Tag Archives: General Services Administration

GSA Whistleblower Vindicated, FAS and TTS Realignment, and Politics – Not as Usual?


Shakeups in the management of the General Services Administration (GSA) continue to cascade and make waves. In early July, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced that it reached a settlement with the GSA on behalf of recently-resigned Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Commissioner Thomas Sharpe. In its letter to President Trump on July 5th, the OSC agreed with Sharpe’s allegations that GSA had “grossly mismanaged its Technology Transformation Service (TTS).”

Following our previous blog post and shortly after Sharpe’s resignation as FAS Commissioner, the GSA Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report regarding its investigation into allegations that former GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth retaliated against a whistleblower. The report revealed that Sharpe made protected whistleblower disclosures about “concerns of violations of law, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds and abuse of authority” to Roth and others at GSA, including the former Deputy Administrator, the former General Counsel, and the OIG.

Sharpe objected to the use of GSA’s multi-billion dollar Acquisition Services Fund (ASF) to fund the activities of two new GSA technology initiatives, 18F and TTS. As the executive responsible for the ASF, Sharpe had serious concerns about whether 18F and TTS were responsibly investing these funds. In response to these claims an independent investigation was launched by the GSA OIG. It concluded that 18F “[had] not developed a viable plan to achieve full cost recovery” and ran up a net loss of $31M between October 2014 and June 2016.

In a later investigation of Sharpe’s allegations of whistleblower reprisal, the OIG found that Roth had retaliated against Sharpe after he objected to her use of the ASF by threatening to transfer him and reduce his job responsibilities at FAS. In June 2017, the FAS Commissioner was made into a political position and Sharpe was replaced by appointee Alan Thomas. At the same time, the TTS was moved under the FAS. The OSC stated that this reorganization “does very little to address the management challenges” facing the TTS.

Despite the recent shakeup, on July 12th, newly installed Commissioner Thomas and TTS Director Rob Cook voiced their commitment to helping smooth out federal IT acquisition in a joint hearing of the House Oversight Committee’s IT and Government Operations Subcommittee. Thomas told Subcommittee Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) that he would help the lawmaker shape legislation that would support commercial marketplaces, which could potentially provide federal agencies with faster access to less expensive IT products and services.

We anticipate there will be some challenges ahead for GSA Schedule holders as the GSA works out the integration of TTS into the FAS organization under its new leadership. Functions, programs, roles, and responsibilities will need to be reviewed for duplication and efficiencies. Additionally, as the Trump administration moves forward with efforts to “modernize the federal government,” agencies may need to be educated or reeducated on the best acquisition vehicle for their technology needs.

For any questions, please contact Vanessa Payne at 240.364.2663 or vpayne@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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GSA Contemplates Making Transactional Data Reporting Pilot Participation Optional

At a recent industry event, Kevin Youel Page, the deputy commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), made a surprising revelation – GSA is considering making participation in its controversial Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) pilot program completely optional. Currently, only existing contractors can choose whether they want to participate, and even they have to participate if they add a Special Item Number (SIN) to their contract or renew it. Mandatory participation also applies to all new offers against Schedules included the pilot.

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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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