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  1. Large business prime contractors holding Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Acquisition Center (NAC) may want to take note. Updated Small Business Subcontracting Plan Template The VA NAC posted an updated Small Business Subcontracting Plan Template to its website in February 2017. This latest version of the template is dated January 26, 2017. VA NAC also updated its VA FSS Subcontracting Plan Training presentation in January 2017, providing detailed information on how to complete the new VA FSS Subcontracting Plan Template. Current VA NAC contract holders should ensure their new and ensuing subcontracting plans are submitted to the VA NAC for approval no later than 30 calendar days prior to expiration of their current plans. It should be noted VA does not accept or recognize digital or electronic signatures at this time. It requires the email submission of subcontracting plans contain a scanned wet signature. VA NAC continues to step-up enforcement of timely submissions. Delinquent submissions of subcontracting plans and Electronic Subcontracting Reporting System (eSRS) data can result in negative Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) assessments, issuance of Cure Notices, or other contract enforcement actions which could jeopardize continued performance under the contract. Small Business Size Standards Changed Federal small business size standards changed significantly effective February 26, 2016, for North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Codes covering manufacturing (NAICS Sectors 31-33). For example, perhaps one of the most common NAICS Codes used in VA procurements, NAICS 339112, Medical and Surgical Supplies Manufacturing, increased from 500 to 1,000 employees. Therefore, contract holders should check to see if their size status has changed. Some “large” businesses are now classified as “small” under the new size standards, and small businesses are not required to submit subcontracting plans. If your size status has changed from large to small, contact your contracting officer to determine if a small business subcontracting plan is still required. A subcontracting plan is required until the contracting officer advises it is no longer required. What Can You Do Next? Centre provides turn-key Small Business Subcontracting Plan support to large business VA FSS Contractors using best practices to develop commercial subcontracting plans and administer their small business subcontracting program. This includes conducting formal surveys to ascertain size and socioeconomic procurement preference program status of suppliers and subcontractors, eSRS submissions, and preparation of justifications for achievement shortfalls against negotiated small business and socioeconomic procurement preference program category goals. Contact Wayne Simpson to find out more, get started with your supplier survey, or determine the best next steps for your company. About the Author: Wayne Simpson Consultant Wayne Simpson is a seasoned former Federal executive and acquisition professional who is also a highly-motivated and demonstrative small business advocate, with nearly 38 years of Federal Civilian Service with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and its predecessor organization, the Veterans Administration. The post VA National Acquisition Center Issues Updated Small Business Subcontracting Plan Template appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  2. Back on November 28, 2016, both Analytic Strategies LLC and Gemini Industries, Inc.’s protests were dismissed by the GAO for lack of jurisdiction. The firms initially protested the General Services Administration’s (GSA) exclusion of their proposals under a task order to provide mission support services for the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency (JIDA). The protests were subsequently dismissed by the GAO as its statutory grant of jurisdiction to consider such protests had expired. Congress subsequently reinstated the GAO’s jurisdiction and, as such, the contractors requested that their initial protests be reinstated. By way of background, in 1994, Congress enacted the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA) which, in part, established a general bar against protests filed in connection with military and civilian agency task and delivery orders issued under multiple award IDIQ contracts, with limited exceptions. However, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2008 amended FASA to grant GAO jurisdiction to hear protests in connection with orders placed under IDIQ contracts where the order exceeded $10 million. The Fiscal Year 2012 NDAA amended the GAO’s jurisdiction and established a sunset date whereby the grant of jurisdiction to hear protests in connection with orders placed under IDIQs valued in excess of $10 million expired after September 30, 2016. On December 14, 2016, the Protest Authority Act was signed into law, which removed the sunset provision and reinstated GAO’s jurisdiction over protests of task orders placed under civilian agency IDIQ contracts valued in excess of $10 million. With specific relevance to this protest, on April 20, 2016, GSA issued a task order request (TOR) to contractors under a specific IDIQ, including Analytic Strategies and Gemini Industries. The solicitation estimated the total value of the cost-plus-award-fee portion of the task order to be between $126,081,247 and $132,717,104. On September 21 and October 18, 2016, GSA informed Analytic Strategies and Gemini Industries, respectively, that it would no longer consider their responses to the TOR for award. Analytic Strategies filed its protest on October 3, and Gemini Industries filed its protest on October 28. Approximately one month later, GSA dismissed the protests as its jurisdiction to consider these protests had expired on September 30. The contractors subsequently filed requests for reconsideration once the GAO’s jurisdiction was reinstated. In denying the reconsideration request, the GAO noted that it has repeatedly determined that its authority to hear a protest, including its jurisdiction to hear task and delivery order protests, is based on the filing date of the protest. The GAO, in finding that it did not possess jurisdiction at the time the protests were filed, noted that merely because the Protest Authority Act removed the sunset provision did not change the fact that the sunset provision did previously exist. The Act contained no statement as to its effective date, thus it is deemed to take effect on the date of its enactment. Furthermore, the GAO noted that retroactive application of a law is disfavored and should not be done in this case. For more information, read the GAO decision in Analytic Strategies LLC; Gemini Industries, Inc. – Reconsideration; B-413758.4; B-413758.5 (Mar. 8, 2017). 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 GAO Won’t Reconsider Protests Dismissed During Jurisdiction Lapse appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  3. The General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) is planning to refresh all GSA Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) to incorporate provision and clause updates in April 2017. This update will align MAS solicitations and contracts with recent policy changes, including small business subcontracting improvements and updates to Non-Federal Entity access to Schedules, including under the Disaster Purchasing Program. These regulatory changes further codify the Non-Federal entity access authorized under law and previously implemented via policy in GSA Order 4800.2H (now 4800.2I) in June 2013. GSA FAS will host a public webinar to provide interested parties an opportunity to learn about the planned changes and ask related questions. The webinar will be in a listen-only format with the ability for participants to type questions via an online chat function. Webinar information is provided below. Date: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 Time: 2:00pm – 3:00pm Eastern Time Web Meeting Registration Link GSA FAS will issue a bilateral modification to incorporate the planned changes into existing contracts. MAS contractors will have 90 days to accept the mass modification. Learn more at GSA Interact. Information reposted from the General Services Administration. The post Are You A Federal Acquisition Service GSA MAS Contract Holder? appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  4. GSA’s Horizontal Tilt Plus Three Things to Know

