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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GSA official jailed for accepting bribes and stealing property

Timothy Francis Cashman, a Building Manager for the General Services Administration (“GSA”), has been sentenced to 16 months in custody for accepting bribes and stealing property owned by the United States.

GSA logoAt a sentencing hearing on Oct. 23, 2015, Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel noted that Cashman was a religious man who performed many good deeds and selfless acts throughout his life. Nevertheless, he told the packed courtroom of friends, family, and supporters who requested leniency for Cashman that it was vital the general public understood that “quid pro quo is not the status quo; quid pro quo is not acceptable.”

During the sentencing, the government demonstrated how Cashman used his position with GSA (overseeing operations and maintenance at the Otay Mesa, San Ysidro, and Tecate Ports of Entry) for his personal enrichment; rather than to fulfill GSA’s core mission of delivering “the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government and the American people.”

Over a number of years, Cashman provided favorable treatment relating to the awarding of GSA contracts.  For example, he demanded $10,000 in cash and thousands of dollars’ worth of construction and renovation services on Cashman’s personal residence from government contractor Hugo Alonso Inc. (“HAI”).  These services included having HAI paint Cashman’s Lakeside home and replace his roof and windows free of charge.

The former GSA building manager also demanded that HAI pay another government contractor (Company “A”) $120,000 in exchange for HAI being awarded a GSA construction contract at the Otay Mesa POE. Subsequently, Cashman accepted six checks from Company “A” totaling $42,000, which he deposited into his personal account.  All of the income he received from HAI was concealed from the IRS when submitting his federal income tax returns.

In addition to accepting bribes from HAI, Cashman improperly obtained thousands of dollars in valuable United States Government building materials for his own benefit by causing GSA contractors and others to remove and transport such materials away from GSA facilities where he could sell or use them without the knowledge of GSA.  Among other things, Cashman instructed government contractors: 1) in March 2011, to load approximately 25 stainless steel panels located at the San Ysidro POE into his personal Ford truck; 2) in January 2012, to load 35 heavy brass letters (spelling out “United States Border Inspection Station” and weighing approximately 2,000 pounds) into his personal truck; 3) in December 2012, to collect approximately 3,000 feet of underground copper cable belonging to the United States and to deliver it to, among other places, his personal residence; and 4) in November 2013, to set aside for his personal sale a large quantity of underground copper cable and approximately 5 aluminum panels located at the Otay Mesa POE.

United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy remarked that the Cashman case demonstrates that combatting public corruption in all its forms will remain one of her office’s highest priorities. She also thanked the Special Agents with the FBI, IRS-CI and GSA-OIG whose tireless work both uncovered this corruption and resulted in removing the corrupt official from the government fisc.

In addition to his custodial sentence, Cashman was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $50,057.32 in restitution. HAI, and its principal, Hugo Alonso, previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced.  In total, 11 individuals have been apprehended and pleaded guilty in related corruption investigations.

Centralized acquisition? GSA Administrator Roth on striking a balance

Does federal acquisition reside solely under the General Services Administration umbrella?
Denise Turner Roth was confirmed August 5, 2015 as GSA Administrator by the U.S. Senate.
Denise Turner Roth was confirmed August 5, 2015 as GSA Administrator by the U.S. Senate.

No. But GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth makes a strong case for why it should.

You might describe federal buying as cyclical: GSA take on the bulk, but the amount that agencies go it alone will wax and wane, depending on the nature of the buys, available vehicles and the budget environment. The last decade has seen a swell of agency-specific contracts.

“That’s not efficient for government,” Roth said in a one-on-one interview with Federal Times, acknowledging the trend pushed GSA to re-evaluate its offerings. The result: “You will see more agencies being willing to give up their contracts to come to our solutions.”

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GSA sees wave of expiring service contracts as chance to cut duplication

A wave of professional services contracts is due to expire across the government during fiscal 2016, and the Obama administration wants to use the opportunity to consolidate that work into a smaller number of multiple-award contracting vehicles.

Or, at the very least, to ensure agencies don’t create any more of their own.

GSA logoA General Services Administration (GSA) analysis of agency-by-agency contracting data shows that roughly $26 billion in existing professional services contracts will reach their end during 2016 — many more so than will finish their period of performance during 2017. Presumably, much of the work will need to be recompeted to vendors in some form or fashion, and the White House would like it to be performed under fewer contracting vehicles than exist today so that the government can get the most out of its purchasing power.

“From a federal perspective, we’re going to be trying to make sure we’re supporting agencies in looking at existing contracts first — in particular, for their existing indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts,” said Tiffany Hixson, the Region IX commissioner for the Federal Acquisition Service, at a conference organized by the Coalition for Government Procurement.

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GSA platform will ‘cut through the noise,’ empower contracting officers

The General Services Administration’s recently launched governmentwide acquisition hub not only better organizes goods and services around categories, it is leading to a better organized government acquisition workforce, said GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth.
Acquisition Gateway GSA
Click on the icon above to connect to GSA’s Acquisition Gateway.

GSA’s Acquisition Gateway provides a central location for the government’s 61,000 procurement professionals to learn, connect and act upon acquisition information, said Roth during a discussion at the ACT-IAC Executive Leadership Conference Oct. 27.

The platform and use of category management has elicited “an immediate response” from the contracting community and encouraged GSA to reorganize its workforce in a way that takes advantage of strong expertise in specific categories, said Roth.

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