Author Archives: Vanessa Payne

About Vanessa Payne

Vanessa Payne is a Managing Consultant in Aronson LLC’s Government Contract Services Group with over 15 years of full life-cycle government contracts and consulting experience. Her expertise includes GSA contract management, subcontract administration, contractor task order proposals, and “Big Four” management consulting in the areas of process improvement, business process reengineering, cost accounting, survey development and analysis, workflow mapping, and facilitation services. She specializes in GSA Schedule contract preparation, renewals, and providing ongoing contract management, administration, and compliance support with a special interest in organizational procedure and policy review, improvement, and standardization. Vanessa is an Aronson-featured and guest speaker on GSA Schedules and social media topics for other industry organizations, and she is a co-founder and frequent contributor to Aronson’s Fed Point blog. She received her Master’s Degree in Organizational Development and Strategic Human Resources as well as a Graduate Certificate in Skilled Facilitation from Johns Hopkins University, and she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications at the University of Pennsylvania.

Vanessa Payne

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.

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.

GSA IG Recommends Pricing Review of over 300 Migrated Professional Services Schedule Contracts

The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) published a report on March 21, 2017, titled “Audit of Price Evaluations and Negotiations for the Professional Services Schedule Contracts.” According to the IG audit, GSA’s process to consolidate eight pre-existing schedules into the Professional Services Schedule (PSS) resulted in the award of new contracts without establishing price reasonableness. Contracting officers also used a combined “Pre and Price Negotiation Memorandum” template that does not conform to Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) policy. Finally, contract files lack sufficient documentation to determine fair and reasonable pricing. In February 2017, GSA’s FAS initiated price reevaluations for all 322 migrated contracts to ensure prices awarded were fair and reasonable.

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Identity Protection Services (IPS) SIN Coming to GSA’s Professional Services Schedule (PSS) Soon

The General Services Administration (GSA) announced on GSA Interact on January 20, 2017 that it is proposing to redefine Special Item Number (SIN) 520-20 on the Professional Services Schedule (PSS) as its official Data Breach Response and Identity Protection Services (IPS) SIN. This will also mean minor modification to the existing language of SINs 520-16 and 520-17. GSA’s Office of Professional Services and Human Capital Categories (PHSC) cites the increased demand for identity protection services and the ever-changing requirements and needs of ordering agencies as the reason for the proposed changes.

Currently, GSA markets these services under its IPS BPA, which was awarded to three contractor teams in September, 2015. GSA notes that once the planned changes to SIN 520-20 are implemented, the IPS BPA will be cancelled. The hope is that this approach will allow more flexibility to keep up with rapidly evolving IPS technology. Further, contractors who currently hold SIN 520-20 “will be required to submit a modification to reprice their services in accordance with the pricing structure for this SIN in addition to submitting a System Security Plan (SSP).”

GSA is seeking industry input on the proposed changes through a Request for Information (RFI) on FedBizOpps (FBO) that was posted on Thursday, January 19, 2017. This RFI will allow all interested parties the opportunity to provide comments, which are due via email no later than 5:00 pm (ET) on February 21, 2017.

GSA’s Questions for Industry specifically relate to the three areas below:

  • Overall feedback on the draft scope of redefined SIN 520-20 and the modification to the existing language of SINs 520-16 and 520-17.
  • Pricing structure of redefined SIN 520-20.
  • Comments from PSS contractors regarding which current SINs your identity protection services fit (520-16, 520-17, 520-18, 520-19, 520-20).

Here are additional key details:

What is SIN 520-20? SIN 520-20 is currently defined on GSA eLibrary as Comprehensive Protection Solutions which “Allows for customized solutions that integrate the services found under SINs 520-16 Business Information Services (Credit Monitoring Services), 520-17 Risk Assessment and Mitigation Services, 520-18 Independent Risk Analysis and 520-19 Data Breach Analysis.” GSA believes that redefining SIN 520-20 will allow industry to provide current state-of-the-art identity protection services while allowing ordering agencies the ability to meet their individual requirements. It will also mean some modification to existing language of SINs 520-16 and 520-17.

What will SIN 520-20 look like once redefined?  Redefined SIN 520-20 will require industry to have the ability to provide an integrated total solution of services that include identity monitoring, identity theft insurance, safeguarding and restoration services, breach mitigation, and forensic services. Once this SIN is awarded, firms will then have the ability to offer all or part of the services listed. In order to provide any services associated with identity protection, each firm will be required to meet the full scope of SIN 520-20 first.

You can review the full information including SIN 520-20 attachments and the proposed pricing structure in GSA’s Request for Information (RFI). A comparison of the existing SIN descriptions vs. the proposed modified/redefined SIN descriptions for 520-16, 520-17 and 520-20 is provided by Aronson here.

When will this SIN be available?  GSA anticipates that this SIN will be available for use in Spring 2017.

More information, including how to add the redefined SIN or reprice existing services in accordance with the new pricing structure, is available in the GSA Interact post.

Be sure to subscribe to GSA Interact’s Professional Services Category to get notifications whenever new information like this is posted. For more information, contact Vanessa Payne at (240) 364-2663 or vpayne@aronsonllc.com.

 

 

GSA Schedule and OASIS Digital Tool Series – Market Research, Pricing, and Opportunities

GSA’s Professional Services Category created six short, informational videos about the Acquisition Gateway and a range of digital tools including:

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