GSA Schedules and DoD’s confusing FAR 8.4 deviation

On March 13, 2014, Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (DPAP) issued a class deviation to FAR 8.404(d). This deviation directed that ordering activity contracting officers are responsible for making a determination of fair and reasonable pricing when using GSA’s Federal Supply Schedules (FSS). The deviation essentially incorporates complex FAR 15.404-1 price analysis techniques into the streamlined FSS ordering procedures with the vague caveat that the complexity and circumstances of each acquisition should determine the level of detail of the analysis required.

In discussing the rationale for this deviation, DPAP has consistently focused on the variation in pricing across the FSS program. In particular, the example of a $29 stapler listed on an FSS contract has been cited by DPAP as creating a “significant” risk that Department of Defense (DoD) contracting officers will simply order the $29 stapler rather than search for a cheaper stapler on another FSS contract. For those of us of a certain age, the use of this example reminds one of the $600 toilet seat reportedly purchased by the DoD back in the 1980s. Like the toilet seat purchase, however, there is greater context that undercuts the stapler example cited by DPAP.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/blog/2015/02/13/gsa-advantage-dpap-far-waldron/23365305/

GSA wants to boost market share of Schedules to 33 percent of federal spending

The General Services Administration (GSA) is exploring different ways to boost its contract spending market share and enhance its Multiple Awards Schedule program, according to agency officials.

Tom Sharpe, the commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service at GSA, said he wants to boost the agency’s market share of federal spending from 15 percent to 33 percent in three years.

New contract vehicles such as the OASIS contract for professional services and the move to a “category management” system of expert contract advisers will help, Sharpe said.

He said at a GSA industry forum Feb. 13, hosted by the Professional Services Council, that the agency might roll out more versions of OASIS in the future for other contract areas besides professional services.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/gsa-gwac/2015/02/13/gsa-changes-schedules/23359425/

VA failed to vet dubious contractors

An internal VA study has found that an east coast office that handles about $4 billion in business each year didn’t do enough checks to vet the backgrounds of companies to which it awarded contracts.

The internal study by consultants found that the Department of Veterans Affairs‘ “Service Area Office East” failed more than half the time to perform at least one of the required responsibility determination reviews, which include checking lists of banned companies or checking basic corporate facts with Dun and Bradstreet and other databases.

The study, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, found the office would often neglect to fill out required paperwork on why they selected “high risk” contractors and found 94 percent of Federal Supply Schedule contracts had some kind of problem, including lack of proof that contracting officers pushed for government price reductions.

Some contract files didn’t even have signatures.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/5/va-failed-to-vet-dubious-contractors/

Who’s the boss in government contracting?

he management structure of government procurement, where one of every six federal dollars is spent, has remained generally unchanged for many years, even as the volume and percentage of products and services performed by agencies has evolved to today’s outsourced, dependent model. One continuing characteristic of this model is decentralization.

For example, since its creation in 1971, governmentwide acquisition policy responsibility rests with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), residing within OMB. It helps shape the policy and practices governing over $500 billion of annual contract obligations. It does so with a very small budget and staff and relies on interagency cooperation to develop policy and workforce development planning in the form of memos, circulars, guides, or reports. OFPP chairs the FAR Council, consisting of senior procurement executives from GSA, NASA, and DoD (the largest contracting agencies at its creation), to manage cases (changes to the FAR) from civilian and defense agency councils, extensively relying on agency-provided “teams” for assigned subject areas. In addition, OFPP oversees the Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI), chairing its “board of directors” (agency procurement executives) to ensure training priorities are addressed, including development of a professional acquisition workforce. OFPP’s mandate relies on words like “collaborate,” or “assist” in describing its role over other civilian agencies. FAI itself has a small staff and relies on other, better-funded agencies, to develop training programs and schools, as well as private contractor-approved providers.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/blog/2015/01/16/government-contracting-leadership/21858713/

GSA aims to shorten software acquisition cycle with Agile Delivery Services BPA

The General Services Administration is seeking feedback from industry and government stakeholders on a proposed blanket purchase agreement that would feature vendors who specialize in Agile Delivery Services, or the development of software through a faster, more interactive acquisition process.

“The goal of the proposed BPA is to decrease software acquisition cycles to less than four weeks (from solicitation to contract) and expedite the delivery of a minimum viable product (MVP) within three months or less,” writes Angela Bumbrey, program analyst for advertising and marketing at GSA, in a recent post on the agency’s blog.

GSA’s 18F, the agency’s digital innovation lab, and GSA’s Office of Integrated Technology Services are collaborating on the establishment of the BPA.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/gsa-aims-shorten-software-acquisition-cycle-agile-delivery-services-bpa/2015-01-08

GSA administrator Tangherlini to leave in February

After nearly three years as administrator of the General Services Administration, Dan M. Tangherlini is leaving the job next month.

Tangherlini took over in the wake of a scandal over conference spending by the agency, and tried to transition the GSA into a more efficient and tech-savvy operation during a period of budget cuts and gridlock on Capitol Hill. His last day will be Feb. 13. Denise Turner Roth, deputy administrator, will serve as an interim replacement until President Obama nominates a permanent successor.

A former Treasury official, Tangherlini said he had expected to leave the administration before even arriving at the GSA but that the agency — despite its reputation as a symbol of government bureaucracy — presented too important an opportunity for him to turn down.

During his tenure, the GSA focused on introducing new technologies, improving the acquisitions process and creating more efficient government workspaces.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/digger/wp/2015/01/15/dan-tangherlini-to-leave-gsa-in-feb/

Companies pay millions to settle alleged false billings on GSA Schedule and DoD contracts

At year’s end, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced multi-million dollar false claims settlements with a pair of large contractors in connection with billing practices on GSA Schedule contracts.

  • Iron Mountain Incorporated and Iron Mountain Information Management LLC (collectively Iron Mountain) has paid $44.5 million to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that Iron Mountain overcharged federal agencies for record storage services , the DOJ announced Dec. 19, 2014.  Iron Mountain is a records storage company headquartered in Boston.
  • Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems (LMIS) agreed on Dec. 22, 2014 to repay the government $27.5 million to settle over-billing charges brought under the False Claims Act on a contract producing products and services for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Justice Dept. seal“Protecting the federal procurement process from false claims is central to the mission of the Department of Justice,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce Branda said. “We will continue to ensure that when federal monies are used to purchase commercial services the government receives the prices and services to which it is entitled.”

The settlement with Iron Mountain relates to contracts under which the firm provided record storage services to government entities from 2001 to 2014 through GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program.  The MAS program provides the government with a streamlined process for procurement of commonly used commercial goods and services.  The settlement resolves allegations that Iron Mountain failed to meet its contractual obligations to provide GSA with accurate information about its commercial sales practices during contract negotiations, and failed to comply with the price reduction clause of the GSA contracts by not extending lower prices to government customers during its performance of the contracts.  It also resolves an allegation that Iron Mountain charged the United States for storage meeting National Archives and Records Administration requirements when the storage provided did not meet such requirements.

“Contractors that knowingly bill the government in violation of contract terms will face serious consequences,” Branda said of the Lockheed Martin settlement. “The department will ensure that those who do business with the government, and seek taxpayer funds, do so fairly and in accordance with the applicable rules.”

LMIS is a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Inc., which is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland.  The alleged labor mischarging occurred on the Rapid Response (CR2) contract and the Strategic Services Sourcing (S3) contract, both issued by the U.S. Army Communication and Electronics Command (CECOM).  CECOM is located at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and at the Aberdeen Proving Group in Maryland.  The purpose of the CR2 and S3 contracts is to provide rapid access to products and services to be provided to the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. Individual task orders then are separately negotiated, based on these contracts, to quickly meet the needs of CECOM.  LMIS allegedly violated the terms of the contracts by using under-qualified employees who were billed to the United States at the rates of more qualified employees.  The overbilling allegedly resulted in greater profit for LMIS.

Sources:

 

Former security contractor CEO agrees to pay $4.5 million to settle civil claims

Keith Hedman, 55, of Arlington, Virginia, the former chief executive officer of a Virginia-based security contracting firm, Protection Strategies, Inc. has agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle civil claims relating to his involvement in a fraudulent scheme to create a front company to obtain contracts through the Small Business Administration’s Section 8(a) program.  The Section 8(a) program allows qualified small businesses to receive sole-source and competitive-bid contracts set aside for minority-owned and disadvantaged small businesses.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement after the settlement agreement was signed by both parties. “The civil settlement illustrates the importance of not stopping at a criminal resolution when a defendant has pled guilty to fraud against the government,” said U.S. Attorney Boente.

The settlement resolves civil claims against Hedman relating to the criminal plea entered by him in U.S. v. Hedman,1:13cr74. According to court records, in or about 2001 Hedman formed PSI, which was approved to participate in the 8(a) program based on the 8(a) eligibility of its listed president and CEO, an African-American female. When the listed president and CEO left PSI in 2003, Hedman became its sole owner, and the company was no longer 8(a)-eligible.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.alexandrianews.org/former-security-contractor-ceo-agrees-to-pay-4-5-million-to-settle-civil-claims/

 

OMB trumpets progress on tracking contractor performance and other cross-agency goals

From cybersecurity to agency customer service to strategic sourcing, the priority goals set by the Obama administration in the budget last March continue to guide agency management improvements and are producing “notable progress and success,” according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Deputy Director for Management Beth Cobert in a blogpost said updates on the 15 cross-agency priority goals and 91 agency goals for the fourth-quarter of fiscal 2014 have been posted on Performance.gov.  “Now, a year in, we are seeing notable progress and success as agencies work together and break down silos,” Cobert wrote. “Additionally, as a result of setting these goals and measuring progress against them, teams supporting the goals have identified new strategies to deal with roadblocks they have encountered. “

Each goal entry on Performanc.gov includes officials responsible for its pursuit, along with lists of actions taken and evidence of progress. The executive branch’s Performance Improvement Council also has launched a website, she announced.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/management/2014/12/omb-trumpets-progress-tracking-contractor-performance-and-other-cross-agency-goals/101712

What’s different about OASIS?

In September the General Services Administration declared its One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) multiple-award contract program “open for business.” OASIS and OASIS Small Business (OASIS SB), a small-business set-aside contract, are hybrid, governmentwide acquisition vehicles that offer an integrated approach to address both commercial and noncommercial requirements for professional services. In a recent interview with Federal Times Editor Steve Watkins, OASIS Program Executive Officer Jim Ghiloni explained why he expects the program to serve a critical role in federal procurement. Following are edited excerpts:

GSA has declared OASIS open for business. What interest are you seeing so far from the federal customer base?

GSA logoThere’s a great deal of interest. We had opened OASIS Small Business a couple of months ago now [in June].

We’ve obviously already been engaged with customers about that contract. But now that we’ve got the full suite available, I think there’s even more interest from customers.

Keep reading this interview at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/interview/program-view/2014/12/17/whats-different-about-oasis/20549835