    It’s A Slant Downward When you negotiate a GSA Schedule or renewal, the GSA contracting officer reviews your pricing against, well, your past pricing. But when GSA buyers buy, they will now have tools to compare your pricing with the competition. It started with transactional data reporting, and now GSA is openly moving to a horizontal pricing model at least for products. Your carefully prepared sales data to get a product or service on schedule is becoming meaningless as GSA implements more tools for buyers to compare prices for what may or may not be similar items. Tom Sharpe, FAS Commissioner, has unveiled the latest buying tool, the Horizontal Pricing Analysis Tool. Its purpose is to “analyze price variability for identical Schedule items”. It shows the competitive range of pricing for a specific item and whether or not a vendor is proposing an offer within that range. Now that the Horizontal Pricing Analysis Tool is in use, COs are reaching out to vendors whose prices exceed a competitive range, notifying them of comparative pricing with identical items on Schedule, and engaging them in a dialogue about both pricing and non-price factors. Buyers and sellers, please make sure apples are applies and not avocados. Is delivery FOB origin or destination? What are the warranties? What is the delivery time? We all have stories about the deep discount competitor whose delivery time is in dog years, yet their price is low. That may be okay if you don’t need it soon, as defined in your lifetime. Now on to other news… Protests Jacobs Technology is hanging on to its $132 million Army award. ManTech TSG-1 JV protested that it was unreasonably assigned a weakness in its proposal. GAO held that ManTech couldn’t establish that the Army was unreasonable in assigning a weakness to its proposal based upon unstated evaluation criteria. Champagne flows at Jacobs. That Wall The Department of Homeland Security does not have enough loose change in its sofa cushions to fund THE wall, so President Trump is preparing a supplemental budget request for at least $6.6 billion. And for those of you wall builders, here is the link to the presolicitation notice. Growth Areas 2017 A new study by Onvia lists the top 10 fastest-growing areas in government contracting for 2017 that include technology, telecommunications, healthcare, and construction. About the Author Barbara Kinosky Managing Partner Barbara Kinosky has more than twenty-five years of experience in all aspects of federal government contracting and is a nationally known expert on GSA and VA Schedules and the Service Contract Act. She has a proven track record of solving complex issues for clients by providing strategic and business savvy advice. Barbara was named a top attorney for federal contracting by Smart CEO magazine in 2010, 2012, and 2015. The post GSA’s Horizontal Tilt Plus Three Things to Know appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  5. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published an Interim Final Rule in the February 21, 2017, edition of the Federal Register, increasing the period for re-verification examination by VA’s Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) of Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) and Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) program participants from two years to three years. Purpose The purpose of this change, effective February 21, 2017, is to reduce the administrative burden on SDVOSBs and VOSBs participating in VA acquisition set-aside for these types of firms pursuant to the authorities of Public Law 109-461, the Veterans Benefits, Health Care and Information Technology Act of 2006 (the Act), implemented by the VA as the “Veterans First Contracting Program.” The Act requires VA to verify ownership and control of SDVOSBs and VOSBs in order for those firms to participate in acquisitions VA sets aside for SDVOSBs and VOSBs. VA has continuously administered the verification program since February 2010, at which time re-verification was required annually. In June 2012, the re-examination period was extended to two years. In changing from a biennial re-examination eligibility period to three years, VA believes it adequately balances maintaining program integrity while reducing the administrative burden on SDVOSBs and VOSBs. In reaching this determination, VA cited statistical data from Fiscal Year 2016, which showed out of 1,109 reverification applications, only ten were denied, ergo, only 0.9 percent of reverification applications were found to be ineligible after two years. VA relies very heavily on its initial eligibility examination of firms, which it describes as robust, and as such believes the integrity of the program will not be compromised by extending the period for reverification. Process As part of its initial examination, VA CVE reviews personal and company documentation to verify ownership and control by Veterans of the business applying for verification. Documents include personal and company financial statements; Federal personal and business income tax returns; personal history statements; articles of incorporation/organization; corporate by-laws or operating agreements; organizational, annual, and board/member meeting records; stock ledgers and certificates; State-issued certificates of good standing; contract, lease, and loan agreements; payroll records; bank account signature cards; and various licenses. Additionally, VA conducts random, unannounced site examinations of participants in order to examine or further examine a participant’s eligibility, including upon VA’s receipt of specific or credible information that the participant is no longer eligible. Additionally, VA contracting officers and competing SDVOSBs and VOSBs have the right to raise a SDVOSB/VOSB status protest to VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization should either have a reasonable basis upon which to challenge the SDVOSB/VOSB status of a VA CVE-verified firm. VA regulations mandate program participants maintain eligibility during its tenure, and if ownership or control changes occur, participants are required to notify VA’s CVE of any changes which would adversely affect the participant’s eligibility as a VA CVE-verified SDVOSB/VOSB. VA maintains the Vendor Information Pages (VIP) Database, a database of firms verified by CVE and eligible to receive awards under the Veterans First Contracting Program. As of February 24, 2017, the VIP Database list 9,287 firms (6,917 SDVOSBs and 2,370 VOSBs). VA’s current Veteran Small Business Regulations are codified at 38 C.F.R. Part 74. Comments Written comments on the Interim Final Rule must be submitted on or before April 24, 2017. Comments may be submitted directly to VA at the address shown in the Federal Register Notice or at www.regulations.gov. Comments should indicate they are submitted in response to “RIN 2900-AP93—VA Veteran-Owned Small Business Verification Guidelines.” Note that all comments received will be available for public inspection at VA’s Central Office in Washington, DC. About the Author: Wayne Simpson Consultant Wayne Simpson is a seasoned former Federal executive and acquisition professional who is also a highly-motivated and demonstrative small business advocate, with nearly 38 years of Federal Civilian Service with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and its predecessor organization, the Veterans Administration. The post VA Reduces Administrative Burden on SDVOSBs and VOSBs appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  6. Warning! This post contains explicit (and depressing) news about low bidders using below market salaries and benefits to win contracts. The Air Force issued a solicitation for information technology services at Joint Base San Antonio. The RFP provided for award to the offeror that submitted a technically-acceptable proposal with the lowest price and a realistic employee compensation plan (ECP). For the ECP evaluation, the solicitation stated that the plans “will be evaluated for realism” and directed offerors to submit their ECPs in accordance with FAR provision 52.222-46. The purpose of that FAR provision is to evaluate whether offerors will obtain and keep the quality of professional services needed for adequate contract performance. The Air Force compared the awardee, BTAS, Inc.’s proposed compensation for its professional labor categories to that of three other offerors and salary data on salary.com. The Air Force found that on average BTAS’s labor rates and fringe were below that on salary.com but, despite that, the total package was realistic. The short story is that BTAS won with a below market wage and benefit package and Microtechnology protested – and lost. The GAO held that nothing in FAR 52.222-46 required the Air Force to find that both an offeror’s proposed fringe benefits and salary are, independently, realistic. Instead, the provision requires agencies to assess whether an offeror’s proposed “total compensation” is realistic. They found no basis to conclude that the Air Force’s evaluation of the offeror’s total compensation was unreasonable. The quick take away is that if an agency follows the evaluation criteria and that the evaluation was not unreasonable, it will be sustained. Read more on the GAO website. About the Author Barbara Kinosky Managing Partner Barbara Kinosky has more than twenty-five years of experience in all aspects of federal government contracting and is a nationally known expert on GSA and VA Schedules and the Service Contract Act. She has a proven track record of solving complex issues for clients by providing strategic and business savvy advice. Barbara was named a top attorney for federal contracting by Smart CEO magazine in 2010, 2012, and 2015. The post Awardee’s Below Market Employee Compensation Not a Win for Protester appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  7. Let’s face it. We’d all rather be out selling and growing our businesses than having to deal with paperwork and audits, right? So when you hear that you have a Contractor Purchasing System Review (CPSR) coming up, it may cause a little anxiety and leave you wondering if it is really time well spent. Now the government will tell you that the purpose of a CPSR is to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the way a contractor spends federal funds and complies with federal policy. It provides the Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO) a basis for granting, withholding, or withdrawing approval of the contractor’s purchasing system. So what does that really mean to you? Here are the Top 5 reasons that having an approved contractor purchasing system is important: Advance Notification and Consent: The first reason that usually comes to mind is the FAR Part 44 requirement for advance