Laura Stanton, most recently in charge of GSA’s mammoth commercial e-commerce platform project, will be the new Deputy Assistant Commissioner for the IT Category. She is essentially swapping places with Crystal Philcox who will assume Stanton’s former position as Assistant Commissioner for Strategy Management. Stanton will have a very full plate as she will bring her e-commerce project with her, in addition to overseeing the implementation of the EIS telecom vehicle. That contract is expected to start giving Authority to Operate (ATO) status to contractors in the next 30-60 days and business will quickly ramp up on it. In the meantime, the commercial e-commerce project is expected to have an industry day and RFI issued soon, with a report to Congress due sometime in March. GSA officials speaking at an industry event this week said they hope to have a “proof of concept” for the e-commerce project in place by the end of 2019. Stanton is an experienced leader with an excellent industry outreach record. She is also known for taking a strategic view of her projects and being a strong advocate for GSA’s acquisition mission. Stanton has over 18 years of experience at GSA, including stints as Program Manager for the Common Acquisition Platform and Director of Innovation for the Federal Acquisition Service. She also worked for six years as a telecom analyst with GSA.
More than two years after Congress passed several laws designed to curtail the use of Low Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) contracts, DOD still makes considerable use of this acquisition method, according to a new GAO report. In addition, DOD still has not issued the rules Congress ordered it to draft two years ago to ensure the department is only using the cost-conscious procurement method when appropriate. Not only are DOD offices that widely use LPTA thumbing their nose at Congress, they’re likely not following their own agency’s guidance either as DOD acquisition officials have sought to rein in LPTA use in successive policy directives. While LPTA may not be the discussion topic it once was among contractors, it is clear that is still a substantial part of some DOD office’s acquisition approach. The most sweeping Congressional legislation on DOD LPTA use established 8 criteria buyers are supposed to use before making an affirmative decision to conduct an LPTA acquisition. The DFAR case to implement this legislation, though, was opened less than a month ago and a final rule isn’t expected until the end of the 2019 fiscal year. It is important to remember, though, that the laws are still in effect regardless of regulatory guidance. There is more onus on contractors, though, to ensure that their buyers are aware of the current laws, as well as policy guidance, during the acquisition planning stage. This can be tricky business, but using a “Joe Friday” approach and sticking to the basic facts may be one successful strategy. Make sure that you’re prepared, as well, to point skeptical buyers to available internal DOD guidance.
With six weeks left in 2018 more and more federal workers will be taking “use it or lose it” annual leave. This makes both planning and executing meetings with federal prospects increasingly difficult. There will certainly be feds around, just witness GSA’s Innovation Day set for December 12th, but you’re likely to get more and more “out of office” notes the closer we get to Christmas. That makes this a great time of year to reach out to both existing and new industry partners. Partners can help you get business you might not otherwise know about or that you don’t have the bandwidth to land on your own. They can also be a boon to large businesses that need small subs to make their own contracting goals. Most companies, especially newer market entries, think they should spend all of their time talking to federal agencies. That’s wrong. Business-to-business discussions are essential to federal market success and this is perhaps one of the best times of year to make sure your relationships with other contractors are working for you. Make sure you have more than just a pumpkin pie, though, to get things going. Talking turkey, in this case specific deals with specific agencies, is essential. Make sure you’re prepared to answer questions like: What are you bringing to the table? How can the partner help? When is this deal forecast to close? Face time with feds is a given in this market. Successful contractors know, though, that the same goes for relationships with industry partners.
Tis the season for gift giving and, while everyone likes to be acknowledged (even consultants), there are rules on how your company can provide gifts to federal customers. Providing turkeys has, indeed, resulted in people losing their jobs, company fines, and reprimanded federal employees. Don’t let the holiday spirit cost your firm more than some fruitcake. Allen Federal can provide your team with a fast, fun, and clear picture of how you can say “thanks” without getting into trouble. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to put together a training session for you!
Last week’s mid-term elections revealed that the US remains a divided country. No side can claim a mandate, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try. Here’s how it will impact your federal business: 1. Business Will Slow As Agencies Become Distracted By House Oversight Hearings: Expect DHS officials to be dragged to the Hill to discuss immigration, Justice officials to discuss Russian influence, and a string of similar hearings for pretty much every other agency. This includes GSA Administrator Emily Murphy who will be thoroughly grilled on the FBI Headquarters location issue. All of this oversight activity will reduce the pace of business as multiple layers of officials work directly or indirectly on answering House probes. 2. Increased Money for Civilian Agencies & A Fight on DOD Money: House Democrats now have more leverage to deal on spending priorities and civilian agencies may end up being the big winners in 2020 and 2021. Don’t count out defense spending, though, as Senate Republicans and the White House will seek to keep spending strong there as well. Just don’t ask who’s going to pay for it all. 3. Claire McCaskill Won’t Be Around To Roast Contractors: Senator McCaskill (D-MO) has been the lead Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and an antagonist of government contractors. McCaskill’s broad approach caught improprieties real – and perceived. The Senator, however, lost her bid for re-election. As such, contractors may no longer be presumed to be guilty until proven innocent in the Senate.