GSA gets fiscal 2018 rolling with major procurement initiatives

The General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service is kicking off fiscal 2018 with a bang.

FAS released three requests for information and made a major governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) award in just the last week. And this is just the first few weeks of the fiscal year, while industry expects the fall and winter to remain busy.

Let’s start with the award, because that’s a sure thing.

GSA hired 70 small service-disabled, veteran-owned firms for the $5 billion Veterans Technology Services (VETS 2) GWAC.

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Who should use the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

The Cybersecurity Framework provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was published in early 2014 as a set of guidelines to strengthen cybersecurity for organizations that engage in elements of the critical infrastructure of the United States.

While it initially focused on engagement with the federal government, the framework, because of its comprehensive approach to security, is being adopted across all industries. Organizations not adhering to it should quickly consider it as a way to develop their own security best practices.

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Report: 1 in 4 Emails that Appear to Be Dot-Gov Addresses are Phishing Attempts

About one-fourth of emails that purport to be from federal agencies are malicious phishing emails spoofing federal addresses, according to a Thursday report from the cybersecurity company Agari.

The study was based on Agari clients that use an email security feature called Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance, or DMARC.

The Homeland Security Department gave federal agencies three months to install DMARC on their email systems Monday as part of a larger email and web security drive.

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SBA hopes to cut back on the hoop jumping for government contractors, WOSBs

The Small Business Administration is closing in on a proposed rule that will lighten the load for both its contracting officers, and the women-owned small businesses (WOSB) looking to work with the federal government.

Sean Crean, director of SBA’s Office of Government Contracting, said SBA is about 30-60 days away from putting a rule out for public comment, establishing a WOSB certification process.

“What will eventually happen, after this process is complete, we will implement a policy where contracting officers no longer have to go into an electronic file cabinet, they’ll be able to rely on the fact that SBA has now got an approved certified firm and it’ll be on parity with the other certification programs that we have like HUBzone, as well as the 8(a) program,” Crean said during said Thursday’s ChallengeHER event in Washington, hosted by SBA, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), and American Express OPEN. “And then their choices as a contracting officer become very simple.”

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Acquisition-Related Bills Advancing in House

The House has passed HR-3243, to make permanent some otherwise-expiring provisions of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, which primarily made changes to how the government buys and manages computer technology.

The bill would continue the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, which aims to reduce costs and save energy; PortfolioStat reviews, face-to-face meetings between each agency’s IT officers and OMB; and the IT Dashboard, which provides online details of federal information technology spending.

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Submission for OMB Review; Federal Acquisition Regulation Buy American, Trade Agreements, and Duty-Free Entry


Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).


Notice of request for public comments regarding an extension to an existing OMB clearance.


Under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Regulatory Secretariat Division (MVCB) will be submitting to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a request for revision and an extension to existing OMB clearances regarding the Buy American statute, Trade Agreements, and duty-free entry. A notice was published in the Federal Register at 82 FR 35528 on July 31, 2017. No comments were received.

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OTA contracts are the new cool thing in DoD acquisition

Other transaction authority contracts seem to be the hip new thing in defense acquisition circles.

The Defense Department, the services and some of their components are all trying to jump on the OTA train as Congress continues to grant the military more authorities with the special contracts.

“This mechanism is just so much faster and so much more attuned to getting something quickly that we want today and not have to spend a couple years going through a protest, going through this huge process to get something we wanted two years ago,” Air Force Director of IT Acquisition Process Development Maj. Gen. Sarah Zabel said during an Oct. 19 speech at a Defense Daily event in Washington. “Everyone is very enthusiastic about OTAs. Still learning how to use them, still growing in the use, but they’re performing very well.”

For those unfamiliar, OTAs give DoD and the military services a work around for the traditional acquisition process. OTAs can take many forms, but are typically used to build prototypes of systems outside of the Federal Acquisition Regulations.

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Number of small business prime contractors down by 25 percent since 2010

Federal agencies met the governmentwide small business goal for the fourth straight year in fiscal 2016. Last year also saw a $9 billion increase in the total of prime contracts going to small firms.

What these numbers aren’t showing, and what should really worry the Small Business Administration and the broader contracting community, is the number of small businesses winning prime contracts is dramatically down.

Deltek, the market research firm, analyzed the data and found a 25 percent decrease in the number of small business prime contractors since 2010.

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GSA nominee wants competition at the task order level

Emily Murphy, the nominee to be the next administrator of the General Services Administration, sailed through her hearing Wednesday, facing few tough questions about her plans to improve federal acquisition, and promising to address long-standing issues in the Public Building Service.

However, Murphy, a former staff member for the House Small Business and Armed Services committees, did offer some further insight into where she believes federal procurement needs to go in the short term.

“Competition and reducing waste, and increasing transparency were two of the four things I’m really hoping to work on at GSA,” Murphy told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Within the Federal Acquisition Service, which does over $50 billion in contracts on behalf of other agencies each year, I’d like to work to make sure the ceiling prices that are being set for agencies are just the beginning. When we set a price on our GSA schedule contract it’s more or less like the rack rate on the back of a hotel room door, the most you will ever pay. We are trying to make sure GSA’s contracting officers and our policies support really vigorous competition at the task order level because that is the amount we actually are going to spend so we want to get the best deal there, the most competition we can there.”

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DoD wants to cut contracting time by 50 percent as part of AT&L split

As the Pentagon prepares to split its acquisition office, the Defense Department’s top buyer is setting a goal to cut contract delivery time by 50 percent.

Ellen Lord, who will likely be the last defense undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, wants DoD to take advantage of new authorities given to the department in order to speed up the delivery time from when the Pentagon requests a product and when it’s delivered.

“Other transaction authorities, I think we see the Air Force doing a nice job with some of those and, frankly, we don’t have all of our staff that are totally cognizant of what those authorities are and what we can do and what we can’t do. What we are trying to do is develop an environment where people are comfortable saying ‘Hey, what if?’ and I’m trying to say ‘Yes, if’ versus ‘No’ to things,” Lord told reporters after an Oct. 11 speech at an Association of the United States Army event in Washington.

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