GSA ‘turns the lights on’ at Acquisition.gov

Web designers will tell you that it’s important for a website to look like someone lives there, that it’s not a smattering of links and pages that look as if no one is home. Well, here at GSA we have turned the lights on at acquisition.gov.

Since September, GSA has been working to transform acquisition.gov into a more comprehensive, user-friendly hub for contracting officers (COs), one that allows them to electronically search past and present versions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation  (FAR) and GSA Acquisition Manual (GSAM), and stay-up-to-date on the latest developments in federal acquisition.  In addition, the new website organizes other acquisition resources (i.e. Supplemental Regulations, Acquisition Systems, Training) into clear, comprehensive categories – providing easy access to the resources that COs use most often.

Acquisition.gov photo
The General Services Administration (GSA) re-launched the Acquisition.gov website on April 13, 2015.

 

Are you looking for every instance of the phrase “collective bargaining” in the FAR or GSAM? Just type those words in the search engine and you’ll get just that. Do you want to know what Part 25, Subpart 10, Section 8, and Subsection 2 said in 1996? No problem. Search the “Archives” by “FAC Number” (Federal Acquisition Circular) and “Effective Date.” Do you want to know about the latest change in federal acquisition? Check out the website’s snazzy new rotating feature block, multimedia library, and “News and Announcements” section.

Acquisition.gov Transformation At A Glance:

Improved Searchability  

  • FAR/GSAM Current —  COs can now search the most current version of the FAR and GSAM using keywords and an electronic table of contents. To learn more about how to search the current version of the FAR, see the media section on the home page.
  • FAR/GSAM Archives — COs can now search past versions of the FAR and GSAM by “FAC Number” and “Effective Date.” The archives go back to 1996.

To learn more about how to search past versions of the FAR, see the media section on the home page.

Real-Time Updates  

  • News and Announcements — Includes the latest press releases and blogs about federal acquisition.
  • Rotating Feature Block — Features recent changes to the FAR.
  • Multimedia Library — Includes instructional videos, speeches, and other public commentary from leaders in federal acquisition.

Additional Resources

  • Supplemental Regulations — Includes links to supplemental federal regulations for all agencies.
  • Training — Features links to training and continuous learning institutes, as well as professional organizations connected to the federal acquisition process.
  • Acquisition Systems — Includes links to other frequently-used acquisition resources like FedBizOps and the Federal Procurement Data System.

Check out the acquisition.gov transformation here. If you have questions about the transition or suggestions on how to further transform the site, email acquisition_gov.systemadmin@gsa.gov.

Source: http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/gsablog/2015/04/13/gsa-turns-the-lights-on-at-acquisition-gov/

Refreshed USASpending website irks some transparency advocates

The work-in-progress known as government transparency took a new twist on April 1 when the Treasury Department unveiled “improvements” to the USAspending.gov website aimed at providing easy public access to data on federal contracts, grants and financial assistance governmentwide.

David Lebryk, Treasury’s fiscal assistant secretary, in a blog post described the change — done in response to external feedback– as improving “navigation to allow users to more directly summarize spending data” and to take advantage of a platform borrowed from the award-winning Recovery.gov website used to track spending on the 2009 stimulus legislation.

The refreshed website is supposed to be easier to navigate and understand (it uses plain language instead of government jargon); provide interactive mapping of prime recipients’ localities and enhanced agency and state financial data summaries; connect subcontract award data to prime awards; and expand search capabilities for simplified titles.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2015/04/refreshed-usaspending-website-irks-some-transparency-advocates/109258/

SDVOSB Verification Contractor eliminated for ‘organizational conflict of interest’

An incumbent contractor performing VA CVE SDVOSB verification functions was ineligible to be be re-awarded an order for those services because of an unmitigated organizational conflict of interest.

In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims upheld the VA’s decision to cancel the award to the incumbent contractor and exclude that contractor from the follow-on order.

The Court’s decision in Monterey Consultants, Inc. v. United States, No. 14-1164C (2015) involved a VA RFQ for CVE support functions.  Those functions included supporting the CVE’s SDVOSB and VOSB verification processing.

The verification functions in question had been performed by Monterey Consultants, Inc. under a VA BPA.  Under its BPA, Monterey did work under a variety of call orders, including processing and verification services for CVE.  Monterey also provided support for the VA OSDBU’s acquisition efforts.

The RFQ included a specific section covering OCIs.  In relevant part, that section stated that “Contractors performing on other contracts in support of Verification shall be presumed to have an OCI with respect to this contract and are ineligible to quote on this requirement, due to the integrated nature of work perform[ed] under this solicitation and existing contracts.”