notification and consent to subcontract. If the purchasing system hasn’t been approved or the approval has been withdrawn, then the ACO will be required to perform consent reviews under flexibly price contracts and unpriced contractual actions to insure the Government’s interests are protected. The down side of that is these reviews take time, and while the ACO is performing the review, the subcontract award is delayed. In other words, nobody is happy about it! The client’s program manager and the company program manager want the award made to meet schedule, but the ACO has other things to do and may not put your subcontract award at the top of the list. The result is that you (the buyer/subcontract administrator) are under pressure to somehow make it happen and tensions can rise on all sides. Consent Doesn’t Mean Approval: Okay, you’ve gone through the gauntlet and the ACO has issued the consent to subcontract notice. But, the notice will have a disclaimer that reserves the Government’s rights to second guess all aspects (i.e. adequate competition, price reasonableness, audit disallowance) of your subcontract award. You feel like you have gained nothing, and the program manager is still upset with you because of the delay in award. You want an approved system, not just a consent to subcontract. So without that approval, you’re just sitting in limbo. Business System Clause: The Department of Defense added clauses to their contracts – 252.242-7005, Contractor Business Systems and 252.244-7001, Contractor Purchasing System Administration – that have become key components of the CPSR process. In addition, should a “significant deficiency” be identified in your purchasing system, the ACO is obliged to reduce your interim payments (i.e. progress payments, cost-reimbursement vouchers, monthly Time and Materials invoices) by as much as 5% to protect the government’s interests until the deficiency has been corrected and re-audited. The impact for you is that not only is the program manager upset with you, but so is the CFO! Impact on Other Major Proposals: With subcontracting being a large part of major contracts, the impact of your purchasing system on proposals for new work can be critical. First, having a government approved purchasing system gets you a better rating on the management portion of your major proposals. Second, with subcontracts often accounting for as much as 60% or more of major proposal costs, the ability of an approved purchasing system to provide good quality pricing support can make the difference between winning or losing. Documentation: Securing approval of your purchasing system relies largely on your documentation. In my earlier article, CPSR Easy As 1-2-3?, all three steps rely on clear and complete documentation. Think of it this way: an approved system by its nature should produce good documentation. So when the government reviews your work product for proposal support, business system adequacy, incurred cost, small business plan efforts, sustainability initiatives, or anything else, you can be confident that your procurement files will clearly demonstrate how efficiently and effectively your purchasing system is spending government funds and implementing government policy. Take the Next Step If you’d like to dive more in depth to the details of CPSR, learn best practices, and set yourself up for successful CPSR audits, then join us for our upcoming course on March 28-29 at our national training center in Tysons, VA. About the Author Jack Hott Instructor Jack Hott is an Instructor for Centre Law & Consulting. He has more than two decades of experience as a contracts professional in Government and the private sector. A retired Air Force officer, he served multiple acquisition related assignments where he managed administration, pricing, CAS and overhead approvals, supplier quality, and subcontract management. The post Top Five Reasons To Have an Approved Contractor Purchasing System appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  8. Pre-Award Audit: Is it Time to Panic?

    Are you prepared for a letter from the U.S. General Services Administration Office of Inspector General (GSA OIG) stating that your company has been selected for a pre-award audit of the Commercial Sales Practice (CSP) pricing information that will become the basis for the pricing on your contract option extension? The Primary purpose of a Pre-Award Audit The purpose of the pre-award audit pursuant to Clause 52.215-21 Alternate IV (GSAM 515.408(a) (4) of the contract is to ensure that the CSP information is an accurate, current, and complete description of your practices and pricing. Keep in mind that the advisory nature of the pre-award audit is different from most other audits. The results of the pre-award audit will be passed on to your Contracting Officer to provide additional information for negotiation purposes. In addition, you should expect to be granted authority to review the results of the audit. What Happens During a Pre-Award Audit? The auditor will seek to verify the accuracy of the latest CSP information submitted. The auditor will want to know the methodology used to develop the CSP information in addition to the source sales data reviewed in preparing the CSP information. You will be asked to explain why any sales information, such as specific classes of customers or discounting, were excluded and the reasons for the exclusion. The auditor will review your company’s billing and information systems to verify the completeness and accuracy of the information submitted. The auditor will review the terms and conditions with major commercial customer’s master agreements (as applicable). What Are the Time Constraints and Consequences of Not Complying? Information will be required approximately one (1) month from the receipt of a letter of notification. Contact your assigned auditor within seven (7) days of receipt of the letter and be prepared to discuss specific data requirements. Your Contracting Officer can elect not to extend your contract if there is failure to respond to your auditor. Failure to cooperate with the GSA OIG could result in contract cancellation in accordance with GSAR Clause 552.238-73, Cancellation. What are the results of GSA OIG pre-award audits? During the reporting period of April 1, 2016 – September 30, 2016, the IG auditors performed pre-award audits of 37 contracts with an estimated value of almost $9.5 billion and recommended that more than $324 million of funds be put to better use. Significant findings included that contractors had supplied commercial sales practices information that was not current, accurate, and complete; had proposed overstated labor rates and used unqualified labor; and that Price Reductions Clause compliance monitoring was ineffective. In summary, the answer to my original question is NO; it is not time to panic. It’s time to ensure your CSP is accurate, current, and complete and provides all required disclosures and that all requested documentation/data is provided to your auditor within the required time frames. If you need assistance in responding to your Contracting Officer/GSA OIG auditor, contact our GSA team. About the Author: Maureen Jamieson Executive Director of Contracts and Consulting Maureen Jamieson 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 Pre-Award Audit: Is it Time to Panic? appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  9. FAR Updates That May Impact Your Small Business

    On January 13, 2017, several Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) updates went into effect that you should be aware of if you have a small business. The highlights of each rule include: Uniform Use of Line Items – A revised policy statement that requires the use of line items and, as necessary, subline items to improve accuracy, traceability, and usability of procurement data. Acquisition Threshold for Special Emergency Procurement Authority – The simplified acquisition threshold for special emergency procurement authority has been raised from $300,000 to $750,000 within the United States and from $1,000,000 to $1,500,000 outside the United States for acquisitions that, as determined by the head of agency, are used to support a contingency operation or facilitate defenses against or recovery form nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack. Contractor Employee Internal Confidentiality Agreements – This change prohibits the use of appropriated funds to entities that require employees to sign confidentiality agreements that prevent the lawful reporting of fraud, waste, or abuse. Contracts Under the Small Business Administration 8(a) Program – Offers and acceptances are required for individual orders under multiple award contracts that were not set aside for competition among 8(a) contractors. Prohibition on Reimbursement for Congressional Investigations and Inquiries – No new requirements on small businesses, but records will need to be maintained. About the Author Colin Johnson Contracts Manager Colin Johnson is a Contracts Manager who focuses on business development and federal contracts management. His expertise is in preparing quotes and responses for both government and commercial entities for training and legal support services. The post FAR Updates That May Impact Your Small Business appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  10. On January 30, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order (EO) entitled Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs. The aim of the EO is to reduce the number of regulations in order to “manage the costs associated with the governmental imposition of private expenditures required to comply with