Monthly Archives: June 2017

GSA Federal Acquisition Training Symposium – Getting FATS on What’s New at GSA

GSA Symposium

GSA held its 2nd annual Federal Acquisition Training Symposium (FATS) in Huntsville, Alabama. The event was designed to provide acquisition and training sessions tailored to federal, military, and civilian personnel, as well as GSA’s industry partners. FATS offered 66 training and educational sessions, had 104 registered exhibitors, and a combination of Government agencies and industry attendees. There were slightly less attendees than GSA’s 2016 event, which had over 1,300 government agency attendees and 200 industry attendees.

The Symposium provided a great platform to get up-to-speed on GSA programs and news and invaluable networking opportunities. Below is some of the key information on current and upcoming initiatives:

  • GSA Professional Services Schedule (PSS)’s new Streamlined Solicitation is slated for October 1, 2017; the RFI on the draft PSS Streamlined Solicitation was released for comments in May.
    • As a “Making It Easier” initiative, the streamlined solicitation will simplify the structure, instructions, reduce redundancy, and reduce and/or consolidate many requirements related to project experience, open ratings, and invoices.
  • New Special Item Number (SIN): Information Technology Schedule (IT70) Cyber Security Services and PSS Identity Protection Services (IPS)
  • A consolidation of GSA’s PSS Schedule scope to decrease number of SINs and eliminate duplication.
  • PSS contracts will no longer be cancelled for failure to meet the minimum annual sales requirement of $25,000. Reevaluation will be delayed until option exercise.
  • GSA MAS Welcome Package Center is one location to find up-to-date information, guidance, and resources applicable to all Multiple Award Schedules managed by GSA Federal Acquisition Service (FAS).
  • Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) participation will become optional imminently. As of April 2017, TDR remains mandatory for new offers and option renewals for eight Schedules (some with specific SINs only, including PSS PES SINs and certain IT70 product SINs).
    • It has not been determined how to address contactors who previously accepted (opted-in) or rejected the mass modification to incorporate TDR.
  • GSA Industrial Operations Analysts (IOA) are now organized by category rather than geography as GSA increasingly performs more compliance assessments virtually.
  • A panel of federal agency buyers stated that the best contractors are responsive and communicate early; and, that contractors should clarify requirements and participate in the development of requirements (respond to RFI and draft RFPs).

As contractors know, at times there is a disconnect between what management and policy makers intend, and the implementation reality experienced in day-to-day front line communication. Aronson works with many Professional Services Schedule (PSS) and Information Technology Schedule (IT70) schedule holders, serving as the bridge to GSA Contracting Officers (CO), GSA Contracting Specialists (CS), GSA Managers, and GSA Directors. The Symposium was an opportunity to put a face to the names behind both policy decisions and day-to-day contract management. GSA may intend to streamline the PSS Solicitation or state that Commercial Sales Practices (CSP) are no longer required for the TDR model. However, in reality many contractors are still asked for data, which is officially not required, and are told by COs and CSs, “I can request anything I need to make an evaluation.” The chance to discuss this reality with policy makers face-to-face was invaluable. Sometimes the offered resolution seemed long-term, e.g. “we’ll provide more training” with a suggestion to continue escalating issues as they occur. Other times the offered resolution was near-term, e.g. “send me that information so I can help you.” Having the chance to discuss both GSA’s and the contractor’s perspective, both in sessions, and one-on-one was priceless for conference attendees.

The GSA 2017 Federal Acquisition Training Symposium session presentations are available here.

Previous Blogs on related topics:

If you’d like to discuss how some of these changes may affect your business, contact Vanessa Payne at 240.364.2663 or vpayne@aronsonllc.com.

Big Changes at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service

GSA Changes

UPDATE: In light of the major changes at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), Federal News Radio is reporting that two of the agency’s top leaders have tendered their resignation. The first is FAS Commissioner, Thomas Sharpe, which isn’t surprising considering his replacement had already been named. Somewhat more surprising is that Kevin Youel Page, Sharpe’s Deputy, also resigned on June 12, 2017. As recently as the Friday prior, sources at GSA indicated that Youel Page would stay on. Sharpe announced he is retiring from federal service, but Youel Page’s future plans are less clear. Both men’s last day at the agency will be June 23, 2017.

