Big contracts for Defense, Commerce and State departments coming this summer

June 26, 2014 by

More than $13 billion in large and small-business contracts with the federal government is likely to come up for competition in the three-month period ending September.

These requirements are meant to improve efficiency and decrease the cost of services across and between federal agencies. Requirements range from health systems to professional services, all in IT. Several are recurring requirements, while one is a new competition.

Read about three notable contracts anticipated to be advertised for competition by the Defense, Commerce and State departments in the federal government’s fourth quarter here:

SDVOSBs take it on the chin: Federal Circuit denies Kingdomware appeal

June 25, 2014 by

In a crushing blow to SDVOSBs, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has denied the appeal of a lower court decision allowing the VA to procure goods and services using the Federal Supply Schedule without first considering whether SDVOSBs can satisfy the requirement.

Rejecting well-stated objections by a dissenting judge, a two-judge majority held that the purpose of the “Veterans First” rule is to ensure that the VA meets its SDVOSB goals, and that so long as the VA meets its SDVOS goals, it is free to procure services and supplies from the Federal Supply Schedule without first considering a SDVOSB procurement.

The Court’s decision in Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. vs. United States, No. 2013-5042 (2014) is the latest (and possibly last) in a long-running battle between SDVOSBs and the VA over the SDVOSB preferences adopted by Congress as part of the Veterans Benefits, Health Care and Information Technology Act of 2006. Because it has been awhile since the last decision in this battle, I have summarized the relevant history before diving into the particulars of the Federal Circuit’s decision.

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GSA seeks industry input for HR acquisition planning

June 24, 2014 by

The General Services Administration (GSA) is seeking industry comment to be taken into consideration as the agency puts together an acquisition plan for the procurement of a range of human resources (HR) services.

Listed below are questions that GSA would like industry to answer in order to capture best practices and lessons learned from previous contract vehicles and solicitations, merging industry standards and solutions with the Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to achieve best value in the fields of human resource training and development and human capital management services.

The information provided will be utilized for preliminary planning purposes by the Government to facilitate the decision-making process and will not be disclosed outside of Government. All data received that is marked or designated as corporate or proprietary information will be fully protected from release outside the Government. No reimbursement will be made for any costs associated with providing any information or any follow-up information requests. GSA’s call for industry comment does not constitute a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Quote (RFQ) and is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government for any purpose other than market research.

Furthermore, the Government is not seeking proposals or quotes and will not accept unsolicited proposals or quotes at this time.

The Government anticipates making preliminary decisions on the acquisition strategy by mid-July; therefore, the Government is seeking industry feedback as soon as possible.

Responses can be sent to vog.asgnull@issfrh.

The Government is seeking the following information:

1. What suggestions does industry have to incorporate the OPM’s Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework (HCAAF) in the solicitation and resultant contracts?   The website for the framework is:

2. What suggestions does industry have in incorporating GSA’s Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) in the solicitation and resultant contracts?  The website for FSSI is:

3. Would industry prefer a Statement of Objectives (SOO) or a Statement of Work (SOW) be included in the solicitation and why?  Please provide a rationale for your preference?

4. Would industry prefer two separate contract vehicles—one for small businesses and another for large businesses—or combine both sizes into one contract vehicle?

5. The recently cancelled CHRS solicitation included ten (10) mandatory labor categories and an additional fifteen (15) labor categories industry could propose.  GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) 738 X (Human Resources & Equal Employment Opportunity Services) does not have the same restrictions.  Would industry prefer the Government provide the labor categories and descriptions in the solicitation or allow industry to propose them?  Please provide a rationale for your preference?

6. What changes does industry recommend to the current TMA contract vehicle and recently cancelled CHRS solicitation?

7. How does industry want to be evaluated when the successor CHRS solicitation is released?  What factors and significant subfactors are relevant?  What suggestions does industry have so that the Government obtains best value?

8. The TMA contract vehicle has featured two key service areas (Customized Training and Learning Solutions & Customized Human Capital Solutions) for the past thirteen years.  Would industry recommend any reconfiguration of these key service areas?  Should they be combined into one key service area, remain the same or broken out into additional key service areas?  Please provide a rationale for your preference?

9. The prior CHRS solicitation included two key service areas: Customized Training and Learning Solutions & Customized Human Capital Solutions.  The government is contemplating including staff augmentation.  Should staff augmentation fall under the human capital key service area or stand alone?

10. What subject matter, topics and/or fields should be included in the scope of the successor TMA contract vehicle under the two key service areas: Customized Training and Learning Solutions & Customized Human Capital Solutions?

11. What subject matter(s), topic(s) and/or field(s) are not in the current TMA contract vehicle or were left out of the recently cancelled solicitation that should be included in the successor TMA contract vehicle?

12. For large businesses, how would you want the subcontracting plan evaluated?  What are realistic goals per socioeconomic status?

