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  1. By Angel N. Davis, This year, the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) is hosting its 60th annual World Congress Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Centre Law & Consulting team will be in attendance. Please stop by our booth to learn about our service offerings and meet some of our talented team members. Our team members will provide up to date information on GSA’s Consolidated Schedule and other hot topics. Bring your GSA stories to share with our GSA team. And, do not forget to sign up for Centre’s breakout sessions! Below are the Centre breakout session topics and dates: Hot Issues in Bid Protests! Presenter: Barbara Kinosky, Esq | Monday, July 29th | 11:15 am-12:30 pm When Not to Protest: Recent Bid Protest Trends Presenters: Heather Mims, Esq. and Tyler Freiberger, Esq. | Monday, July 29th | 2:00-3:15 pm Effective Customer Service: Creating a Customer Service Experience that Impacts your Organization Presenter: Angel N. Davis, CFCM | Tuesday, July 30th| | 9:30-10:45 am Federal Supply schedules Mini Boot Camp Presenters: Maureen Jamieson and Julia Coon | Tuesday, July 30th | 3:30 -4:45 pm For those attending the Federal Supply Schedules Mini Bootcamp, the Centre team will be handing out a coupon for $200 off Centre’s 2 day Boot Camp held in either August or November at Centre’s Tysons office. Click here to learn more about our Boot Camp for GSA Schedules training program. We look forward to meeting you in Boston! About the Author: Angel Davis, CFCM Contracts Manager Angel N. Davis has over thirteen years of experience in federal contracts management. She is a Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) and is currently President of the Tysons Chapter of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA). While completing the NCMA Contract Management Leadership Development Program (CMLDP), Angel successfully pioneered the NCMA Tysons Women In Leadership Initiative. View the full article
  2. By Heather Mims, Esq. As we get into the summer months, people are gearing up for summer vacation traveling – but be prepared to spend extra time waiting in line for security screening from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Oh No! Why? In a statement issued earlier this Spring, TSA predicted that this year will be the busiest summer travel season it has experienced, with a more than 4% volume increase. Specifically, TSA is planning for approximately 263 million passengers and crew to pass through security checkpoints nationwide between Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, compared to 250 million passengers last year during the same period. To put this increase in perspective, last summer’s TSA screenings included nine of the top 10 busiest weeks in TSA’s history during the summer season. To combat this increase, TSA plans to increase airport staffing levels by more than 2,000 officers, while also providing a 20% increase in overtime funds. While this will hopefully alleviate some travel woes, TSA is likely to continue to suffer from retention issues, which with further exacerbate its small workforce. Specifically, a recent report from the Homeland Security Department’s Office of the Inspector General shows that one in four TSA screeners quits within six months. To put this into monetary terms, in FY 2017, TSA reported that, on average, it spends approximately $6,300 to hire and $2,300 to train its screeners. In that same fiscal year, TSA hired more than 9,600 screeners, costing the agency approximately $75 million in hiring and training costs. A subsequent Blue Ribbon Panel indicated that low pay was likely to blame, in part, for TSA’s low retention rate. Thus, even though TSA appears to be proactively attempting to prepare for a large increase in summer travelers, if TSA screeners continue to exit at the same rate, it will be difficult to timely replace them – the OIG Report indicates that the average hiring process took 252 days from application to job offer acceptance. What About TSA PreCheck? And if you’re one of the lucky travelers that has enrolled in TSA’s PreCheck program, don’t except those short lines to last for long! TSA is soliciting a contractor to boost public enrollment in the TSA PreCheck program. The Agency is seeking to enroll approximately nine million high-frequency travelers in the system (and eventually the more than 80 million travelers for fly at least once a year and aren’t enrolled). About the Author: Heather Mims Associate Attorney Heather Mims is an associate attorney at Centre Law & Consulting. Her practice is primarily focused on government contracts law, employment law, and litigation. Heather graduated magna cum laude from the George Mason School of Law where she was the Senior Research Editor for the Law Review and a Writing Fellow. View the full article
  3. By Barbara S. Kinosky, Esq. Hot News! Supreme Court Ruling from June 24, 2019 The Supreme Court just gave a victory lap to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) submitters and a defeat to those requesting information under the Act. In Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media, the Court held that: Where commercial or financial information is both customarily and actually treated as private by its owner and provided to the government under an assurance of privacy, the information is “confidential” within the meaning of 5 U. S. C. §552(b)(4), the Freedom of Information Act’s Exemption 4. https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/18-481_5426.pdf What does this mean? For government contractors seeking to protect their proposal and other confidential information this definitely is in the win column. Under Food Marketing, the government must prevent public disclosure under FOIA Exemption 4 if that information is customarily and actually treated as private by its owner and provided to the government under an assurance of privacy. Want to know more? For those with an insatiable desire to know more, the case involved a FOIA request by