October 1, 2015 marked the official ‘birthday’ of GSA’s new Professional Services Schedule (PSS), which consolidated seven existing Schedules into a single, integrated solution. In this 60-minute webinar, Aronson LLC consultants Joel Emmerich and Vanessa Payne will provide the latest news and guidance on the progress of GSA’s transition to the Professional Services Schedule (PSS). Stay up-to-date on this massive undertaking, your contractor responsibilities, and expanded opportunities under PSS.
Join Aronson's GovCon experts Vanessa Payne and Joel Emmerich for an informative presentation that will tackle the following issues:
-Contractor responsibilities post-migration
-Latest news on PSS mass modifications and solicitation
-Updated information on handling expiring and cancelled contracts
-Ongoing changes to SIN Structure and adding new SINs in PSS
-Solving the Final Option Period Dilemma: GSA’s New Streamlined Requirements for Existing Contractors
To view a recording of the webinar, visit our website: http://www.aronsonllc.com/knowledge-center/resources/item/ncma-aronson-gsa-professional-services-schedule
Good Morning and welcome to the Webinar "GSA’s Professional Services Schedule (PSS): Spring 2016 Progress Report with Specific Guidance for Contractors Approaching their Final Option Period
Our purpose today is to provide the latest news and guidance on the GSA’s transition to the Professional Services Schedule (PSS) so you can stay up-to-date on PSS, your contractor responsibilities, expanded opportunities under PSS and GSA’s solutions for contractors with expiring FSS contracts
Alright so let’s go over our agenda here,
Before we begin with a detailed analysis of the Professional Services Schedule Contract, it’s helpful to take a step back and understand where this contact vehicle fits within the broader strategic direction at GSA. This enables us to do to a few important things. First, understanding GSA’s broader strategic objectives will enable us to see this new Contract vehicle in the same way GSA does. Once we understand GSA’s purpose as it relates the PSS, we can begin to forecast trends that may affect rates, compliance, and competition in regard to PSS.
In short, the purpose of category management is to eliminate redundancies, increase efficiency and deliver more value and savings. In a few words, the objective is to cut costs, leverage sales data to the government’s advantage and use consistent procurement procedures across agencies.
As Laura Stanton, Actin Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Strategy and Management made clear in her presentation here this past January. The common government spend for Professional services for FY2014 topped $61B. The consolidation of professional services under one Schedule facilitates the following tactical objectives:
Consolidating vendors in one place Enabling Federal agencies the ability to procure complete solutions for professional services using one contract Save time and eliminate confusion for Federal agencies and Contractors Increased program efficiency by managing fewer contracts Reduced administrative costs not only internally but also to industry by reducing the number of contracts under management In the Schedule space, there is an immediate reduction in effort to add new SINs across what used to be the traditional Schedules which were siloed
Prior to this initiative there were over 4,400 professional services contracts across 8 Schedules. Once it is complete, the PSS will be one of, if not the largest MAC in government with expected sales to be in the $5 billion a year range.
As we all know, these stand alone Schedules have been consolidated into one Professional Services Schedule.
Firms who held two or more contracts in any of the above noted Schedules had those contracts consolidated into a single new Professional Services Schedule award with a new contract number and new twenty year term.
Firms with only one legacy Schedule found those contract migrated to the new PSS but kept the legacy contract numbers, SINS, pricing and size status. The period of performance for these contracts remains unchanged as well.
The new PSS remains reflective of the old SIN structures and is also structured to reflect SIN groupings reminiscent of the historic the division between the above listed legacy schedules.
These SINs, however, falling with the structure of the PSS ensure that Federal contracting officers are able to issue RFPs for total solutions that may require subject matter expertise from a broad set of professional services all part of Professional Services Schedule.
Approximately 527 contractors will eventually only manage one set of obligations and responsibilities with regard to the PSS contract.
Eventually, but not yet.
Transition We will discuss the responsibilities and opportunities in the post-Professional Services Schedule world. We’ve divided this section into two areas. Items which impact all PSS contracts and special considerations for “migrated” PSS-contractors, meaning those who had two or more legacy contracts combined to create their new PSS Schedule.