Sharpe and Youel Page have been key figures at GSA over the last several years, spearheading innovative and sometimes controversial initiatives such as category management, the Making it Easier campaign, and the Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) pilot. The fate of some of these programs, especially TDR, already seemed up in the air since the recent change in administrations. The loss of two of the pilot’s biggest proponents doesn’t portend well for its future. In addition, Judith Zawatsky, who was also heavily invested in promoting TDR, has been promoted from Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) Transformation Program Manager to the FAS Chief of Staff.

While this type of tumult isn’t uncommon in the beginning of a new administration, GSA Schedule contractors have a lot on the line here. Aronson will be following the new Commissioner, Alan Thomas, closely to see whether he signals a significant departure from FAS’s current path. Stay tuned for more information.


ORIGINAL POST: The General Services Administration (GSA) announced two significant changes to its Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) yesterday as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts “to be more agile and cost effective, and provide better service across government.” First, GSA introduced Alan B. Thomas, Jr. as the new Commissioner of FAS, replacing Thomas Sharpe. Mr. Thomas will be taking over as Commissioner in the next few weeks. Kevin Youel Page retains his position as a Deputy Commissioner.

Mr. Thomas has a diverse background, which includes both federal and industry positions. Interestingly, Mr. Thomas has spent most of his career in Defense acquisition roles. Most notably, he has worked as a management analyst for the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (AT&L), and has also held leadership positions for several small defense contractors.

The second major change involves GSA’s nascent Technology Transformation Service (TTS), which will be folded into the FAS. GSA remarks “by placing all of the offices focused on government modernization into one organization, GSA will be better able to leverage its expertise and assets in support of the White House and its Office of American Innovation.” Rob Cook, the current Commissioner of TTS, will remain on board but with the new title of FAS Deputy Commissioner and Director, Technology Transformation Services.

It is especially notable to see GSA making such major changes in light of the fact that the agency still doesn’t have a nominee for Administrator. Clearly, the acting Administrator, Timothy Horne, is serious about making sure GSA is moving in step with the Trump administration’s goals to “modernize the federal government.” More big changes are sure to come.

Stay tuned to Aronson FedPoint for all the latest. For questions, please contact Jennifer Aubel at Jaubel@aronsonllc.com.

Helping Small Government Contractors Transition into Successful Midsized Businesses

Helping Small Government Contractors Transition into Successful Midsized Businesses

Earlier this month, Montgomery County’s Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) launched a significant advocacy effort aimed to help small government contractors’ transition into thriving midsized businesses. Aronson’s Government Contract Services Group is proud to support and help contribute their expertise to MCCC’s new initiative.

In today’s marketplace, approximately 20 to 25% of federal government contracts are awarded to small businesses thanks to various well-established set-aside programs. Depending on the nature of their goods or services, these contractors can quickly reach the classification ceiling of being designated as a “small business.” After reaching their size limit they become defined as “large businesses” and must abruptly compete evenly with all other companies, including giant enterprises with over $500 million in revenue. Some companies can end up being successful in this category, but many find huge barriers in place and their growth stagnates.

Realizing the vital role that midsized companies play in our economy, the Chamber and the GovConNet Council are opening up the discussion in three primary areas:

  • Allowing greater participation in Multiple Award Contract (MAC) vehicles;
  • Providing some flexibility in the time frame used to measure the transition from small business to large business; and
  • Allowing funds spent on research and development (R&D) to favorably impact the size standard determination.

View MCCC’s full press release here and look out for more details on our blog in the coming weeks. For any questions on this initiative, please contact Barbara Morgan at bmorgan@aronsonllc.com or 301.231.6238.

Demystifying Incurred Cost Submissions Q&A

Schedule H

In May, Aronson’s Donna Dominguez and Aisha Mian hosted “Demystifying DCAA Incurred Cost Submissions,” where they provided tips, guidance, and best practices to help government contractors efficiently complete their Incurred Cost Submissions. As a follow up to this webinar, Donna and Aisha have prepared answers to a large number of attendee questions. To watch the webinar, please visit this link.

How do you account for Cost Share portion of a contract on Schedule H and I?

Response: Typically, the cost share portion of a contract is shown as non-billable direct cost on Schedule H. On Schedule I, you would then back out the non-billable direct cost and applicable burdens on that non-billable cost.

What do you run out of Unanet to get “Job/Project Summary Reports” at the BILLING level?

Response: This will depend on how you have set up the project in the system. If you have set up the project at lower contract line item levels and the project is billed at this level, then you will need to run the Job/Project Summary Report at the contract line item (CLIN) level.