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/u-s-court-of-federal-claims/va-cve-sdvosb-verification-contractor-eliminated-for-oci/

‘National dialogue’ called for on contract reporting costs

The General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are facilitating a ‘national dialogue’ to discuss ideas on how to reduce the costs associated with reporting compliance under Federal awards, including contracts, subcontracts, grants, subgrants, and cooperative agreements.

The GSA/HHS notice is posted at: 80 Fed. Reg. 17438.

The dialogue is part of an effort to improve the economy and efficiency of the federal award system by identifying impactful steps that can be used to streamline reporting, reduce burden, and reduce costs.

Interested parties may participate in the national dialogue through an online platform by reviewing the information and participation dates posted at www.cao.gov.  The dialogue will open on May 30, 2015 and close on May 30, 2017.

GAO: Small business FedBid suspension was improper

The suspension of a small business’s FedBid account was improper because the matter was not referred to the SBA under the SBA’s certificate of competency procedures.

In an important decision for small businesses participating in reverse auctions, the GAO recently held that FedBid could not properly suspend a small business’s user account for a supposed lack of “business integrity,” thereby causing the small business to be ineligible to bid on a federal solicitation, without a referral to the SBA.

The GAO’s decision in Latvian Connection, LLC, B-410947 (Mar. 31, 2015) involved a Department of State solicitation for first aid kits and related medical supplies.  DOS conducted the solicitation as a reverse auction on FedBed.  The solicitation was set aside for small businesses.

Latvian Connection, LLC, wished to compete for the award.  However, in July 2014, FedBid suspended Latvian Connection’s FedBid user account.  The FedBid suspension notice stated, in part: “System and Business Integrity: Latvian Connection has taken actions to repeatedly and purposely interfere with FedBid’s business relationships.”

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/gaobidprotests/small-businesss-fedbid-suspension-was-improper-says-gao/

Case closed: Court denies protest over VA contract to verify veteran small businesses

Veteran community, rejoice: It appears the legal wrangling about who should support the Department of Veterans Affairs program to verify veteran-owned small businesses is over.

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims denied a protest from Monterey Consultants Inc. claiming the VA improperly revoked its contract to manage the Center for Veterans Enterprise in November.

The VA instead awarded the work to another company, Loch Harbour Group in Alexandria after Loch Harbour filed a protest, saying Monterey had a conflict of interest because it had access to documents from other VA work that helped it to win. That was fair move by the VA, the court decided.

This was the final legal avenue available to Monterey to overturn the VA’s decision, meaning the issue can finally be put to rest after more than a year of bizarre twists since December 2013, when the VA ended the old contract with Alexandria-based Ardelle Associates and awarded two contracts to Monterey.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2015/04/case-closed-ourt-denies-protest-over-va-contract.html

Small is big in DoD business systems contracts … and that’s a good thing

Thirty-six years ago, a young computer programmer working out of his parents’ garage was looking for investments so he could create the world’s most user-friendly personal computer. “The programmer in question is the late Steve Jobs, and the fund that helped seed Apple in its infancy was part of the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program – the SBA’s investment arm,” said the December 19, 2014 SBA Blog.

Until recently, the Air Force struggled to meet SBA “negotiated” small business goals (SBA Agency Small Business Contracts Data), but there have been steady improvements due to a number of factors, such as implementation of the AF Small Business Improvement Plan. On January 20, the headquarters of the Air Force Materiel Command announced they’d met small business goals for the first time in nine years.

From my perspective as a member of the Air Force for 31 years who has been working on small business contracts for the Air Force the past two years, I have observed the following 10 factors driving the recent success of small business in the Air Force and other services/agencies:

Defense budgets are puckered up. Our Department of Defense (DoD) is painfully trying to balance the needs for research and development, modernizing major weapon systems, increasing personnel costs, heavy deployment requirements and soaring sustainment costs and risks for weapon systems and infrastructure. Amidst all the sequestration, continuing resolutions for funding, budget cuts and racking and stacking priorities, DoD still confronts greater requirement vs. resource deltas than ever before.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.hstoday.us/blogs/guest-commentaries/blog/new-small-is-big-in-dod-business-systems-contracts-and-that-s-a-good-thing/cd9ad5f0c912386bd3f76e9be0ba3296.html

Congress moves forward on measures for small business contractors

Under the direction of former Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the House Small Business Committee over the past six years made overhauling the federal contracting process one of its top priorities, spearheading a number of initiatives intended to funnel more work – and by extension, taxpayer money – to small businesses. When Graves stepped down from the panel at the end of last year, it was unclear whether that effort would continue, or at least whether it would remain near the top of the committee’s to-do list.

Instead, it’s like he never left.

Now led by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), the small business committee has picked up right where Graves left off. Chabot and crew recently held a series of hearings on a number of challenges facing small contractors, and last week, the panel marked up and approved a comprehensive package of changes stemming from those conversations.

“We know that when small businesses compete for federal work, it creates jobs, improves the quality of work, and saves taxpayers’ money,” Chabot said when rolling out the proposal, calling the proposed bill – dubbed the Small Contractors Improve Competition Act – “a commonsense approach to make sure that Washington is working with Main Street.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-small-business/wp/2015/03/27/congress-moves-forward-on-measures-for-small-business-contractors/

Nearly half of the largest federal contractors are also receiving federal grants and loans

Forty-nine of the federal government’s top 100 contractors also won grants, loans or tax credits over the past 15 years, according to a study released last week by the nonprofit research center Good Jobs First.

Two-thirds of the $68 billion in federal business grants and tax credits since 2000 went to large corporations, said the study and update of an accompanying database that includes federal data for the first time.

The federal contractor with the most grants and allocated tax credits was General Electric, with $836 million, mostly from the Energy and Defense departments, the study found. The “double dipper” with the most loans and loan guarantees was Boeing Co., with $64 billion in assistance from the Export-Import Bank. Boeing’s “more than $18 billion in fiscal 2014 contract awards, combined with the $457 million in federal grants and $64 billion in federal loans and loan guarantees since 2000, make it exceptionally favored by Uncle Sam,” the nonprofit wrote.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2015/03/nearly-half-largest-federal-contractors-are-also-receiving-federal-grants-and-loans/107721/

Lockheed agrees to pay $2 million to settle Air Force government-furnished fuel overcharge allegations

Lockheed Martin Corporation (Lockheed) has agreed to pay $2 million to settle allegations that it overbilled the government for fuel it used while manufacturing C-130 aircraft for the United States Air Force.  Announcement of the settlement was released on Friday, Mar. 27, 2015.

“The resources of the United States Government are limited and must be protected.  We expect companies doing business with the United States to be circumspect and forthright in billing the United States and using its resources,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn.  “Here, in causing the government to pay for fuel that was the company’s financial responsibility, Lockheed failed to live up to the terms of the contracts and caused financial injury to the government.  The settlement reflects our resolve to ensure that companies that overbill or overcharge the Government will be identified and held responsible for their actions.”

“This settlement illustrates the diligent work exhibited by a joint Air Force Office of Special Investigations and DCIS investigative team, that sifted through and unwound dense and complicated data to reveal the overcharges,” said Lloyd Clark, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, AFOSI Procurement Fraud Detachment Five.

“This settlement is the culmination of the tireless investigative efforts of DCIS agents working closely with our Air Force OSI partners,” said John F. Khin, Special Agent in Charge, Southeast Field Office.  Combatting waste and abuse in Department of Defense contracts to protect the integrity of our national defense programs, remains a top priority for the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.”

Between 2006 and 2013, Lockheed manufactured C-130s for the U.S. Air Force at its Marietta, Georgia facility.  Pursuant to the underlying contracts, the Government provided Lockheed with up to 22,000 gallons of fuel (characterized as government furnished property or “GFP”) per aircraft, which could be used for the engine runs, fuel operations and test flights necessary to manufacture C-130s.  Once Lockheed exhausted its 22,000 gallon allotment on a particular aircraft, Lockheed, not the Government, was financially responsible for any additional fuel.

However, the government’s investigation indicated that between 2006 and 2013, Lockheed routinely used fuel in excess of the 22,000 gallons, but failed to reimburse the government for the excess.  Additionally, the evidence suggests that Lockheed used the fuel on other unrelated projects, where the government was either not a party, or had not agreed to furnish fuel.

This matter was investigated by the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and Defense Contract Audit Agency.

In addition to the C-130, Lockheed’s Marietta plant produces the center wing assembly for three versions of the F-35. The assembly is then shipped to Fort Worth, Texas, where the plane’s production is completed. The Marietta plant also supplies the stealth coating on the fighter’s horizontal and vertical tails. The plant also modernizes Air Force C-5 airlifters and builds wings for the P-3 Orion patrol aircraft.

Source: http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/press/2015/03-27-15.html