Tag Archives: General Services Administration

GSA Extends And Expands Contractor Debriefing Pilot

Image: GSA


This spring, federal contractors will see a second larger iteration of the General Services Administration’s in-depth debriefing pilot program to give winners and losers of federal contracts a more full explanation of procurement decisions. 


“The agency will kick off a second phase of its IN-depth Feedback through Open Reporting Methods (INFORM) program in April, Jeff Koses, GSA’s senior procurement executive, Office of Government-wide Policy announced in a recent blog post.

The extension, he said, was made after the initial INFORM pilot launched in October 2018 with 50 test acquisitions garnered positive feedback from vendors involved. The program provides more upfront, detailed insight into the agency’s selection process and why a vendor may or may not have won a contract. The program pushes that information out to vendors, instead waiting for vendor requests for it.

The extension will involve up to 300 test acquisitions, which will allow the agency to test the process at scale.

“It’s a welcome next step,” Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel at the Professional Services Council, told FCW on Feb. 13. Chvotkin elaborated in a statement issued by PSC, saying that “the INFORM pilot and similar initiatives demonstrate the value of a more meaningful dialogue between the government and industry, reduce the instances of protests, and provide contractors with necessary information to improve future offers.”


GSA Takes Major E-Portal Step Toward Commercial Products Buying

Image; Opi.net


The General Services Administration has reached the next phase of its journey to launch an e-commerce marketplace for use by federal agencies looking to buy commercial off-the-shelf products.

The agency issued a solicitation for e-marketplace portal providers seeking to develop a proof of concept for the Commercial Platforms program.


“As federal procurement continues to evolve, simplifying how we purchase basic commodities will allow agencies to focus more on work that directly serves their missions,” GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in a statement. “Federal agencies spent approximately $260 million using online portals last year, and it is critical that we use the Commercial Platforms program to better understand and manage this spend.”

The program is a requirement of Section 846 in fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. As such this initiative has been in the works for a while — a draft of this new solicitation was first posted in July. Through market research and feedback from stakeholders, in response to the draft solicitation and industry days held before, GSA has decided to “start small” in its approach to this whole e-commerce thing.

“By using a proof of concept for the Commercial Platforms program, GSA is able to start testing implementation of the program with a small group of interested agencies and utilize actual purchase and spend data to analyze results and then refine the program approach as lessons are learned,” Laura Stanton, deputy assistant commissioner at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, wrote in a blog post in July. “This allows us to test an innovative purchasing channel while also mitigating risk before developing the next phase of the program. ”

The solicitation will be open for 30 days, GSA says. Implementation of this proof of concept, which will be done in partnership with multiple e-commerce platform providers, is expected to occur in “early 2020.”

The e-commerce platform project is a key component of the Federal Marketplace Strategy, GSA’s initiative meant to modernize the federal acquisition experience for both buyers and sellers.

GSA has kicked off the fiscal new year with a bang, both with the launch of this e-commerce solicitation as well as the on-time consolidation of its Multiple Award Schedules program, which it announced it completed Tuesday.

GSA, Air Force Open Bidding For $5.5Billion 2nd Generation IT Contract



The five-year contract will be split among five line item categories: data center, end user, network, radio equipment, and order level material.

The contract is open to all federal, state, local and tribal agencies “to purchase IT, security, and law enforcement products and services offered through specific Schedule contracts.” GSA will award spots on the contract to several vendors that those agencies can purchase from.”

“The General Services Administration, on behalf of the Air Force, kicked off a multiple-award acquisition this week that could be worth up to $5.5 billion.

Last fall, GSA and the Air Force announced their intent to create a blanket purchase agreement to provide hardware, software and IT services to replace the expiring NETCENTS-2 contract with one called 2nd Generation IT (2GIT).

In a presolicitation document, GSA said it estimates spending of between $850 million and $1.1 billion on the contract annually. Public solicitation documents did not reveal if that estimate has changed.

In a message on GSA’s Interact website, the agency champions the savings the BPA will drive governmentwide. “The forthcoming 2GIT BPAs will provide the Government a fast and effective way to order IT hardware and software commodities, ancillary supplies and services at discounted prices with prompt, cost-effective delivery, while capturing economies of scale, fostering markets for sustainable technologies and environmentally preferable products, while simplifying data collection.”

GSA will host a virtual conference on the solicitation March 14 to answer questions from industry. Bids are due by April 18.”


GSA Proposes New Cyber Security Reporting Rules For Contractors


GSA Cyber Security Rules GettyImages-.jpg

“Getty Images”


“The General Services Administration is proposing new rules shaping how contractors protect government information on the IT systems they manage.

GSAR Case 2016-G511 and 2016-G515 — call for amending the General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation to include requirements for contractors to safeguard GSA information in a solicitation’s statement of work, as well as the procedures for they inform the agency of a potential breach.”

“GSAR Case 2016-G511 allows contracting officers to implement agency cyber requirements and standards into each solicitation, providing a centralized cybersecurity guidance across the enterprise for contractors to adhere to.

“This rule will require contracting officers to incorporate applicable GSA cybersecurity requirements within the statement of work to ensure compliance with federal cybersecurity requirements and implement best practices for preventing cyber incidents,” the Federal Register post said.

GSAR Case 2016-G515 seeks to update the nearly two-year-old GSA policy, 9297.2C, on how the agency, and the contractors overseeing its and its customer agencies’ IT systems, safeguard Personally Identifiable Information and other confidential information, in addition to the procedures taken when a breach is discovered.

Because 9297.2C didn’t go through the rulemaking process when it was established in 2017, it wasn’t open for public comment. By moving it to the GSAR, GSA can seek public and industry input on how the rule can be improved.

