Whether its telecomm solutions for small agencies, combined administrative functions, or shared data storage capacity, federal leaders talk a lot about shared services. The topic, indeed, is nothing new, though the Trump Administration is making it a key part of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA). All of this senior-level hype, though, doesn’t always match the reality that shared services projects are tough to pull off at lower levels. It seems that giving up ownership, real or perceived, is not something that comes naturally to federal Read more
Larry Allen will be the featured speaker November 8th at the Public Contracting Institute’s “0-60” event, the “Multiple Award Schedule in A Capsule.” Spare us the Alanis Morissette jokes. This fast-paced two hour session will cover MAS essentials, plus some new changes that even experienced Schedule vets may have missed. Learn the traits common to successful Schedule contractors. You will laugh, you may cry (if you’re compliance systems aren’t up to date), but you will surely learn. Check out the details and register today here: http://www.cvent.com/events/0-60-gsa-multiple-award-schedule-contracting-in-a-capsule/event-summary-0c3f6918d2154c2ba5cbdb9c48350450.aspx
It just got easier for DOD, and other federal agencies, to use GSA procurement vehicles. Up till now, a DOD customer would have to obtain a written determination that using the contracts of another agency was in its best interest each time it wanted to place an order. This was a cumbersome process, made worse by the fact that there were no standard guidelines issued by DOD on what needed to go into such a finding, the timing, or other circumstances around which a written determination could be obtained. GSA changed all of that on September 27th by issuing a class deviation letter, through the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council (CAAC). The letter sites authority granted by Congress in the FY’18 Defense Authorization bill, specifically Section 875, that removed the best procurement approach determination requirement to use an interagency acquisition that had been in FAR 17.502-l(a). Agencies now have to make just one blanket determination per contract vehicle, rather than having to obtain a separate determination for each procurement. There would, for example, only have to be one determination issued for the Navy to use the GSA Schedules program. A permanent FAR change is underway, but the deviation makes the legislative change effective now.
Are DOD agencies waiting for the massive JEDI and DEOS projects to finally come to fruition before moving storage and applications to the cloud? It seems unlikely. Bloomberg Government estimated that DOD was on track to spend about $2 billion on various cloud solutions in FY’18. That’s a lot of cloud business up for grabs for contractors with credible, secure cloud solutions. That number is unlikely to go down, too, as DOD moves data storage and even certain applications, to cloud-based platforms. Meanwhile, several Congressmen have asked the DOD IG to investigate the JEDI contract, a vehicle that also has three pre-award protests pending. The DISA DEOS vehicle is also bogged down in a tug-of-war over whether the solution will be truly commercial, or somewhat more tailored to meet specific needs. Now they want to move the acquisition to the GSA 70 Schedule. It seems clear that neither project is anywhere close to becoming operational. Contractors with existing contract vehicles that include cloud solutions can fill the gap. The solutions matter more than the contract vehicle used to obtain them, and the fact is that DOD agencies both need and want the advantages that cloud solutions bring. They also have money now to spend on new projects. Federal acquisition history is littered with the corpses of overly grand acquisition vehicles. At least some DOD officials must have had this experience. Make sure you’re ready to provide the solutions your DOD customer needs right now.
Protests are a part of a federal contractor’s life. That nice award you just got? Protested. Feel rejected? Protest! Here are three things to remember about protests that are essential to sustained business success: 1. GAO Protests Don’t Always Stop and Award: While a protest to GAO may stop an acquisition in its tracks, it doesn’t always. First, if you’re hoping to stop work on a project it’s best to protest earlier in the 10 day window than at the end. Second, GAO opinions are, technically, advisory. An executive branch agency doesn’t have to follow the GAO’s ruling. 2. “No Protest” Policies Work Against You: Generally, government contractors are more reluctant to protest than they should be. The concern is harming the customer relationship. Balderdash. Unless your protest is totally off the wall or you crank out a protest 365 days a year, chances are your customer agency is expecting a protest on every high stakes acquisition. They even build protests into their acquisition planning. Worse, if you’re a known “no protest” company, that late night bid you submitted on September 30th may never get read. You’re better off adopting a reasonable, protective, protest policy. 3. Know When and Where to Protest: Is the wording in the RFP or RFQ vague? No one’s answering your e-mails for clarification? Protest now, before bids are due. Guessing what your customer wants = guessing you’re going to lose. Post-award protests on RFP/Q wording are not timely. Post-award, you have 10 days from the time you knew, or should have known, about a protest-able issue to file at GAO. Also, if you want a de-brief on Thursday, but the CO offers one the Monday before, the 10 day clock starts ticking on Monday. Remember, too, that the Court of Federal Claims can be a viable protest venue. Protests are a tool to be used wisely. While you may use this tool infrequently, it helps to be proficient anyway.