Monthly Archives: March 2019


New Schedule contracts and modifications will continue to be awarded under the present terms and conditions until October 1st according to information shared this week by GSA officials with the Coalition for Government Procurement.  After October 1st, contracts will be awarded under a new set of standardized terms and conditions.  Renewals will be handled under the “old” system until January 2020 when a mass mod will be issued to all existing Schedule contractors.  Prior to any of this, however, GSA will issue a draft of the new terms and conditions for comment in early June.  Contractors are strongly advised to review and comment on the proposed terms.  Similarly, no mass modification should be a “click and accept” action.  Many contractors negotiated specific terms and conditions to make their Schedule contracts manageable.  Although GSA does not intend for those terms merely to be swept away by accepting a mass mod, they almost certainly would be.  As such, we recommend reading and taking exception with any new terms that conflict with any you have specially negotiated.  Similarly, contractors should know that GSA will not be able to change all of the taxonomy associated with the new contracts overnight.  As such, you will have to educate your customers on proper use of Advantage and E-Buy once new terms are issued until such time as GSA’s internal resources can change those systems.  This entire exercise is the second phase of GSA’s Schedules consolidation initiative.  No contracts will be consolidated under this phase unless a contractor initiates such an action. Only the terms and conditions will be altered, though the agency may also start to transition away from Special Item Numbers to North American Industrial Codes (NAIC’s).  Make sure you’re paying close attention to the changes coming soon to a contract near you.   


Federal agencies will increasingly be expected to make common purchases from Best In Class (BIC) contracts per a new memo made public last week by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  While agencies may still buy from agency-wide and localized contracts, OMB expects that agencies will increasingly implement Spend Under Management (SUM) practices with the goal of greatly reducing non-aligned or inefficient spending. Small business and other socio-economic requirements must also be met, but it is clear that the net effect of this memo will be to reduce both the acquisition vehicles and number of contractors that currently participate in the federal market.  Another key provision of the memo is that agencies will also be expected to share prices paid on various contracting vehicles on the Acquisition Gateway.  Contractors can expect to share the burden of providing this information, but should also be pro-active in educating their customers on what is likely to be the very limited utility of prices paid information.  To be clear:  Prices paid information really only works with commodity or commodity-like items.  As the government is a net buyer of services and solutions that vary considerably by agency, requirement, timing, and other factors, posting prices paid on solutions will likely cause confusion, provide information of little utility, and increase acquisition cycles.  Inevitably, contractors will have to explain very legitimate differences between prices posted on the database for past buys and prices offered on new opportunities.  This will increase contractor workload, a factor that will inevitably be passed along to buyers.  Contractors should, in any case, be familiar with the memo.


Alert reader H. Bogart of California writes, “Our company won a government contract for professional services several months ago.  A recent task order bears little resemblance to the original deal.  Our customer and sales team says ‘Let’s go’.  Should I be concerned.?”  It’s not uncommon for the government to ask for a solution one way and then actually buy it sliced some other way, H, but, yes, task orders that bear little resemblance to the other original contract could be a concern.  Your need to make sure that the work performed is within the scope of the original award and that you can provide a clear, easy to follow crosswalk for any requested work that isn’t laid out according to the original award documents.  Too many companies just go with the flow, only to find themselves in serious trouble later.  Non-conforming invoices may not be paid.  Over-charging may be alleged, as may out of scope work.  Remember:  the contracting officer is the only person who can change the terms of your contract.  If the crosswalk between task order and contract isn’t clear to you, don’t proceed until it is.  “We’ll always have Paris” is cold comfort if your company finds itself fined, or even on the suspended list.  Make sure your work stays within scope and reasonably matches with the work you were originally awarded.    


It is time for GSA to move ahead announce a new nationally-scoped training and show event.  The agency is not only harming its customers, but its contractors and itself by continuing a years-long exercise of introspective naval gazing on this issue.  Nothing speaks louder than the facts, so here are a few that should make the decision to hold such an even an open and shut case. 

  1. Unprecedented Demand for Training: It’s been over 2 years since GSA held a specialized show in Huntsville, Alabama to train DOD users on how to properly use GSA Schedule and other contracts.  Those sessions were totally sold out, with thousands receiving the training they needed to make sound, correct acquisition decisions.  GSA has ramped up its on-line training considerably for both government and industry.  The demand for training has likely never been higher.  With the Air Force, DHS, and other agencies scrapping their own contracts in favor of GSA-based vehicles, demand for training will only accelerate.  In-person training creates relationships and offers better opportunities for interaction than the most sophisticated on-line tools allow.  Even in this age of technology, there is sometimes no substitute for actually being there, especially when it comes to greeting new customers.
  2. Over a Thousand New Schedule Contract Holders:  A conservative estimate is that well over 1,000 companies are new to the Schedules program since the last GSA Expo was held.  We’ve taught a lot of Schedule training classes recently and, when asked whether they ever attended an Expo, approximately 90% of the class did not know what that was.  There are new people who need training on the industry side, in addition to the government.  As one our recent students put it, “we don’t know what we don’t know” about GSA.
  3. New Contracts, Solutions, and Technology:  Those new contractors brought new solutions with them.  GSA has created dozens of new Special Item Numbers that either offer new solutions that didn’t previously exist or were difficult to find.  Outside the Schedules, the last time the agency held a show there was no OASIS program, no EIS telecommunications contract, and an Alliant program that is nothing like what it is now.  Without a show, GSA’s customers may well believe that there is nothing new to see.  That’s a little like a car dealer still promoting its 2012 line-up.

GSA leaders were reportedly considering a show for 2019, but got cold feet.  The time to launch a show for 2020 is right now.  GSA Administrator Emily Murphy commands substantial respect, even though she was buffeted by Congressional oversight committees last week.  She has a tremendous opportunity to lead the agency forward and not let the past define the agency’s future.  Indeed, failing to act now opens the agency to future allegations that it is not doing enough to ensure that customers and contractors know how to effectively do business with GSA.


Despite overall uncertainty of exactly where defense money would be allocated under the President’s FY’20 budget request released last week, Pentagon officials did allows that their agency would receive $9.6 billion in cyber funding – $1 billion more than this year. The money would go toward not only hardware and software, but also toward the construction of new buildings to house DOD’s increasing cyber infrastructure.  In fact, nearly 20% of “cyber” money would be for construction.  Beyond that, over $500 million would go to support Cyber Command headquarters with “some” of the remaining funds to be targeted at R&D for both offensive and defensive cyber capabilities.  While CYBERCOM will fall short of their original FY’19 goal of spending $75 million through non-traditional procurement methods, CYBERCOM chief General Paul Nakasone predicted that his organization will come fairly close to that target and will continue to make expanded use of innovative acquisition techniques such as Other Transaction Authority.  General Nakasone stated that CYBERCOM needs such flexible tools in order to meet the changing face of threats.   “We invested in tools—significant tools for how we operate with our teams”, he said. “Secondly, big data analysis. Thirdly, an opportunity for our developers to operate offsite at a facility to look at new networks, new capabilities, new infrastructures.”  Cyber spending continues to soar, both in DOD and civilian agencies.  Make sure your company is prepared to meet the demand.