GSA Federal Supply Schedules Contracts and the Coronavirus: Risks and Rewards

Merle M. DeLancey Jr.

On March 19, 2020, the General Services Administration (“GSA”) issued guidance regarding its process for issuing Defense Priorities and Allocation System (“DPAS”) Rated Orders. Significantly, however, GSA reminded its contracting officers that “[e]xisting Government sources of supply and contract vehicles should be considered first. Check to see if the required supplies are available.” See gsa.gov/buying-selling/purchasing-programs/gsa-schedules/gsa-schedule-offerings/consolidated-schedule/industrial-products-services-category and gsaadvantage.gov/advantage/search/specialCategory.do?cat=ADV.DR. GSA federal supply schedules (“FSS”) can be a contracting officer’s one-stop shop for protective equipment, disinfectants, hand sanitizers, and other products and supplies to combat the coronavirus COVID-19. The GSA FSS also offers a variety of solutions for agencies looking for teleworking options. See gsa.gov/buying-selling/purchasing-programs/gsa-schedules/gsa-schedule-offerings/consolidated-schedule/professional-services-category.

The largest active buyer in the market right now remains the federal government. FSS is an important tool for the government to get supplies and services, but do not be fooled. With these potential opportunities, there also are potential risks for FSS contractors that fail to follow the terms and conditions of their FSS contracts and/or seek to cut corners.

As is often the case, FSS vendors go above and beyond to provide services or deliver supplies to federal agencies to respond to emergency situations like the COVID-19 pandemic. As is also the case, months later, after the dust settles, agency offices of inspector general arrive to audit contracts. Inevitably, in the effort to expeditiously fill government orders, things get overlooked or ignored, and “but I was helping the agency fulfill its mission in response to a pandemic” is not a defense that will resonate with government auditors.

Based upon our experience, here are some tips for FSS vendors to follow and/or traps to avoid: Continue reading “GSA Federal Supply Schedules Contracts and the Coronavirus: Risks and Rewards”

GSA’s Big Changes in 2020, Part 5: The Mass Mod Is Coming, the Mass Mod Is Coming . . . Wait, It’s Here!

Merle M. DeLancey Jr.

This is the last in a series of posts updating current and prospective Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) contractors about the big changes implemented or being implemented by the General Services Administration (“GSA”) in 2020—including consolidation of 24 schedules into one, streamlined schedule (called the Multiple Award Schedule or “MAS”). This post concerns GSA’s recent release of the Mass Modification (“Mass Mod”) implementing the terms and conditions for the MAS. Here is what you need to know: Continue reading “GSA’s Big Changes in 2020, Part 5: The Mass Mod Is Coming, the Mass Mod Is Coming . . . Wait, It’s Here!”

GSA’s Big Changes in 2020, Part 3: With GSA’s Schedule Consolidation, What Is Changing and What Is Not

Merle M. DeLancey Jr.

This is the third in a series of posts regarding the General Services Administration’s (“GSA”) consolidation of its federal supply schedules into one schedule contract. Our prior posts addressed GSA’s consolidation process in general and its use of Category Management in constructing the consolidated schedule. Here, we answer common industry questions regarding what is and is not changing as a result of schedule consolidation. Continue reading “GSA’s Big Changes in 2020, Part 3: With GSA’s Schedule Consolidation, What Is Changing and What Is Not”

GSA’s Big Changes in 2020, Part 2: Category Management and the New Consolidated Schedule

Merle M. DeLancey Jr.

This is the second in a series of blogs regarding the General Services Administration’s (“GSA”) Multiple Award Schedule consolidation. Previously, we addressed GSA’s three phases of consolidation. In this post, we focus on certain fundamental, structural changes to the consolidated schedule made during Phase I.

Category Management Comes to the GSA Federal Supply Schedule Program

Generally speaking, GSA’s restructuring can be labeled Category Management. Over the last year, the GSA Category Management Leadership Council and the Office of Management and Budget developed a government-wide category structure to support category management implementation across the federal government.

