Say goodbye to 100 page RFPs – 18F found another way

The sprint is over and companies that competed for a slot on 18F’s Agile BPA are lauding what they hope will become a new standard for federal procurement.

18F at GSAIn looking for companies to provide agile development services, the innovative arm of the General Services Administration opted for a ‘show, don’t tell’ approach to the solicitation process. Rather than ask companies for reams of paper promising agile capabilities, 18F set up a proving ground: a two-week test sprint where the only real measurement of success was a working product.

“I certainly hope that this is a new way to do [procurements] going forward,” said Joe Truppo, senior manager at Octo Consulting. “Instead of us delivering 40 pages saying what we could do, we actually got a chance to show them what we could do.”

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Agency’s discussions only with awardee were improper, says GAO

When a procurement agency opens discussions with one offeror, it must open discussions with all offerors within the competitive range.

GAO-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-SealIn a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that a procuring agency conducted improper discussions when it limited discussions to only one offeror.

The GAO’s decision in International Waste Industries, B-411338 (July 7, 2015) involved a solicitation for the delivery of a solid waste incinerator to Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickham. The solicitation notified offerors that the government planned to procure the incinerator using simplified acquisition procedures.  Award was to be made to the lowest priced, technically acceptable offeror.

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Rotational training: A road to broader experience

Most contracting managers (indeed most professionals) will point to past experiences that prepared them for current and future challenges.

Common sense indicates that exposure to diverse work environments experiences, tasks, managers, strategies, or knowledge provides a deeper background and preparation for subsequent broader career complexities.

Value of Rotational TrainingRotational programs are a way to obtain broader experience, in preparation for future higher management roles down the road. Once completed, such programs can better ensure participants can fulfill their current responsibilities, having received a stronger understanding of other perspectives and functions.

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Current and former DoD execs rally against NDAA amendment decentralizing DoD acquisition power

Current and former Defense Department officials have taken issue with a provision in the Senate’s defense authorization proposal that shifts power away from Pentagon’s acquisition chief.

US DoD logoThe Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2016 includes a provision that would shift decision-making power on acquisition matters from the assistant defense secretary for acquisition and logistics – currently Frank Kendall – to the service chiefs.

At a July 17 Center for Strategic and International Studies panel discussion, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Alan Estevez said the shift of power will cut off the assistant defense secretary at the knees.

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Massachusetts business advisors take advantage of GSA Schedule workshop

Counselors from across Massachusetts benefited from participation in The Academy’s GSA Schedule Workshop on July 23 and 24, 2015.  
Business counselors from the University of Massachusetts PTAC participated in an intensive 2-day GSA Schedule workshop conducted by Georgia Tech.
Business counselors from the University of Massachusetts PTAC participated in an intensive 2-day GSA Schedule workshop conducted by Georgia Tech.

The business counselors — representatives of the Massachusetts Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) — received guidance, advice, and hands-on consulting on the GSA Schedule proposal preparation process.  The PTAC is a part of the Small Business Development Center Network at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Participants were given access to exclusive templates and sample narratives based on successful GSA Schedule offers, and well as a step-by-step workbook.

Lead instructor Alexis Kirksey shared her personal experiences in the preparation and management of GSA Schedules.
Lead instructor Alexis Kirksey shared her personal experiences in the preparation and management of GSA Schedules.

The federal General Services Administration (GSA) awards about $50 billion in blanket contracts known as “Schedules” to hundreds of companies each year.  According to the GSA, 80 percent of Schedule contractors are small businesses who are successful at 36% of those sales. The process to win one of these contracts begins with a proposal, an arduous task that typically takes several months to prepare.

Thanks to Georgia Tech’s workshop, a GSA proposal can be completed in a matter of a few days.  Some businesses have actually submitted their proposals during the two-day workshop.  Others have easily completed and submitted their proposals in as little as 30 days.

Workshop participants participated in the actual preparation of a GSA Schedule proposal.

For the University of Massachusetts PTAC counselors, learning the Schedule proposal process represents an enhancement of their business advisory skills.  The Academy’s instructors engaged the counselors in the preparation of an actual MOBIS Schedule proposal, recently consolidated by GSA along with several other Schedules into the 00CORP Schedule.

Here’s a sampling of what the UMass counselors had to say about Georgia Tech’s workshop:

  • “I expected an in-depth overview of the Schedule application process, and that is what we received.”
  • “I valued the ‘off-the-script’ discussions and comments by the instructors.”
  • “I got in-depth, step-by-step instructions with screen shots, the required steps, and documents on how to prepare and complete a proposal for a GSA contract.”
  • “I would definitely recommend this to other PTACs and small businesses.”
  • “A great informative and interactive workshop!  Excellent instructors!”
  • “The examples, the scenarios, and the personal experience that was shared were very helpful.  The workbook and screen shots were excellent.”
  • “I got valuable tips as a PTAC Counselor to help clients navigate the various sections of a GSA solicitation and proposal — and much, much more!”
  • “Thank you for a high-value training session!”

Chuck Schadl, Georgia Tech’s group manager for government contracting services, emphasized the significance of hands-on instruction.  “Learn-by-doing is one of the most effective instructional methods.  That’s why we conduct our GSA Schedule Workshop using templates, practical tips, and advice based on real-life experiences.  We immerse Workshop participants in the actual proposal preparation process.”

For more information about the GSA Schedule Workshop, please visit: 

To register for an upcoming Workshop, please visit: