Monthly Archives: December 2020


All government contract protests should be filed within 10 days of an award action, right?  Wrong!  The pertinent regulation may state that a protest is timely only if filed “10 days after the basis of the protest is known or should have been known,” but “should have been known” can be expansive, as occasional GAO rulings have shown.  Sometimes that could be only when the unsuccessful offeror receives a de-briefing or summary letter outlining the reasons why they were not awarded a contract.  In one case involving a GSA Multiple Award Schedule contractor, a protest was deemed by GAO to be timely 33 days after award because the basis for the protest was only known to the contractor when they received a summary letter from the buying agency on the alleged deficiencies in their offer (Castro & Company LLC, B-412398).  GAO stated, “the substance of the evaluation and the source selection rationale” were only made known to the contractor in the letter and noted that the subsequent protest was then filed within the required 10 days.  Of course, any company wanting their protest to result in at least a temporary “stop work” requirement is better off filing a protest as early as possible.  Even a successful protest may result only in the agency being essentially told “don’t do it again” if work has already commenced, or even been completed.  Regular readers know, too, that we believe that occasional protests, founded upon a real issue, are a good practice.  They keep agencies honest and do little to harm working relationships.  Being known as a “no protest” company is worse than filing untimely protests


Congressional leaders believe that they are “95%” finished with an omnibus spending package that would provide regular appropriations for all agencies for the remainder of FY’21.  Still, all work may not be completed by December 11th, the day on which the current Continuing Resolution runs out.  A short-term CR may be needed, especially since Senate leaders believe that the appropriations measure will be combined with a scaled-down stimulus package.  This is one reason why some in Congress prefer not to use the term “omnibus”, since dropping the “b”, would perhaps more accurately describe the behemoth measure to be passed.  The new stimulus package currently comes in at $908 billion, less than half of the amount discussed prior to the election.  Both a push from the incoming Biden Administration to pass a measure and the closeness of vaccines may be responsible for the new number. It is again unclear what the stimulus may have in terms of new government work, though some contractors are tracking it for any financial provisions.  A final spending/stimulus measure is still likely prior to Christmas.  Contractors could expect their customers to have information on specific spending accounts around the first of February if the current Congressional timetable holds.  That’s better news than some years.  Be prepared, however, for changes in priorities, new rules, and altered spending levels moving forward.


Six experienced political hands have volunteered to be on the transition team for the General Services Administration.  Although there is no guarantee that any will stay on with the agency, some previous transition team members have taken GSA appointments. Aside from Administrator, industry will have to wait to see whether the Biden Administration opts to keep the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Commissioner job as a political slot, or revert it back to a career position.  The Public Building Service Commissioner (PBS), in contrast, is always an appointee position.  As such, it’s good to know who’s on the transition team and what it might mean for acquisition

Katy Kale, President and COO of Elevate, LLC is the transition team lead.  She previously served as Chief of Staff at GSA during the Obama Administration and now runs a large grant and institutional fund-raising company.  Her background is neither specifically on the FAS or PBS side of the GSA house, but as a management and operations executive. 

Nate Denny of the North Carolina Department of IT is another prominent member.  Denny served as deputy chief of staff under Kale at GSA.  His work in North Carolina is as a legislative liaison, not a technologist. He would bring a skill set similar to Kale’s if he stays at GSA. 

Zoe Garmendia comes from the Democratic National Committee.  She has served at the DNC for over 12 years and it is uncertain whether she would stay at GSA. 

Michael Hornsby is a Customer Success Director at  He served 8 years in the Obama Administration, including a stint as acting White House CIO. 

Gianelle Rivera, currently a senior staffer to Washington, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser, is also an Obama-era GSA veteran, having served as a policy advisor in the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs. 

Josh Sawislak, of Clio Strategies, LLC, rounds out the transition team.  He is an Obama veteran who served mostly on climate change and energy-related initiatives.  Still, he has worked with GSA before and could become an advocate for reducing the federal real estate footprint.  Curiously, other than Sawislak’s tangential relationship, none of the transition team members have obvious ties to the PBS side of GSA’s business.  That is GSA’s largest operation.  Given their backgrounds, the team’s emphasis may be more on ensuring good overall management and administration policies than changing acquisition policies. Stay tuned. 

Given their backgrounds, the team’s emphasis may be more on ensuring good overall management and administration policies than changing acquisition policies.  Stay tuned. 


The Department of Defense is reportedly poised to release a batch of 15 RFP’s that will include the new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) requirements.  CMMC requires that all companies handling government Controlled, Unclassified Information (CUI), have security standards commensurate with the type of information to be handled and appropriate to their specific role in working on the contract.  The CMMC roll-out has been expected for some time, but contractors can expect confusion on whether CMMC applies to specific acquisition actions.  Companies selling through commercial item and service contracts need to be prepared. 

So many people have CMMC on the brain that it is almost certain that some DOD buyers will have forgotten that the standard does not apply to commercial procurements.  Similarly, it does not apply on any contract that does not involve contractor handling of CUI.  Contractors should be prepared with a written fact sheet to counter any attempt to apply the standard where it should not be applied.  Subcontractors should also be prepared to show their prime contractors why they may not need to have CMMC certification for specific contracts.

Of course, some companies may elect to certify that they are CMMC compliant in order to meet persistent requests.  No company, however, should certify to something it doesn’t understand or hasn’t ensured it meets the requirements in play. The initial 15 contracts may be well-selected, but companies need to check other DOD procurements and understand what this new term means for them before signing up for it.