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  1. By JW Butler, An email with the subject line “GSA Advantage Catalog/Pricelist Removal Notice” followed by your contract number may cause many to panic, but not to worry, the solution is a simple one. The General Services Administration (GSA) requires that all GSA Schedule contract catalogs/pricelists be updated to ensure the accuracy of prices and catalog terms and conditions. If a catalog/pricelist has not been updated within two years, you will receive an email with the above subject line. Contractors have ninety (90) days to verify the information in their catalog/pricelist or it will be removed from GSA Advantage, and your contract will be suspended in eBuy. To avoid the removal of your catalog/pricelist, you must do one of the following: If you have made changes to your schedule’s catalog/pricelist through formal modifications since your last SIP upload, you will need to submit an updated catalog/pricelist and perform an upload using the Schedules Input Program (SIP) to create a replacement file, which is as easy as 1-2-3. If your catalog/pricelist is not current and there are changes that need to be made to your schedule, you will first need to complete a formal modification through the eMod system. Once the modification has been approved by your Contracting Officer, you can update your catalog/pricelist and complete the SIP upload. If you have not made changes to your catalog/pricelist, and your catalog/pricelist is up to date, you can complete the Verification Process in SIP to ensure your catalog/pricelist is not removed from GSA Advantage and your contract is not suspended in eBuy. When you are verifying a catalog/pricelist in SIP you are confirming there have been no changes to the current catalog on GSA Advantage. However, you should still check everything in your SIP program to ensure it matches the currently approved terms and conditions of the contract. Recently GSA required all vendors to reset their eBuy passwords. This password is also used in SIP so be sure you have your current eBuy password in SIP in the “Contractor Information” window before completing the verification. If you are performing a SIP verification you cannot change any information in SIP other than your password. All changes approved by a formal modification will need to be submitted as a replacement file in SIP. To complete the verification in SIP, click on the “Tools” drop-down bar and select “Verify Catalog Information”. If you have multiple schedules the SIP program will prompt you to select the schedule you wish to verify. After confirming verification, the SIP program will send a file to GSA to verify your catalog information. If your catalog/pricelist was removed from GSA Advantage/eLibrary because you failed to verify your catalog before the 90-day window closed, your catalog/pricelist should be back online within 24-48 hours of completing the verification process. Once the catalog/pricelist is displayed on GSA Advantage/eLibrary again, your access to eBuy will be restored. If you have any questions regarding the SIP program, please feel free to contact anyone on our GSA consulting team for assistance. About the Author: JW Butler Consultant JW Butler is GSA/VA Contract Consultant at Centre Law & Consulting. JW supports the consulting team in preparing various contract modifications, market analysis for products/services, and GSA Advantage catalog updates for Schedule contracts. JW also assists in the preparation of both new Schedule and successful legacy proposals, as well as uses the Schedule Input Program (SIP) to upload catalogs to GSA eLibrary and GSA Advantage. The post Help! My GSA Contract is Suspended in eBuy and my Catalog/Pricelist has Disappeared appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  2. By Stephanie Fine, Esq. Good news for Federal contractors. The recently enacted National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will expand limitations on the use of the much-criticized Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) source selection that was previously imposed on the Department of Defense to now include civilian agencies. The LPTA procurement process requires source selection officials to choose the lowest price proposal that satisfies the minimum technical requirements without regard to whether it offers the agency the best value. For decades government contractors have been critical of LPTA because of impact on reducing agency discretion, decreasing contractor motivation, reducing competition and encouraging contractors to sacrifice quality for lower pricing. Finally, Congress has jumped on the bandwagon and realized that LPTA has significant limitations and should only be used in certain situations. The new NDAA states that “it shall be the policy of the United States Government to avoid using lowest price technically acceptable source selection criteria in circumstances that would deny the Government the benefits of cost and technical tradeoffs in the source selection process.” Going forward, the use of LPTA will only be permitted when all six of the following criteria are satisfied: An executive agency is able to comprehensively and clearly describe the minimum requirements expressed in terms of performance objectives, measures, and standards that will be used to determine the acceptability of offers; The executive agency would realize no, or minimal, value from a contract proposal exceeding the minimum technical or performance requirements set forth in the request for proposal; The proposed technical approaches will require no, or minimal, subjective judgment by the source selection authority as to the desirability of one offeror’s proposal versus a competing proposal; The executive agency has a high degree of confidence that a review of technical proposals of offerors other than the lowest bidder would not result in the identification of factors that could provide value or benefit to the executive agency; The contracting officer has included a justification for the use of a