Federal regulations.” Specifically, the EO requires that whenever an executive department or agency publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed. The EO further dictates that the total incremental costs of all new regulations, including repealed regulations, shall be no greater than zero. The EO defines “regulation” or “rule” as an agency statement of general or particular applicability and future effect designed to implement, interpret, or prescribe law or policy or to describe the procedure or practice requirements of an agency but specifically excludes regulations issued with respect to the military, national security, or foreign affairs function of the United States. Moving forward, the EO also imposes a regulatory budget for fiscal year 2018, which would limit the amount of new regulatory costs agencies can impose on individuals and businesses each year. While the regulation seems straightforward, its implementation is likely going to be subject to inherent difficulties. For example, some of the challenges include: The EO does not define what constitutes an “executive department or agency”. It is not entirely clear if independent establishments or government corporations within the executive agency are intended to be included. The definition of regulation contained in the EO is rather vague. If interpreted narrowly, it may only involve a minor set of regulations each year. In a notable – and rather bold – claim, President Trump stated, “We think we can cut regulations by 75 percent. Maybe more, but by 75 percent.” According to Politico, there are more than 171,000 pages of regulations. So even with Trump’s 2-for-1 regulation, the administration would need to issue 85,000 pages just to cut that number in half. NPR has written that even conservative economists say that cutting regulations by 75% is not believable. See Politico for the full text of the executive order. 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 Trump’s 2-for-1 Reducing Regulation Order – What Does It Mean? appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  11. This Blog Is Subject to Change in a Twitter Moment

    How many of you now go to bed wondering, “What presidential tweet am I going to wake up to next?” The federal contracting space has been shaken, not stirred. In the old news department, President Trump instituted an immediate hiring freeze this Monday, signing a presidential memorandum that would affect a large swath of the executive branch. There are exemptions, of course, for those working in the military, national security, and public safety. In my discussions with officials at several federal agencies, it appears that the language is vague enough that different agencies are interpreting this in different ways. If your entire team is on the airplane that has the “water landing” does this mean that no one can be hired to do the work? Maybe it will become more clear in the next couple of months. The executive order directs the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Director of OPM, to recommend a long-term plan to reduce the size of the Federal Government’s workforce through attrition. The order does say that contractors cannot be hired to circumvent the intent of the order. However, a big problem is that the federal workforce has not been growing. Federal News Radio is reporting that the size of the federal workforce has been decreasing, not increasing. The size of the federal workforce has steadily declined over the past 50 years. Approximately 2 million people worked for civilian agencies in 2015—nearly a 10 percent decline since 1967. Regarding the workforce, and in specific the federal contracting workforce, the Obama Executive Orders are in the twilight zone. Executive Order 13673, Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces, was stopped cold by a Texas federal district court in 2016. Since this was a unilateral act by the President, it will most likely be undone along with the Executive Order on Sick Leave. On the minor but still need to know information, a final rule came out on Privacy Act training. At a minimum, contractors must educate employees about: The provisions of the Privacy Act of 1974, including penalties for violations The appropriate handling and safeguarding of personally identifiable information The authorized and official use of a system of records or any other personally identifiable information The restriction on the use of unauthorized equipment to create, collect, use, process, store, maintain, disseminate, disclose, dispose, or otherwise access personally identifiable information The prohibition against the unauthorized use of a system of records or unauthorized disclosure, access, handling, or use of personally identifiable information Procedures to be followed in the event of a suspected or confirmed breach of a system of records or unauthorized disclosure, access, handling, or use of personally identifiable information Those are today’s latest updates, but we’ll see what Twitter has to say about it in the coming days. About the Author Barbara Kinosky Managing Partner Barbara Kinosky has more than twenty-five years of experience in all aspects of federal government contracting and is a nationally known expert on GSA and VA Schedules and the Service Contract Act. She has a proven track record of solving complex issues for clients by providing strategic and business savvy advice. Barbara was named a top attorney for federal contracting by Smart CEO magazine in 2010, 2012, and 2015. The post This Blog Is Subject to Change in a Twitter Moment appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  12. The Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) Rule requires vendors to electronically report the price that the federal government paid for an item or service purchased through GSA acquisition vehicles and other data elements. The rollout of TDR across all pilot schedules is now complete. If you accepted TDR willingly or unwillingly, it’s time to understand the reporting requirements. When are the TDR Requirements Effective? Upon acceptance of the TDR pilot bilateral mass modification, the requirement for providing a Commercial Sales Practice (CSP) disclosure to accompany modification requests will be eliminated. In addition, vendors will no longer be required to track price reductions granted to their Basis of Award (BOA) customer or category of customers. Price Reduction Clause liability for current contractors ends with acceptance of the TDR mass modification, which will be effective on the first day of the business quarter following acceptance of the modification. In order to ease the transition from the current 72A reporting database to the TDR reporting module, the requirement for commencement of reporting will not begin on the date the modification is signed; rather, reporting will begin at the beginning of the next full business quarter as shown below: Modification Accepted Requirements Effective July 1 – September 30 October 1 October 1 – December 31 January 1 January 1 – March 31 April 1 April 1 – June 30 July 1 If a current contractor accepts the modification during the last 15 days of a standard business quarter, reporting begins on the first day of the second business quarter following modification acceptance. What Data Am I Required to Report? The clause requires contractors to submit the following data elements: Contract Number Order Number or Procurement Instrument Identifier (PIID) Non Federal Entity, if applicable Description of Deliverable Manufacturer Name Manufacturer Part Number Unit of Measure (each, hour, case, lot, etc.) Quantity of Item Sold Universal Product Code (UPC), if applicable Price Paid per Unit Total Price Sold Contractors should report Firm Fixed Price (FFP) orders as single line item representing the lump sum total for the order. For services time-and-materials (T&M) or labor hour orders, reporting should be done by labor categories and rates. Manufacturer Name is not a mandatory field for service contractors in TDR, but Description of Deliverable is a mandatory field for both products and services. Service providers would place a brief description of the project or service offered in the Description of Deliverable field. How Can I Complete the Reporting? FAS Sales Reporting (Contracts must have a digital certificate to gain access to the reporting system) Reporting Tutorial Contractors have multiple options to submit their sales data such as: Form entry – where you fill out a form in your web browser File upload – where you upload an excel or .csv template populated with your sales data Electronic Data Interchange / EDI Web Services / API In summary, TDR data is reported monthly and there is a 30-day window to report after the end of the month. Your Industrial Funding Fee (IFF) must be paid quarterly. Contractors may, however, choose to remit IFF on a monthly basis when they report their sales if they prefer and must do so through the TDR system. For TDR Pilot contractors under Schedules 70 and the Professional Services Schedule, if TDR SINs are included on a contract alongside non-TDR SINs, the entire contract is subject to TDR terms and conditions, and CSP and PRC requirements are removed for the entire contract. Remember that participation in the TDR Pilot does not exempt the contractor from existing reporting requirements found elsewhere in the contract. 