The IDIQ contracting landscape is littered with protests and delays. Although these vehicles work well once they’re up and running, it increasingly takes longer and longer to get to that point because of protests. The situation may not get any better with two major GSA IDIQ procurements on the horizon. Contractors and their customers should be prepared with acquisition alternatives to ensure that important missions continue to be supported. One acquisition tool that may deserve a fresh look is the Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA). The FAR defines a BOA as “a written instrument of understanding, negotiated between an agency, Read more
Action on the FY’24 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) came to a halt this week due to uncertainty over funding levels for key projects that could be impacted by an agreement to trim certain spending in order to obtain a deal to increase the federal debt limit. The same issue is slowing work on FY’24 appropriations bills for defense and other agencies. Several Senate appropriators said this week that they will not be able to take further substantive action on their bills until they know whether, or by how much, certain accounts may be reduced as Republicans seek spending concessions as a condition for approving an increase in the debt Read more
The General Services Administration has many regulatory tools at its disposal to assist in negotiating fair and reasonable prices for Multiple Award Schedule contracts. Both FAR and GSAM rules cover everything from contractor submission of commercial pricing information, the government’s access to contractor records to validate that information, the “goal” of obtaining Most Favored Customer pricing, and more. Each of these rules has gone through a formal vetting process, involving the opportunity for public comment as contemplated by the Administrative Procedures Act. Why, then, does the agency feel that it can hold contractors’ Read more
NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-171 serves as the cornerstone for how agencies and vendors protect federal data on non-federal systems or organizations when that company is not collecting or maintaining the data. The agency just released its third revision of the standard, making multiple changes designed to make it easier for contractors to understand what is required of them and what federal agencies should expect from contractors. This is just one of the new developments on the security front for government contractors. The Department of Defense is taking another step toward protecting its supply chain, for which protecting Read more
The GSA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a new report last week again criticizing the Multiple Award Schedule’s Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) pilot. A press release announcing the report stated, “…the agency has never used TDR pilot data in contract price negotiations”, but then went on to say, “…the collection of TDR data GSA has amassed is almost entirely unusable.” It is unclear whether the OIG was more upset that the collected TDR data was unusable or whether Schedule’s program officials didn’t use it in making price reasonableness determinations. What is clear is that the OIG either doesn’t know, or has forgotten, that the purpose of the TDR pilot was to move away from the use of contractor-supplied information to determine the price reasonableness of items offered through Schedule contracts.
The TDR program was designed to use market research as the primary means through which GSA CO’s would determine price reasonableness. Then, after award, a company would report transaction level information on federal, not commercial, sales. This information would, in turn, be used by other federal agencies in determining whether the pricing they were offered on specific projects was competitive. While this information may be of some use to GSA Schedule contracting officers in their market research work, the agency has already developed its own 4P pricing tool for to assist in making price reasonableness determinations. It does not need to rely on “unusable” TDR information. The OIG report makes it seem as if a lack of usable TDR data leaves Schedule CO’s without a reliable means to review important pricing information. This, manifestly, is not the case.
It’s tough to take the OIG report seriously because of these flaws. The stridency with which the OIG has consistently opposed the TDR program may have clouded its ability to impartially evaluate it. The conflicting statements in the press release are just one example. Selective evaluation of information may be another. GSA Senior Procurement Executive Jeff Koses, for example, recently told a Coalition for Government Procurement Spring Conference crowd that the agency’s data show that TDR contracts actually result in better contract-level pricing than those negotiated via the traditional Schedule contracting route.
TDR has become a valuable way to enable innovative businesses to participate in the GSA Schedules program. Federal customers benefit as a result. The OIG may want to stop sputtering long enough to look at those benefits.