Over the next the few slides I’ll be talking about all PSS Schedule holders. Later Joel will focus on “migrated” PSS Schedule holders – those vendors who had two or more schedules migrated to become a new PSS Schedule contract.
PSS presents an opportunity to add new SINS if you don’t already hold those SINs under another Schedule. If you held multiple legacy Schedules, your contract should have been “migrated” into a new PSS Schedule. And we will talk about special considerations for migrated contracts later in this presentation
Adding Special Item Numbers (SINs) Make sure the work you plan to propose is within the SCOPE of the new SIN – see SIN descriptions on GSA eLibrary or in PSS Solicitation
Project Descriptions for 2 Projects Project completed within last 2 years or be ongoing with at least base or first year completed Demonstrate project tasks performed are similar to SIN Limited to 4 pages or 10,000 characters plus Statement of Work If Adding Labor Categories/Products/Training Courses: Provide Supporting Documentation (Invoices, etc.) Submit requirements for all non-Administrative mods Compliance Requirements CSP, PPL, SCA Matrix, existing labor catg/training/product descriptions Note: Revised PPL format in Refresh 24! PPL auto calculates IFF and adjustments may be necessary if you are updating to this format with outdated formulas. The “Federal MFC” has been removed.
If Adding Labor Categories/Products/Training Courses: Supporting Documentation ( Invoices, etc.)
Requirements for all non-Administrative mods Contract Compliance Requirements GSA Advantage text file and catalog file System for Award Management (SAM) registration All mandatory mass modifications have been accepted Signed and Dated Cover Letter Commercial Sales Practice Format (CSP)/Proposal Price List (PPL) Service Contract Act (SCA) Matrix Labor Category Descriptions Document, Training Course Descriptions or Support Products Descriptions as applicable.
Current PSS Mod Instructions are located on GSA.gov - http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/119694, PROFESSIONAL SERVICES SCHEDULE (PSS) MODIFICATION INSTRUCTIONS Updated December 2015. are aligned with current solicitation proposal instructions (SCP-FSS-001, SCP-FSS-002, SCP-FSS-003 and SCP-FSS-004).
Complementary PSS SINs can be utilized when those services are ancillary to the effort of a total professional services solution. PSS is simply “sharing” these SINs to allow for a total solution.
PSS contractors can offer information technology related professional services, human resource services, energy-related services under complementary PSS SINs. Meaning these SINs cannot be used as stand alone SINs and can only be used as ancillary services to the provision of a total professional services solution. Under no circumstances can the complementary PSS SINs be used on a stand-alone basis.
Contractors who provide these services in a stand alone fashion are encouraged to secure a contract under the respective program. IT Professional Services (Schedule 70 General Purpose Commercial Information Technology Equipment, Software & Services Solicitation # FCIS-JB-980001-B) Human Resource Services (Schedule 738X Human Resources and Equal Employment Opportunity Services Solicitation #2FYA-AR-060004-B) Energy Services – energy management planning & strategies, energy auditing, resource efficiency management (REM) and energy consulting services (Schedule 03FAC Facilities Maintenance and Management Solicitation # 6FEC-E6-030292-B)
Complementary Services will always be identified with an alpha “C” The transition of seven Schedule programs into the single Professional Services Schedule (PSS) last year required eLibrary to reflect duplicate SINs (eg 874-1 and C 874-1) for a limited time. Effective January 1, 2016 with Mass Mod A475 those SINs with the “C” designator were removed and any affected contracts were modified accordingly with exception of the complementary SINs shortly after October 2015.
Increasing commoditization in both products and services is limiting pricing flexibility. Be prepared for a discussion on Fair and Reasonable Pricing and to defend your pricing as GSA uses comparison tools to compare your proposed rates against supposed “comparable” offerings.
