Changes announced to GSA Schedules in professional services categories

The General Services Administration has announced a series of changes to its professional services Schedule offerings in order to reduce the number of contracts vendors manage and consolidate contract vehicles.

GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service removed the special item number of non-professional service from the current consolidated schedule, expect for information technology and human resources, the agency said last week.

Tiffany Hixson, professional services category executive for FAS, described the agency’s approach to contract consolidation last week ahead of this announcement (click here to read previous coverage).

GSA said it made the move to “eliminate the need to submit separate offers for professional services; firms would have the ability to submit a modification request instead – this equates to a substantial decrease in time required to add new services.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.executivegov.com/2014/09/gsa-details-professional-services-schedule-changes/

GSA’s OASIS contract cleared of bid protests

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) issued an official Notice to Proceed (NTP), effective Sept. 3, 2014, for One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS), a general contract procured through full and open competition among all interested businesses. As a result, both OASIS and OASIS Small Business (SB), GSA’s 100-percent small business set-aside contract, are ready for business, which means that agency customers can start using this solution set to address their complex professional services needs.

FAS Commissioner Tom Sharpe Said:  “OASIS and OASIS SB have already become the solutions of choice for some of our customers. These solutions have great potential to provide agencies with more flexible full-service contract vehicle options while driving down costs for the American taxpayer. The OASIS program will strengthen the federal government by minimizing contract duplication and improving efficiency, while also delivering solid benefits to the selected OASIS and OASIS SB industry partners and maximizing opportunities for small businesses.”

OASIS and OASIS SB have become the solution of choice for the United States Air Force. In December, the Air Force announced that it would use OASIS and OASIS SB for purchasing systems engineering services, research and development services, and a host of other complex professional services instead of creating three of its own multiple-award, Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts. These services had an estimated value of $1.4 billion. By using OASIS and OASIS SB, the Air Force will save years of effort, taxpayer dollars, and resources over the life of the contracts.

Key Facts

The issuance of an NTP means that federal agencies can begin using GSA’s OASIS contract solutions to purchase both commercial and non-commercial complex professional services. The NTP for OASIS Small Business (SB) was issued earlier this summer.   Recently, both the Court of Federal Claims (COFC) and Government Accountability Office denied several protests filed on OASIS allowing GSA to issue the notice.

OASIS and OASIS SB were developed in response to the government’s substantial need for a hybrid, government-wide acquisition vehicle, and are designed to reduce duplication of contracting efforts across the government and provide federal agencies with comprehensive, integrated professional services contract options.

GSA expects these solutions to provide customers with best value for complex professional service requirements.

To learn more about OASIS, visit www.gsa.gov/oasis where there are details on how to request a Delegation of Procurement Authority (DPA) and attend mandatory training.

Strengthening the workforce: DoD acquisition, requirements and results

“Defense acquisition is a human endeavor.”

These are familiar words to anyone who knows Frank Kendall, the Under Secretary for Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, and what he sees as the heart of modernizing the DoD acquisition system.

Kendall and his staff have made notable improvements to the system in recent years, including the major focus on workforce professionalism, training and education initiatives undertaken by the Defense Acquisition University (DAU).

It’s no secret DoD has an abundance of rules and regulations. In a sequestration environment, which will be the greatest administrative challenge of the era for the Pentagon, the workforce and the people are the most important ingredient in the DoD acquisition recipe.

DoD’s Better Buying Power (BBP) mandate establishes “increased professional qualification requirements for all acquisition specialties.” With BBP 3.0 expected in a few months, Kendall reports the new version will work towards eliminating barriers to entry. He wants to build stronger relationships with the requirements, technology, warfighter and other communities. I participated in the recent Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) symposium, the inaugural event to highlight DoD’s BBP acquisition initiative and its application to government, industry and academia.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140829/BLG06/308290008/Strengthening-workforce-DoD-acquisition-requirements-results

Can the federal acquisition process support innovation?

There is widespread agreement that the federal government’s process for acquiring goods and services needs to change to enable agencies to keep with the rapid pace of technology development. But with more than 1,800 pages of rules and regulations governing that process—known as the Federal Acquisition Regulation—there is growing concern that the government cannot truly support innovation without a dramatic simplification of the rules.