lowest price technically acceptable evaluation methodology in the contract file; and The executive agency has determined that the lowest price reflects full life-cycle costs, including for operations and support. Source: https://www.pillsburylaw.com/en/news-and-insights/ndaa-limitations-lpta-procurements.html The Statute also prohibits the use of LPTA procedures for three categories of acquisitions which include: (1) information technology services, cybersecurity services, systems engineering and technical assistance services, advanced electronic testing, audit or audit readiness services, healthcare services and records, telecommunications devices and services, or other knowledge-based professional services; (2) personal protective equipment; or (3) knowledge-based training or logistics services in contingency operations or other operations outside the United States…” This highly anticipated change to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) will be effective in December 2018 and sure to be a huge game changer for the Federal procurement process. This change will most notably encourage federal contractors to return to focusing on their solutions’ value propositions as opposed to offering bids based solely based on price. In the end, the contracting process will be much improved and will lead to a more competitive procurement process. About the Author: Stephanie Fine, Esq. Proposal Writer Stephanie Fine is a Proposal Writer for Federal Contracts and Training. She is responsible for managing the proposal processing including preparing proposal responses and acquiring new business opportunities, and the development of the pipeline used for solicitation tracking and proposal development. She is experienced in business development and proposal management and also worked as a practicing attorney in commercial litigation and insurance defense. The post A Potential End to the Hate-Hate Relationship with LPTA appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  3. Centre Law & Consulting

    Is the Federal Marketplace Ready for Amazon?

    By Wayne Simpson, CFCM, CSCM Once again Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is a headliner in the news. On Monday, October 1st, Amazon announced beginning November 1stit is raising the minimum wage for all of its employees to $15 per hour, more than double the U.S. Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25 per hour. When managers at its fulfillment centers explained the raise to Amazon employees on Tuesday, many were angry, because as reported by Money on Thursday, October 4th, Amazon was eliminating the monthly bonuses and stock awards for warehouse workers and other hourly employees. Many employees saw this as a pay cut. Amazon has also been in the news and defended itself over the last year from the President’s criticism of its use of the U.S. Postal Service. The President claims Amazon is subsidized by and takes advantage of the U.S. Postal Service. Whether you are an Amazon Prime Member, taking advantage of free shipping, video streaming, and other products, or a non-member, chances are good you have either ordered from Amazon or received something from someone that was ordered through Amazon. No doubt about it, Amazon has revolutionized the way Americans shop with access to over 100 million products. Amazon is now poised to take on, or takeover, depending on your perspective, the Federal Marketplace. But what will really be Amazon’s impact on the Federal Marketplace? Section 846 of the National Defense Authorization Act, Public Law 115-91, signed by President Trump on December 12, 2017, contains what some sardonically refer to as “The Amazon Amendment.” Section 846 seeks to align government buying to commercial practices and technologies. The law directs the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) to establish a program, in partnership with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to procure commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) items through commercial e-commerce portals. Initial research in developing the government’s implementation plan indicates the current environment for purchasing COTS items is “overly burdensome” on the government’s acquisition workforce and imparts high administrative costs on product suppliers. The benefits of using Amazon are currently available through Amazon Business. But Section 846 will take this to an entirely new level. It is difficult not to contemplate government use of commercial e-commerce portals without thinking of the biggest player in this area—Amazon. No doubt this company, with a nearly Trillion dollar valuation, will be a commercial e-commerce portal for Uncle Sam when all is said and done. But what would be the impact of an Amazon commercial e-commerce portal for buying COTS items? What will be the impact on the Federal Supply Schedule? Small business? These are just a couple of the many valid concerns and questions current and potential government suppliers have about this law. Some even go as far as to opine the long-term impact of this law will be to create a monopoly for Amazon in the Federal Marketplace. Amazon’s entry into State and Local Government procurements has been met with mixed reaction. On October 23rd, Centre Law and Consulting will host a webinar presenting Mr. Robert Bohn, Head of Federal at Amazon Business, who will introduce and provide an overview of Amazon Business’ Platform for webinar participants. Mr. Bohn will share his insight into Amazon Business operations and the webinar will provide an opportunity to ask what he sees will be Amazon’s role in the Federal Marketplace as Section 846 is fully implemented, and as time goes on. Please join us for this highly-informative webinar and insight into commercial e-commerce portals in the Federal Marketplace. The time is now to consider how to prepare and position a company for this inevitability. 