What happens when DCAA comes back and says our rates are approved and we under-billed? How do we recover our costs? What’s the next process?

Response: The next step is to prepare final invoices using the indirect rates from the DCAA final rate letter. When you prepare the final invoices, you will calculate the amount under-billed for each project and then invoice the government for that cost.

If the 52.216-7 is present in our T&M contracts, are we required to do an Incurred Cost Submission even if we do not bill G&A on ODCs?

Response: If your T&M contract has FAR 52.216-7 in it, you are required to prepare an Incurred Cost Submission. However, if your T&M contract is a labor hour contract, you may make a request to the Contracting Officer to modify the contract and remove this clause from the contract. If your T&M contract does not allow you to bill G&A on your ODCs, you may ask the Contracting Officer to modify your contract and remove the clause.

Where does it say a company’s bonus policy must be written?

Response: Per FAR 31.205-6(f), bonuses are allowable provided that:

  • Awards are paid or accrued under an agreement entered into in good faith between the contractor and the employees before the services are rendered or pursuant to an established plan or policy followed by the contractor so consistently as to imply, in effect, an agreement to make such payment; and
  • Basis for the award is supported.

The language “pursuant to an established plan or policy” implies that the bonus policy must be an established written policy that can be handed to an auditor.

Our company only has NASA CPFF subcontracts and not contracts with the Department of Defense. Do we need to submit an Incurred Cost Submission to DCMA?

Response: You will need to submit your Incurred Cost Submission to your cognizant audit agency. This information should be included in your largest prime flexibly priced contract. If you cannot find this information, then you will need to submit it to the Contracting Officer of your largest prime flexibly priced contract.

Under unallowable costs, what do you mean by “GSA Fees?”

Response: The GSA fee that we refer to in the webinar is the GSA Industrial Funding Fee (IFF). The GSA IFF should be treated as a contra revenue account and should not be included in your indirect rate calculation. This is because you are collecting this fee on behalf of GSA on your invoices. This fee is then remitted to GSA on a quarterly basis. Therefore, it is neither your expense nor your revenue to claim.

On Schedule C, why is the overhead bonus not part of the total OH labor?

Response: We do not consider bonus dollars to be labor dollars because our model uses the subtotal labor dollars as the base of fringe. If bonus was included as labor, it would not result in a correct causal/beneficial relationship between the cost in the fringe pool and the base benefitting from that cost. If you were to include bonus in the base of fringe, the bonus dollars would have to be burdened with the fringe indirect rate. It is not common for contractors to apply fringe allocation on bonus dollars.

Where on section H should grants go? 

Response: If the grants do NOT contain FAR 52.216-7 or if the grants you have been awarded do not state you must file an ICS, then you would include them with the commercial/GSA and FFP contract line item on Schedule H.

Do only contracts with the Allowable Cost & Payment clause go on this Schedule (H)?

Response: On Schedule H, contracts with the Allowable Cost & Payment clause are the only ones that need to be listed at the billing level. All other contracts can be put together in one line under the FFP/Commercial projects.

Why does Schedule H need to be prepared at the billing level vs level 1? 

Response: Schedule H needs to be prepared at the billing level because you will need the cost broken out at the billing level in order to prepare Schedule I. The purpose of Schedule I is to calculate the amounts that are over- or under-billed by project. You will need to include the cumulative billed amount on Schedule I and compare it to the cost incurred, which comes from Schedule H at the same billing level.

DCAA has asked us to add a line for unallowable cost on Schedule H so that the fringe and overhead costs reconcile to the GL amount before adjustments and the G&A base and allocated costs reconcile to the Schedule B and E. How would you handle this?

Response: We would not recommend putting unallowable cost on Schedule H. If you have non-billable directs, then yes, we would recommend showing them on Schedule H in a separate column. The unallowable cost should tie back via a check sum compared to Schedule E. We would suggest walking the auditor through the check sum if they cannot figure it out.

For the total for G&A, where does unallowable cost go on Schedule H in order to reconcile? 