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 pricelists. The post You’ve Accepted Transactional Data Reporting, Now What? appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  13. On December 28, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) filed a complaint with the DOL Office of Administrative Law Judges seeking debarment of a contractor for violation of the Service Contract Labor Standards (formerly the Service Contract Act). The contractor, Restaurant Associates LLC, runs the cafeteria in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Even though Restaurant Associates won a seven year contract extension in December 2015 to continue operating the cafeteria, the company would be prohibited from bidding on future government contracts but would be permitted to retain that contract through the extension. The DOL’s investigation began in July when they first alleged that Restaurant Associates violated the SCA by misclassifying hundreds of workers. However, what makes this case particularly interesting is that the company had no history of previous SCA violations and fully cooperated with the DOL investigation. In complying with the DOL investigation, the company agreed to and did pay $1,008,302 in back wages for 674 cafeteria workers. Despite paying the back wages, the DOL is now seeking to debar the contractor. Perhaps the DOL is seeking debarment based on the circumstances surrounding the DOL investigation. The investigation first began after a complaint was submitted to the DOL alleging that Restaurant Associates unlawfully changed worker job classifications to avoid giving raises that were contained in the December 2015 contract renewal. After the investigation, the DOL found that the company had improperly classified workers both by paying them for lower-paying jobs than they actually performed and by requiring employees to work prior to their scheduled starting times without compensation. This will be an interesting case to follow as it develops. In the meantime, you can read the DOL Complaint and the DOL news release from the July investigation. 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 Cooperating with DOL Investigation Does Not Protect You from Debarment appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  14. What I Hate About Incurred Cost Proposals

    If you remember the late 1990’s romantic comedy “10 Things I Hate About You” you might know that it did a lot of great things. It provided the platform for the venerable Heath Ledger’s coming out party, introduced the world to Julia Stiles, reminded us the kid from Third Rock from the Sun was, in fact, still here on Earth, and made more than $50M at the box office. Not too bad. But as the law of unintended consequences often works, it also inspired this blog article about Incurred Cost Proposals. With all apologies to the awful heading, the Incurred Cost Proposal does evoke some very specific emotion from those tasked with preparing, auditing, re-auditing, reading, reviewing, negotiating, or most importantly – signing them. They are a necessary evil for most services-based U.S. Government contractors. While the purpose of the Incurred Cost Proposal is a simple enough merit – to settle indirect costs under cost-type contracts between contractors and the U.S. Government – the evolution of the Incurred Cost Proposal has caused pain easily on par with that of Ms. Stiles’ loss of her Australian beau. And while Ms. Stiles was capable of some beautiful poetry to express her torment, I am not as skilled in that trade and so you will simply get an unpoetic list of 10 Things I Hate About Incurred Cost Proposals. The ICE Model – Using a model that every time you open it tells you “An error has occurred” is not a confidence inspiring event for a document that is supposed to be current, accurate, and complete. Your Name – Why did the FAR give you one name, the “Indirect Cost Rate Proposal”, but the industry and DCAA give you so many others? The Incurred Cost Proposal, the Incurred Cost Submission, the Indirect Cost Submission, The Indirect Cost Proposal, the ICS, the ICE Model, etc. We are happy to call them anything the government desires – just don’t call them delinquent. Audits Focused on Direct Costs – While I also hate that audits are untimely, I think I more dislike that the current audit environment is focused on direct costs. We had a recent experience where not a single indirect cost was sampled. For an “Indirect Cost Rate Proposal” audit, it’s a little odd that the indirect cost rate received so little attention. And, of course, forget the fact that all the direct costs have been submitted for government review already on each and every monthly invoice. This trend has found its way into the T&M labor costs specifically through MRDs, which have cost enormous sums of questioned costs to contractors who don’t have labor qualification support in the way of resumes more than 5 years ago. Unallowable cost sampling – What would this list be without mention unallowable costs. It must be done, but it sure is tedious. Now if we could just get to an agreement on which costs are expressly unallowable. Schedule J Subcontract Information – How much more information on my supply chain can I provide? Every new iteration of the ICE Model asks for more. It is becoming easier to acquire a subcontractor than monitor and report on them. Inconsistent Application of the DCAA Adequacy Checklist – The concept is great; however, the execution lacks some consistency. We’re even okay with the annual updating of the checklist to provide even greater comfort that our submissions are in fine shape for an audit. What we do hate is the inconsistent application of what meets adequacy within the checklist. DCAA is provided great liberty to accept or not accept certain elements of adequacy for purposes of commencing with an audit. Some consistency would nice. And, worst of all, the off-checklist item that leads to inadequacy determination takes the prize for most frustrating element of the process. When Total Cost Absorption reconciliation doesn’t work – Okay, not everything about the Indirect Cost Rate Proposal is a procedural flaw of our friends at the Government. Few accounting frustrations rival completing your proposal and performing the total cost reconciliation only to see that something isn’t working. You can always diagnose them, but not without a strong cup of coffee. Corporate Home Office “Incurred Cost Proposals” – If you have a corporate home office you may have been asked for one of these. Or maybe you haven’t. It’s impossible to tell since the request for these is not consistent across DCAA offices. In the event you are unfamiliar with what they are, they are a summary of those corporate home office costs allocated to the G&A pools of cost accounting segments. They’re easy to hate since all of this information is already included in the segment-level indirect cost rate proposal. It’s duplicative and with all the work done to be compliant, duplication of effort is not something we like to deal with (or clients like to pay for). However, it has been our experience that if you don’t submit it, you risk being deemed inadequate – even though this isn’t on the adequacy checklist, see # 7 above. They are a particular quagmire for entities with overseas parents where certification of G&A costs for U.S. Government accounting is an unfamiliar task. Executive Compensation – Figuring out the award dates of contracts in the middle of the year, determining which agencies each contract belongs to, then evaluating which employees the executive compensation applies to. Determining executive compensation limits in the current environment is a game of labyrinth. Once you figure this rubix cube out, you have to get an Advance Agreement with your customer to use blended rates in order to comply. Then once you have the maximum allowable amount determined, you need to evaluate if the labor costs beneath that are “reasonable” through market data searches, surveying, and a host of similar corroborative evidence. IR&D and B&P costs – These are everyone’s favorite bouncing ball. They’re in the overhead base, but also the G&A pool. This topic dominates almost all new contractors’ first FAR lesson. And when they’re not specifically identified in the project ledger they can become quite tricky. Forget if you’re a major contractor with heavy IR&D expenses and have to now both report on them and get pre-approval from your Contracting Officer or risk them being deemed unallowable. But wait, there’s more! If you’d like to share your own stories of Incurred Cost Proposals, or – even better – learn more about best practices for handling them, then join us for the “Incurred Cost Proposals: A Year In Review” webinar on January 12. Just one hour of your time now might save you many more if you’re up to speed on these current insights! AUTHOR’S NOTE: As consultants, we routinely assist clients with the preparation of their Indirect Cost Rate Proposals. Please do not take our poor attempt at humor in this article as a lack of enthusiasm in any way for these services. We just liked the article heading as a forum to illustrate some of the contracting community’s frustrations. The post What I Hate About Incurred Cost Proposals appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  15. Of Mistletoe and Misclassification