For years, there has been an increase in Special Item Numbers (“SINs”) under the 24 schedules. Schedules and SINs often overlapped. GSA preferred the overlap as opposed to having gaps in product and services offerings. The overlap, however, led to agency and Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) contract-holder confusion. And, as a result, contractors made sure to have their products and services listed under all potentially applicable schedules and SINs. This caused increased administrative work for all involved and less efficient agency purchasing as contracting officers sought to make sure contracting opportunities captured all potential vendors. Continue reading “GSA’s Big Changes in 2020, Part 2: Category Management and the New Consolidated Schedule”

GSA’s Big Changes in 2020, Part 1: Federal Supply Schedules Consolidation

Merle M. DeLancey Jr.

2020 may prove to be one of the most active years for federal contractors holding General Services Administration (“GSA”) Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) contracts and certain federal contractor registration requirements managed by GSA. This post is the first of a series on GSA’s changes and addresses GSA’s most publicized action—the consolidation of its federal supply schedules into one schedule.

As promised, in October 2019, GSA released a solicitation that consolidated the solicitations for its 24 federal supply schedules into one solicitation to obtain an FSS contract. GSA’s consolidation involves three Phases. Continue reading “GSA’s Big Changes in 2020, Part 1: Federal Supply Schedules Consolidation”

Department of Veterans Affairs Updates Pharmaceutical Federal Schedule Supply

Merle M. DeLancey Jr.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) National Acquisition Center (“NAC”), which administers the VA Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) Program, has already had a busy year. Among other procurement streamlining activities, the NAC currently is in the process of refreshing all nine (9) of its FSS solicitations to incorporate the most recent regulations and provide updates and clarifications.

Last month, the NAC updated the open and continuous Solicitation for Pharmaceuticals—Schedule 65 I B Pharmaceuticals FSS contract. The NAC issued Mass Modification 0006 and Solicitation Refresh 8. The Modification and Refresh update and incorporate procurement regulations and update or clarify FSS Program policy changes since the last refresh in February 2014, as amended. Refresh 8 applies to all companies submitting FSS proposals (for new contracts and renewals) after June 21, 2018. The Mass Modification is a standard bilateral modification to existing FSS terms and conditions, which the NAC is requesting manufacturers sign and return by July 30, 2018. Continue reading “Department of Veterans Affairs Updates Pharmaceutical Federal Schedule Supply”

Trade Agreements Act Compliance: Some Welcome News for Some Federal Contractors, But Will It Last?

Merle M. DeLancey Jr.

Recently, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a qui tam action involving allegations of fraud in connection with country of origin requirements imposed by the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”). United States ex rel. Folliard v. Comstor Corp., 308 F.Supp.3d 56 (D.D.C. 2018).

Comstor involved a False Claims Act (“FCA”) action filed by a serial whistleblower who alleged two contractors violated the FCA by selling non-TAA compliant products on their General Services Administration (“GSA”) Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) contracts to federal government customers. Depending on the dollar value of the acquisition, most procurements are subject to either the Buy American Act (“BAA”) or TAA. Currently (2018), the BAA applies to supply procurements valued at or below $180,000. Accordingly, the TAA currently applies to such procurements valued in excess of $180,000. GSA has determined the TAA applies to FSS contracts. Continue reading “Trade Agreements Act Compliance: Some Welcome News for Some Federal Contractors, But Will It Last?”

Do Federal Supply Schedule Contracts Still Have Value?

Merle M. DeLancey Jr.

Over the past several months, there has been a confluence of congressional and agency actions that will have a significant impact on Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) contract holders. These changes are so significant that they will likely cause companies with FSS contracts to question whether having an FSS makes sense. These changes could also cause companies to restructure the segments of their companies that are responsible for selling to the federal government.

Order Level Materials

In late January 2018, the General Services Administration (“GSA”) issued its Order Level Materials (“OLM”) final rule. This rule allows agencies to purchase supplies or services in direct support of a task or delivery order placed against FSS contract or Blanket Purchase Agreement (“BPA”). OLMs are subject to special ordering procedures. See GSAR 552.238-82. For example, the OLMs cannot have been known when an FSS contract or BPA was awarded. OLMs (excluding travel) cannot exceed 33.33 percent of the total value of the applicable task or delivery order. Whether an FSS holder is required to obtain competitive quotes for an OLM order depends upon the value of the order and the FSS holder’s purchasing system. Continue reading “Do Federal Supply Schedule Contracts Still Have Value?”