a South Dakota newspaper, the Argus Leader, for records that would disclose data about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP. The SNAP data included information about the retail grocery stores where SNAP recipients purchased their groceries. The grocery stores objected and hence a ruling that impedes federal contractors desire to learn more about competitors information. Stay tuned to see what happens with the regulations. A good site to follow is DOJ at https://www.justice.gov/oip/oip-foia About the Author: Barbara Kinosky Managing Partner Barbara Kinosky is the Managing Partner of Centre Law and Consulting and has more than twenty-five years of experience in all aspects of federal government contracting. Barbara is a nationally known expert on GSA and VA Schedules and the Service Contract Act, and she has served as an expert witness for federal government contracting cases. View the full article
  4. By David Warner Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court resolved a split between the federal circuit courts of appeal concerning the statute of limitations for False Claims Act (FCA) suits in which the government does not intervene. Unfortunately for contractors, the Court held that a ten-year (as opposed to six-year) limitations period can apply. As a result, contractors face the expanded prospect of defending FCA matters that are already a decade old at the time of filing. “Good luck” locating your documents and refreshing witness recollections!! The Court’s May 13, 2019 decision came in the matter of Cochise Consultancy Inc. v. U.S. ex rel. Hunt. The decision turned on the interpretation of the FCA’s statute of limitations provisions, which require that a relator file their civil lawsuit within six (6) years from when the violation occurred but also provide for an alternative three-year limitations period running from the time the government knew, or should have known of the violation. In no event can suit be filed more than ten (10) years after the alleged violation. Prior to Cochise, there was a split among the 4th, 9th, 10th and 11th circuits as to the interpretation of the 3-year “knew or should have known” standard and its applicability to matters in which the government does not intervene in the case. The Cochise suit was initially filed in 2013 by relator, Billy Joe Hunt. Suffice to say that Billy Joe is not what one would describe as a stereotypical relator. He was purportedly aware of the alleged fraudulent scheme in Cochise since 2006 but never reported it until 2010. Notably, he first reported the Cochise fraud to the FBI while being interviewed by the Bureau regarding his involvement in a different, illicit federal contracting scheme. According to the lower court’s description, Billy Joe served ten months in federal detention due to that otherwise unrelated kickback scheme and did not file his FCA lawsuit until “after his release from prison”. As one does. Given the timing, the question for the Supreme Court in Cochise was whether a relator can bring a claim in 2013 more than six years after an alleged violation in 2006 but still within three years of the government learning of that violation in 2010 despite the fact the government does not intervene in the suit. Unfortunately for the contractor community, the Court agreed with Billy Joe, holding that the three years “knew or should have known” statute of limitations provision applies regardless of whether or not the government intervenes, and his FCA suit was therefore timely. So our Billy Joe has smoothly transitioned from federal inmate to protector of the public treasury via qui tam suit in which his relator status might pay him twenty-five to thirty percent (25-30%) of the several million dollars at issue in Cochise if he’s ultimately successful. Who said, “There are no second acts in American lives”?? [Ed., F. Scott Fitzgerald.]. Oh stuff it, Editor! And “Go get’em, Billy Joe!!” About the Author: David Warner Partner David Warner is a seasoned legal counselor with extensive experience in the resolution and litigation of complex employment and business disputes. His practice is focused on the government contractor, nonprofit, and hospitality industries. David leads Centre’s audit, investigation, and litigation practices. View the full article
  5. By Maureen Jamieson, Great news! GSA is conducting market research and wants your input on the new solicitation format and the clauses and provisions to be used in the consolidated MAS solicitation set for release later this year. GSA’s goal for this market research is to gain input on two components of the new consolidated solicitation: The proposed format of the consolidated solicitation The updated terms and conditions that will be found in the new solicitation You can find the RFI on FBO at the following link: https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=ee29c7e9ae57ef5d599000d1bb86908b Note that responses to the RFI are due July 5, 2019, 11:59 pm Eastern time. Following is a brief GSA summary of some of the highlights of the Consolidation: What is the Consolidation? GSA is consolidating the agency’s existing 24 Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) into one single Schedule for products, services, and solutions. VA Schedules will not be consolidated at this time. What are the Phases? Phase 1 – Develop the New Schedule Create a new solicitation for the single Schedule Map duplicate Special Item Numbers (SINs) across current solicitations Review duplicate terms and conditions across Schedules Phase 2 – Mass Modifications Complete mass modifications for all existing contract holders Contractors retain current Schedule contract number Phase 3 – Multiple Contract Consolidation Consolidate multiple contracts into a single contract for contractors with multiple Schedules What is the timing and impact? Existing solicitations are still open to new offerors and will remain open until the new Schedule is released October 1, 2019. Mass Modifications are expected to be released in early FY 2020. For your contract to automatically