Tag Archives: IT

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

GSA

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 Launches Phase 2 of Making It Easier and Shares Initial Successes

On October 24, GSA introduced Phase 2 of its Making It Easier (MIE) initiative. MIE was originally launched in April 2016 to address several challenges around its Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program. The second phase adds numerous new efforts for both the contracting community and federal agencies. They include new quick start guides, designed to prepare prospective contractors as they seek business across GSA’s many acquisition vehicles; a MAS Modification Improvement process, designed to streamline changes in schedule solicitations; and restructured help desks, housed on the Acquisition Gateway, that will give customers a single point of entry.

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Transactional Data Rule Updates: Tentative Mass Mod Dates Released

In a webinar to discuss its Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) pilot program, GSA announced tentative dates for the issuance of the mass modification (A509) to implement the pilot program for affected schedules. As discussed in Aronson’s previous blog, schedule holders who participate in the TDR pilot will be required to provide monthly contract sales reports, including prices paid information, to serve as the basis for pricing negotiations. In exchange, GSA will eliminate the requirements for those contractors to provide Commercial Sales Practices (CSP) and track commercial prices to a Basis of Award customer for price reductions. The following dates are subject to change:

Transactional Data Rule Updates

Acceptance of this mass mod is OPTIONAL during the pilot, unless the GSA contract renews during the pilot period. Contractors must respond to the mass mod whether they plan to enroll in the pilot or not by accepting or declining the mod.

Transactional data must be reported monthly. IFF remittance is still required quarterly, although contractors participating in the pilot now have the option to remit IFF monthly. If and when contractors accept the TDR pilot program mass mod, transactional data reporting will be required at the start of the next calendar quarter. This quarterly timeframe will allow for a smoother reporting transition from the 72a Quarterly Reporting System to the new FAS Sales Reporting system.

Contractors can register for the third GSA-hosted webinar on TDR held on Tuesday, August 23 here. Please contact Barbara Connell (240-364-2657, bconnell@aronsonllc.com) or Jennifer Aubel (301-231-6253, jaubel@aronsonllc.com) if you have any specific questions about this significant change or other GSA Schedule compliance matters.

 

GSA is Making It Easier with the IT70 Startup Springboard Initiative

GSA is making changes to its IT70 GSA schedule guidelines that ease requirements regarding corporate experience, relevant projects, and submission of audited financial documentation for innovative start-up companies who have been in business for less than two years. This initiative will eliminate the 2-year corporate experience requirement and reduce barriers for emerging companies looking to obtain access to the $15B GSA IT Schedule 70 Contract market.

GSA will allow companies with less than two years of corporate experience to:

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GSA Working to Keep Abreast of the Latest Technology Trends

GSA has been keeping abreast of the latest technology trends in order to meet the evolving needs of its customer agencies. One of the most important technology trends right now is cloud computing – the director of GSA’s Cloud Computing Services Program Management Office, Stan Kaczmarczyk, estimates in Federal Computer Weekly that the federal cloud market will surpass $2.25B by FY17. In response to growing demand, GSA dedicated a Special Item Number (SIN) for cloud services on IT Schedule 70 in April 2015. The new cloud SIN (132-40) offers a clear path to acquire cloud services by giving buyers the ability to more easily differentiate between cloud technologies and buy what they need.

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