for federal information services at Deltek. Whether contracts will be immune to impacts of the shutdown is unclear, but so far agencies haven’t announced plans to cancel or postpone these contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20131009/ACQUISITION/310090010/2014-s-top-contracts-see-growth 

Shutdown begins to affect contractors

Beyond the financial pinch of stalled contracts and delayed payments, federal IT contractors are beginning to face hiring and regulatory compliance issues as the partial government shutdown wears on.

Shuttered online services at Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) and the Commerce Department, for instance, are on TechAmerica’s list of top shutdown-related problems.

E-Verify — the service that allows employers to confirm eligibility to work in the U.S. for new hires via I-9 employment forms — won’t be available until CIS gets its funding restored. E-Verify is the only operation at CIS funded by an appropriation.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/Articles/2013/10/08/shutdown-affects-contractors.aspx?Page=1 

Government may not reopen until debt limit solved

Many political observers predict the government shutdown will continue until  the separate debt ceiling crisis is resolved, meaning the government is unlikely  to open until Oct. 18.

As the government continues into day 7 of the shutdown over a temprorary  spending bill to fund the government, House Republicans and aren’t budging from  tying the bill to additional concessions from Democrats, although it remains  unclear exactly what they could be, given Obama’s insistence that he will not  undermine the Affordable Care Act.

“We’re not going to be disrespected,” Rep. Marlin Stutzman, (R-Ind.), is  quoted as saying Oct 3. by the  Washington Examiner. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t  know what that even is.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) repeatedly said Sunday on ABC’s “The Week” he wants a conversation with Obama. In fact he said  the word conversation 22 times on the show.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/government-may-not-reopen-until-debt-limit-agreement-reached/2013-10-07