transition, you must accept the revised terms and conditions reflected in the Mass Modification. If you have multiple Schedules, GSA will work with you to determine the best solution for your company. What is the impact to the Order Level Material (OLM) SIN? Under the consolidation, OLMs will be expanded to every contractor on Schedule. What is the impact to Transactional Data Reporting (TDR)? The TDR requirement will continue for contractors already participating in the pilot. However, the TDR pilot will not be expanded to categories that are not currently in the pilot. How will this consolidation affect Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs)? BPAs established and awarded prior to the completion of consolidation will continue in effect until the BPA or the Schedule contract expires, whichever occurs first. Task or delivery orders may be placed against existing BPAs until either the BPA or the Schedule expires, whichever occurs first. Additionally, GSA’s systems will be refreshed to reflect all updated processes and to align with the new categories under the Schedule. In order to help you navigate through these changes, Centre Law & Consulting will be offering future webinars on the Consolidation. Details will be provided in future blogs, marketing emails and LinkedIn. If you have specific questions on the Consolidation, please contact the Consulting team at Centre Law & Consulting – info@centrelawgroup.com or 703-288-2800 – and we will follow-up with you to see how we can help. About the Author: Maureen Jamieson Executive Director of Consulting Maureen Jamieson has more than twenty-five years of experience managing federal contracts. Maureen is highly experienced in solving client pricing problems and implementing effective pricing strategies for placing products and services on GSA Schedule contracts. Maureen also frequently works with clients on effective selling and marketing strategies in the federal market space and is highly skilled as a federal contracts capture or proposal manager. View the full article
  6. By Hon. Jack Delman In Total Home Health (THH), 2019 WL 1953001 (April 26, 2019), the GAO recently sustained a protest on the grounds that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) misled an offeror during pre-award price discussions. The Background The VA issued an RFP seeking proposals on multiple CLINs to provide home respiratory services and durable equipment for a VA network. Award was to be made on a “Lowest Price Technically Acceptable” basis. The VA received six proposals, including that of THH, and all proposals were deemed technically acceptable. The THH proposal, however, was the fourth lowest and was roughly 30% above the lowest offered price. The VA conducted pre-award discussions. The CO initially advised TTH that its price proposal was “relatively weak” and gave THH the opportunity to provide revised pricing. TTH, however, sought more information from the CO – it sought some additional insight into the VA’s thinking on price and/or whether there was a pricing neighborhood that VA was looking for. The CO responded to THH that the VA “anticipated lower pricing” on its CLINs 5, 11, and 14. According to the VA, it chose to emphasize these CLINs because THH had priced them more than twice the government’s IGE, but the VA did not provide this explanation to THH. Rather, the Agency’s response led THH to focus on these three CLINs, and it made price reductions solely on these items. However, THH was still nowhere near the lowest overall price. In fact, the GAO noted that had THH reduced all three CLIN prices to zero it still would not have been the lowest offeror in line for award. It was no surprise then that THH did not get the award. It was debriefed and filed this protest. The Fallout THH argued that it was misled by the VA during discussions. The GAO agreed. According to the GAO, the VA could have legally stood upon its initial response, that is, that THH’s overall pricing was “relatively weak,” i.e., too high. But by responding further and directing THH’s attention to only these three CLINs, the VA improperly suggested that it was only these three CLINs that required attention. The GAO held that this agency response caused THH to base its final revised proposal on misleading information. In addition, the GAO credited a Declaration from THH’s president to the effect that had the VA advised that its proposed price was too high in other areas, it could have submitted a more competitive price that could have resulted in the award. Therefore, the GAO concluded that THH was prejudiced by the government’s misleading information. The protest was sustained. Lessons Learned Sometimes saying less is best. The Agency’s initial, more general response about the need for lower pricing would have passed legal muster. The Agency sought to do more, but that more was harmful, not helpful. Agency communications during discussions must be carefully crafted to enhance an offeror’s proposal, increase the chances of award and make the proposal more responsive to the government’s needs. Regrettably, this did not occur here. About the Author: Hon. Jack Delman Retired Judge Jack Delman served as a judge on the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals for 29 years and has extensive experience in the adjudication and mediation of large and complex contract disputes, including equitable adjustments, terminations and cost and pricing issues. Jack has extensive experience with claims analysis, FAR and DOD agency regulations and BCA practice and procedure. View the full article