    Earlier this week, a U.S. Department of Labor webpage dedicated to the issue of employee misclassification went live. Just in time for the holidays! While much ink has been spilled in recent weeks regarding potential changes of direction at the DOL in a Trump Administration, the new webpage suggests that the agency will continue to view the abuse of independent contractor status as an enforcement priority for the foreseeable future. The new page does not provide any novel substantive content, but it does bring together at a single location a wealth of information in what the DOL self-describes (accurately, one must admit) as a “user-friendly webpage where workers, employers, and government agencies can find information and resources.” For example, some of the substantive topics appearing on the “Pay and Misclassification” page include: Myths About Misclassification Get the Facts on Misclassification Under the FLSA Know Your Rights Video: Employee v. Independent Contractor Employment Relationship Under the FLSA Elaws: Independent Contractors Am I an Employee: Employment Relationships Under the Fair Labor Standards Act Coverage Under the Fair Labor Standards Act Wage-Hour Division Administrator’s Interpretation, The Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “Suffer or Permit” Standard in the Identification of Employees who are Misclassified as Independent Contractors WHD Press Releases about Employee Misclassification as Independent Contractors It is clear that the webpage is intended to arm individuals with the information and tools needed to understand the boundaries of independent contractor/employee status as well as the rights appurtenant to such status. Given the widespread use (and abuse) of independent contractor arrangements in the government contracts industry, contractors would be well counseled to review their current 1099s to ensure that the status can withstand scrutiny as this issue is unlikely to move to the backburner, even with new leadership coming onto the scene in early 2017. 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 Of Mistletoe and Misclassification appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  16. Reproduced with permission from Federal Contracts Report, 105 FCR (Dec. 6, 2016). Copyright 2016 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033) http://www.bna.com Talk More, Fret Less, Proposed Rule Urges Feds, Contractors Federal acquisition officials are encouraging increased communication between industry and government, in the hope of ensuring a more efficient process for both parties. An updated regulation would make it clear that it’s in the government’s best interests to talk to industry during all phases of the purchasing process, according to a proposed Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) rule published Nov. 29 in the Federal Register. It bolsters the notion, detailed in procurement policy memos issued in 2011 and 2012, that acquisition officials need to fret less about possible negative ramifications of talking to industry, and instead open lines of communication. Some government contracts attorneys say they approve of the renewed emphasis. “For a long time, there has been a fear of communication between agencies and contractors, but that needs to continue to change,” Jeff Chiow, a shareholder with the law firm Rogers Joseph O’Donnell PC in Washington, told Bloomberg BNA. “I think it’s absolutely appropriate.” ‘Must Not Hesitate.’ The proposed rule would mandate that the FAR adopt a section of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which made it clear that agency acquisition personnel are “permitted and encouraged to engage in responsible and constructive exchanges with industry, so long as those exchanges are consistent with existing law and regulation and do not promote an unfair competitive advantage to particular firms.” The proposed language to the FAR takes this one step further, specifically suggesting that government officials “must not hesitate” to communicate with industry as early as possible in the acquisition cycle to help determine what exactly is available in the commercial marketplace. The rule also would add language to the FAR ensuring that agencies maximize their use of commercial products and services in meeting their requirements. The key is that agencies should be broadcasting their plans to all competitors, and then have “frank conversations about what’s needed” with them to help determine if their proposals might be tweaked to fit the government’s needs. “The emphasis should be at the beginning of the process, but communication should be ongoing,” he said. Not all government contracts attorneys agree on the impact of the proposed rule. Some say it wouldn’t do anything to stop the process from tilting toward larger contractors. “In my opinion, the proposed rule does not materially change the current government and industry procurement cycle interaction or lack thereof,” Barbara Kinosky, managing partner of Centre Law & Consulting, told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mailed statement. “The large companies and those with savvy sales people will always be on the front end of procurements. They did not get to be large businesses by finding out about procurements on eBuy for the first time.” The rule won’t change a government culture that, as it pertains to smaller procurements, “believes in low price and minimum engagement with contractors,” Kinosky said. Common Misconceptions. The proposed FAR rule was spurred by a pair of detailed procurement policy memos titled “Myth-Busting” and “Myth-Busting 2” that discussed “misconceptions” about communication between industry and government during the acquisition process. The first of the memos, issued Feb. 2, 2011, and authored by Dan Gordon, then the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, addressed what he said were 10 common misconceptions, including ungrounded fears that contractor-government communications are often the source of bid protests, and that because contractors are akin to registered lobbyists, conversations with them should be avoided to reduce disclosure burdens. “While agencies do not have the resources and are not required to meet with every vendor at every step of the acquisition process, information gathered from industry sources plays an invaluable role in the acquisition process,” Gordon wrote. “For this reason, agencies must develop practices that will ensure early, frequent, and constructive communication during key phases of the process.” The post Barbara Kinosky Quoted in Bloomberg BNA Article on Proposed FAR Rule appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  17. Over the last few years, the contractor community has braced itself to comply with a slew of new employment regulations issued as a result of Executive Orders by President Obama. These include Paid Sick Leave (up to 7 days), Minimum Wage ($10.20), Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces (reporting of labor law violations and paystub requirements, among others), and the Department of Labor’s regulations increasing the dollar threshold for overtime exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). However, several of these regulations are currently being enjoined by courts; and, with the upcoming transition to a new administration, it is likely that many of these requirements will be set aside. It would be a mistake, though, for contractors to be lulled into complacency as a result of the recent federal election as state and local governments have been increasingly active in passing legislation governing employers. For example, many states, counties, and cities passed increased minimum wage requirements, paid sick and family leave laws, wage equality measures, limits on the use of background checks, laws related to medical and recreational use of marijuana, and gender-based restroom ordinances. Federal contractors should continue to monitor legal requirements for the localities they operate in. For those in the D.C. Metro area, additional paid leave requirements are on the horizon. Just last week the D.C. Council passed the “Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act” providing for eight weeks of parental leave, six weeks to care for sick family member, and two weeks for your own personal illness. The leave will be funded through a payroll tax and administered through the government with limits on the benefit amounts workers would receive. The bill must still go through a second vote later this month, but is expected to pass with a veto-proof majority. For those in Maryland, Governor Hogan has announced plans to introduce legislation requiring employers with 50 or more employees provide up to five days of paid sick leave per year. Maryland’s legislature has made advancements towards enacting other paid leave laws as well. So with the incoming new Administration and continuing legal advancements for localities, 2017 appears to be ripe for action and continued change. About the Author Marina Blickley Senior Attorney Marina Blickley is primarily focused in the Government Contracting and Non-Profit industries. She regularly assists clients in all aspects of employment and labor law including representation and defense of employers against claims of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation/whistleblower, and wage and hour violations before administrative agencies and state and federal courts. The post President Trump Notwithstanding, Employment Law Compliance Should Remain A Top Concern in 2017 appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  18. As a consultant assisting clients prepare for their Industrial Operations Analyst (IOA) visit, I am surprised by the anxiety that precedes these “I’m here to help you” visits. I receive comments from “I didn’t sleep all night” and “I forgot my Basis of Award (BOA) customer” to “Will the IOA cancel my contract as I forgot to pay my Industrial Funding Fee for the last quarter.” The anxiety has increased over the last two years as the IOAs are now reviewing your GSA Schedule annually if you have annual sales exceeding $150,000. While the majority of IOAs are trying to help you understand compliance with your schedule requirements, there are a few that want to add to your