GSA settles discrimination suit with blind contractors

Three blind federal contractors who sued the General Services Administration (GSA) over a website that they said was not accessible to the visually impaired have settled with the agency.  

SAM logoA lawyer representing the contractors announced the settlement on Nov. 12.

“This is an excellent result not only for our clients, but for the blind community as a whole,” said Lewis Wiener, co-chair of Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, in a statement.

The 18-month lawsuit began when the contractors found that one of GSA’s websites, the System for Award Management or, was not accessible for the visually impaired and prevented the trio from maintaining their contractor status.

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OPM’s credit-monitoring contract violated the FAR

A contract to provide credit and identity monitoring services to millions affected by this summer’s hack of the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) was made in violation of federal acquisition rules, according to a ruling from OPM’s inspector general, found in an Oct. 30 memo to acting OPM director Beth Cobert.

OPM“We determined that the [Office of Procurement Operations] did not award the Winvale contract in compliance with the FAR and OPM’s policies and procedures, which led to the OPO selecting the wrong contracting vehicle,” the memo, from OPM IG Patrick McFarland’s office, said.

“While we are unable to determine whether the issues we uncovered are significant enough to have impacted the award of the contract to Winvale Group LLC, and its subcontractor, CSIdentity, it is evident that significant deficiencies existed in the OPO over the contract award process.”

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More lift, less turbulence: 5 management secrets from the AF Secretary

Let’s face it: “compromise” must stop being a four-letter word in Washington.
Deborah Lee James is the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C. She is the author of this article.
Deborah Lee James is the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C. She is the author of this article.

Piloting a large organization such as the Air Force through turbulent geopolitical air is challenging, and more so without a solid budget. We’ve teetered on the seesaw of instability for too long. We need Washington to come together and compromise to fund the Air Force appropriately and help return us to fiscal stability.

I know from my 34 years in defense and industry that reaching a compromise can be tricky. In my capacity as Secretary of the Air Force, I’ve put my negotiation skills to use with Congress, international leaders, our sister services and industry partners. But my real passion is advocating for our nearly 664,000 active, Guard, Reserve and civilian airmen.

When it comes to collaborative negotiation, I’ve always followed five simple rules: Do your homework; tell the story; aim for a win-win; persevere; and keep your cool. These rules have served me well in both the public and private sector.

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Academy’s 2016 course schedule set

Training courses — ideal for government contracting officials and contractors alike — are now scheduled for 2016 on the Georgia Tech campus in midtown Atlanta.

calendarBelow are the details of professional education courses being presented by The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech in the first three months of 2016. (For a complete calendar of 2016 courses, click here.)  To see pricing or to register for any class, click on the course titles below.


Jan. 19-21 – CON 260B: Small Business Programs – Covers the intricacies of the government’s Small Business Programs designed to maximize the participation of small businesses in prime contracts and subcontracts, including selection of appropriate acquisition strategies, the SBA’s role in the award decision-making process, subcontracting requirements, and assistance available to small businesses.  Includes a review of on-line course CON 260A.

Jan. 25-29 – CON 243: Architect-Engineer Contracting  – Focuses on contracting for architectural-engineering services, including acquisition planning, source selection, proposal analysis, contract award and work, and contract management. Specific topics and practical exercises convey knowledge of the Selection of Architects and Engineers statue, SF-330, the slate and selection process, the review of government estimates, liability, Title II services, modifications, and contracting officer’s technical representative responsibilities. 

Jan. 25-26 – GSA Schedule Workshop  – A 2-day program designed to provide businesses with the hands-on instruction and oversight needed to successfully prepare and submit a GSA Schedule proposal.  Appropriate for all business sizes and all GSA Schedule types.  Covers all aspects of proposal preparation and includes 4 hours of post-workshop consulting.  