  7. By Tyler Freiberger, After a hard fight battle over arbitration agreements, many employers are learning to be careful what they wish for. In the past decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has slowly and consistently empowered forced arbitration clauses. As of last year’s decisions in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, NLRB v. Murphy Oil USA Inc. and Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris, the court has made clear that employers could not put strict arbitration agreements in their employment agreements but, if written correctly, those agreements essentially shut down any attempt of the workers to collectively sue. Arbitration isn’t Arbitrary As expected, employers have cheered and routinely implemented arbitration agreements into more and more employment agreements much to the complaint of labor advocates. The choice seemed obvious; suffer through years of expensive litigation and against a potential collection of thousands of employees, OR take a faster, cheaper route that allowed taking each employee on separately. The conventional advice for several years has been to shoot for the latter and stay away from the federal court on thorny employment claims. But now that employers have reached the finish line on arbitration, many are starting to wonder if it has been worth it. The Other Side Take Uber, a company routinely in the spotlight on employment issues given their spearhead market position of using independent contractors to perform their core service. While arbitration is inarguably cheaper on average than a lengthy court case, it also makes bringing the claim far less expensive on the employee. In addition, because arbitrators are not judges, their decisions are not given the same weight as a judicial decision. What does that mean for a company like Uber? Just because it soundly knocks down the first ten claims brought against it in arbitration, it cannot point back to those wins to deal with any new claims, even if they are identical to issues already decided. This has resulted in over 60,000 arbitration cases being brought against Uber, costing a potential $600 million to resolve. Switching Gears There is also the social perception of arbitration agreements. As much as the legal system is critiqued in our pop-culture, Americans appear to still greatly value the right to “have their day in court.” While arbitration can arguably favor the employee too, major companies have abandoned or plan to abandon, in part, their arbitration agreements due to highly publicized backlash on the issue. I may be a bit cynical, but I think these companies have discovered arbitration may not be the holy land we have all been led to believe it was but are more than willing to reap progressive points by changing course. About the Author: Tyler Freiberger Associate Attorney Tyler Freiberger is an associate attorney at Centre Law & Consulting primarily focusing on employment law and litigation. He has successfully litigated employment issues before the EEOC, MSPB, local counties human rights commissions, the United States D.C. District Court, Maryland District Court, and the Eastern District of Virginia. View the full article
  8. By Tyler Freiberger, Esq., After a hard fight battle over arbitration agreements, many employers are learning to be careful what they wish for. In the past decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has slowly and consistently empowered forced arbitration clauses. As of last year’s decisions in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, NLRB v. Murphy Oil USA Inc. and Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris, the court has made clear that employers could not put strict arbitration agreements in their employment agreements but, if written correctly, those agreements essentially shut down any attempt of the workers to collectively sue. Arbitration isn’t Arbitrary As expected, employers have cheered and routinely implemented arbitration agreements into more and more employment agreements much to the complaint of labor advocates. The choice seemed obvious; suffer through years of expensive litigation and against a potential collection of thousands of employees, OR take a faster, cheaper route that allowed taking each employee on separately. The conventional advice for several years has been to shoot for the latter and stay away from the federal court on thorny employment claims. But now that employers have reached the finish line on arbitration, many are starting to wonder if it has been worth it. The Other Side Take Uber, a company routinely in the spotlight on employment issues given their spearhead market position of using independent contractors to perform their core service. While arbitration is inarguably cheaper on average than a lengthy court case, it also makes bringing the claim far less expensive on the employee. In addition, because arbitrators are not judges, their decisions are not given the same weight as a judicial decision. What does that mean for a company like Uber? Just because it soundly knocks down the first ten claims brought against it in arbitration, it cannot point back to those wins to deal with any new claims, even if they are identical to issues already decided. This has resulted in over 60,000 arbitration cases being brought against Uber, costing a potential $600 million to resolve. Switching Gears There is also the social perception of arbitration agreements. As much as the legal system is critiqued in our pop-culture, Americans appear to still greatly value the right to “have their day in court.” While arbitration can arguably favor the employee too, major companies have abandoned or plan to abandon, in part, their arbitration agreements due to highly publicized backlash on the issue. I may be a bit cynical, but I think these companies have discovered arbitration may not be the holy land we have all been led to believe it was but are more than willing to reap progressive points by changing course. About the Author: Tyler Freiberger Associate Attorney Tyler Freiberger is an associate attorney at Centre Law & Consulting primarily focusing on employment law and litigation. He has successfully litigated employment issues before the EEOC, MSPB, local counties human rights commissions, the United States D.C. District Court, Maryland District Court, and the Eastern District of Virginia. View the full article