anxiety. I witnessed the IOA who started the visit with the comment that she was there to get money back for GSA and an IOA who threatened cancellation of the schedule (and no, IOAs cannot cancel your schedule contract). In GSA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) Semiannual Report to Congress for the period of April 1, 2016 through September 30, 2016, the tables were turned and the IOAs were reviewed. IOA Assessment Report Purpose The OIG conducted an audit of the contractor assessments program to determine if: Contractor assessments were effective to determine contractors’ compliance with schedule contract terms and conditions IOAs were conducting their assessments in accordance with FAS guidance IOAs were communicating those results in a timely fashion and in the appropriate format IOAs were developing and completing training in accordance with program requirements IOA Assessment Report Findings As a result, the OIG concluded the following: Assessments add value as a method to monitor contractor compliance with terms and conditions of schedule contracts IOAs are generally conducting assessments in accordance with guidance OAs are effectively communicating those results in a timely fashion and in the required format IOA Assessment Areas of Improvement The OIG also concluded that although the assessments were generally effective, they identified areas that could be improved “to enhance the consistency, completeness, and value of the assessments and reports.” For example: FAS guidance does not provide specific requirements for sampling schedule sales transactions to ensure that contractors are properly reporting and remitting Industrial Funding Fees and resumes to verify that qualified labor for services are being provided for customer agencies. IOAs are not consistently reporting on labor qualifications. As a result, FAS does not have assurance that labor qualifications were assessed. FAS has not established a formalized, national training curriculum for experienced IOAs. Therefore, recommendations from the OIG to the FAS Commissioner include: Revising the IOA Training Manual to include details on a risk-based sampling methodology Revising the assessment report template to include a specific section for reviewing labor qualifications to ensure consistent assessments Establishing and implementing a formal national training curriculum for experienced IOAs What Can I Do? In summary, Contract Clause 552.215-71 (Examination of Records) allows the IOA to review contractors’ records to verify contractual compliance. Their role is to conduct contractor assessments as well as monitor sales reporting, sales adjustments, and Industrial Funding Fee remittance (previously conducted by your Administrative Contracting Officer). Remember that the results of the IOA visit are advisory to your Contracting Officer (CO). Their assessment will be included in your GSA file for review prior to your Option Renewal. If you receive a negative assessment or don’t agree with a finding, you should submit a letter of clarification to your CO. The best thing you can do to in advance of your IOA visit is to be prepared. Gather all documents requested by your IOA prior to the visit or virtual call. Review the terms and conditions of your schedule and know your Basis of Award and discounting. Ensure your GSA Schedule catalog is up to date and matches the last awarded modification. If you stay compliant with the requirements of your Schedule, then you will have a successful IOA review. Your IOA contact information can be found at https://vsc.gsa.gov/tools/aco_ioa.cfm and Centre’s GSA Consultants are available to assist you through the process as well. About the Author: Maureen Jamieson Executive Director of Contracts and Consulting Maureen Jamieson 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 GSA OIG Reviews Industrial Operations Analysts: What’s in Your IOA’s Report Card? appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  19. New Overtime Rule Blocked by Federal Judge

    Hopefully you had already heard by now that the Department of Labor issued a new overtime rule that would require employers to pay time and a half to employees that worked more than forty hours a week and earned less than $47,476 a year. This raised the minimum earning level by about two times – from the current standard of $23,660 – and would have affected about 4.2 million American workers. The rule also established an automatic updating mechanism that would adjust the minimum salary level every three years. It was supposed to take effect on December 1, 2016; however, this rule has been blocked from going into effect by a federal judge in Texas. U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant issued a preliminary injunction on November 22 in a case filed by several states (twenty-one to be exact) challenging the rule against the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. The state plaintiffs argued that that new rule would cause an increase in government costs in their states and would cause businesses to have to pay substantially larger salaries. In issuing the preliminary injunction, Judge Mazzant found that the plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits because the rule exceeds the Department’s authority under Chevron. He further found that the plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm if the preliminary injunction is not granted as agencies operating within budget constraints will have to comply with the rule to the detrimental effect on government services that benefit the public. Furthermore, the judge found that the balance of hardships favors the plaintiff because: “(1) the States will be required to spend substantial sums of unrecoverable public funds if the Final Rule goes into effect; and (2) the Final Rule causes interference with government services, administrative disruption, employee terminations or reclassifications, and harm to the general public.” In issuing the injunction, Judge Mazzant found a nationwide injunction to be proper as the new overtime rule is applicable to all states, not just the states participating in the suit. Furthermore, it is unclear the duration of this nationwide preliminary injunction. Specifically, Judge Mazzant enjoined the Department from implementing and enforcing the new overtime regulations “pending further order of this Court.” In a prepared statement, the Department of Labor stated that it “strongly disagrees with the decision by the court, which has the effect of delaying a fair day’s pay for a long day’s work for millions of hardworking Americans.” The statement goes on to read, “The Department’s Overtime Final Rule is the result of a comprehensive, inclusive rule-making process, and we remain confident in the legality of all aspects of the rule. We are currently considering all of our legal options.” Read the statement in full or find more information, including Judge Mazzant’s order. 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 New Overtime Rule Blocked by Federal Judge appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  20. Centre Law & Consulting (Centre), a leading provider of legal services for federal contractors, has successfully worked on behalf of its client – Phoenix Air – to win a favorable outcome in their bid protest against the Department of the Interior on a recent Request for Proposal (RFP). At issue was the fact that the Department of the Interior allowed one contractor to be credited for meeting the proposal’s criteria even though it submitted information on one plane while recommending to use another in a $25 million U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command contract for electronic warfare aircraft services. Phoenix Air, the incumbent contractor, received a lower rating than the higher-priced awardee. As a result, Phoenix Air argued that the Department of the Interior misevaluated the submitted proposals by applying unstated evaluation criteria, unreasonably failed to hold discussions, and made an unreasonable source selection decision. After reviewing the protest, the Government Accountability Office concluded that the evaluation of proposals was indeed unreasonable and inconsistent with the terms of the RFP. They sustained the protest in favor of Phoenix Air. Given the decision, the Department of the Interior must now reevaluate proposals consistent with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria. The agency can amend the solicitation to advise offerors of the agency’s intended evaluation approach, but if it does, it will need to provide offerors with an opportunity to submit revised proposals before it conducts another review and makes a new decision. “We are very pleased with the outcome of GAO’s decision in our client’s bid protest. It’s gratifying to know that Phoenix Air will have an opportunity to be more fairly evaluated under the set proposal standards and recompete for the work it has already has a history of doing with the Department of the Interior,” said Barbara Kinosky, Esq., Managing Partner of Centre. The post Centre Law & Consulting Successfully Sustains Bid Protest for Phoenix Air appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  21. NCMA NOVA Chapter Event on January 27 On January 27, Barbara Kinosky, Esq. will be a featured speaker at the NCMA NOVA chapter’s first monthly meeting of the new year for “Trends 2017 – the Ultimate Ins and Outs of Government Contracting”. Attendees will come up-to-date on all the latest hot topics in the federal contracting industry including: What will a Trump presidency look like? Will there be more emphasis on defense spending? How will federal regulations be impacted? Executive