Proposed line item rule to trace contract funding

The U.S. Department of DefenseNASA and the General Services Administration on August 5, 2014  proposed changing federal acquisition regulations for line items in government contracts to standardize the system and make it easier to trace.

The DOD, NASA and GSA proposed to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation in fiscal year 2016 to establish a uniform line item identification structure providing pricing, delivery and funding information on items purchased, improving the traceability, accuracy and usability of federal procurement data, according to the proposal published in the Federal Register.

Funding traceability is currently limited to contract-level information, making it harder to implement governmentwide initiatives such as strategic sourcing, according to the rule. Tracking in the new line item identification structure, including keeping tabs on unit pricing in fixed-price contracts, will help trace funding from the time it’s obligated through the time it’s spent, the rule states.

“With this proposed rule, the federal procurement community continues to improve standardization of a unique instrument identifier, moving the procurement community in the direction of enhancing the uniformity and consistency of data,” according to the rule. “This, in turn, will promote the achievement of rigorous accountability of procurement dollars and processes.”

The new rule would apply to solicitations, contracts including governmentwide acquisition contracts and multiagency contracts, purchase orders, agreements involving prepriced supplies or services, and task and delivery orders, according to the rule.

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Agencies often fail to report contractors’ performance

Most of the top federal government agencies have not complied with regulations requiring them to report contractors’ performance to a central database used by government purchasers, according to a recent report by Congress’s watchdog.

While the agencies showed improvement, only two of the 10 departments surveyed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) met their goal, investigators found, which stymies the government’s ability to know if it is dealing with reputable firms.

“Government agencies rely on contractors to perform a broad array of activities to meet their missions,” the GAO wrote. “Therefore, complete and timely information on contractors’ past performance is critical to ensure the government does business only with companies that deliver quality goods and services on time and within budget.”

The shared database acts like Yelp or Angie’s List — Web sites where consumers rate all sorts of businesses — for government purchasers, who spend billions of dollars annually.

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What’s being said about the Academy’s GSA workshop?  ‘Fantastic!’

The GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop — presented by Georgia Tech’s Contracting Education Academy — continues to get rave reviews from everyone who’s attended.

The most recent Workshop was held in July on Georgia Tech’s Midtown Atlanta campus.  Here’s what the attendees had to say:

  • “I received a vast amount of information on how to apply for a GSA Schedule contract.  I valued the one-on-one question-answering provided by the instructors.”
  • “I expected a canned presentation consisting of a lot of theoretical advice, but I received practical and specific help to understand the GSA application.  I really valued the instructor’s knowledge and communication skills.”
  • “This workshop provided excellent advice and training, walking through all the documents in detail.  I valued the relaxed environment, the ability to work at my own pace, and the ability to ask lots of questions.”
  • “I now have a complete understanding of the step-by-step process to complete my company’s proposal to the GSA.  The workbook, examples, templates, and the presentation – all very well put together.”
  • “I expected a great presentation from Georgia Tech, but was afraid of information overload.  The presenter and the presentation were fantastic …. I now have a much clearer idea of how to get on a GSA Schedule.”
  • “I received one-on-one assistance with filling-out various proposal forms and walking through the submission and upload process.  Fantastic!”
  • “I received significant information and background on what GSA reviewers and contracting officers are looking for, and I valued the forms for completing my GSA Schedule proposal and building my pricing.”

So far, 45 persons have attended Georgia Tech’s GSA Workshop since it was launched at the beginning of the year.  To date, every single businessperson has either prepared their proposal or submitted it to GSA for award.

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, 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.

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

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

The next Georgia Tech GSA Schedule Workshops are scheduled for:

  • Sept. 8-9 – Atlanta
  • Nov. 17-18 – Atlanta

To register, simply click here. If you have questions or need further information, please email

GSA Schedule Contract

Government’s biggest failures: 2001-2014

With scandals at agencies ranging from the IRS to the Veterans Affairs Department fresh in the public’s mind, a longtime scholar of federal management has published a new assessment of government’s failures since 2001.

In the paper, called A Cascade of Failures: Why Government Fails, and How to Stop It, Paul C. Light, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at New York University, examines 41 stories that resonated with the public in a major way, using the Pew Research Center’s News Interest Index as a yardstick. The nonpartisan index, which has been published since 1986, attempts to measure how closely Americans are following stories covered by news organizations.

