GSA moves forward with overhaul of Multiple Award Schedules

The General Services Administration (GSA) is moving forward with its plan to overhaul the Multiple Award Schedules, putting into action recommendations from the agency’s 2010 Multiple Award Schedules Advisory Panel, says an April 13 blog post by GSA Senior Procurement Executive Jeffrey Koses.

“The $33 billion program now demands transformation in order to maintain its status as a best acquisition solution in a fast-changing marketplace,” Koses says.

The transformation will include reducing price variability, minimizing burdensome regulations and processes and introducing additional flexibilities, the GSA’s blog post says.

The overhaul address two key recommendations from the panel’s report – providing agencies with information on prices actually paid for goods and services as well as eliminating the price reduction clause reporting requirements for contractors.

The price reduction clause forces contractors to report if they reduce prices for commercial clients and then, in turn, allow that same discount to government contracts.

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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.

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Protests delay implementation of NASA’s SEWP contracts

Four companies have filed bid protests to be included in NASA’s slate of IT solution contracts under the SEWP V program.

The space agency announced 97 contracts in four groups earlier this month, scheduled to go into effect on Nov. 1. With the four protests logged with the Government Accountability Office, implementation of those contract awards has been delayed.

Four companies – UNICOM Government Inc., BahFed Corp., NCS Technologies Inc. and KPaul Properties LLC – submitted protests on Oct. 20. All four protests are under review by the GAO, which must issue decisions by Jan. 28.

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Army awards year-end communications contracts worth $4.7 billion to 12 firms

The Army has awarded year-end communications contracts valued at $4.7 billion, including a $4.1 billion deal Thursday with 12 companies for long-haul communications and transmission systems.

These companies will compete for task orders on the five-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract supporting the Defense Communications and Army Transmissions Systems program, which provides satellite and terrestrial communication systems to Army and Defense Department organizations, including the National Command Authority.

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Unraveling the facts about GWACs

Obama administration officials say there are too many IT procurement vehicles, and they want agencies to consolidate their buying around existing interagency contracts rather than launch new ones. There is even a strong case to cut back on current contracts, which officials say are often duplicative in what they provide for buyers.

Where does that leave governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs)?

In early 2012, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) issued rules requiring agencies that wanted to award their own multi-agency contracts (MACs) to submit a business case arguing why those contracts were necessary — something agencies that wanted to award GWACs have had to do for years.

“Agencies are required to balance the value of creating a new contract against the benefit of using an existing one, and whether the expected return on investment is worth the taxpayer resources,” said Dan Gordon, who was OFPP administrator at the time.

Following the 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act that authorized their creation, GWACs became a poster child of sorts for that kind of contract inflation. Many agencies were looking to create their own contracts as testimony to their procurement mojo in an era of huge growth in government IT acquisition. For vendors, GWACs were seen as a hunting license to pursue lucrative government IT business.

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Army’s green energy contract tops $23 billion

A group of companies, including a unit of the German engineering conglomerate Siemens AG, won the U.S. Defense Department’s biggest contract last month, a potential $7 billion deal for alternative energy.

The Army plans to buy the renewable energy from privately developed power plants, according to the May 7 announcement. The facilities are to be built, operated and maintained by companies under an agreement hailed by service officials as the first of its kind.

“This effort will lead to enhanced energy security and sustainability for our installations,” Col. Robert Ruch, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers center in Huntsville, Ala., which is overseeing the work, said in a statement.

The award topped a list of more than 250 contracts with a combined value of more than $23 billion in May, according to a Military​.com analysis of the Pentagon’s daily contract announcements. That figure is about 22 percent higher than the value from April and doesn’t reflect what is actually spent, or obligated, because many deals are only partially funded at first.

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FAS management pressured officers to award contracts

The Federal Acquisition Service overrode its contracting officers and  pressured them to extend or award schedules contracts based on complaints from  contractors, a June 4 General Services Administration office of inspector  general report  (.pdf) says.

FAS management allowed contractors to circumvent contracting officers when  the contractors disagreed with contracting staff determinations and supported  the contractors’ positions, including by reassigning contracts to different  contracting officers, the report says.

In each reassignment case, the new contracting officer awarded or extended  contracts without properly addressing significant issues identified by previous  contracting officers, the report says. The result, auditors add, is that GSA  signed or extended schedules contracts with inflated pricing or unfavorable  terms.

The report focuses on three large information technology schedule contracts  that represented over $900 million in contract sales in calendar year 2011–a  Oracle services contract that garnered $358.4 million worth of business,  Carahsoft Technology with $432 million worth of sales, and a Deloitte Consulting  contract worth $119.5 million that year.

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GSA owes more than $3 million to small businesses

The General Services Administration has failed to fully pay 1,334 federal contractors, shorting them by more than $3 million since 2008, according to a House committee report released Thursday.

The amount may not be large, but lawmakers on the Republican-led House Small Business Committee emphasized the importance of such companies.

“Contracting with small businesses is good for the economy and it’s good for the taxpayer because small companies bring cost-savings to the federal government,” Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the committee chairman, said in a statement. “But when federal agencies don’t live up to their end of the bargain, small businesses are discouraged from competing and taxpayers lose the benefits of government efficiency.”

The agency did not fulfill a “guaranteed minimum payment” clause outlined in many of its contracts, the report said.

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Three contractors tapped to develop smart Humvee replacements

The Army and Marine Corps awarded three companies development contracts Wednesday for their next generation of wheeled tactical vehicles, which will require a gigabit speed local area network to support onboard computers, communications and electronic warfare systems.

AM General, Lockheed Martin Corp. and Oshkosh Corp. won 27-month engineering and development contracts valued at $64.5 million, $66.3 million and $56.4 million respectively to produce 22 prototype Joint Light Tactical Vehicles each. The services will evaluate the prototypes at Army test centers in Arizona, Maryland and New Mexico.

The services then will select a single contractor to manufacture up to 50,000 JLTVs for the Army and another 5,000 for the Marine Corps. The development contracts specify that the services will pay no more than $250,000 per JLTV, putting the value of the production contract for 55,000 vehicles at $13.8 billion.

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Growth in federal contracts called unsustainable

Federal and industry officials questioned Wednesday whether changes are needed to rein in the growth of multiple award contracts, especially those run by individual agencies.

In the years since a series of acquisition reforms were enacted starting in the mid-1990s, multiple award contracts have proliferated. Under such arrangements, vendors are chosen to provide a set of goods or services and then compete among themselves for individual orders from federal agencies.

According to a Bloomberg Government analysis, the amount of contract dollars obligated under multiple award contracts has doubled since fiscal 2006 to more than $83 billion in 2011. In 2006, 427 such contracts existed across government. As of last year, the number had risen to 1,182. The biggest growth area is in agency-specific contracts.

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