On May 18, 2017, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry introduced H.R. 2511, titled “The Defense Acquisition Streamlining and Transparency Act.” The bill drastically would change how commercial off-the-shelf (“COTS”) products are acquired by the Department of Defense, and could signal the end of the line for the GSA Schedules program. This bill aims to create a more streamlined COTS procurement system. To achieve this goal, the proposed legislation ignores longstanding procurement principles, statutes, and regulations – and even contravenes several stated positions of the Trump administration – to provide an alternative to the General Services Administration (“GSA”) Schedules program the drafters clearly believe is too burdensome, inefficient, and costly.
Continue Reading House Armed Services Committee Takes Aim at GSA with Proposed Legislation

You no doubt have heard by now about GSA’s 23 June effort to “embrace  modern  technology while moving away from outmoded practices” – specifically, its implementation of the new Transactional Data Reporting Rule (“TDR Rule”) and its concurrent elimination of the Price Reductions Clause (“PRC”) and the Commercial Sales Practices Format (“CSPF”).  See 81 Fed. Reg. 41104 (June 23, 2016). The new rule covers certain GSA Multiple Award Schedules as well as the Agency’s GWAC and IDIQ contracts.   As it represents the most significant change to the GSA MAS program since  1994  (when  GSA  removed  federal  sales  as  a PRC trigger), the new rule has the potential to change significantly the way Schedule contractors (and others) do  business;  hence,  my  willingness  to  interrupt  your otherwise enjoyable day with a treatise on GSA Schedule contracting.
Continue Reading Price Reductions Are Dead; Long Live Price Reductions

Note: The following post is adapted from the forthcoming 2016/2017 GSA Schedule Handbook, published by ThompsonWest, due out later this year.

Any way you look at it, 2016 will be an interesting year.  You may have heard there is an election on the horizon.  That’s right; in November 2016, U.S. voters will trudge down to their neighborhood elementary schools and community centers to pull the lever (or, far less climactically, tap a graphic on a screen) for their favorite candidate.  As we draft this preface in Washington, D.C. in June 2016, Hillary and Donald are neck in neck for the White House with more than half of all Americans saying they are dissatisfied with both candidates.  This dismal statistic, of course, is consistent with the growing numbers of Americans who say they are dissatisfied with the federal Government (and Congress) generally.


Continue Reading What GSA Can Learn from the National Parks Service

A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (“COFC”) serves as a reminder on the limits a contractor faces in protesting task and delivery order awards. In MORI Associates, Inc. v. United States, No. 13-671C (2013), the COFC dismissed the pre-award bid protest by MORI, the incumbent contractor, for lack of jurisdiction because the protest challenged the Government’s decision to obtain services through a task order competition under an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (“IDIQ”) Government-Wide Acquisition Contract (“GWAC”) rather than through a General Services Administration (“GSA”) Schedule contract.
Continue Reading Non-Protestable Task Order Procurement Decision Shuts Out Incumbent Contractor

Every now and then, the FAR Councils issue a Federal Acquisition Circular (FAC) – an update to the Federal Acquisition Regulation implementing a number of changes. Often these changes are rather pro forma. But occasionally, you get a Circular with many different (and interesting) issues. FAC 2005-67, issued in late-June 2013, with rules becoming effective in June and July 2013, is one such circular. We thought it would be helpful to highlight five of these rules that raise interesting and timely issues, especially where they may signal additional changes yet to come.
Continue Reading Lots of Little Things – FAR Updates from the Federal Acquisition Circular

By Christopher Loveland and Jonathan Aronie 

While multi-million dollar False Claims Act (FCA) settlements paid by Government contractors get the lion’s share of the press, those with an attentive eye will have noticed a recent steady stream of more “contractor friendly” FCA decisions flying just under the national press’s radar. These cases, all arising in the context of the GSA Multiple Award Schedule program, serve as timely reminders that the FCA is not a blank check for opportunistic relators (plaintiffs/whistleblowers), and that relators must be in possession of facts actually supporting their allegations before walking into court. [1]


Continue Reading Common Sense Prevails Once Again: District Court FCA Ruling Serves As Reminder That Whistleblowers Need to Prove Recklessness Too

By John Chierichella and Jonathan Aronie

Note: The following post is adapted from the forthcoming 2012/2013 GSA Schedule Handbook, published by ThompsonWest, due out later this year.

The past 12 months were interesting ones for the Multiple Award Schedule Program. To the dismay of many, and the embarrassment of some, the General Services Administration seems to find it hard to stay out of the press these days.


Continue Reading What Happens In Vegas Doesn’t Seem To Stay In Vegas: A Different Take on GSA’s Recent Woes

A year ago, we advised our readers of the interim rule intended to emphasize competition under GSA Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) contracts and FSS Blanket Purchase Agreements (“BPAs”) here. To recap, the March 2011 interim rule imposed a requirement for varying degrees of competition for orders above the FAR’s $3,000 Micropurchase Threshold depending on the type of order being placed (i.e., with or without a statement of work (“SOW”) or placed under a multiple award BPA). The final rule becomes effective April 2, 2012.
Continue Reading MAS March Madness 2012: Final Rule for Increased Competition in MAS/BPA Orders

By Jonathan S. Aronie

So there I was, just sitting there minding my own business. It was the third day of the GSA OIG’s site visit being conducted as part of a routine pre-award audit (or as the OIG called it, a pre-award “attestation review”), and all was going well. The auditor, who was quite a nice guy frankly, had had many questions, as was to be expected, but nothing for which this particular mid-sized GSA Schedule contractor did not have a reasonable response. No Price Reductions Clause violations. No overbillings. No resume qualification issues. Overall, a pretty darn good preliminary report if you ask me. But then, out of the blue, he says, “okay, I’d like to interview your personnel now.” Interview my personnel?! Come again!?
 


Continue Reading From Attestation Reviews To Examinations: The GSA OIG Expands The Scope Of Its Pre-Award Audits

On March 16, 2011, the FAR Councils, heeding Congress’ mandate in Section 863 of the 2009 Defense Authorization Act, published an interim rule intending to ramp up competition for orders placed under GSA Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) contracts and FSS Blanket Purchase Agreements (“BPA”). The new rules, which apply to all federal agencies as of May 16, 2011, instill varying degrees of competition to orders above the FAR’s $3,000 Micropurchase Threshold depending on the type of order being placed (i.e., with or without a statement of work (“SOW”) or placed under a multiple award BPA). The attached matrix, prepared by Jonathan Aronie, co-author with John Chierichella of the GSA Schedule Handbook (West 2010), provides a useful summary of the new rules.
Continue Reading MAS March Madness: Increased Competition In Multiple Award Schedule Orders

By Jonathan S. Aronie and Christopher M. Loveland

Search for the phrase False Claims Act on the Internet, and you will be hit with a barrage of websites telling you how easy it is to bring a fraud case against a Government contractor. Sadly, these websites are right. The bar to bringing FCA claims has been lowered to such an extent over the past 5-10 years that the Act practically invites frivolous lawsuits. Thus, it is with great pleasure that we report that at least one court – the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts – has taken a step toward restoring at least some common sense to application of the statute.
 


Continue Reading Finally, A Ruling That Applies Some Common Sense To The False Claims Act