13. Please describe the federal government’s requirements in the training/human capital domain that you believe will either begin to or continue to need customized solutions from your industry.







19. If the Government utilizes the same evaluation methodology employed in the One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) solicitation, what concerns, comments and/or feedback does industry have?  The OASIS solicitation can be found at….

20. If the Government determines to award an IDIQ and allow Time and Materials (T&M) orders to be issued against it, what would be the impact to both large and small businesses if the IDIQ required contractors to have an approved accounting system, purchasing system and estimating system?


21. What suggestions and/or ideas does industry have to incorporate sustainable metrics into the acquisition? (This question replaces Questions 14-18)

See GSA’s blog posting on this topic at:

Mandatory GSA Schedule modification issued

June 23, 2014 by

GSA has announced GSA Schedule Mass Modification number A382 relating to Manufacturer Part Numbers on Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) Price Lists.  This Mass Modification is mandatory for both product and service providers.

On June 17, 2014, GSA began sending out the Mass Mod for Manufacturer Part Number to all applicable contractors.  The purpose of this modification is to reinforce the requirements of clause I-FSS-600 Contract Price Lists (Oct 2013) and clause 552.238-71, Submission and Distribution of Authorized FSS Schedule Price Lists.

Per these clauses, the contractor’s price list must be complete and include all services, prices, and terms and conditions that were accepted by the Government at award and the complete price list must be uploaded to GSA Advantage!™ including the Manufacturer Part Number.

In this modification GSA is explicitly stating and reinforcing that all Government-accepted products, fixed-price services and/or ancillary products that have been awarded must be included in the price list, and that the product descriptive data must include the Manufacturer Part Number.  The complete price list must be uploaded to GSA Advantage!™ per clause 552.238-71, Submission and Distribution of Authorized FSS Schedule Price Lists.

The Government is now treating the Manufacturer Part Number as a critical part of the descriptive product data included in the price list.

A Manufacturer Part Number is considered to be a unique number or code created by the manufacturer of a specific product, and assigned as a means of standardized  product identification. Vendors are cautioned not to alter the Manufacturer Part Numbers.  There should be  no additions, deletions, or other discrepancies between the  Manufacturer Part Number as submitted to the vendor by the manufacturer, and as presented by the contract holder to GSA.  For example, vendors should not add their own prefixes or suffixes to any Manufacturer Part Number.

GSA Schedule contractors are to submit all responses, including all product data, within 90 days of the date of issue of the contract modification received from GSA. Failure to comply with the terms of the modification may result in contract cancellation.

Upon receipt of the contract mod, contractors should go to and accept the modification.  Contractors then must access SIP or EDI and upload all products, fixed price services, and ancillary products with all required descriptive data including Manufacturer Part Numbers.

GSA’s Answers to Frequently-Asked Questions:

1: Is this mass modification mandatory?

A: Yes.  This mod is mandatory to ensure GSA is capturing all the  Manufacturer Part Numbers and all other descriptive data for all Products award on the GSA MAS contract, including Ancillary Products  fixed-price services (i.e., training course).

2: I have a service-only contract, and have no fixed-price services or ancillary products. How do I respond?

A: Although the reinforcement is not applicable to your contract, select “Yes” to acknowledge the requirement on the Vendor Support Center website.

 3: Do I need to submit all my products?

A: Yes.  Any product, ancillary product, or fixed-price service that  you have listed on your MAS contract should be submitted, along with its corresponding product data.

 4: Does this rule apply to previous submissions?

A: Yes.  Industry partners should take this opportunity to revisit previous submissions and correct or refine any missing or altered manufacturer part numbers.

 5: What should I do if I do not have (or can not obtain) the Manufacturers Part Number?

A: Industry partners should make a best effort to obtain accurate product information.

 6: Why is GSA asking for Manufacturer Part Numbers?

A: GSA is focusing on bolstering data driven offerings in order to improve the acquisition experience for customers, acquisition officials, and industry partners alike.  Expanded data repositories pave the way for streamlined, value-added functionality that will minimize effort while maximizing returns.

Are tight budgets straining trust between agencies and industry?

June 18, 2014 by

Even under the best circumstances, the relationship between agencies and industry can be strained at times.

But are federal budget and staffing shortfalls — particularly among the federal government’s acquisition workforce — fueling a climate of mistrust between the government and its contractors?

It’s not quite that dire yet, contracting experts told Federal News Radio as part of the special series, Trust Redefined: Reconnecting Government and Its Employees.

But improving the relationship between government and industry remains deserving of some attention — especially in today’s austere budget climate.

“It’s no secret that [in terms of] the numbers of federal employees, there’s a decrease, the retirements are going up, certainly the budget issues of the last couple years don’t improve morale within the federal-employee workspace,” said Michael Fischetti, executive director of the National Contract Management Association, in an interview on In Depth with Francis Rose. “And as those folks leave, the ability of the government to hire and retain quality individuals that understand the requirements that they’re levying on the contractor is challenging. So the contractor and the government have to have their best foot forward in this relationship and communicate well to make that happen. And that’s been a concern.”

