How many procurement regulations were finalized in 2017? The answer may surprise you

Here’s an interesting trivia question for all you acquisition lovers in the government: How many rules did the Federal Acquisition Regulations Council finalize during the first year of the Trump administration?

Give it some thought. Did the FAR Council make any changes from Jan. 20 to Dec. 31, 2017?

The answer is: the FAR Council issued one final rule for the entire year.

It was the decision to reverse a previous FAR rule to implement the fair pay and safe workplace executive order.

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Urban Myths: Are GSA’s prices fair and reasonable?

Over the years, some have questioned whether GSA Schedule prices are fair and reasonable, and such concerns have led to the General Services Administration launching efforts, such as Transactional Data Reporting and horizontal pricing analysis, to demonstrate that it is dedicated to offering its customers “competitive” (however defined) prices. Now comes an MBA Professional Report published by the Naval Postgraduate School, which provides a business case analysis comparing GSA Advantage to Amazon Business from the standpoint of prices and processes. The study was completed in response to a request from the Air Force, which is considering entering into a pilot with Amazon Business in order to strategically source micro-purchases using an online platform.

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Ownership and Control of Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concerns


U.S. Small Business Administration.


Proposed rule.


The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA or Agency) proposes to amend its regulations to implement provisions of The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA 2017). The NDAA 2017 placed the responsibility for issuing regulations relating to ownership and control for the Department of Veterans Affairs verification of Veteran-Owned (VO) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVO) Small Business Concern (SBC) with the SBA. Pursuant to NDAA 2017, there will be one definition of ownership and control for these concerns, which will apply to the Department of Veterans Affairs in its verification and Vets First Contracting Program procurements, and all other government acquisitions which require self-certification. The legislation also provides that in certain circumstances a firm can qualify as VO or SDVO when there is a surviving spouse or an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).


Comments must be received on or before March 30, 2018.

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Ostrowski outlines Army’s plan to streamline acquisition

FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Jan. 24, 2018)—Warning that “we have no choice but to get engaged in changing the culture,” Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski outlined the Army’s plan to speed acquisition during Wednesday’s roadshow here.

The Army Acquisition Workforce’s focus, said Ostrowski, the principal military deputy to the Army acquisition executive, has to always be the U.S. Soldiers in harm’s way: “I’ve got to get that capability out there faster. I’ve got to think of innovative ways to do so. And I’ve got to make it such that Soldiers are as force-protected, as lethal and as situationally aware that we can possibly make them because we owe that to them. Changing the culture is not hard in mind, because each and every one of you sitting in this room today … you care about Soldiers. And this is about affecting Soldiers.”

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New GSA rule updates acquisition policy


  • The General Services Administration (GSA) finalized a major change to its Federal Supply Schedules nearly 18 months after it issued a proposed rule allowing the purchase of incidental materials. Under the schedules, the new rule allows vendors to include other direct costs (ODCs) or order level materials (OLMs) on individual task orders. ODCs or OLMs are costs that aren’t specifically identified in the contract, such as a specialized tool or test equipment). GSA said the change will help create parity with commercial sector best practices.   (Federal Register)
  • GSA has begun re-filling some key roles in its Technology Transformation Service (TTS).  Dominic Sale will head to TTS as assistant commissioner of operations. Sale will transfer to TTS after spending the last four years in GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy where he was deputy associate administrator. He replaced Crystal Philcox who moved out of that position and in to a new role in the Federal Acquisition Service in December. Prior to GSA, Sale worked at the Office of Management and Budget for six years. Sale is expected to begin his new role at TTS on Feb. 5.

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GSA Publishes New Final Rule Incorporating Order-Level Materials into Schedules Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has issued a final General Services Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) rule to incorporate Order-Level Materials (OLMs), also known as Other Direct Costs (ODCs), into the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program. This rule will make it easier for customer agencies to buy, and industry partners to provide, complete procurement solutions through the MAS program while ensuring excellent value for taxpayer dollars.

