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EVEN SO-SO PAST PERFORMANCE CAN CAUSE TROUBLE

Federal agencies have wide latitude in evaluating contractor past performance, so long as they use consistent methods that follow regulatory boundaries and their own stated RFP/Q evaluation factors.  Negative past performance is obviously something that every contractor strives to avoid.  Even “just ok” past performance, though, can be enough for your company to lose a bid.  A recent GAO decision, Sterling Medical Associates, Inc., shows that one company found this out the hard way.  Even though Sterling had been evaluated as having “Satisfactory Confidence”, it lost out to a company rated as having “Substantial Confidence”.  Sterling protested that the agency’s review included a wide spectrum of CPAR’s evaluations, not only those of projects similar to this one.  GAO denied the protest, however, stating “The scope of past performance information to consider is a matter within the agency’s discretion, and the fact that the agency could have, but did not elect to, further focus its review to only those efforts the protester views as most similar does not render the evaluation unreasonable or inconsistent with the solicitation.”  This decision shows that companies need to not only ensure proper fulfillment on government projects, but that they should maintain written statements with their explanations of less-than-perfect CPAR’s evaluations.  While you may not always get a chance to tell your side of the story, you should always be prepared to do so.  This is especially true on the government’s FAPIIS reporting system.  Companies can respond to negative CPAR’s or other unfavorable posting, but only within a limited time frame.  If you haven’t checked the FAPIIS report (https://www.fapiis.gov/fapiis/index.action) on your company lately, you should and make it a regular practice, as well.  In the meantime, remember that in government contracting, the past can definitely be prologue. 

ARE YOUR END PRODUCTS 95% STEEL (OR IRON)?

A new FAR case has been opened that impacts companies that have products comprised of 95% steel or iron, including companies that supply Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) items.  The case sets new standards for the domestic content of such items.  If your company sells certain types of office furniture, temporary shelters, or related solutions you should be aware of how these changes could impact your business.  Check out the FAR case here: https://beta.regulations.gov/document/FAR-2019-0016-0001 and be prepared to comment by mid-November.  Allen Federal is happy to discuss the implications further with your company.

TRAINING TIME IS HERE

With the end of the Fiscal year only nine short days away it’s time to plan your organization’s annual government contract training.  Whether its GSA Schedule compliance, ethics rules, or BAA/TAA compliance Allen Federal can develop a class tailored to your needs that’s both information and fun.  Contact us today at info@allenfederal.com and get your training scheduled NOW!

HOW LONG WILL THE CR BE? WILL THERE BE A STIMULUS BILL?

While there is an agreement in concept to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to start off the 2021 Fiscal Year, there is, as yet, no agreement on the length, nor on whether another pandemic-related stimulus bill will pass along with it.  Many Republicans are seeking a CR that keeps the government open into sometime in mid-December.  This is consistent with conventional thinking that final FY’21 appropriations could be finalized by Christmas.  Democrats, though, may want a shorter bill as it will provide additional opportunities to point up differences on policy matters between the two parties.  There is also no agreement on whether a new pandemic relief bill will pass, or, if it does, how large it could be.  An attempt last week to pass a comparatively smaller measure, less than the $2 billion some elected officials have called for, failed in the Senate.  This can all be a distraction for contractors.  We’ve said before that a new relief measure would likely be a net negative for contractors as it would impact out-year spending and create a larger future bill that would drag down many sectors of the economy, including government contracting.  The good news is that no political leader is discussing a shut-down.  It is highly probable that a CR will be passed that will fund the government at least through the November election, if not longer.  That provides some level of stability for business.  The outlook for a relief bill is much more problematic.  It may well be that each party would rather have the issue to use on the campaign trail and not an actual bill.  Regardless, companies should not get distracted over pandemic-relief “what if’s”, especially at year end.  We will keep you posted on changes that demand your attention.

ACQUISITION LEADERS AGREE THAT SUPPLY CHAINS WILL CHANGE TO ADD DOMESTIC CAPABILITIES

While contractors can’t exactly “forget” secure supply chains, they shouldn’t just be focused on that one issue.  Enhancing or creating domestic production capacity and creating additional preferences for such products in federal acquisition is fast-becoming a national, and perhaps political, priority.  Both senior acquisition officials, and their bosses, have expressed concern on the US market’s reliance on foreign-made product in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Shortages of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and even specialty metals needed for critical technology systems have all woken up federal logistics and national security officials on the need to create or enhance domestic production in these and other critical areas.  Contractors can expect the next Congress to pass legislation that could either encourage or mandate increased domestic content in provided solutions.  In addition, laws or rules that require companies to share more information on their supply chain capabilities may also be implemented.  This may all be more expensive for both contractors and the government, but the current thinking is that the cost is worth it if the net result is increased US security, whether it be on the technology, healthcare, economic, or some other front.  This issue has already attracted some attention, but will likely move closer to center stage in the coming months.  Contractors need to watch these developments closely and be prepared to adapt accordingly.