Feb. 1-5 – COR 206/222: Contracting Officer Representative and the Contingency Contracting Environment – Covers the role and responsibilities of the COR in contract administration, including contract planning support, contract awards, contract changes and modifications, monitoring performance, expenditures and schedules, and ethical situations and cultural differences a COR may experience while deployed in a contingency operation. 

Feb. 22-26 – CON 244: Construction Contracting  – Focuses on contracting issues unique to construction, including acquisition planning, contract performance management, funding, environmental concerns, construction contract language, construction contracting in a commercial setting, the Construction Wage Rate Requirements statute, design/build methodology, basic schedule delay analysis, constructive changes, acceleration, and construction contract quality management.


Mar. 14-25 – CON 170: Fundamentals of Cost & Price Analysis  – Conveys fundamental quantitative pricing skills, including seller pricing strategies, the Truth in Negotiations Act and how it mitigates government risk, application of Cost Accounting Standards Board (CASB) rules to negotiated contracts and subcontracts, and contract cost principles and procedures.  Covers cost-volume-profit analysis, contribution margin estimates, and cost estimating relationships.

Mar. 14-15 – GSA Schedule Workshop  – A 2-day program designed to provide businesses with the hands-on instruction and oversight needed to successfully prepare and submit a GSA Schedule proposal.  Appropriate for all business sizes and all GSA Schedule types.  Covers all aspects of proposal preparation and includes 4 hours of post-workshop consulting.  


(For a complete calendar of 2016 courses, click here.)


Contracting Academy conducts two national workshops

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech conducted two workshops for 150 contracting professionals in Washington, D.C. this month.
Counseling Businesses for Government Contracting Success Nov. 2015
Participants worked in teams to solve case studies, explore counseling principles, and develop personal action plans to enhance their knowledge, skills and abilities.

On Sunday, November 8, 2015, the Academy presented “Counseling Businesses for Government Contracting Success,” a workshop featuring seven case studies based on real-life scenarios.  During the instruction, attendees explored seven counseling principles which matched the case studies.  The workshop’s purpose was to help attendees define effective business counseling traits and discover counseling resources. Each person also was given the opportunity to develop a Personal Action Plan to improve counseling skills.  Senior instructor Kathy Cames conducted the four-hour session, assisted by the Academy’s program manager Donna Bertrand.

The workshop was presented to members of the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC) in conjunction with the group’s annual fall training conference.   APTAC represents 97 Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) – a nationwide network that assists local businesses compete successfully in the government marketplace.

On Wednesday and Thursday, November 11 and 12, The Academy also presented a post-conference workshop entitled, “GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation.”   This workshop was entirely paperless as it was conducted on 10-inch Windows-based tablets which each participant got to keep.  The tablets were pre-loaded with templates and instructional materials based on successful GSA Schedule contracts.

GSA Workshop - 11 12 2015
The Academy’s GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation workshop enabled participants to engage in the actual proposal assembly process.

The workshop began with a half-day of instruction conducted by Microsoft representatives on how to install Windows 365 and how to use the tablets.  Following this orientation, instructors Alexis Kirksey, Kevin Grimes and Chuck Schadl walked participants through the entire GSA Schedule proposal process including administrative requirements, the necessary proposal ingredients and documentation, and the submittal procedures.  Post-award contract administration tips were provided as well.

Each workshop participant received a 10" tablet PC containing all the ingredients of a GSA Schedule proposal.
Each workshop participant received a 10″ tablet PC containing all the ingredients of a GSA Schedule proposal.  (Click photo to see detail.)

The GSA workshop represents a significant breakthrough in instruction on this subject.  It was the first time The Academy used tablets to conduct instruction — and the first time ever the GSA Schedule proposal process has been transformed into a computer application.

The Academy partnered with two firms to develop instructional content and the app.  Ms. Kirksey and Mr. Grimes of Atlanta-based CFO Leasing, Inc. collaborated with The Academy’s instructional design team to create the content, including the exercises, templates, and appendices.  Matt Gonzalez of IVSN Group, LLC was selected by The Academy to create the customized app for the tablets.