Redstone Arsenal contracting officer to plead guilty to obstructing federal audit

A Huntsville, AL woman employed by the U.S. Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of obstructing a federal audit, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Birmingham said last week.

Redstone ArsenalTeresa Mayberry, 54, agreed to plead to one count of obstructing an audit in 2012 by the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office related to a federal contract for providing parts to Russian-made helicopters to be flown in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office described the charge in a news release.

“Mayberry created a series of false documents that she provided to (the IG) to obstruct its 2012 audit of an Army contract to purchase parts for Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters.”

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GAO: Agency need not raise offeror’s high price in discussions

When an agency decides to hold discussions with offerors, must it discuss with an offeror the price proposed for the contract? Not unless that offeror’s proposed price is so high as to be unreasonable.

GAO-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-SealAs the GAO held in a recent bid protest decision, unless an offeror’s price is so high as to make its proposal unacceptable, the offeror is not entitled to be informed during discussions that its price is too high–even if the price is significantly higher than competitors.

The GAO helped shed light on this issue in Joint Logistics Managers, Inc., B-410465.2, B-410465.3 (May 5, 2015). There, the United States Marine Corps issued a task order RFP seeking “Care of Supplies in Storage” services in Albany Georgia, for one base year and one option year. The award was to be made on a best-value basis, considering technical approach, past performance, and price. Price was considered significantly less important than the combined non-price factors; but, price would become increasingly more important if proposals were considered technically equal or if an offeror’s price was so high as to diminish the value of any technical superiority.

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Skeptical Senate chairman asks SBA for list of every contractor it counted as a small business

A Senate chairman has asked the Small Business Administration to provide him with a list of every company that was counted toward the federal government’s small business contracting goal in 2014.

Last year, the SBA reported the government had met its goal of awarding small businesses 23 percent of all federal contracting dollars for the first time in eight years.

Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

“We’re expecting even better results when we release the 2014 scorecard in the coming weeks,” SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said May 8, during a White House event honoring National Small Business Week award winners.

But a report by Public Citizen (see questioned the accuracy of the SBA’s procurement report for 2013. It found that contracts awarded to giant federal contractors such as Lockheed Martin were counted as small businesses in the SBA’s numbers. This is just the latest example of flaws in the SBA’s contracting data though the years.

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SBA wants to know how ‘big data’ affects small business

The Small Business Administration is trying to figure out where big data meets small business.

SBA logoWhile large businesses have been using large volumes of data to make better business decisions, “with greater access and availability of cost-effective technology, small businesses are doing the same,” according to a recent solicitation for research.

For instance, small businesses and retailers can use online transaction history, analyzed in aggregate, to make decisions about sales and marketing programs, better understand customer behavior and predict the number of staffers they’ll need, according to SBA.

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For federal IT vendors, a lot to like in House, Senate Defense bills

From the perspective of federal technology companies, there’s a lot to like in this year’s House and Senate Defense authorization bills. Indeed, a leading industry group’s main complaint is that the acquisition reforms in the legislation only apply to DoD — not the rest of the government.

House Armed Services CommitteeWhile the leaders of both the House and Senate armed services committees say they’re taking an incremental approach to acquisition reform in their respective versions of this year’s Defense authorization bill, the Senate version, released last week, appears to try to achieve more change within a single year.

The measure tackles everything from the role of the military service chiefs in procurement decisions to the acquisition workforce and establishing new “alternative” pathways to buy goods and services and pressing the Defense Department to make more use of commercial technology.

In a briefing with reporters Wednesday, May 27, the IT Alliance for Public Sector (ITAPS), a lobbying group and association for federal IT contractors, said it had no substantive disagreements with any provisions in either of the Defense bills — an extremely rare occurrence for any advocacy group with interests in the huge, annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

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Sorry, subcontractor: No SBA size appeal for you

When the SBA found a subcontractor to be affiliated with its prime contractor under the ostensible subcontractor rule, the subcontractor could not appeal the SBA’s finding to the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals.