Response: Unallowable cost should not be shown on Schedule H or included in the G&A pool. On Schedule H, you should only show non-billable direct cost, which will be in the base of G&A. Our model includes a separate section for unallowable costs on Schedule B at the bottom but this cost is not included in the indirect rate calculation at all. It is there to show the auditor that all unallowable costs have been successfully excluded from the indirect rate calculation. The only unallowable cost that should be shown, is unallowable cost that is subject to G&A. This cost should be shown in the base of G&A on Schedule E. For example, employee morale is many times included in the fringe pool but includes unallowable cost. This account would be considered unallowable cost subject to G&A because it was originally considered a fringe pool cost that would have been burdened with G&A.

If a contract has no cost/activity in the current year, but is not closed, is it included on Schedule I? 

Response: Yes, you will still need to include this contract’s cost on Schedule I and show prior year cost even if there was no current year cost.

What constitutes non-billable vs unallowable? Why the naming difference?

Response: Non-billable cost is considered a direct cost that is not billable. For example, you may have direct travel that is in excess of per diem, which would be considered a non-billable direct cost. Unallowable cost is considered an indirect cost that is not allowable such as lobbying, gifts, and charitable donations. These costs are G&A costs but they are unallowable G&A costs.

Do we remove a contract on Schedule I when indirect rates are finalized or we receive the official closeout letter? 

Response: If the contract has ended and indirect rates have been finalized for all years of the contract, then you can remove the contract from Schedule I.

For overbilled amounts on Schedule I, when and how do we pay back the government? 

Response: At the end of your fiscal year, if you have over-billed the government, you can request that the funds be put back on your contract if the contract has not ended, or you can write a check to the government if the contract(s) that you over-billed on have ended. Our recommendation is to monitor your provisional rates to your actual rates on a monthly basis to see how close you are. At the end of the year, if you have still over-billed, you can request to have the funds you owe put back on your contract if it is still active. In this case, you will benefit from the funds being put back on your contract rather than waiting until many years down the line when rates are finalized. At that point, you will just have to write a check back to the government.

If a contract (Option Year extension) has more than one price for the same labor category within the same year, do we need to list the labor category once for each price? 

Response: On Schedule K, you would need to list the labor category at the different rates if it had a different rate for the base year and a different rate for the option year. You would need to put the hours incurred at each of the rates multiplied by the rate on Schedule K.

What is your rule of thumb for records retention – when must the DCAA audit before the expiration of records retention requirements?

Response: The statute of limitations is 6 years from the date that you sign Schedule N of the Incurred Cost Submission. This means that the DCAA has 6 years from that specific date to audit your submission. During that time, they can request any supporting documentation for an Incurred Cost Submission audit.

Does executive compensation apply to all employees or only executives?

Response: The executive compensation limit is set at $487K as of June 24, 2014. Compensation includes base salary plus bonus. This limit is for all employees and is not just for executives.

For more information, please contact Aisha Mian at 240.364.2614 .

First Big Award Under GSA’s Health IT

Health IT Services

The first major award using the new Health IT Services Special Item Number (SIN) 132-56 on GSA IT Schedule 70, has been made by the Defense Health Agency (DHA). Planned Systems International, Inc. (PSI) was awarded a multi-year, $15.6 million task order to provide transfusion sustainment services for the Department of Defense (DoD)’s Enterprise Blood Management System (EBMS).

At this time, 27 RFQs/RFIs have been posted under the Health IT SIN. The SIN provides access to a comprehensive array of Health IT services including electronic health records, health analytics, and a wide range of other innovative Health IT solutions. In her blog, the Assistant Commissioner of GSA FAS Office of Information Technology Category, Mary Davies, explained that agencies are increasingly using the Health IT SIN for Request for Information (RFI) or Request for Quotation (RFQ) for market research purposes to help clarify and refine their requirements, to gauge vendor interest, and to procure Health IT services.

The DHA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with GSA as DHA’s singular Health IT procurement solution. Besides the DoD, the following agencies are also actively using the Health IT SIN:

  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of State
  • Department of Veteran Affairs

In July 2016, Ms. Davies explained that Health IT services is experiencing an annual growth rate of 7.4%, which makes the Health IT market one of the faster-growing technology sectors in both government and private sector (projected to reach $31.3 billion in 2017).

Still in its first year, there are currently 182 prime contractors holding Health IT SIN 132-56. We expect to see more activity on this SIN as more agencies look to this SIN to fulfill their needs.

If you need assistance modifying your GSA IT70 contract to add this capability, or more information on whether pursuing the federal government’s largest IT contract vehicle makes sense in your strategic plans, please contact Hope Lane at 301.231.6266 or hlane@aronsonllc.com.

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