“Further, it establishes the requirement for contractors to preserve images of affected systems and ensure contractor employees receive appropriate training for reporting cyber incidents,” the post said. “The rule also outlines how contractor attributional/proprietary information provided as part of the cyber incident reporting process will be protected and used.”

GSA officials detailed in the post their plans to release notices of proposed rulemaking in February 2019 for GSAR Case 2016-G511 and in April for GSAR Case 2016-G515, with comment periods running for two months for each respective rule.”


Who’s Ripping Off the Government Now? The Government!




“The GSA charges fees to other federal agencies that use GSA programs and contracts.

The General Services Administration (GSA) is making a profit off other federal agencies, and it has used that profit to build a billion-dollar slush fund.

Congress is in the unenviable position of appropriating money that it doesn’t have while the GSA is running a profitable business with a billion-dollar slush fund that was created at the expense of other agencies and taxpayers.

For example, goods and services are offered on GSA Federal Supply Schedules and GSA offers telecommunications services so that federal, state, and local agencies don’t have thousands of individual contracts for the same items. The consolidation of contracts allows the government to buy in bulk and save time and money.

What isn’t talked about in many government circles is the fact that agencies pay a markup to GSA on orders. GSA charges a .75 percent Industrial Funding Fee (IFF) to other agencies to cover GSA’s cost of operating the Schedules program. According to the GSA Inspector General, “[t]he IFF is set at a level that consistently generates net operating revenue in excess of amounts required to recover [Multiple Award Schedule (MAS)] Program costs, make MAS Program investments, and maintain a risk mitigating buffer.” GSA takes the excess revenue generated and stashes most of it away for a rainy day.

While the IFF is set and well-known, I wanted to learn more about other fees or markups that GSA charges for other programs, since GSA has not published a summary of rates and fees since FY 2011. Like the IFF, certain fees appear to be set. The up-charge on using the Networx telecommunications contract is 7 percent. That contract does over a billion dollars in business and was estimated to save taxpayers $670 million in FY 2014. The result is certainly due to buying in bulk and guaranteeing AT&T, CenturyLink, Level 3, Sprint, and Verizon a lot of business, but a 7 percent profit margin seems like the government is cheating itself and taxpayers.

Currently, GSA is charging a markup averaging 16.1 percent on its regional telecommunications programs, according to GSA’s reply to a Project On Government Oversight Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The GSA explained that “it can be presumed that all net operating results for the years in question went into the funding of FAS [Federal Acquisition Service] Investment Reserves.” That slush fund was created by law in the Treasury based on profits generated from GSA business lines rather than on congressional appropriations. “The Fund is available for use by or under the direction and control of the Administrator” of the GSA for agency programs and missions.

In 2012, the GSA IG stated that in 2009 the agency’s profit-based enterprise created a slush fund that had “reserves totaling $687.5 million.” According to GSA’s most recent financial statements, that slush fund now exceeds $1.1 billion (p. 36). The GSA pointed out in its FOIA reply to POGO that it had returned “small sums … to Treasury.” GSA’s financials support that statement, showing that the agency had returned $6 million and $11 million that were in excess of GSA’s operating needs to the U.S. Treasury in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Simply stated, GSA is pitching in a mere 2 percent of its rainy day fund to taxpayers while it is sitting on a billion dollars.

At least the GSA is now telling other agencies that it is ripping them off to fund other GSA programs, which, according to the GSA IG, wasn’t always the case.

The IFF reimburses FAS for the costs of operating the Federal Supply Schedules Program. FAS recoups its operating costs from ordering activities as set forth in 40 U.S.C. 321: Acquisition Services Fund. Net operating revenues generated by the IFF are also applied to fund initiatives benefitting other authorized FAS programs, in accordance with 40 U.S.C. 321.

My interest in telecommunication contracts dates back to when the suspension of MCI/Worldcom was lifted only days before the next contract was up for bid. At that time, I was informed by GSA sources that the government needed MCI to compete for that contract to help obtain a good deal for taxpayers.

Certainly, we support GSA recouping the costs of operating government-wide buying systems and buying in bulk, which are both in the interest of taxpayers. Our main concern is that GSA is collecting millions of dollars each year from other agencies that pay for GSA to stay in business and there is little if any oversight of GSA’s overall spending. Other concerns have been raised about pricing and competition and whether agencies are getting good deals when using the Schedules.

Additionally, I have concerns about the plethora of wireless contracts that exist, whether they are being used effectively, and the rangy markup that GSA is charging.

My concerns led me to question GSA in February 2014 about its wireless contract, which was estimated to save taxpayers $300 million over five years. GSA gave me the run-around, so I submitted the FOIA request in April 2014 for information about the wireless contract as well as other contracts and fees that GSA is collecting from other federal agencies. After a lot of foot dragging and an initial effort to close my request, I’m now getting piecemeal responses, as inadequate as they may be. Stay tuned for more information and analysis as GSA sends me additional information.

GSA, which isn’t alone in charging fees to other agencies when they assist in buying goods and services, needs to reconsider the fees and markups that it charges or return the excess funds to the general treasury. Sitting on a billion-dollar taxpayer-funded slush fund isn’t the way the government should operate. As POGO urged over 5 years ago, there is a perverse incentive for GSA to run programs that funnel funds into its budget, and Congress should step in. Congress is in the unenviable position of appropriating money that it doesn’t have while the GSA is running a profitable business with a billion-dollar slush fund that was created at the expense of other agencies and taxpayers.”

By: Scott H. Amey, J.D.
General Counsel, POGO