“I think we can get there. To do that, I think we need additional changes in the FAR,” said Wolfe Tombe, chief technology officer at U.S Customs and Border Protection, in an exclusive interview with FedScoop. “I think the FAR needs to evolve to actually support innovation.”

According to Tombe, the federal acquisition process needs to be streamlined to remove existing obstacles to the private sector’s ability to interact with federal requirements managers. “Now we go out with a request for proposals and we’ll say what we think we need, and I think a lot of times there are vendors who could come back if the FAR allowed it, and [recommend better, more cost-effective solutions],” Tombe said. “The FAR needs to be redone so it enables that kind of interaction. It’s hard [for a vendor] to come back and say they have a better idea.”

Keep reading this article at: http://fedscoop.com/really-needs-done-acquisition-reform/

DOD releases RFP for $11 billion health record project

After more than a year of preparation, the Defense Department released its request for proposals for its new electronic health record (EHR) procurement on Aug. 25. The single-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract is expected to have a total lifetime cost of $11 billion through 2030.

The Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization was created after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel scrapped a plan to combine DOD’s and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ EHR systems into a single solution in May 2013.

DHMSM seeks a single, commercial product to be adapted to the military’s unique set of needs and requirements, which include full interoperability with the VA’s VistA health records system and private-sector interoperability standards. It will reach a population of about 9.6 million service members, retirees and dependents.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/Articles/2014/08/26/DOD-DHMSM-RFP.aspx

Taming the wild west of cloud acquisition

For acquisition professionals, buying cloud computing is a bit like stepping from a 21st-century city into the Wild West. Federal buyers must move from the known, predictable, more or less standard procurement world into one that is unknown, unfamiliar and as yet untamed.

It’s no wonder that in ASI Government’s polls of acquisition professionals at 110 federal organizations, 64 percent of respondents believe they lack the necessary technical expertise in cloud computing and thus are challenged in structuring contracts for it.

“There’s no exact fit for commercial cloud in the [Federal Acquisition Regulation],” Mark Day, deputy assistant commissioner of the General Services Administration’s Office of Integrated Technology Services, told attendees at a March conference on cloud acquisition.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/08/26/acquisition-matters-cloud.aspx

Big win for Amazon: 1st provider authorized to handle sensitive DoD workloads in cloud

Amazon Web Services has become the first commercial cloud provider authorized to handle the Defense Department’s most sensitive unclassified data.

Today’s announcement that AWS has achieved a provisional authority to operate under DOD’s cloud security model at impact levels 3-5 is a major win for the company, as it allows DOD customers to provision commercial cloud services for the largest chunks of their data.

In technical speak, the provisional ATO granted by the Defense Information Systems Agency means DOD customers can use AWS’ GovCloud – an isolated region entirely for U.S. government customers – through a private connection routed to DOD’s network. DOD customers can now secure AWS cloud services through a variety of contract vehicles.

In layman’s terms, AWS is the first company with the ability to take any and all of DOD’s unclassified data to the cloud.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cloud-computing/2014/08/big-win-amazon-first-provider-authorized-handle-sensitive-dod-workloads/92069

Court of Federal Claims rejects attempt to shoehorn what it characterizes as a contract administration matter into a bid protest

Recently, the CFC rejected a bid protest action filed by Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) with respect to one of the Army’s LOGCAP contracts. The contractor had performed the logistics and civil augmentation contract, under which the Army issued task orders for different years, on a “cost-reimbursement basis.” When the Army tried to change to a firm-fixed price arrangement for the 2013 close-out period, KBR balked and refused to submit a proposal—instead filing a bid protest action. The CFC dismissed the case, ruling that KBR did not properly invoke the court’s bid protest jurisdiction but rather was attempting to litigate a contract administration dispute.

After years of submitting cost-reimbursement proposals under the LOGCAP agreement, it seems reasonable that KBR didn’t want to switch to a firm-fixed price basis for the close-out period, as “there was ‘no way to accurately define the scope or duration of work’ and [the] ‘[l]egal, administrative compliance, audit response, vendor issues, subcontract close-out, and dispute resolution . . . are all unknowns.'”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?articleid=334576

FEMA’s 50% rule costing gov’t hundreds of millions of dollars in overpayments

Hundreds of millions of dollars were lost due to a misinterpretation of a Federal Emergency Management Agency rule that funds the replacement or repair of facilities after a natural disaster, according to a recent Homeland Security Department inspector general report.