This change to the Schedules program provides agencies the flexibility to easily acquire OLMs, creating consistency between the MAS program and other established indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts. Providing agencies with additional flexibility through MAS will result in more consistent application of policies and better value for customer agencies, industry partners and taxpayers.

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Last week, WPI partnered with NCMA – Wisconsin Chapter to cohost the 5th Annual End of Year Federal Contractor.  This event brings together our State’s Federal contracting community (as well as a few from across the boarders) for an update on issues of compliance, contract administration, small business programs and market opportunity.  If you missed it, take a look at the agenda and speaker bios.  We will again be hosting next year (January 2019).

Some highlights:

  • Daryl Zahn, Manager of Contracts and Compliance at DRS Power & Controls Technologies shared information on the initiatives Section 809 Panel established by the 2016 NDAA to improve the Defense acquisition process.
  • DCMA’s new Milwaukee Commander, briefed the group on changes and initiatives of his organization. Also, Jason Rathsack, Chief, Contracting Operations, shared information on issues in contract management
  • William Hughes and Emily Constantine from Husch Blackwell shared their expertise during the Federal case law update – a featured and always much anticipated part of the program
  • As DATA SECURITY is the topic of year, we were honored to have Nate Millsap Jr., Director of Industrial Security for Fincantieri Marinette Marine shared his expertise on data security compliance and implementation in the Defense environment
  • Eric Ness, Wisconsin Director US SBA and Phil Bail shared updates impacting small business from this year’s NDAA and recent past national conference, including changes to the HUBZone program, challenges to the 8(a) program, and acquisition threshold changes

WPI would like to congratulate WEDC on another successful MARKETPLACE event this last December!  WPI facilitated the one on one meetings again this year –  a record number of 782 meetings. MARKETPLACE 2018 is scheduled for December 12 – 13 2018 in Milwaukee at the Potawatomi Conference Center.  Some highlights from the 2017 event are available at the MARKETPLACE WEBSITE.

Some statistics – in FY2017 Wisconsin companies were awarded $3.54 billion dollars in federal contracts – .71% of total procurement dollars.  We ranked 32nd.  More on this topic in the next newsletter.

Information to remember should a shutdown loom in the future – POTENTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN – What Every Government Contractor Needs To Know

Once again, a government shutdown seems inevitable.  During previous government shutdowns, government agencies and departments issued stop-work orders, grinding work on government projects and contracts to a halt.  Contractors were then faced with the difficult task of remaining in compliance with their obligations to their employees while work and funding for those contracts has ceased.

Contractors have been asking for input regarding how to handle employees impacted by the anticipated federal shutdown.  Although the discussion below is not comprehensive, it discusses many of the most significant employment-related issues.

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What are the goals of OMB, GSA’s e-commerce portal? That is step 1 of phase 1

The standing-room audience of government contractors and federal employees at the General Services Administration’s headquarters building on Jan. 9 were left with more questions than answers during the government’s first day-long listening sessions about how to implement Section 846 of the 2018 Defense Authorization bill—otherwise known as the Amazon amendment.

Congress tasked GSA and the Office of Management and Budget to set up a pilot e-commerce marketplace for commercial items using more than one portal over the next three years. GSA used this first meeting to begin Phase 1 of  the effort to develop an implementation plan and come up with recommendations on what laws and policies need changing or updating to make this initiative come together.

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New National Defense Strategy Prioritizes High-Tech Equipment, Acquisition Reforms

The Pentagon’s new national defense strategy, an unclassified summary of which was released Jan. 19, prioritizes the procurement of high-end capabilities and streamlining business practices.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis outlined the areas of emphasis in a speech at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., which he delivered the same day that the unclassified summary was released and the classified version of the strategy was delivered to Congress.

“Today America’s military reclaims an era of strategic purpose,” Mattis said. “We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists… but great power competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.”

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