“Federal failures have become so common that they are less of a shock to the public than an expectation,” Light writes. At the same time, he adds, “I did not write this paper as yet another cudgel against ‘big government.’ As I have long argued, the federal government creates miracles every day, often in spite of tighter budgets, persistent criticism and complex missions.”

Light concludes in the study that government failures have been increasing over time, from an average of 1.6 per year from 1986 to 2001 to 3 per year after that.

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For the full list of 41 failures Light assessed, click here.

Teaching feds not to fear the FAR

From the General Services Administration’s 18F technology incubator and Health and Human Services’ emerging Buyers Club program to the Office of Management and Budget’s TechFAR guide, federal procurement officials have been busy rolling out plans aimed at reshaping the way government thinks about buying and developing IT.

Those officials are hoping the programs will spur the conservative, risk-averse federal procurement culture to more keenly navigate existing regulations and take more chances in IT acquisition.

The dense Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) issued by the Department of Defense, GSA, and NASA, is a primary target of the programs. More than a few federal officials and technology vendors have grown disillusioned with the FAR – or rather with how it has been used — arguing that it is wielded far too conservatively and is offers far more room for innovative than it’s given credit for.

Frustration with stagnant, staid FAR thinking spurred Health and Human Services to develop its Buyers Club program this spring. HHS officials talked publicly about development of the program in May, rolled out a Buyer’s Club web site June 24 and plan to accelerate the effort in the coming months, Bryan Sivak, HHS chief technology officer, told FCW.

Sivak said the program’s goal is to blaze new trails through the FAR that HHS contracting officers can follow to more efficient, innovative and successful IT procurement. Citing a Standish Group study that estimated roughly 90 percent of federal IT procurements valued at over $10 million fail, Sivak said it was obvious old thinking was not cutting it.  “Even if that estimate is a little on the high side, the numbers are still too way too high,” he said. “With those numbers, what’s the risk of trying to do something new?”

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GSA looks to ramp up contracting transformation with Alliant and Alliant II

As the General Services Administration (GSA) works to transform government contracting and consolidate agency spending under its roof, it is also working on a sequel to its highly successful IT services Alliant governmentwide acquisition contract.

The Alliant contract for complex and innovative IT services has served as a purchasing option for 54 agencies that have spent more than $16.5 billion.

GSA recently extended the option on the contract through to April 2019. To prepare for the sequel, GSA is also asking industry for input on possible emerging IT technologies and services on its social media site, Interact.

Casey Kelley, the director of GSA’s Governmentwide Acquisition Contract Center and the Alliant program manager, said the sequel to Alliant will offer agencies a flexible contract that can adapt to new IT technologies and services as they emerge.

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Denied bid protests don’t guarantee smooth sailing for GSA’s office supply contract

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently denied bid protests for the Office Supplies 3 (OS3) strategic sourcing contract, but that doesn’t mean its clearing sailing for the General Services Administration (GSA).

The GAO found the GSA met requirements to evaluate the economic impact the strategic sourcing contract has on small businesses, even though the Small Business Administration recently said GSA failed to do so.

“GSA conducted market research and considered alternatives to the procurement approach set forth in the solicitation,” the June 9 decision says.

The GSA says that means OS3 will move forward.

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Missouri businesses and counselors receive Academy’s help in preparing GSA Schedules

June 11 and 12 were important days for a group of business people from across the state of Missouri.

Those are the dates on which The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech conducted two full days of detailed instruction on how to successfully prepare a proposal to win a GSA Schedule contract.  In all, eleven businesses learned the process, representing industry sectors as diverse as custom kitchen equipment, technology products and services, vehicle sales, truck equipment, remediation services, medical supplies, recycling, shoes, and clothing.

The businesses participating in the workshop were joined by a group of nine business counselors from the states of Missouri, Illinois and Ohio.  The counselors represented procurement technical assistance centers (PTACs) from each of those states.  PTACs provide assistance to businesses seeking advice on how to compete for and win government contracts.

Missouri businesses joined PTAC counselors from three states to learn the intricacies of the GSA Schedule process.

Missouri businesses joined PTAC counselors from three states to learn the intricacies of the GSA Schedule process.