  9. By William Weisberg, Esq., Everyone “knows” that past performance is a critical part of both Best Value and LPTA competitive procurements. Everyone “knows” that CPARS ratings are the gold standard for demonstrating past performance. And everyone “knows” that once a CPARS rating is in the system, contractors are stuck with that rating: good, bad, or indifferent. Sure, contractors can try and persuade the contracting officer to change their CPARS rating. FAR part 42.1503(d) provides a procedure to try and refute a negative past performance rating. Most of the time, in practice, trying to disprove a negative CPARS rating is like trying to push back the tides, the moon, or some other immovable force. In Theory Up until now, contractors had a theoretical possibility of formally appealing the contracting officer’s CPARS decision through the disputes process (i.e., to the appropriate Board of Contract Appeals or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims). But there were enough open questions regarding jurisdictional and substantive issues that the prospect didn’t seem very real. Enter the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) and the recent case of Cameron Bell Corporation d/b/a Government Solutions Group, ASBCA No. 61856 (May 1, 2019). In Cameron Bell, the ASBCA squarely addressed the negative CPARS rating issue (and a contractor’s appeal to the contracting officer of that negative rating). The case shed light on which jurisdiction the ASBCA had to deal with concerning a negative CPARS rating, and what remedies were available under that jurisdiction. Usually, matters that turn on jurisdictional issues have pages and pages of “inside baseball” legal analysis that lawyers, if no one else, find fascinating. Decisions, Decisions The Cameron Bell decision was short and to the point. The ASBCA (and presumably the Civilian Agency Board of Contract Appeals and the Court of Federal Claims): Has jurisdiction to review the contracting officer’s CPARS ratings Can determine whether the contracting officer’s ratings were reasonable or arbitrary and capricious Cannot, itself, assign a particular CPARS rating, but can continue to send unreasonable (i.e., wrong) ratings back to the contracting officer until the rating is reasonable (i.e., correct) Potentially also award monetary damages for the impact of the incorrect past performance ratings Now You “Know” Of course, being able to appeal a negative CPARS rating doesn’t mean that rating will automatically get changed. Many times, a negative past performance rating is negative for a good reason, and contractors should not expect the government to roll over and change it just because of an appeal. But the Boards of Contract Appeals and Court of Federal Claims will give CPARS appeals a thorough, and fair review. Now, everyone “knows” something can be done to correct erroneous past performance ratings that would otherwise make winning future contracts a dicey proposition. About the Author: William Weisberg, Esq Of Counsel William Weisberg is a government contracts attorney with 30 years of experience. Bill received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia (where he was an Echols Scholar) in 1983 and his law degree from the George Washington University in 1986. Bill practiced with large international law firms for over 25 years, the last 10 of which he led his firms’ Government Contract and Grant practice groups. Bill formed his own boutique government contract firm in 2013. View the full article
  10. By William Weisberg, Esq., Everyone “knows” that past performance is a critical part of both Best Value and LPTA competitive procurements. Everyone “knows” that CPARS ratings are the gold standard for demonstrating past performance. And everyone “knows” that once a CPARS rating is in the system, contractors are stuck with that rating: good, bad, or indifferent. Sure, contractors can try and persuade the contracting officer to change their CPARS rating. FAR part 42.1503(d) provides a procedure to try and refute a negative past performance rating. Most of the time, in practice, trying to disprove a negative CPARS rating is like trying to push back the tides, the moon, or some other immovable force. In Theory Up until now, contractors had a theoretical possibility of formally appealing the contracting officer’s CPARS decision through the disputes process (i.e., to the appropriate Board of Contract Appeals or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims). But there were enough open questions regarding jurisdictional and substantive issues that the prospect didn’t seem very real. Enter the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) and the recent case of Cameron Bell Corporation d/b/a Government Solutions Group, ASBCA No. 61856 (May 1, 2019). In Cameron Bell, the ASBCA squarely addressed the negative CPARS rating issue (and a contractor’s appeal to the contracting officer of that negative rating). The case shed light on which jurisdiction the ASBCA had to deal with concerning a negative CPARS rating, and what remedies were available under that jurisdiction. Usually, matters that turn on jurisdictional issues have pages and pages of “inside baseball” legal analysis that lawyers, if no one else, find fascinating. Decisions, Decisions The Cameron Bell decision was short and to the point. The ASBCA (and presumably the Civilian Agency Board of Contract Appeals and the Court of Federal Claims): Has jurisdiction to review the contracting officer’s CPARS ratings Can determine whether the contracting officer’s ratings were reasonable or arbitrary and capricious Cannot, itself, assign a particular CPARS rating, but can continue to send unreasonable (i.e., wrong) ratings back to the contracting officer until the rating is reasonable (i.e., correct) Potentially also award monetary damages for the impact of the incorrect past performance ratings Now You “Know” Of course, being able to appeal a negative CPARS rating doesn’t mean that rating will automatically get changed. Many times, a negative past performance rating is negative for a good reason, and contractors should not expect the government to roll over and change it just because of an appeal. But the Boards of Contract Appeals and Court of Federal Claims will give CPARS appeals a thorough, and fair review. Now, everyone “knows” something can be done to correct erroneous past performance ratings that would otherwise make winning future contracts a dicey proposition. About the Author: William Weisberg, Esq Of Counsel William Weisberg is a government contracts attorney with 30 years of experience. Bill received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia (where he was an Echols Scholar) in 1983 and his law degree from the George Washington University in 1986. Bill practiced with large international law firms for over 25 years, the last 10 of which he led his firms’ Government Contract and Grant practice groups. Bill formed his own boutique government contract firm in 2013. View the full article