orders, compliance, audits – what’s in, what’s out? Join us to hear all this and more as part of the January meeting discussion! Lead Instructor of Service Contract Labor Standards Training Course on February 1-2 The Service Contract Labor Standards (formerly the Service Contract Act) is one of the most challenging acts in federal contracting. With more than 20 years of experience, Barbara has seen many federal contractors fall victim to several common areas of concern. On February 1-2, Barbara will once again serve as lead instructor for Centre’s Service Contract Labor Standards training course. The content will cover the award and administration of covered contracts and provide detailed information on how to identify and mitigate risk under the SCLS, apply wage and benefit rules, avoid violations, fulfill SCLS obligations, and understand special compliance issues from the Department of Labor. This course is designed for Contract Managers and Administrators, Contracting Officers and Specialists, Program Managers, Human Resource Managers, Executives, and any personnel responsible for preparing proposals. See the Centre Training Calendar for more details and registration information. NCMA SubCon Training Workshop on March 31 Barbara will be a featured workshop leader on March 31 at 8:30am for NCMA’s new SubCon Training Workshops (SubCon) event. SubCon is designed to provide targeted subcontracting training by industry and government practitioners. A series of workshops will provide interactive discussions around discussions around buying, compliance, post-award management, and leadership. Her advanced-level workshop – Things I Have Learned as an Arbitrator on How Not to Draft Agreements – will draw on her experience as an expert witness in prime subcontractor disputes and as an arbitrator on the Complex Disputes Panel of the American Arbitration Association. She has seen dozens of cases of “it was clear to me when I drafted it, so why are we in litigation?” Learn from the mistakes of others and avoid common ambiguities in teaming agreements, subcontracts, and other legal documents. If you draft any type of agreement, this session is for you. More than 200 industry procurement professionals and government program managers are expected at the SubCon event. The post Barbara Kinosky Featured in Upcoming Speaking Engagements appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  22. Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving

    As we lead up to Thanksgiving later this week, many of us are in final preparations for the holiday. Some are making last minute trips to the grocery store while others are looking for pants with elastic waistbands. However you’re celebrating this year, we at Centre Law & Consulting hope you enjoy a feast filled with friends and family. We hope you have many things to be thankful for this holiday season. About the Author Barbara Kinosky, Esq. Managing Partner Barbara Kinosky has more than twenty-five years of experience in all aspects of federal government contracting and is a nationally known expert on GSA and VA Schedules and the Service Contract Act. She has a proven track record of solving complex issues for clients by providing strategic and business savvy advice. Barbara was named a top attorney for federal contracting by Smart CEO magazine in 2010, 2012, and 2015. The post Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  23. It’s that time of year again! Early bird rates have arrived on all 2017 training courses! Visit our Training Calendar to see the full slate of courses, and be sure to use code EARLYBIRD2017 to save $100 off your registration fee when signing up before December 30, 2016. The post Early Bird Rates Have Arrived on 2017 Training Courses appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  24. A Newer Source Selection Procedure You May Not Know

    In April 2016, the Department of Defense (DoD) published a memorandum expanding DoD Source Selection Procedures beyond Tradeoff and Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) to include Value Adjusted Total Evaluated Price (VATEP) Tradeoff. This newer procedure’s intent is to help define how the government evaluates contractor capabilities that go beyond minimum requirements and reach the government’s objective. Although it’s been an option since April, we’re finding that many people still are unfamiliar with it. And we’ve certainly not seen it used in many solicitations yet either. What does VATEP do? VATEP Tradeoff monetizes a contractor’s performance and capabilities that exceed the minimum threshold and reach a maximum level. It provides a dollar amount or percentage that would then be “credited” to the contractor’s price proposal. This “credit” will not affect the amount awarded, only the government evaluated price. It is important to keep in mind that if the contractor’s price falls outside the affordability cap, this “credit” would still not bring a price below it. For example, let’s say the government wants a chair made. The government states that the chair needs a minimum of three legs so it won’t fall over, but they would prefer a chair with four legs. Being the entrepreneur that you are, you have the capability to make chairs that have both three and four legs. Making a chair with three legs is considerably cheaper than four, but you are not sure how much the government values that extra leg if a traditional Best Value Tradeoff evaluation was used. VATEP puts a dollar figure on that leg, which would then be subtracted from your proposed price to reach the government evaluated price. How does it help me? By putting a specific value on a contractor’s performance and capabilities that reach the objective level, it provides the contractor clarity on whether to pursue additional performance beyond the government’s minimum requirements. If a company know it will cost them $500 to put that extra leg on all the chairs and the government only values the leg at $250, then the company knows it should only offer the government the three-legged chair instead. This new procedure certainly won’t make sense for every requirement, but it does offer the government a way to make the process less cryptic. Could we see more agencies start to use this? Only time will tell. About the Author Colin Johnson Contracts Manager Colin Johnson is a Contracts Manager who focuses on business development and federal contracts management. His expertise is in preparing quotes and responses for both government and commercial entities for training and legal support services. The post A Newer Source Selection Procedure You May Not Know appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  25. GSA Reviews FY2016 and FedRAMP Looks Ahead to 2017

    As we now have FY2016 in the rear-view mirror, the government has begun to look back at the past year and look ahead to 2017. GSA In the case of GSA, the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) commissioner, Tom Sharpe, reflected on the successes of the FAS program over the past year in a recent blog post. In it, he explains that GSA has achieved its three-year goal as the government acquisition marketplace. Sharpe then goes on to explain that the FAS initiative, Category Management, has helped with those goals. He defines Category Management as “the process of managing product or service categories as strategic business units and customizing them to meet customer needs.” What this means to contractors is that they should expect more initiatives like the Government-wide Laptop/Desktop initiative that includes GSA Schedule 70, SEWP, and CIO-CS. FedRAMP FedRAMP has also released its goals for 2017. These goals fall under three categories: More Cloud to Choose From, Transform Security Authorizations, and Stronger FedRAMP Community. To achieve these goals, FedRAMP wants to increase Cloud Services offerings from 72 to 150 and raise the number of FedRAMP ready service providers to 50 within the next year. Over the next six months, FedRAMP wants to increase the efficiency of providers who are able to receive a Provisional Authorization to Operate (P-ATO), redesign the Continuous Monitoring authorization process to be smoother and more agile, and focus on increasing the number of authorizations for low impact Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings. FedRAMP will work to achieve a stronger community over the course of 2017 by hosting two industry days to connect agencies with service providers and two industry roundtables to help agencies connect with one another. With these goals in place, GSA contractors can anticipate an increase in competition on the Cloud Computing Services SIN 132-40 on the IT 70 Schedule as well as an increase in opportunities. For More Information If you would like more information or additional training regarding IT 70’s FASt Lane initiative, the Formatted Pricing Tool (FPT), Transactional Data Reporting (TDR), the IT 70 Health SIN, the Cloud SIN, or the Cyber SINs, then be sure to attend the next Bootcamp for GSA Schedules training course on February 7-8, 2017. About the Author Michael Glazer Contracts Manager Michael Glazer focuses primarily on GSA/VA Schedule consulting. He regularly assists clients in all aspects of FSS contract management including contract negotiations, modifications, IFF reporting, subcontracting plans and reporting, IOA assessments, and other contract compliance issues. Michael also provides experience with GSA Alliant 1 & 2, ITES 3H and 3S, CIO-CS and SP3, and other large IDIQ contracts on an as needed basis to clients. The post GSA Reviews FY2016 and FedRAMP Looks Ahead to 2017 appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article