The process to be awarded a GSA Schedule contract begins with a proposal, an arduous task that typically takes several months to prepare. But, now, thanks to Georgia Tech’s workshop, a GSA proposal can be actually completed at 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.

Here’s what participants had to say about the Academy’s recent workshop in St. Louis:

  • “I valued the complete fashion in which the course was presented as well as the great materials provided.”
  • “I received a wealth of knowledge from a team of experts that have real-world experience.”
  • “It was helpful that you shared documents in advance of the workshop.  I appreciate the templates and samples.”
  • “I got information in 5 minutes that I have been researching for months!”
  • “I valued everything — the professionalism of the instructors, the learning environment, and especially the course materials.”
  • “The instructor took time with each classmate.”
  • “The commercial sales practices information that I received is very valuable as well as the sample commercial price list and the proposal price list template.”
  • “The one-in-one instruction and help from the instructors was invaluable.”
  • “This training is a far better value than more costly workshops on GSA Schedules.”
  • “I received information on marketing to agencies and how to find contracting officers.”
  • “You made the process seem simple.”
  • “The one-on-one help was great — fantastic teaching, clear answers!  I valued the patience of the instructional staff and their friendly and helpful demeanor.” 
  • “I now have a manual/workbook to refer to.”
  • “I got more than I expected, including how the GSA Schedule is beneficial and how to get where we want to go.”
  • “I received information about the process as well as examples and templates, and I value the examples, templates and individual instruction.”
  • “The presentation was straightforward and calm — it reduced my anxiety about a process that is complex!”
  • “I valued the one-on-one assistance and the down-time to actually complete the forms.”
  • “I received a lot of how-to’s, what not to do, forms to use, where to find my competition, pricing how-to’s, etc.”
  • “Everything about the workshop was valuable — the professionalism of the instructors, the learning environment, and especially the course materials.”
  • “Exceptional workshop!  Well worth the money!”

The June 11 and 12 workshop was held on St. Louis University’s Florissant Valley campus, and was hosted by the Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers.  Future GSA Schedule Workshops are scheduled for:

  • July 28-29 – Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus
  • Sept. 8-9 – Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus
  • Nov. 17-18 – Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus

To register for any of the upcoming workshops, please click here.  To make arrangements for a GSA Schedule Workshop to be held in your community, please email:

By attending Georgia Tech’s GSA Schedule Workshop, participants:

  • Save time and money with our instructor-guided, do-It-yourself approach.
  • Avoid mistakes that can delay or stop your GSA Schedule proposal from being considered.
  • Receive expert guidance, valuable instruction, a detailed guidebook, and answers to all of your questions.
  • Gain access to templates and sample narratives based on successful GSA Schedule offers.
  • Receive up to 4 hours of consulting after the Workshop to review your package and receive further advice.
  • Earn 15 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits.

GSA Schedule Contract


Another contractor protests GSA’s professional services contract

More companies are piling on bid protests against the General Services Administration’s OASIS contract, according to documents filed with the Government Accountability Office.

IT service contractor Phacil Inc., is the latest of five companies to protest the award. Smartronix, Inc., VSE Corporation, American Systems Corporation, the Logistics Management Institute and Aljucar, Anvil-Incus & Company all filed protests May 27. Aljucar, Anvil-Incus & Company also filed bid protests during the pre-award phase of the contract, which were denied.

GSA awarded its 10-year, multibillion dollar OASIS contract to 74 companies on May 19. OASIS is governmentwide acquisition contract that offers professional services, such as financial management and engineering, scientific and logistics services. OASIS also features separate contracts for small businesses and larger firms and is valued at around $6 billion a year in agency business.

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Also see earlier article on initial protests to OASIS contract award:

Also see earlier article on the award of the OASIS contract:

DOL could go it alone with acquisition platform

The Labor Department is seeking information on commercial capabilities that could help it better manage acquisition information as a subscription.

The department is interested in a dashboard that could provide access to regular acquisition news updates, and access to Government Accountability Office and other legal decisions, it writes in a May 12 request for information posted to Federal Business Opportunities.

This platform would also provide easy access to forms, templates and checklists, as well as other acquisition related tools and information.

Although the post is not a direct solicitation, even the department’s interest in such technology is notable given the concurrent efforts already underway within government to address the acquisition process.

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