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.


OMB memo ushers major shift in federal procurement

The Office of Management and Budget released a set of directives on Oct. 16  fine tuning the way agencies buy laptop and desktop computers.

ombWhile the directives focus solely on specific computer hardware, the move signals what could be a sea change in the way the federal government purchases commodity IT and other products.

Of the three new directives in the Oct. 16 memo, the first is perhaps the most significant: a prohibition on issuing new contracts for laptops and desktops with a mandate to use one of two governmentwide acquisition contracts or IT Schedule 70.

Previously, agencies had been encouraged to purchase IT products and services off GWACs or GSA schedules but were able to go their own way if they wanted.

Keep reading this article at:

Should GSA drop 2-year requirement from IT Schedule 70?

The General Services Administration created IT Schedule 70 to help agencies buy technology products and services quickly.

GSA logoHowever, acquisition regulations restrict new companies from competing for a spot on the Schedule, which could limit access to some of the newest technologies.

As new companies emerge with new and useful IT products, GSA is looking to adapt and has issued a request for information on changes to Schedule 70 to broaden the pool of competition.

Keep reading this article at:

Next GSA Workshop is Nov. 16 & 17

Businesses now have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on, consultant-guided workshop to prepare a GSA Schedule proposal in a matter of days — not weeks or months.

Registration details on the next GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop on November 16 and 17, 2015 can be found by clicking here.

Learn how to win a GSA Schedule contract in a small group setting.
Learn how to win a GSA Schedule contract in a small group setting.

To date, every single businessperson who’s attended this workshop has prepared their proposal, has successfully submitted it to GSA, or has been awarded a contract.  The workshop is hosted by The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech.

Workshop Benefits

By attending Georgia Tech’s GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop, you will:

  • Save time and money with instructor-guided, do-it-yourself approach.
  • Avoid mistakes that can delay or stop a GSA Schedule proposal from being considered.
  • Receive expert guidance, hands-on personal help, and answers to all of your questions.
  • Be given access to exclusive templates and sample narratives based on successful GSA Schedule offers, and well as a detailed workbook.
  • Receive up to 4 hours of individual consulting following the Workshop to review your package and receive further advice.
  • Earn 15 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits.

The Facts about GSA Schedules

Is your company considering going after a GSA Schedule contract?  Maybe you should consider these facts:

  • The federal General Services Administration (GSA) awards about $50 billion in blanket contracts known as “Schedules” to hundreds of companies each year.
  • Eighty percent (80%) of Schedule contractors are small businesses who are successful at 36% of those sales.

The process to win a GSA Schedule contract begins with a proposal, an arduous task that often takes several months to prepare. But now, thanks to Georgia Tech’s Workshop — sponsored by the Contracting Education Academy — a GSA proposal can be actually completed during the Workshop.   If a business is not prepared to submit all the documentation at the time of the Workshop, the GSA proposal preparation process easily can be shortened to within 30 days following the Workshop.

Registration Details

Don’t miss out!  To register for the Workshop, simply click here. If you have questions or need further information, please email

GSA Schedule Contract

GAO says GSA needs to pay more attention to competition and prices on Schedule contracts

Only 40 percent of orders placed against GSA Schedules in FY14 were based on three or more quotes — the number required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).

This finding comes as a part of a recently-released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

Competition - GSA Schedule Orders - FY14

According to the General Services Administration (GSA), total sales through the Federal Supply Schedules (FSS) program in fiscal year 2014 were $33.1 billion. This includes purchases by federal, state, and local agencies, including federal intelligence agencies which do not report their FSS spending publicly. GAO’s analysis of publicly reported federal procurement data shows that federal use of the FSS program has declined from $31.8 billion in 2010 to $25.7 billion in 2014 — a 19 percent inflation-adjusted decrease. This is consistent with the decline in overall federal contracting obligations. The FSS portion of total federal contracting obligations remained steady — between 5 and 6 percent.

The extent of competition on GSA Schedule orders is influenced by various factors. One factor identified in the orders from the agencies GAO reviewed — the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Health and Human Services (HHS) and GSA — involves situations where few vendors can fulfill agencies’ specific needs.

HHS had a significantly higher percentage of FSS obligations in fiscal year 2014 on orders that were competed but the agency received only one or two quotes — 51 percent — compared to DOD and GSA, which received one or two quotes for 35 and 32 percent of their FSS obligations, respectively. HHS’s practice of targeting solicitations to fewer vendors may be contributing to this higher rate.

The bottom line?  Agencies are paying insufficient attention to prices when using FSS, according to GAO.  Ordering agencies did not consistently seek discounts from Schedule prices, even when required by the FAR. In addition, GAO found cases in which officials did not assess prices for certain items, as required, or had insufficient information to assess prices. Contracting officials were not always aware of the requirement to seek discounts and told GAO that the need to assess prices was not emphasized in training and guidance. When contracting officials are not aware of these regulations, agencies may be missing opportunities for cost savings.

Why GAO Did the Study

The FSS program provides agencies a simplified method of purchasing commercial products and services at prices associated with volume buying. In 2011, the FAR was amended to enhance competition on FSS orders. Competition helps agencies get lower prices on products and services and get the best value for taxpayers.

In its report, the GAO examined competition and pricing for FSS orders. The report addresses: 1) how and to what extent the government is using the FSS program, 2) factors influencing the degree of competition for FSS orders, and 3) the extent to which agencies examine prices to be paid for FSS orders.

GAO analyzed data from the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation on obligations through the FSS program for fiscal years 2010-2014 and reviewed a non-generalizable sample of 60 FSS orders awarded in fiscal year 2013 by DOD, HHS and GSA, the agencies with the highest use of the FSS program. GAO also interviewed officials from these agencies and FSS vendors.

What GAO Recommended

GAO recommends that DOD, HHS and GSA issue guidance and assess training to focus attention on rules related to pricing. DOD, HHS and GSA concurred. GAO also recommends HHS assess reasons contributing to its higher rate of orders with only one or two quotes. HHS concurred.  The complete GAO report, publicly released on August 10, 2015, may be seen at: FSS – More Attention Needed to Competition and Prices.