Tag Archives: Federal government contracting

Government Must Make Sure Contracts Cover Remote Work And Classified Access Logistics

Image: “HRsolutions.com


‘It is really important to adjust and amend contracts so that contractors can continue to work with the government counterparts.’ If that’s teleworking, that’s teleworking, if it’s moving to a different location, it’s moving to a different location.”


As millions of Americans prepare to work from home in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Defense Department managers and the companies that support them are waiting for guidance on just how they should be clearing their offices.

Set aside the workers who build planes, ships, tanks and other weapons on special assembly lines around the country. Plenty more are holders of security clearances who can’t do their jobs without special computers and facilities that protect classified information. Among them: analysts, war planners, and engineers designing next-generation weapons.

But the situation is murky even for the hundreds of thousands of government contractors who don’t need access to secret information. As the Pentagon begins sending nonessential employees home, it’s unclear what’s going to happen to them.

“There’s almost no guidance going out about contractors,” said David Berteau, a former Pentagon official who is now CEO of the Professional Services Council, an organization that advocates for government contractors. “Part of that problem is, contractors are managed on a contract by contract basis.”

And in many cases, these employees’ contracts don’t even mention remote work.

“You don’t want to change contracts from the top down,” Berteau said. “But you can send out guidance to contracting officers that says, ‘It is really important for you to adjust and amend contracts so that contractors can continue to work with the government counterparts.’ If that’s teleworking, that’s teleworking, if it’s moving to a different location, it’s moving to a different location.”

For years, the U.S. government has done drills and exercises to prepare for scenarios where workers cannot access secure facilities, said Berteau, who served as assistant defense secretary for logistics and materiel readiness during the Obama administration.

But: “We have not taken those lessons from the simulations seriously enough that we’ve done the preparation necessary to execute it,” he said. “So now we’re having to do it in real time. It’s important that we get it done. It’s important that we keep the government working. It’s important that contractors are part of that keep the government working goal. And it’s important that they have guidance [and] it’s integrated across the government in order to make that happen.”

As for the government workers and contractors who must access classified information, there’s no alternate, for now at least, to having a secure government facility.

“You can’t go home on your laptop and plug it in and get classified data,” Berteau said. “It’s my personal belief…that we could do a lot more than we are doing.”

But, he noted, it would likely cost a lot to buy the equipment needed to make that happen.

“We have got to be taking notes as we go about what we need to do better … so we’re more ready the next time it comes,” Berteau said. That would be a federal government, executive branch, responsibility, but it would also be a congressional responsibility to make sure it happens and that the resources are available to do it.”


FedBizOpps Will Be Retired After Veterans Day Weekend



As of Nov. 12, Federal Business Opportunities, the website for publishing all public government procurements, will be officially decommissioned. After Veterans Day, the authoritative source for federal solicitations will be under a page on beta.SAM.gov.


“According to the current timeline from the General Services Administration, the current FBO.gov site will enter a “data freeze” beginning on Nov. 8. During that freeze, no new procurement data will be uploaded to the site as it is fully decommissioned over the holiday weekend. Beginning on Nov. 12, all federal procurements will be posted on beta.SAM.gov under the “Contract Opportunities” tab.

Users will have to use an existing account through Login.gov—or create a new one—in order to get full use of the new opportunities site. Federal employees using their FedBizOpps accounts to migrate over to Login.gov should have their information and roles transferred, as well, though the nomenclature for those roles might change.

Permissions for “engineers” and “limited buyers” under FedBizOpps will both fall under “contract specialist” in the new SAM.gov. Similarly, “buyer” will be renamed “contracting officer” and “agency admin” will change to “administrator.”

The Contract Opportunities site will have most of the same capabilities as FBO.gov, with some additional bells and whistles. For example, the new site will allow users to choose between more filter options, including by solicitation type and four-digit product services codes.

The new site will also users to download search results and individual notices directly and will have access to new APIs that will replace the ftp.FBO.gov capability.

For federal employees using the new site, GSA offered the following checklist ahead of the transition:

  • Confirm FBO account details, such as username and password, roles and permissions, associated offices and any notices that are being watched and saved searches.
  • Create your beta.SAM.gov account with a federal email through Login.gov.
  • Request role/migrate legacy role. If an FBO.gov password was reset after Sept. 30, either request a role directly in beta.SAM or wait to migrate the legacy role after launch on Nov. 12.
  • Check out the beta.SAM.gov workspace and profile. 

Non-government users—vendors—also will have to do some initial legwork to ensure their current watch lists and other settings migrate to the new site:

  • Confirm FBO account details such as what notices are being watched, what’s in the Search Agent, what attachments the account can access and which vendor lists include the account.
  • Create your beta.SAM.gov account through Login.gov with a business or federal email.
  • No need for roles. The system will automatically give non-government users permission matching the legacy “vendor” role.
  • Check out the new workspace, including the account’s profile, opportunities being followed and saved searches.

Users who forget about the transition will still be able to use the FBO.gov link, which will redirect to a landing page with additional information about the new Contract Opportunities section. GSA is also offering a host of resources to ease the transition, including an official fact sheet, transition guides for federal users and administrators, FAQs on system accounts and federal hierarchy, video tutorials and quick-start guides for users, administrators and contractors, among others.

The SAM.gov site itself is still in beta as more functionality is shifted from the old awards management site. GSA says the site is expected to come out of beta in fiscal 2020 as the final capabilities from the legacy SAM.gov site are migrated over.”


Government Contracting Dollars Spiked In 2018



The infographic was updated on May 29, 2019 to correct a labeling error under “Top 5 Civilian Services and Products.”

About 40% of the government’s discretionary spending goes to contracts for goods and services covering everything from health care to hand grenades.

In fiscal year 2018, the federal government spent more than $550 billion on these contracts, an increase of more $100 billion from 2015. This increase is largely driven by spending on national defense.


“Our infographic shows more details on how federal contracting dollars are spent across the federal government—including which agencies obligated the most funds, what they bought, and whether the contracts were competed.

There are currently 4 areas related to contracting on our High Risk List:

  1. VA Acquisition Management
  2. Department of Energy’s Contract and Project Management for the National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Environmental Management
  3. NASA Acquisition Management
  4. DOD Contract Management

For more detailed reports of some of the government’s largest acquisition programs, read our assessments of DODNASA, and DHS acquisitions.”