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GSA plans to double its market share by 2017

June 17, 2014 by

The General Services Administration (GSA) plans to more than double its market share of government spending by crafting a new digital ecosystem of contract offerings and interactive purchasing tools.

Tom Sharpe, the commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, told Federal Times the agency plans to boost its market share from 14 to 33 percent by the end of fiscal year 2016. Reduced budgets at agency procurement shops means now is the time for GSA to show what it can do for agencies, he added.

GSA logo“I would argue the Federal Acquisition Service at GSA should be a centralized buyer — and we are going to make that case and we are going to fight for that,” Sharpe said.

GSA is already rolling out the cornerstone of that case, calling it “The Government Acquisition Marketplace.”  The agency is billing it as a one-stop digital shop for government acquisition and the next stage in an acquisition landscape that requires data-driven solutions.

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Contractor pay cap will apply to all employees under new rule

June 16, 2014 by

A new rule would limit the amount contractors could charge the government for any of their employees’ salaries under cost-reimbursement contracts.

Currently contractors can charge back $487,000 for employee salaries, but the ceiling only applies to top senior executives. With the new Federal Acquisition Regulation rule, that limit would be expanded to all employees including scientists and engineers.

The final rule, issued May 30, would only affect the Defense Department, NASA and the Coast Guard, and applies retroactively to compensation costs on government contracts signed after Dec. 31, 2011.

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GAO rejects protest of GSA’s massive office supply contract

June 13, 2014 by

The Government Accountability Office (GAO)  denied the protests of the GSA’s Office Supplies 3 (OS3) strategic sourcing contract, leaving the protesters dismayed and in shock.

In issuing their decision Monday, GAO’s lawyers found the General Services Administration (GSA) did indeed meet the requirements under the Small Business Jobs Act to evaluate the economic impact of OS3 on small businesses.

GAO’s decision comes despite the fact that the Small Business Administration in April ruled that GSA’s analysis was faulty. SBA found GSA’s analysis didn’t fully consider the negative impact OS3 could have on small firms.

But GAO stated the Small Business Jobs Act doesn’t require agencies to develop a “more detailed” or “quantified cost-benefit analysis” and therefore GSA’s determination met the letter of the law.

“GSA conducted market research and considered alternatives to the procurement approach set forth in the solicitation,” GAO’s Susan Poling, GAO’s general counsel, said in the opinion. “Further, the agency prepared a consolidation analysis which recognized that there was a potential for a reduction in sales for small business contractors who did not receive awards under the OS3 solicitation. The agency concluded, however, that the benefits to be gained through OS3 outweigh the potential negative impact to small business concerns. We find that GSA’s analysis addressed the relevant requirements of the SB Jobs Act, and therefore find no basis to sustain the protest.”

GAO addressed SBA’s ruling in the protest decision. Lawyers say SBA’s procurement center representative’s disagreement with GSA’s analysis wasn’t a basis for GAO to conclude the evaluation was unreasonable.

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4 sectors where most federal procurement is happening, and why that’s bad for small businesses

June 10, 2014 by

The vast majority of federal procurement is happening in four sectors — only one of which meets its goals for divvying contract dollars to small businesses.

According to a report from the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration, more than 80 percent of federal procurement was concentrated in these categories in fiscal 2012:

  • Manufacturing, with nearly $200 billion.
  • Professional, scientific and technical services, with about $141 billion.
  • Administration and support, waste management and remediation, with about $43 billion.
  • Construction, with about $35.44 billion.

But within that massive chunk of contract spending, how much is making its way to small business?  For three of the four categories, not enough to meet the federal goal of 23 percent, according to the report.

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Construction company sentenced for veteran-owned business fraud

June 9, 2014 by

Max R. Tafoya, 64, the owner of an Albuquerque-area construction company, and his son-in-law, Tyler Cole, 41, of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, were sentenced Thursday on fraud charges related to claims Tafoya’s company was eligible for contracts reserved for businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.

Tafoya was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison to be followed by a year of supervised release, according to federal prosecutors. Cole was sentenced to a 37 months in prison.

Tafoya also was ordered to repay the government $1,350,000. Cole was ruled to be jointly liable for $500,000 of that amount, prosecutors said.

“Today Max Tafoya and Tyler Cole were held accountable for abusing a program that seeks to fulfill our obligation to provide disabled veterans with benefits designed to ease the losses and disadvantages they have incurred as a consequence of disabilities they sustained while serving our country,” said U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez. “This prosecution is part of a nationwide effort to protect service-disabled veterans who own small businesses by tightening controls to prevent fraud and abuse.”

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Read U.S. Attorney’s statement here: