3 upcoming courses essential to understanding contracting from both contracting officer and contractor perspectives

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech is offering three courses in the next few weeks that offer essential insights into the federal contracting process, from both a government and a contractor point of view.

  • CON 120: Mission Focused Contracting is a comprehensive two-week course that covers the entire federal acquisition process, from meeting with the customer to completing the contract closeout process.  Highlights include: how Government officials are to perform market research, select the solicitation approach, evaluate bids and proposals, conduct negotiations, make contract awards, modify contracts, evaluate contractor performance, and properly close-out a contract.  This course is next offered March 23 – April 3, 2015 on Georgia Tech’s midtown Atlanta campus.  For more information and to register, click on the course title above.
  • COR 206/222: Contracting Officer Representative and the Contingency Contracting Environment is a one-week course that provides a comprehensive review of the role and responsibilities of the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) in the Government’s contract administration process. Students learn the fundamentals of contracting regulations, types, phases, and other elements of contract administration. Students are also coached on the ethical and legal factors that impact COR responsibilities in the normal course of business and in the Contingency Contracting Environment.  This course is next offered March 30 through April 3, 2015 on the Georgia Tech campus.  For more information and to register, click on the course title above.
  • CON 090-4: Contract Administration in the FAR covers all aspects of the Government’s contract management process, including how contracts are monitored, how contract changes are processed, contractors’ rights to file a claims, how contract modifications are authorized, closeout procedures, and contractor performance reporting.  This course is five days in length and is next scheduled for April 6-10, 2015 on Georgia Tech’s midtown Atlanta campus.  For more information and to register, click on the course title above.

To see a complete listing of upcoming contracting courses, please visit http://contractingacademy.gatech.edu/training.



How to unleash the full potential of GSA’s Federal Supply Schedules

President Barack Obama recently received a briefing from the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) on category management and the Common Acquisition Platform (CAP). The briefing is a very significant symbol of GSA’s important role in government management. It highlights GSA’s central role in providing procurement services and programs that support customer agency missions across the federal enterprise.

As a former GSA employee, it was great to see the White House focus on the important, unsung work GSA does day and day out on behalf of the American people.

Strategically, category management and the CAP have the potential to improve GSA’s delivery of best value commercial products, services and solutions to customer agencies. As you know, FAS has reorganized around market sectors or industry categories to better focus on market trends and customer requirements.

Category management has the potential to improve FAS’s management of its contracting programs through increased understanding of customer mission requirements and commercial market trends. The CAP has the potential to provide the federal enterprise with transparent, competitive information regarding already existing contracting programs, best procurement practices and market trends. The CAP can address contract duplication and provide federal market information that can further assist customer agencies in making sound, best value procurement decisions.

Keep reading this article at: 

Commercial item provisions in Schedule contracts upheld in bid protest appeal

CGI Federal has prevailed in a bid protest fight it took to the U.S. Court of Appeals, and the court’s ruling has implications beyond a single company.

The Professional Services Council filed an amicus brief supporting CGI because the issue dealt with the need for GSA schedules to follow the same commercial item provisions as any other type of government contract.

This sequence of events that raised the issue began in February 2014 when CGI Federal and HealthDataInsights Inc. filed pre-award protests on a Center for Medicaid and Medicare contract to collect overpayment. Both companies were incumbents when CMS released the solicitation for the new contract.

CGI and HealthDataInsights argued that CMS had changed the solicitation in a way that restricts competition and violates current laws and regulations—specifically that it does not follow the commercial practices laid out in part 12 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

Keep reading this article at: http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2015/03/11/appeals-court-psc-win.aspx

Read more at: http://www.globalregulatoryenforcementlawblog.com/2015/03/articles/government-contracts/far-part-12-applies-to-cms-orders-on-federal-supply-schedule-contract

Contracting Academy offers insights into contract relationship-building at national event

Procurement counselors from across the United States, Guam and Puerto Rico gathered on Sunday (Mar. 15, 2015) to receive advice from The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech on how to advise their clients on relationship-building techniques within the government contracting arena.

The workshop kicked-off a five-day event hosted by the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC) as a part of the Association’s spring membership and training conference being held in Denver, CO.  Over 375 counselors, speakers and exhibitors are in attendance at the event.

"Establishing Partnerships with the Government" was the theme of The Academy's March 15, 2015 workshop in Denver, CO.

“Establishing Partnerships with the Government” was the theme of The Academy’s March 15 workshop in Denver, CO.

Central to the theme of the workshop is the fact that successful execution of a government contract involves much more than delivering products or services.  “As we designed the workshop,” explained Chuck Schadl, Georgia Tech’s group manager for government contracting services, “we strived to assemble as many resources as possible so that participants could learn about the many ways contractors must navigate the contract administration process.”

The Academy provided insights to the gathering into the contracting process from contract kick-off to close-out.  Instructor Kevin Grimes pointed out that the old expression “be careful what you wish for” aptly describes a business that has just won a government contract.  He pointed out that unless a business is prepared to both protect its interests as well as exploit its role as an incumbent contractor, it risks its chances to successfully complete the contract and gain an advantage in winning follow-on work.

The Academy's instructor Kevin Grimes provided insights to workshop participants from a contractor's perspective.

The Academy’s instructor Kevin Grimes provided insights to workshop participants from a contractor’s perspective.

Topics covered included:

  • Preparation for and participation in post-award orientation conferences.
  • The role of Contracting Officer Representatives in contractor surveillance.
  • The Government’s rights for inspection and redress of any performance issues.
  • The significance of warranties in supply and service contracts.
  • The authority of the government’s Contracting Officer Representative, the Contracting Officer Technical Representative, and the Quality Assurance Evaluator.
  • Contractor performance evaluation factors, including cost control, timeliness, quality, business relations, management of key personnel, customer satisfaction, and compliance.
  • The implications of performance-based acquisition.
  • The significance of a performance work statement.
  • Remedies under a contract, cure notices, show cause, terminations, liquidated damages.
  • Unauthorized commitments and ratifications.
  • Contract completion, acceptance, invoices and payment.
  • Use of past performance information.

Each workshop attendee received a 122-page manual to assist them in counseling businesses as a part of their daily work.  Each of the attendees work for a nationwide network of procurement technical assistance centers (PTACs) whose mission is to assist local businesses identify, compete for, and win government contracts.

Pentagon acquisition bosses ‘ho-hum’ on multiple reviews for passing milestones

Defense Department major weapons buyers could streamline the acquisition process by eliminating some reviews in the years-long phase for passing each procurement milestone, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found.

“The process in some instances can include up to 56 organizations at eight levels and accounts for about half of the time needed to complete information requirements,” the watchdog said in a report released Tuesday.

Interviews with 24 program managers and participating organizations on major procurements such as aircraft showed that most “did not think these reviews added significant value to the documentation,” GAO said. “The program managers considered the value added to 10 percent of the documentation to be high,” GAO said in report required by the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. “However, for the remaining 90 percent of the documents, the officials believed the reviews did not add high value.”Sixty-one percent said they provided moderate value while 29 percent said they provided less than moderate.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2015/02/pentagon-acquisition-bosses-ho-hum-multiple-reviews-passing-milestones/106221

DoD doesn’t know cost or performance of non-major acquisition programs, GAO says

The Defense Department doesn’t have the information to determine the cost or performance of its non-major acquisition programs, says a March 2 Government Accountability Office report.

These non-major programs, called category II and III programs, range from a multibillion dollar aircraft radar modernization program to soldier clothing and protective equipment programs in the tens of millions of dollars, the report says.

GAO found that the accuracy, completeness and consistency of DOD’s data on these programs were undermined by widespread data entry issues, missing data and inconsistent identification of current category II and III programs.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/dod-doesnt-know-cost-or-performance-non-major-acquisition-programs-gao-says/2015-03-03

GAO Report 15-188 can be downloaded here: http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/668783.pdf

Government spent less on contracts in 2014 than it did the previous year

Federal spending on government contracts decreased in 2014, with the Defense Department seeing the biggest overall decline, according to a March 3 report from Govini, a business consulting company for government contractors.

Govini, each year, releases a federal scorecard that tallies and analyzes data on federal contract spending and agency performance.

The scorecard, which was released to reporters, shows that overall contract spending from the federal government was down 4 percent in 2014 compared to 2013.

The DoD saw the greatest overall decrease in dollars spent, with a nearly $9 billion year-over-year decrease in both the Navy and Army.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/report-government-spent-less-contracts-2014-it-did-previous-year/2015-03-05

Georgia Tech students receive presidential pep talk

President Barack Obama gave shout-outs to George P. Burdell, the Ramblin’ Wreck, and even thermodynamics homework when he came to Georgia Tech on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 to announce his Student Aid Bill of Rights.

The President of the United States visited Georgia Tech on March 10th to encourage the pursuit of higher education and how he hopes to make it more affordable and accessible.

The President of the United States visited Georgia Tech on March 10th to encourage the pursuit of higher education and discuss how he hopes to make it more affordable and accessible.

“It’s great to be at one of the finest technical institutes in the world,” Obama said. “You’ve got to be if the Ramblin’ Wreck is still running after all these years.”

Nearly 10,000 students, faculty, staff, and guests gathered in McCamish Pavilion to hear from the president, who spent about 30 minutes encouraging students in the pursuit of higher education and talking about ways he hopes to make it more affordable and accessible.

He outlined steps his administration has already taken, such as tax credit expansion, additional Pell Grant funds, and an income-based repayment program.