  11. By Julia Coon, The General Services Administration (GSA) has been in the process of shutting down the legacy 72A Reporting System and transitioning all Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts to the new FAS Sales Reporting Portal (SRP). The transition is expected to be completed by the end of this calendar year. Several contractors completed their final report in the 72A Reporting System last month. To help prepare for your first report in the new system, we answered some of the most frequently asked questions we have received regarding the transition. When is my first report in the FAS SRP? You should have received an email from GSA stating the effective date for reporting in the new system. If you cannot find the email or are unsure of the effective date, you can look up your contract using the lookup tool on the Vendor Support Center to confirm. I received a delinquency notice on May 1, 2019, but I completed my sales report in the 72A Reporting System, is that correct? You can disregard any delinquency notices you received on the morning of May 1, 2019. GSA’s system experienced an unexpected issue resulting in the issuance of the delinquency notice. No action is required on your part if you completed your sales report correctly. What do I need to do to prepare for the transition? You will need to verify that the authorized negotiators, contract administrator, and Industrial Funding Fee (IFF) point of contact are up to date and ensure the individual(s) responsible for completing the sales reports and IFF payments are listed on your contract. If changes need to be made, submit a modification to your Contracting Officer in eMod. Am I required to submit Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) monthly reports? Only the location to report sales and remit the IFF payment is changing, and there are no changes to the terms and conditions of your contract. If you have NOT accepted TDR, you will continue to report sales at the Special Item Number (SIN) level every quarter. If you HAVE accepted TDR, you will continue to submit monthly TDR sales reports. Is a digital certificate required to access the new system? NO! Effective May 1, 2019, digital certificates are no longer required to access the FAS SRP. GSA implemented a multi-factor authentication process. All users (new and existing) will need to register for the FAS SRP. Once registered, you will be able to log in and access your contract. Who will be able to access the contract in the FAS SRP? Only individuals listed as an authorized negotiator, contract administrator or IFF point of contact will be able to access the contract in the FAS SRP. If you have multiple contracts and are listed on each contract as one of the points of contact mentioned previously, all contracts will be displayed once you log in. Plan for the transition, so you are prepared to complete the sales reports and IFF payments in the new system on time. If you have any questions, please reach out to our GSA consulting team. About the Author: Julia Coon Consultant Julia Coon is GSA and VA Contract Consultant at Centre Law & Consulting. Julia works with the GSA/VA team in preparing new schedule proposals and post-award contract administration. She has experience in producing schedule renewal packages, various modification packages, small business subcontracting plans, and updates to GSA price lists. View the full article
  12. By Julia Coon, The General Services Administration (GSA) has been in the process of shutting down the legacy 72A Reporting System and transitioning all Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts to the new FAS Sales Reporting Portal (SRP). The transition is expected to be completed by the end of this calendar year. Several contractors completed their final report in the 72A Reporting System last month. To help prepare for your first report in the new system, we answered some of the most frequently asked questions we have received regarding the transition. When is my first report in the FAS SRP? You should have received an email from GSA stating the effective date for reporting in the new system. If you cannot find the email or are unsure of the effective date, you can look up your contract using the lookup tool on the Vendor Support Center to confirm. I received a delinquency notice on May 1, 2019, but I completed my sales report in the 72A Reporting System, is that correct? You can disregard any delinquency notices you received on the morning of May 1, 2019. GSA’s system experienced an unexpected issue resulting in the issuance of the delinquency notice. No action is required on your part if you completed your sales report correctly. What do I need to do to prepare for the transition? You will need to verify that the authorized negotiators, contract administrator, and Industrial Funding Fee (IFF) point of contact are up to date and ensure the individual(s) responsible for completing the sales reports and IFF payments are listed on your contract. If changes need to be made, submit a modification to your Contracting Officer in eMod. Am I required to submit Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) monthly reports? Only the location to report sales and remit the IFF payment is changing, and there are no changes to the terms and conditions of your contract. If you have NOT accepted TDR, you will continue to report sales at the Special Item Number (SIN) level every quarter. If you HAVE accepted TDR, you will continue to submit monthly TDR sales reports. Is a digital certificate required to access the new system? NO! Effective May 1, 2019, digital certificates are no longer required to access the FAS SRP. GSA implemented a multi-factor authentication process. All users (new and existing) will need to register for the FAS SRP. Once registered, you will be able to log in and access your contract. Who will be able to access the contract in the FAS SRP? Only individuals listed as an authorized negotiator, contract administrator or IFF point of contact will be able to access the contract in the FAS SRP. If you have multiple contracts and are listed on each contract as one of the points of contact mentioned previously, all contracts will be displayed once you log in. Plan for the transition, so you are prepared to complete the sales reports and IFF payments in the new system on time. If you have any questions, please reach out to our GSA consulting team. About the Author: Julia Coon Consultant Julia Coon is GSA and VA Contract Consultant at Centre Law & Consulting. Julia works with the GSA/VA team in preparing new schedule proposals and post-award contract administration. She has experience in producing schedule renewal packages, various modification packages, small business subcontracting plans, and updates to GSA price lists. View the full article
  13. By Angel N. Davis, As a government contractor, you should understand that the Contractor Performance Assessment Report (CPAR) may very well be a predictor of how your organization might fair with future business opportunities. But don’t panic; having a better understanding of the ratings and the value of the CPAR will help you to develop a strategy for the best possible outcome. Understand the Ratings Before reviewing your CPAR, it is essential that you understand what each rating means as well as the evaluation factors. The ratings may appear to be self-explanatory; however, a satisfactory rating may be perceived as a “low rating.” The CPAR ratings, as well as the evaluation factors, are defined in Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Part 42.1503 – Procedures. If you are not satisfied with your evaluation, you can request to meet with the Assessing Official and request that the rating is changed. A meeting may be requested, in writing, no later than seven days following your receipt of the CPAR notification. Be prepared to provide substantial evidence to support the justification of a higher performance rating. If you are unsuccessful in negotiating a changed rating, you should enter a non-concurrence along with your grounds for a higher rating. The initial assessment will be re-reviewed, and a final determination will be made as to whether the rating should be changed. You have fourteen (14) calendar days following the Assessing Official signature date to submit comments before the evaluation is made available in the View Performance Records section of CPARS. You have a total of sixty (60) calendar days to submit comments. Understand the Value Your future customers need to know how you’ve performed. The CPAR provides past performance references that enable government agencies to identify organizations that have satisfactorily performed capabilities needed to support future requirements. The demonstration of strong past performance provides the government with the necessary trust and confidence to select the best-qualified contractor. The government VALUES, past performance. Develop a Strategy Yes, you need a #CPARStrategy. Believe it or not, you have the opportunity to influence your CPAR! Open and honest communication with your customer will help you prepare for whatever rating you receive. You must develop a communication plan that ensures your customer is aware of any issues that occur during the performance of your contract that might have a significant impact on the scope, deliverables and budget. Engage early and throughout the performance of the contract. The relationship you establish and maintain with your customer will allow for a mutual understanding of how you are performing on the contract and will allow you to remedy any disparities. If you’d like assistance in developing your #CPARStrategy, please contact us! About the Author: Angel Davis, CFCM Contracts Manager Angel N. Davis has over thirteen years of experience in federal contracts management. She is a Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) and is currently President of the Tysons Chapter of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA). While completing the NCMA Contract Management Leadership Development Program (CMLDP), Angel successfully pioneered the NCMA Tysons Women In Leadership Initiative. View the full article
  14. By Angel N. Davis, As a government contractor, you should understand that the Contractor Performance Assessment Report (CPAR) may very well be a predictor of how your organization might fair with future business opportunities. But don’t panic; having a better understanding of the ratings and the value of the CPAR will help you to develop a strategy for the best possible outcome. Understand the Ratings Before reviewing your CPAR, it is essential that you understand what each rating means as well as the evaluation factors. The ratings may appear to be self-explanatory; however, a satisfactory rating may be perceived as a “low rating.” The CPAR ratings, as well as the evaluation factors, are defined in Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Part 42.1503 – Procedures. If you are not satisfied with your evaluation, you can request to meet with the Assessing Official and request that the rating is changed. A meeting may be requested, in writing, no later than seven days following your receipt of the CPAR notification. Be prepared to provide substantial evidence to support the justification of a higher performance rating. If you are unsuccessful in negotiating a changed rating, you should enter a non-concurrence along with your grounds for a higher rating. The initial assessment will be re-reviewed, and a final determination will be made as to whether the rating should be changed. You have fourteen (14) calendar days following the Assessing Official signature date to submit comments before the evaluation is made available in the View Performance Records section of CPARS. You have a total of sixty (60) calendar days to submit comments. Understand the Value Your future customers need to know how you’ve performed. The CPAR provides past performance references that enable government agencies to identify organizations that have satisfactorily performed capabilities needed to support future requirements. The demonstration of strong past performance provides the government with the necessary trust and confidence to select the best-qualified contractor. The government VALUES, past performance. Develop a Strategy Yes, you need a #CPARStrategy. Believe it or not, you have the opportunity to influence your CPAR! Open and honest communication with your customer will help you prepare for whatever rating you receive. You must develop a communication plan that ensures your customer is aware of any issues that occur during the performance of your contract that might have a significant impact on the scope, deliverables and budget. Engage early and throughout the performance of the contract. The relationship you establish and maintain with your customer will allow for a mutual understanding of how you are performing on the contract and will allow you to remedy any disparities. If you’d like assistance in developing your #CPARStrategy, please contact us! About the Author: Angel Davis, CFCM Contracts Manager Angel N. Davis has over thirteen years of experience in federal contracts management. She is a Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) and is currently President of the Tysons Chapter of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA). While completing the NCMA Contract Management Leadership Development Program (CMLDP), Angel successfully pioneered the NCMA Tysons Women In Leadership Initiative. View the full article
  15. By Wayne Simpson, CFCM, CSCM In the Monday, May 6, 2019, edition of the Federal Register, the Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issued Federal Acquisition Circular (FAC) 2019-02, which covers several final rules implementing two Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) cases, and a final rule implementing technical amendments, all of which modify the FAR. FAC 2019-02 contains the final rule implementing FAR Case 2017-009, Special Emergency Procurement Authority, which implements Sections 816 and 1641 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the Fiscal Year 2017 (Public Law 114-328). These sections of the Fiscal Year 2017 NDAA allow for higher micro-purchase threshold (MPT) and simplified acquisition threshold (SAT) for acquisitions of supplies or services which support international disaster assistance, response to an emergency or major disaster, or defense against or recovery from a cyber attack. The final rule may be viewed in its entirety at 84 FR 19835. This final rule is effective on June 5, 2019. The new Special Emergency Procurement Authority micro-purchase and simplified acquisition thresholds under the final rule are as follows: The MPT under this authority is increased to $20,000 for purchases and contracts to be awarded and performed inside the United States; $30,000 for purchase and contracts to be awarded and performed outside the United States, except for the acquisition of construction subject to the Wage Requirements Statute. The FAR Part 13 SAT was previously raised from $150,000 to $750,000 for any contract to be awarded and performed, or purchase made inside the United States; $1.5 Million for any contract awarded and performed, or purchase to be made outside of the United States, for procurements using the Special Emergency Procurement Authority. A government may use a higher threshold of $13 Million (in lieu of $7 Million) for the used for the acquisition of commercial items, including acquisitions treated as acquisitions of commercial items to facilitate defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack (lets hope this authority is never needed or used). The previously increased authorities remain unchanged. FAC 2019-02 also contains the final rule implementing FAR Case 2018-015, Governmentwide and Other Interagency Contracts, which implements Section 875 of the John S. McCain NDAA for Fiscal Year 2019. Section 875 removes the requirement for Federal agencies to make a determination that the use of an interagency acquisition represents the best procurement approach. The final rule only removes a requirement for Federal agencies to make a specific determination prior to using a certain contracting method. The removal of this requirement only affects the internal operating procedures of the government and has no impact on contractors. The final rule may be viewed in its entirety at 84 FR 19837 and is effective June 5, 2019. Lastly, FAC 2019-02 includes a final rule covering technical amendments In order to update certain elements in the FAR. The affected FAR parts are 1-9, 11, 16-19, 22, 26, 30, 31, 45, 50, 52, and 53. The entire final rule containing the technical amendments may be viewed in its entirety at 84 FR 19839. This final rule is effective on May 6, 2019. About the Author: Wayne Simpson Consultant Wayne Simpson is retired from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after 38 years of federal service. He served as the Executive Assistant to VA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition and Logistics where he was the primary staff advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary, who serves concurrently as VA’s Senior Procurement Executive and Debarring Official. View the full article
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