FEMA’s public assistance program provides financial assistance for people in the aftermath of hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and terrorists attack. The agency spends around $10 billion every year for the Disaster Relief Fund to help people rebuild after a natural disaster.

Under the 50 percent rule, FEMA will replace a facility if the estimated cost of repair exceeds 50 percent of the estimated cost to replace it.

But applying FEMA’s 50 percent repair or replace rule correctly can be very difficult and susceptible to error, misinterpretation and manipulation, the report dated Aug. 7 said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercehomelandsecurity.com/story/ig-femas-50-percent-rule-costing-govt-hundreds-millions-dollars-overpayment/2014-08-21

Course for contracting officer’s representatives provides timely and relevant information

Contracting Officer’s Representatives are the “eyes and ears” of federal contracting offices, serving as vital links between contractors and Contracting Officers.

Now, through a unique blending of content drawn from on-line instruction with all the dynamics of an in-classroom course, The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech is offering a five-day presentation covering all aspects of the unique role Contracting Officer’s Representatives play in the acquisition process.

Registration information for the next class is available by clicking here.

Georgia Tech’s course specifically covers all of the content found in the Defense Acquisition University’s Contracting Officer’s Representative course (COR 222), along with DAU’s Contracting Officer’s Representative in the Contingency Contracting Environment class (COR 206).  The latter covers ethical situations and cultural differences a COR may experience while deployed in a contingency operation.

WHAT STUDENTS ARE SAYING

Feedback from students who recently attended the course speaks to the quality and comprehensiveness of Georgia Tech’s COR 206/222 course approach:

  • “I got detailed knowledge and understanding of COR and CO duties and responsibilities.  I now have the knowledge I need to perform as a COR.”
  • “A very well-taught course.”
  • “The instructors are very knowledgeable.”
  • “Professional training providing insights and practical examples.”
  • “I valued the exercises — they helped a lot!  A wonderful course!”
  • “Great course — great instructors!”
  • “Excellent instruction.”
  • “I valued the format, facilities, and the instructor’s expertise.”
  • “Invaluable information — a mix of academic and real-world views.  Outstanding job.”
  • “Great job.  The knowledge of the instructors was remarkable.”

Students attended the August 18-22, 2014 presentation of the COR 206/222 course for Contracting Officer’s Representatives at Georgia Tech’s world-class Global Learning Center in Atlanta.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND AND WHY

This course is specifically designed for Contracting Officer’s Representatives (CORs) who are responsible for assuring that contractors are performing in a technically acceptable way. (This includes personnel who may be appointed a COR in the future.)

For contractor personnel who attend this course, real insight is gained into the Government’s monitoring and surveillance techniques.

By attending this course, students:

  • Acquire the breadth of knowledge required to perform the COR role, including knowledge related to roles and responsibilities.
  • Learn the fundamentals of contracting regulations and significant contract terms and conditions.
  • Can identify types, phases, and other elements of contracts.
  • Understand various parties roles and responsibilities in contract administration.
  • Learn how to document and obtain approval for contract changes and modifications.
  • Receive coaching on the ethical, legal, and cultural factors that impact COR responsibilities in a contingency contracting environment.
  • Are exposed to the entire acquisition life-cycle, from defining the requirement, to contract kick-off, to close-out.
  • Gain the necessary information to effectively evaluate contractual problems and disputes.
  • Apply knowledge gained to make correct decisions to carry out COR responsibilities.

COURSE MATERIALS

A printed Student Guide is provided to each student which serves as a workbook during class as well as a handbook back on the job.  Supplemental learning material — including exercises, case studies, and handouts — also are provided to students.  In addition, students are given access to exclusive web-based resources, templates, and sample documents.

REGISTRATION INFORMATION

DAU logoFor more information and to register, please click here.

Georgia Tech is an official equivalency training provider of the Defense Acquisition University.