SBA sealIn a recent size appeal decision, OHA held that a subcontractor lacks the ability to file a size appeal because the subcontractor is not directly affected by the size determination.

OHA’s decision in Size Appeal of Doss Aviation, Inc., SBA No. SIZ-5648 (2015) involved a Department of Defense set-aside solicitation.  After award was made to Hughes Group LLC, the SBA Area Office conducted a size determination.  The SBA Area Office determined that Hughes Group was not an eligible small business due to affiliation with a large subcontractor, Doss Aviation, Inc., under the ostensible subcontractor affiliation rule.

Doss Aviation filed a size appeal.  OHA responded by asking Doss to explain why, as a subcontractor, it had standing to file a size appeal.  OHA directed Doss to previous OHA size decisions, in which OHA held that an alleged affiliate, whose own size was not at issue in the size determination, has no “direct stake” in the outcome of a size appeal, and thus lacks standing to initiate a size appeal.

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Administration moves ahead with federal contractor labor law guidance

The Obama administration proposed guidance that requires prospective contractors to disclose labor law violations from the past three years before they can get a contract. But a contractor advocacy group isn’t happy about it.

Dept. of LaborOn May 28, the Labor Department issued proposed guidance and the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council issued a proposed rule to help agencies implement an executive order signed by President Obama in July 2014.

The order is meant to ensure those contractors who “repeatedly violate the rights of their workers and put them in danger, don’t get contracts and thus can’t delay important projects and waste taxpayer money,” a fact sheet that was released with the order says.

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GSA to push back RFP for Networx replacement

The General Services Administration won’t make its hoped for July release of the solicitation for the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract.

GSA NetworxThe contract will replace GSA’s Networx vehicles and is the backbone of the government’s Network Services 2020 strategy for telecommunications services.

A a top agency official managing the effort said more time is likely to be needed as his team gathers input from industry and other interested parties.

Amando Gavino Jr., director of GSA’s Office of Network Services Programs, told FCW in an interview before a Professional Services Council industry forum in Arlington, Va., on May 21 that his team is digesting 1,600 comments from vendors and government agencies interested EIS contract.

The complex RFP, Gavino told FCW, “has to be released by this fiscal year, no later than September.” Last month, Gavino left the door open to pushing back the EIS RFP’s July release date.

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Good faith and fair dealing upheld in federal construction contracts

In United States v. Metcalf, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to review a decision of the lower court. If upheld, it would make contractor claims against the government for the breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing very difficult by requiring the contractor to show intentional bad faith by the government, as opposed to prior precedent that the contractor need only prove that the government objectively acted unreasonably.

US Court of AppealsThe policy arguments for reversal of the lower court decision in Metcalf were straightforward and compelling. Contractors, when bidding work, must consider the risk of government-caused delays, impacts and changes. If the very high burden of proof for the breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing applied, then contractors would either be forced to increase their price or forgo bidding government work. In either case, the market, the procurement process and the public would suffer.

In a far-reaching decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the lower court and set forth the standards for a claim of the breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing.

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Reverse auctions: Last-second bid was “late”

In a reverse auction, a bid filed literally at the last second was excluded as late, perhaps because the reverse auction system did not process the bid until a few seconds after the deadline.

GAO-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-SealAs a recent GAO protest demonstrates, reverse auctions – by their very nature – encourage last-second bids, but it is the prospective contractor that may pay the price if the reverse auction system does not immediately process a bid.

The GAO’s decision in C2G Ltd. Co., B-411131 (May 12, 2015) involved a Defense Logistics Agency solicitation for maintenance services on government-owned equipment.  The procurement was conducted using a a third-party reverse auction system, operated by Procurex, Inc.

The reverse auction began at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on February 6, 2015.  The reverse auction was scheduled to end at 9:30 a.m. EST.

At 9:04:34 a.m., C2G Ltd. Co. placed a bid of $1,335,687 and became the “lead” bidder.  C2G’s “lead” bid was visible to other offerors.  C2G remained in the “lead” position until 9:28:55 a.m., when a competitor placed a bid of $1,294,725 and became the “lead” bidder.

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