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. The post Is the Federal Marketplace Ready for Amazon? appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  4. Centre Law & Consulting will be participating on several panels at the inaugural Javits-Wagner-O’Day Legal Symposium this October! We are excited to be part of this vital event that covers the legal complexities, challenges, and future of the AbilityOne Program. Stop by our table during the luncheon. Melwood, alongside several other nonprofits in the AbilityOne Program, areorganizing the2018 Javits-Wagner-O’Day Legal Symposium, hosted by The George Washington University Law School. This Legal Symposium is a chance to participate in cutting-edge conversations and learn from lawyers, contract administrators, AbilityOne nonprofit executives, advocates, policymakers, and government clients. Please join Melwood, Didlake, Chimes, ServiceSource, Inc., and many other SourceAmerica and NIB nonprofits to explore the law governing the AbilityOne Program to create opportunities to: Heighten awareness and knowledge about the Program Learn to resolve different legal matters inherent to the Program Network with attorneys, nonprofit representatives and government contracting experts knowledgeable about the Program Explore new topics of legal research and scholarship related to this unique field of law Strengthen ties and partnerships among nonprofits, federal customers and rule makers REGISTR NOW The post Centre Sponsoring and Speaking at Javits-Wagner-O’Day Legal Symposium appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  5. By David Warner, “When Set Asides Collide!” Federal Circuit To Determine Precedence Of Kingdomware’s “Rule of Two” And Mandatory Procurements Under Javits-Wagner-O’Day Earlier this month, the Federal Circuit heard oral argumentin the matter of PDS Consultants, Inc. v. United States, App. No. 2017-2379, to determine whether statutory programs favoring veterans in procurements from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs take precedence over otherwise mandatory set asides for entities employing individuals with disabilities. While the dispute may have the whiff of uber-technical, government contracts “insider baseball,” the practical impact of the decision could be enormous and, depending on whose ox is gored, program altering. By way of background, on June 16, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held in Kingdomware Tech., Inc. v. United States, No. 14-916, (U.S. 2016), that contracting officers within the Department of Veterans Affairs were required to abide by the “Rule of Two” – a set-aside provision of the Veterans Benefits, Health Care and Information Technology Act of 2006. In brief, the “Rule of Two” requires the award of VA contracts to veteran-owned small businesses if at least two such businesses will submit offers and an award can be made at a fair and reasonable price. Given that the VA contracted for roughly $26 billion in FY 2017, Kingdomwarewas a definite game-changer. Enter Javits-Wagner-O’Day (“JWOD”). Or, perhaps more accurately, enter consideration of JWOD given that it predates the “Rule of Two” by more than 75-years. JWOD was first passed in 1938 to provide employment opportunities for the blind. In 1971, the act was amended to include individuals with severe disabilities and to allow the program to provide services (as well as goods) to Federal customers. The JWOD program is administered by the AbilityOne Commissionand three central nonprofit agencies – National Industries for the Blind (NIB), SourceAmericaand The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)– which oversee more than five hundred nonprofit agencies qualified to do business under JWOD. Central to the JWOD (now called the “AbilityOne Program”) is its priority – i.e., once a product or specific service has been brought under the AbilityOne umbrella, the government is presumptively required to purchase the product or service through the program unless there is no nonprofit agency to provide the product or service. Per Bloomberg Government’s Federal Contracts Report, in FY 2017 the VA awarded nearly $82 million in contracts to thirty-six (36) different entities participating in the AbilityOne Program. Which brings us to the central conflict in PDS Consultants – i.e., which statutory requirement will take priority over the other? In brief, PDS Consultants is a veteran-owned small business that provides prescription eyewear; the company protested the award of a VA contract to an AbilityOne nonprofit in which the contracting officer did not perform a “Rule of Two” analysis. In essence, the Court will determine which of two “shalls” will control. Centre Law & Consulting will be attending and sponsoring the inaugural Javits-Wagner-O’Day Legal Symposium this October! We are excited to be part of this vital event that covers the legal complexities, challenges, and future of the AbilityOne Program. Myself and Centre’s Managing Partner, Barbara Kinosky, will be participating on panels at the event. REGISTER NOW! Stop by our table during the luncheon! 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. The post When Set Asides Collide! – Kingdomware & the ‘Rule of 2’ vs. JWOD appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  6. By Heather Mims, On September 13, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that the Army acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it failed to buy commercially available products whenever possible or, in terms of the statute at issue, to the maximum extent practicable. This litigation began when Palantir USG, Inc. filed a pre-award bid protest in the Court of Federal Claims (although Palantir previously filed a pre-award bid protest with the GAO, which was denied). Palantir’s protest challenged the Army’s solicitation to develop and integrate the Army’s Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS-A2), which is the Army’s primary system for processing and disseminating multi-sensor intelligence and weather information. Palantir argued that the Army violated a federal statute (the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act or “FASA”) by failing to determine whether its needs could be met by commercial items before issuing the solicitation. Generally, FASA ” requires that federal agencies, to the maximum extent practicable, procure commercially available technology to meet their needs. Specifically, Palantir argued that its flagship software product could satisfy the Army’s requirements. In finding that the Army failed to determine whether its needs could be met by a commercially available product, the Court found that the Army was, or should have been, aware of Palantir’s data management platform. Thus, the Court found, the Army acted arbitrarily and capriciously in failing to fully evaluate commercial options. As such, prior to issuing the solicitation at issue, the Army’s conclusion to exclude commercial items from consideration was not rational and was not in accordance with the applicable law, which required an agency to use its market research to determine whether there are available commercial items that: (A) meet the agency’s requirements; (B) could be modified to meet the agency’s requirements; or (C) could meet the agency’s requirements if those requirements were modified to a reasonable extent. While this was a pre-award protest, the Court did not go so far as to recommend that the Army choose Palantir as the awardee. Rather, the Court simply required the Army to satisfy the requirements of FASA and determine whether its needs could rationally be met by a commercially available product, which it has thus far failed to do. 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. The post Federal Circuit Reinforces Government Preference for Commercial Items appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  7. By Wayne Simpson, CFCM, CSCM New Hourly Rates Effective January 1, 2019 The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division announced the new applicable minimum wage rates for workers performing work on or in connection with Federal contracts covered by Executive Order (E.O.) 13658. The new rates, effective January 1, 2019, are $10.60 per hour for covered contracts, and $7.40 per hour for tipped employees. The announcement was published in the September 4, 2018, edition of the Federal Register. E.O. 13568, signed February 12, 2014, raised the hourly minimum wage rate for workers performing work in connection with Federal contracts covered by the Service Contract Labor Standards to $10.10 per hour, beginning January 1, 2015. The E.O. requires annual adjustments thereafter, as determined by the U.S. Secretary of Labor. The Secretary’s determination also affects the minimum hourly cash wage for tipped employees performing work on or in connection with covered contracts. The Secretary is required to provide notice to the public of the new minimum wage rates at least 90 days before the rates take effect. E.O. 13568 is codified in Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Subpart 22.19, Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors, and implemented in FAR Clause 52.222-55—Minimum Wages Under Executive Order 13658 (Dec 2015). Federal contractors should note FAR Clause 52.222-55 has a flow-down requirement for subcontracts (including purchase orders issued by the contractor) regardless of the dollar value of the subcontract or purchase order. FedBizAssist, a Centre Subcontractor, has flow-down clause subscriptions available for Federal prime and subcontractors seeking to increase their compliance and reduce risks associated with flow-down requirements. Centre Clients and blog readers receive a 20% discount. Please enter promo code “CENTRE” at checkout to receive the discount. These one-year subscriptions are available at https://fedbizassist.com/shop Best wishes for every continued success in the Federal Marketplace! 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. The post New Minimum Hourly Wage Rates Announced For Federal Contractors & Subcontractors appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  8. By Tyler Freiberger, Following a nine-year gap, in January 2018 the Department of Labor (DOL) again began releasing voluntary opinion letters in response to common or unique questions. The initial batch of released letters only reinstated opinions from 2009 that had been withdrawn for “further consideration.” So the two letters released in April of this year, and the four released last week, are the first original works of the Trump administration’s DOL’s policies. I’ll warn you now, none of the opinion letters are exactly shocking, but they do give some indication of which way the wind is blowing. In general, the recent letters clarify some lesser used exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and favor employers. Of the six opinions issued since April five clarify that an employee would be exempt from the FLSA or not compensated for an activity. The fact patterns these letters respond to are very limited. Still, each letter leaves breadcrumbs employers may follow in the future. The only letter arguably in favor of employees really just tries to put travel for non-traditional work schedules into context. No surprise in DOL assertion that travel time during the normal workday, for work, is compensable. Interestingly, the agency drew from an opinion letter half a century old to state “the employer and employee (or the employee’s representatives) may negotiate and agree to a reasonable amount of time or timeframe in which travel outside of employees’ home communities is compensable.” Citing WHD Opinion Letter (March 17, 1964). While this is only in the context of employees permanently working on the road, it is still an important win for employers, whom ideally could simply contract out exactly what hours are compensable and those that are not. The other letters are less far reaching, but in the aggregate show a trend toward chipping away at employer obligations. First, hourly employees choosing to participate in voluntary health screenings, fairs, or other wellness activities, during or outside working hours, are not entitled to pay if the employer receives no direct financial benefit. Next, employees taking frequent breaks for medical reasons under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are only entitled to the same amount of paid breaks as their co-workers. The DOL also clarified two uncommon overtime exceptions apply to some modern businesses, mobile credit card reader salespersons, and food servers at high-end movie theaters. Lastly, the agency clarified the line between a volunteer and an employee. While the letters do not have legal authority in a civil claim, they do indicate what activity the DOL will be hunting for in audits or investigations. 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. The post DOL Releases New Opinion Letters Expanding FLSA Exemptions appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  9. Centre Law & Consulting

    OFCCP Issues New Policy Directives

    By Wayne Simpson, CFCM, CSCM On August 10, 2018, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued two directives. OFCCP directives provide guidance to OFCCP staff, Federal contractors (and subcontractors) on enforcement and compliance policy or procedures. These directives do not change the laws and regulations governing OFCCP programs and do not establish any legally enforceable rights or obligations. These directives will remain in force in anticipation of an addition to the Department’s regulatory agenda followed by rulemaking informed by public comment. The first directive, No. 2018-03, involves Executive Order No. 11246, Section 204(c), religious exemption, and incorporates recent court decisions addressing the broad freedoms and anti-discrimination protections that must be afforded religion-exercising organizations and individuals under the United States Constitution and Federal Law. The directive contains a policy statement, stating “In line with the longstanding constitutional requirement that government must permit individuals and organizations, in all but the most narrow circumstances, to participate in a government program ‘without having to disavow [their] religious character,’ OFCCP staff are instructed to take these legal developments into account in all their relevant activities, including when providing compliance assistance, processing complaints, and enforcing requirements of E.O. 11246, OFCCP staff should bear in mind that: They cannot act in a manner that passes judgment upon or presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs and practices and must proceed in a manner neutral toward and tolerant of religious beliefs. They cannot condition the availability of opportunities upon a recipient’s willingness to surrender his [or her] religiously impelled status.” A Federal regulation’s restriction on the activities of a for-profit closely held corporation must comply with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They must permit faith-based and community organizations, to the fullest opportunity permitted by law, to compete on a level playing field for Federal contracts.” They must respect the right of religious people and institutions to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government. The second directive, No. 2018-04, directs a portion of future scheduling lists included focused reviews as to each of the three authorities OFCCP enforces: E.O. 11246; Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act; and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended. The directive contains the following OFCCP policy: OFCCP staff is directed to work towards ensuring that a portion of future scheduling lists, starting in Fiscal Year 2019, include focused reviews as to each of the three authorities that OFCCP enforces: the E.O., Section 503, and VEVRAA. As such, these focused reviews will be selected from the same neutral selection system used to identify and create OFCCP’s supply and service scheduling list. OFCCP staff is further directed to develop a standard protocol for conducting the focused reviews anticipated by this Directive and to make this information available publicly in its FAQs prior to the next scheduling list being issued. Finally, the OFCCP staff is directed to develop staff training and contractor education and compliance assistance to provide guidance as to the focused reviews anticipated by this Directive. [CLICK HERE TO SEE THE NEW OFCCP POLICY DIRECTIVES] 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. The post OFCCP Issues New Policy Directives appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  10. Centre Law & Consulting

    Dear Pentagon: $10 Billion is Plenty to Share

    By Barbara Kinosky, The Pentagon is in quite the debacle with tech giant, Oracle – who filed a pre-award protest challenging the DoD’s single-award approach on the much anticipated $10 billion cloud computing contract. This massive contract called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, cleverly abbreviated as JEDI, is causing a lot of hoopla in the technology industry. Oracle’s protest is so far in advance of pre-award it is in a new category of “protest before contractors have even submitted proposals”. Clearly, Oracle is looking at the single source cloud award the CIA made to Amazon and is worried about the winner take all JEDI award that would give the awardee a huge platform within DoD for even more work. You can read the entire story written by Aaron Gregg for the Washington Post. I can understand Oracle’s frustration and commend them for fighting for multiple award. It even inspired me to put it in song: (Adele – “Hello” parody) Hello, it’s me Oracle with cloud cap-a-bility I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet To go over everything They say that time’s supposed to heal ya But I ain’t done much healing When I’m excluded from the dealing Hello, can you hear me I’m in Washington DC, dreaming about the contract we would see For cloud cap-a-bility When we were all one family We are willing to share, in the 10-billion-dollar deal We just want multiple award! At least you can say that we tried To foster, innovation But you say just one award Hello from the other side I must have called a thousand times To ask you, if you wouldn’t mind Changing the solicitation to promote competition But you say just one award, is what you want to see For simplicity Hello from the outside At least we can say that we’ve tried To reach a resolution, we’re sorry for what we had to do But we really tired our mostest To avoid this bid protest Don’t worry, I won’t be quitting my day job to become a songwriter. But you get the point. 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. The post Dear Pentagon: $10 Billion is Plenty to Share appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  11. By Heather Mims, On August 13, 2018, President Trump signed the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (2019 NDAA), which sets funding levels and outlines policy priorities for the Department of Defense (DoD). The 2019 NDAA allocated $616.9 billion for the DoD’s base budget, $69 billion for overseas contingency operations funding, $8.9 billion for mandatory defense spending, and $21.9 billion for nuclear weapons programs under the Department of Energy. The funding levels are interesting, but the Act’s impact on government procurement is also of importance. Notably, Section 816 of the NDAA amends a justification requirement for certain single-award task and delivery contracts. The Act amended the Section by permitting award to a single source if a single source can efficiently perform the work. The old language merely required a single source to be able to reasonably perform the work. Membership grounds have already expressed concern about this change, noting that it would inject ambiguity into the standard as the Act does not provide any definition of the term “efficiently.” Another significant change is the removal of the requirement for agencies to compete determinations and findings prior to using an Office of Management and Budget approved Government-Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC). Section 875 thus encourages agencies to utilize existing contracts and will hopefully reduce contract duplication. Finally, Section 876 is drafted so as to increase competition at the task order level. Specifically, this Section would allow prices to be established through competition at the task order level for certain ID/IQ contracts rather than at the contract level. As such, the contracting officer has discretion to consider price as an evaluation factor for contract award. 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. The post What Government Contractors Need to Know About the 2019 NDAA appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  12. By Wayne Simpson, CFCM, CSCM The government has on occasion been accused of treating offerors and contractors unfairly, if not downright poorly. Perhaps from time to time you even perceive being treated unfairly in the conduct of a procurement. Sadly, we hear this all the time. But now the government is considering the potential benefits of obtaining voluntary feedback surveys from the vendor community on a regular basis. The Department of Defense (DoD), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are considering an amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to establish a standard survey for obtaining voluntary feedback from actual and potential offerors on government contracts and solicitations. They are seeking the public’s input, especially from government contractors, on a Proposed Rule published in the July 23, 2018, edition of the Federal Register. Interested parties may submit written comments on or before September 21, 2018, in order to be considered in formulation of the proposed rule (see below for how to submit comments). The Proposed Rule effects FAR Part 42, Contract Administration and Audit Services; and FAR Part 52, Solicitation Clauses and Provisions. In 2015, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) issued guidance to test the use of a standard survey allowing offerors, whether or not they received an award, to rate the agency’s pre-award and debriefing process for specific solicitations. Under the guidance issued at the time, interested offerors were invited, at their discretion, to rate and provide comments regarding the issuance of solicitations covering a wide range of requirements, including solicitations for information technology, medical equipment, and management support services. Survey questions asked offerors for input regarding satisfaction with the pre-solicitation activities, solicitation documents, evaluation criteria, and the debriefing process. The survey tool may be accessed at: https://www.acquisition.gov/360. Data from initial surveys was limited in scope, but some trends did emerge. For example, contractors rated the robustness of agency debriefings with the lowest satisfaction scores in both iterations of the survey. This informed OFPP’s education and outreach efforts in its memorandum, “Myth-busting 3, Further Improving Industry Communications with Effective Debriefings,” issued January 5, 2017. OFPP, DoD, GSA, and NASA believe establishing a standard process in the FAR for obtaining voluntary feedback following a contract award will provide more meaningful insight on ways to strengthen the contracting process than can be derived by relying on ad hoc or periodic agency satisfaction surveys. Language is being considered to encourage contracting officers, in accordance with agency policy, to invite interested sources—actual and potential offerors—to provide feedback on various aspects of the pre-award acquisition process and debriefings, with a particular emphasis on how information is communicated. Submissions are intended to be anonymous and for internal Government improvements only. Voluntary participation would not bestow respondents any direct benefits or protections in the acquisition process or any subsequent protests. In addition, OFPP, DoD, GSA, and NASA are considering language encouraging Government acquisition officials to elicit feedback from their contractors on the agency’s performance of its contract administration responsibilities. The Federal Register notice contains a request for respondents to offer their feedback on the Proposed Rule, including the underlying survey questions, and nine questions specifically included in the notice. The survey is available online at: https://www.acquisition.gov/360. If you would like to comment on the Proposed Rule, you may use any of the following methods: Via the Federal eRulemaking Portal Submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking portal (http://www.regulations.gov) by entering “FAR Case 2017-014” under the heading “Enter Keyword or ID” and selecting “Search”. Select the link “Comment Now” that corresponds with “FAR Case 2017-014”. Follow the instructions provided on the screen. Please include your name, company name (if any), and “FAR Case 2017-014” on your attached document. Via U.S. Mail U.S. General Services Administration Regulatory Secretariat Division (MVCB) 1800 F Street NW, Second floor Attn: Ms. Lois Mandell Washington, DC 20405. Instructions Instructions: Please submit comments only and cite “FAR case 2017-014” in all correspondence related to this case. All comments received will be posted, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal and/or business confidential information provided. To confirm receipt of your comment(s), please check http://www.regulations.gov, approximately two to three days after submission to verify posting (except allow 30 days for posting of comments submitted by mail). Enjoy your freedom? Thank a Veteran!! Donate to a Veterans Services Organization 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. The post Contractors: Think Your Government Doesn’t Care? — Think Again! appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. 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    More Changes to SAM: GSA Updates SAM Log-in Process

    By Maureen Jamieson, Many companies were caught by surprise when they attempted to log into the System for Award Management (SAM) on or after June 11, 2018, and read the alert: Entities registering in SAM must submit a notarized letter appointing their authorized Entity Administrator. Some companies discovered that they were no longer active in SAM due to the backlog of notarized letters awaiting approval. Effective June 29, 2018, SAM has a new log-in process. You must have a login.gov account to sign into SAM.gov. If you don’t have a login.gov account, you need to create one. Your old SAM.gov username and password will no longer work. For existing SAM users, you should use your existing SAM.gov email address. For new users, you will be able to create a new SAM profile once you complete the login.gov authentication. One positive change is that all non-Federal entities who create or update their registration in SAM.gov will no longer need to have an approved Entity Administrator notarized letter on file before their registration is activated. However, all non-Federal entities still must mail the ORIGINAL, SIGNED copy of the notarized letter to the Federal Service Desk. All accounts must submit a notarized letter within 30 days or your account may no longer be active. Here’s one issue you may encounter – If you use any other email address to create your account at login.gov other than the one associated with your SAM.gov account, your SAM.gov roles will need to be reassigned. This could cause delays in updating your existing registrations. Why all the account changes? GSA’s SAM is continuing to support an active investigation by the GSA Office of Inspector General (OIG) into alleged, third-party fraudulent activity in SAM. GSA has taken these account changes to address this alleged fraudulent activity. In order to increase security and deter fraud, login.gov uses multi-factor authentication and stronger passwords for SAM.gov users. For further information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions under the Help tab on SAM’s website. Please contact the GSA team at Centre if you have any questions or require assistance. About the Author: Maureen Jamieson Executive Director of Consulting Maureen Jamieson is the Executive Director of Consulting at Centre Law & Consulting, where she manages the GSA and VA Schedule contracting group. Maureen has more than twenty-five years of experience managing federal contracts. She is highly experienced in solving client pricing problems and implementing effective pricing strategies for placing products and services on GSA Schedule contracts. The post More Changes to SAM: GSA Updates SAM Log-in Process appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  14. By Tyler Freiberger At Centre, we are often asked to advise on a number of compliance issues contractors face. While GSA schedule compliance, Trade Agreement Act certification, or Service Contract Act employment issues all raise eyebrows, one law rules them all – The False Claims Act (FCA). Compliance with the FCA can be rather simple according to a recent statement by the Justice Department. “The basic legal rule in this area could be mastered by a third-grader: Don’t lie.” – U.S. Attorney John F. Bash for the Western District of Texas. Respectfully, it’s not that simple. Because government contracts require businesses to state they are in compliance with the laws listed here, and many others, submitting an invoice while not in compliance can be considered a false claim. This means if your product is not TAA compliant, despite your honest belief it is, then after certifying your product is TAA complaint every invoice you send the government violates the False Claim Act. Given the penalties can range from $11,000 per “false claim,” plus three times any damage the government sustained, AND possible criminal prosecution, you start to see why my previous Lord of the Ring reference is only slightly hyperbolic. One does not simply “be honest” and avoid the False Claim Act. While reading this may panic any government contractor not previously aware of dangers, take some comfort in knowing that businesses with NO contracts with the government can also fall under the act’s fiery eye. Recently the civil suit of United States ex rel. Ryan Bliss v. Biocompatibles, Inc., et al., Case No. SA-13-CA-0667-XR, was resolved when AngioDynamics, Inc., a medical device manufacturer, agreed to pay 11.5 million for making false statements about its products to healthcare providers. Why does this involve the False Claim Act? Because even if not in direct contract with the government, a business is not permitted to sit from the comfort of its hobbit-home and blow smoke about its products to its customers that are selling to the government. AngioDynamics, Inc. knowingly made false statements to healthcare providers about its products whom then billed Medicare and Medicaid when they used the products, thus AngioDynamics caused those providers to submit false claims to the government. While the reach and potential liability of the False Claim Act is demonstrated in the AngioDynamic settlement, contractors should also note how the case arose. AngioDynamic’s former employee receives $2.3 million for his part in blowing the whistle on the false marketing. 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. The post You Shall Not Lie: Manufacturer Pays $11.5 Million For Causing its Clients to Make False Statements appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
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    VETS-4212 Reporting Requirement Approaching

    By Wayne Simpson, CFCM, CSCM Federal Contractor and Subcontractor Labor Reporting Requirements Under the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) VEVRAA requires Federal contractors and subcontractors covered by the Act’s affirmative action provisions to report annually to the Secretary of Labor the number of employees in their workforces, by job category and hiring location, who are qualified covered veterans. VEVRAA also requires Federal contractors and subcontractors to report the number of new hires during the reporting period who are qualified covered veterans. This important annual Federal labor reporting requirement is coming due for Federal contractors and subcontractors. If Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Clause 52.222-37, Employment Reports on Veterans, is contained in your Federal prime contract, or has been “flowed-down” in your subcontract by the prime contractor, you may have a reporting obligation. VEVRAA prohibits prime contractors and subcontractors from discriminating against qualified protected veterans and requires affirmative action by contractors to employ and advance in employment qualified protected veterans. The report, known as “VETS-4212—Federal Contractor Veterans’ Employment Report”” (formerly known as VETS-100 or VETS-100A, and often referred to as such in contracts awarded using earlier versions of FAR Clause 52.222-37) is due for submission to the Veterans Employment Training Service (VETS) at the U.S. Department of Labor, no later than September 30, 2018. The filing cycle for Fiscal Year 2018 reporting opens up August 1, 2018. Additionally, contractors and subcontractors receiving an award meeting the reporting requirements under FAR Clause 52.222-37, must report within 120 days of contract award. FAR Clause 52.222-37, Employment Reports on Veterans, as well as FAR Clause 52.222-35, Equal Opportunity for Veterans, have flow-down requirements to subcontractors. Accurate and timely reporting, as well as record keeping, is critical to stellar contract administration. A contractor’s affirmative action obligations in the hiring and retention of Veterans is subject to audit by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP). Prime contractors which are State or Local Government Agencies are exempt from this requirement. Failure to report has consequences. Federal Contracting Officers are prohibited from expending or obligating funds or entering into a contract with a contractor that was subject to reporting requirements under VEVRAA but did not submit a Report for the previous fiscal year. Reporting under covered contracts continues until the contract expires. The VETS-4212 reflects the contractor’s/subcontractor’s employment activity report and shall reflect total new hires, and maximum and minimum number of employees, during the most recent 12–month period preceding the ending date selected for the report. Contractors may select an ending date—(1) As of the end of any pay period between July 1 and August 31 of the year the report is due; or (2) As of December 31, if the Contractor has prior written approval from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to do so for purposes of submitting the Employer Information Report EEO-1 (Standard Form 100). A special note to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Federal Supply Schedule Contract holders. VA requires submission of this report to the U.S. Department of Labor regardless of the dollar amount of sales under the contract, and failure to submit can impact the processing of modifications, extension packages, and new and ensuing offers. Just in time for the annual VEVRAA reporting, on Thursday, August 2, 2018, from 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDST, Centre is conducting a 90-minute VETS-4212 Reporting webinar to introduce VEVRAA, FAR Clauses 52.222-37, 52.222-35, to participants and teach them how to successfully prepare and submit a VETS-4212 Report to the Veterans Employment Training Service at the U.S. Department of Labor. Your Federal contract(s) administrator(s) and human resources management officer(s) (HR plays an important role in providing information for the VETS-4212 Report) will benefit by joining us at the webinar. The webinar is both a great introduction and refresher for this important annual labor reporting. For more information on and to register for the VETS-4212 Reporting Webinar, please click here. 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. The post VETS-4212 Reporting Requirement Approaching appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article