Possible new federal procurement rules under Biden administration

With the change in administration, federal contractors have been keeping an ear to the wall to determine what, if any, changes may be coming their way. In the past, Democratic administrations have leaned towards more rules and regulations. In an interview between Larry Allen and Tom Temlin on Federal News Network, Larry gives his take on what federal contractors, small business included, can expect from the incoming administration.

In the realm of small business, Larry Allen suggests that increased scrutiny may take place regarding small business conduct on non-government contracts. Specifically, how small businesses have conducted themselves in all arenas on the issues of meeting federal employment, environmental, and other laws. Additionally, with a tighter budget being forecast, the new administration may push to bundle more contracts.

The GSA has also issued a new rule clarifying lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) for non-DoD contracts. The purpose of this would be to limit the use of the LPTA contracting, which would be good news for many small business contractors. While there is certainly a place for LPTA acquisition, it has reportedly been overused for high level service contracts leading to lower-level performance. This strategy can also box out small businesses.

Author: Paul McVeigh

Source: https://federalnewsnetwork.com/acquisition/2021/01/biden-administration-could-mean-several-new-federal-procurement-rules/

GSA Begins 2021 with Slew of Acquisition Activity

The General Services Administration (GSA) has come out swinging in 2021 in the acquisition arena. Within the first two weeks of the new year, the GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service has issued two Request for Information (RFI) and a draft solicitation for the GWAC POLARIS, a small business IT focused GWAC that will essentially replace the Alliant 2 Small Business vehicle.

The two RFIs released are for artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, and one to develop a new professional services vehicle. “We are looking at fiscal 2021 at being the year where we see some big awards,” said Laura Stanton, FAS’ assistant commissioner for the Office of Information Technology Category, during a recent event sponsored by ACT-IAC. “In fiscal 2020, the IT category facilitated more than $30 billion in annual government spend. We still are wrapping up those year-end numbers, but it represents the trust the federal agencies have put in us, the customer service, the support is reducing the procurement action lead time, innovation and data transparency and all of the things the agencies put their trust in ITC to make that happen. Out of that, we also provided more than $2 billion in savings and cost avoidance for the customers of ITC alone.”

In addition, the GSA is currently reviewing bids for the 8(a) STARS III GWAC as well as the ASTRO program. These are expected to be awarded in the spring of 2021.

FAS has seen formidable growth of late, recording 15% growth rate in 2019, increased spending in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, and now with Polaris, 8(a) STARS III, ASTRO and several other initiatives like the commercial platform, the 2GIT vehicle and OASIS, new vendors are slated to gain momentum in 2021 and GSA will continue to capture more of the market.

Author: Paul McVeigh

Source: https://federalnewsnetwork.com/reporters-notebook-jason-miller/2021/01/gsa-kicks-starts-2021-with-an-acquisition-potpourri/

What CMMC Means for Small Businesses

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a unified standard for implementing cybersecurity across the defense industrial base (DIB), which includes over 300,000 companies in the supply chain. The CMMC is the DoD’s response to significant compromises of sensitive defense information located on contractors’ information systems. The effort essentially builds from the DoD’s existing DFARS 252.204-7012 regulation. 

Small Business contractors perform a wide range of requirements for the DoD, from administrative and technical work to construction and landscaping. Regardless of what area of expertise a contractor maintains, all will be required to ramp up their cybersecurity efforts under the CMMC initiative.

An interim rule that takes effect on November 30th states that there is an “urgent need for DoD to immediately begin assessing where vulnerabilities in its supply chain exist and take steps to correct such deficiencies.” The rule in the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) requires defense contractors to undertake specific data security corrections through the DoD’s Basic Assessment process, which are submitted to the Supplier Risk Management System. Additionally, defense contractors are required to have certification under the CMMC framework, which assesses security processes and practices. These assessments are now to be carried out by CMMC Third-Party Assessment Organizations, rather than through self-certification.

With all that is going on in the world, the security of our nation is a priority. Cyber attacks have become increasingly dangerous and persistent and small business contractors must step up and help in an effort to keep our nation safe.

Author: Paul McVeigh




Federal Contracting in 2021: Pandemic Focus Predicted

Operation Warp Speed saw several COVID-19 vaccines approved for use just before the end of 2020, but it is clear we are not out of the water yet. As this unprecedented time continues its reign, the federal contracting market should expect the pandemic to shape the outlook for 2021. Federal Agencies contract spending in 2021 will likely be dominated by pandemic related requirements. Bloomberg Government predicted spending to be high on vaccines, telework and digital services.

Bloomberg Government published a report earlier this month about the landscape for federal contracts as the new year begins and the new Biden administration prepares to take over. This comes after civilian agencies’ contract spending hit a record high of $228 billion in fiscal 2020––an increase of 17% ($33.5 billion) from 2019––mainly due to the pandemic.

According to the Bloomberg report, “legislators are considering future economic stimulus spending that could replenish disbursement to select agencies such as the Small Business Administration.” With an additional stimulus package still possible, the landscape for the federal contracting market is largely uncertain, though a pandemic focus and small business inclusion seems to be a good bet.

Besides the pandemic, another major trend Bloomberg predicted is an increase in agency spending on artificial intelligence initiatives in fiscal 2021. “The GSA’s AI Center of Excellence and the Pentagon’s Joint AI Center are aimed at speeding the adoption of AI technologies by civilian and defense agencies, respectively, while the departments of Energy and Veterans Affairs have opened AI research offices,” said the report. “Meanwhile, federal contract spending on AI is on pace to grow by almost 50%, according to BGOV projections, reaching $3 billion in fiscal 2021.”

Author: Paul McVeigh

Source: https://www.govexec.com/management/2020/12/report-pandemic-likely-dominate-federal-contracting-fiscal-2021/171032/