The President stated he believes higher education is the best investment one can make in themselves and in their country — particularly at Georgia Tech.

The President stated he believes higher education is the best investment one can make in themselves and in their country — particularly at Georgia Tech.

He also asked for support from the crowd for a new declaration of values he called the Student Aid Bill of Rights. The set of four principles complements a memorandum calling for the Department of Education and other federal agencies to do more to help borrowers afford their loan payments.

“It was really relevant because I’m applying to medical school for next year and didn’t have to take out loans for my undergrad, but I’m going to have to take them out for grad school,” said Deeti Pithadia, a biochemistry major who attended the speech.

‘One of the best bargains around’

President Obama encouraged students to keep up their long nights studying complex material, saying it would be worth it, as he believes higher education is the best investment they can make in themselves and in their country — particularly at Georgia Tech.

“It’s been established time and time again that Georgia Tech is one of the best bargains around — which is one of the reasons I’m here,” he said.

He commended Tech for its collaboration with the White House on promoting advanced manufacturing, unlocking the mysteries of the brain, and helping more students become entrepreneurs. He cited Georgia Tech’s Online Master in Computer Science program as an innovative way to increase value and use technology to expand access to higher education.

Obama also took the time to acknowledge other politicians and leaders in the audience, including Georgia Tech’s own President G.P. “Bud” Peterson, whose shout-out was met with raucous applause.

“You’ve got a high approval rating,” Obama said.

‘Such an honor’

President Obama encouraged students to not only persevere in their studies, but also to “mobilize” to help make college more affordable for themselves and others.

“Young people typically lead the path with new ideas, initiatives, focus, and vision,” he said. “Don’t stop engaging this issue, even after you graduate. In the meantime, study hard, work hard, have fun, make new discoveries, inspire us, lead us.”

Obama made a slow exit from McCamish, taking time to shake hands with many students as he passed.

Vett Vandiver, a graduate student in public policy, had the chance to shake Obama’s hand and tell him he was her hero.

“As a grad student planning to start my career in public service, I’ve dreamed of meeting President Obama since he first started his campaign,” she said. “It was such an honor to witness his remarks and meet him. I’m eternally grateful that Georgia Tech made this experience possible.”

Tiffany Davis, an aerospace engineering major, had the privilege of introducing the president (in place of George P. Burdell, he mentioned). Davis had written a letter to President Obama about college affordability one night last year while taking a study break. To her surprise, she received a letter back. He commiserated that it had once been a struggle for him to afford college as well.

“She didn’t mention that her letter was also to procrastinate from doing thermodynamics homework,” Obama said.

Jen Abrams, a public policy major, led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance, and Maggie Bridges, a business administration major who also is the current Miss Georgia, sang the national anthem prior to the president’s arrival. While students waited, the Yellow Jacket Marching Band entertained. The landing of Air Force One was aired live from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and students cheered as they caught a glimpse of President Obama before the final leg of his trip to meet them.

Excitement building up to the president’s visit began last Friday when lines of students snaked through campus waiting to procure a ticket for the event. Students waited up to three hours then, with some waiting another six hours Tuesday morning to be the first in line to see the president. They passed the time playing cards and games, reading, and studying.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Sonika Fitch, a computer engineering major. “I don’t know why anyone would be anywhere else today.”

Source: http://www.news.gatech.edu/features/students-pack-mccamish-presidential-pep-talk 

GSA proposes overhaul to Multiple Award Schedules

Under a proposed General Services Administration (GSA) rule, the Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) would get an overhaul to address recommendations by the 2010 Multiple Award Schedule Advisory Panel.

The proposed rule would address two key recommendations from the panel’s report – providing agencies with information on prices actually paid for goods and services as well as eliminating the price reduction clause reporting requirements for contractors.

The price reduction clause forces contractors to report if it reduces prices to commercial clients and then, in turn, give that same discount to government contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/gsa-proposes-overhaul-multiple-award-schedule/2015-03-04

Rung: OFPP making progress in overhauling acquisition platforms and vendor relations

In the last three months, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) says it has made progress in overhauling the federal government’s acquisition system.

OMB has built stronger vendor relationships and started implementing streamlined acquisition categories, says Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator (OFPP) Anne Rung in a March 6 blog post.

Rung says OFPP has taken several steps to built stronger relationships with contractors, including the launch of its first online national dialogue with industry last year and partnering with GSA to improve customer-facing tools.

And on March 18th Rung will issue guidance to agencies directing them to seek feedback from vendors and internal stakeholders – such as contracting officers and program managers – on how well certain high-dollar acquisitions perform.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/rung-ofpp-making-progress-overhauling-acquisition-platforms-and-vendor-rela/2015-03-09

Read OFPP Administrator Rung’s entire blog posting at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/03/06/transforming-federal-marketplace-90-day-progress-report-administrator