The Contract Awarded Labor Category (CALC) tool, built by the Professional Services Category and 18F, and launched in May 2015, allows contracting officers and specialists to conduct research and price analysis for professional labor categories across a database of contract awarded prices for 48,000 labor categories from more than 5,000 recent GSA contracts. CALC searches awarded prices on several of GSA’s professional services schedules CALC allows contract officer to search a database of labor categories for “comparables” to provide a comparison of fair and reasonable pricing awarded at the contract level for market research. CALC helps contracting officers determine the range of pricing — at the highest level — for a specific labor category. For example, a search for “Senior Engineer” will return comparable labor categories and their rates, which can be further narrowed by filtering for associated criteria such as years of experience, education level, etc. This comparison is an important piece of information that contracting officers can use to inform their decision about which contracts should receive Requests for Quotations (RFQs), and in turn ensure the government is spending taxpayers dollars wisely and in the most efficient way. CALC is one more example of the impact of Category Management as previously mentioned by Joel – CALC is one of the numerous digital tools available for the Contracting Officers and Specialists in the Professional Services Category Hallway – BUT YOU CAN USE IT TOO!
In the example above… GSA tending to use the average as they determine rather than all awarded prices. Are all GSA determined “competitors” relevant to you?
Future releases for CALC are likely to include the ability to input a proposed price for a particular labor category to see where it falls against comparable rates, as well as additional ways to control, visualize, and export results.
At the end of the day - Do your own market research and know your competitors prices. When the Government provides you with a pricing comparison and indicates your prices are out of the competitive range, be sure to complete your own due diligence and identify the source of the competitive pricing
Contractors may or may not have visibility into all of the results of the tools used by GSA to analyze your rates. Among the tools in use and in the pipeline are: Horizontal Pricing Analysis Tool used by GSA’s acquisition professionals to analyze price variability for identical Schedule items. The upcoming implementation of the Formatted Product Tool (FPT), designed to automate price comparisons for like products. GSA intends the FPT to remove burdensome processes for both vendors and federal buyers, and improve the federal buyer’s GSA Advantage! shopping experience. As of the Mar 24, MAS Transformation Industry Day, the impacted Schedules and the rollout of those Schedules is still under consideration. However, GSA is committed to sending out advance notice to impacted industry partners, roughly 30 days prior to a Schedule change. This is only focused on products but important for Services contractors to be aware of as an industry trend.
Digital Certificates (JOEL MAY ADD AN ANECDOTE) Keep contract current – pricing, services, terms, etc. GSA Pricelist update requirements Contractors are not required to update the Schedule name to PSS on their GSA Advantage! catalog until they make a change to their contract’s awarded items or prices. After receiving an approved Request for Modification to change/update contract information, contractors must then update the SIP Text File. Approved information uploaded through SIP replaces online contract information in both the GSA Advantage!® catalog and eLibrary contract terms and conditions Interesting note: initiatives like the Formatted Product Tool are intended to replace SIP for GSA Pricelist updates – this is only focused on products at this time. Reporting IFF eSRS Compliance Mass Mod acceptance Basis of Award monitoring
Now that Vanessa has cover concerns affecting most PSS Schedule holders – I wanted to discuss adminstative requirements that would only affect vendors that were migrated to PSS.
Let’s begin with by defining what we mean by “post-migration”
The reason this distinction is relevant, is many single legacy schedule holders were transitioned to PSS but without the new contract number or term.
For those vendors who had two or more contacts migrated there are other important considerations that we’ll be discussing in the next few slides.
The first and most critical question is :
Have you ensured that your legacy Schedules survived the migration where BPAs are active under the legacy schedule?
In consequence, if you have open BPA you’ll have many legacy schedule based requirements that will need to addressed
Mention locked pricing, and inability to MOD legacy schedules
VANESSA interject re Dual 72A/IFF reporting
GSA Pricelist update requirements Contractors are not required to update the Schedule name to PSS on their GSA Advantage! catalog until they make a change to their contract’s awarded items or prices. After receiving an approved Request for Modification to change/update contract information, contractors must then update the SIP Text File. Approved information uploaded through SIP replaces online contract information in both the GSA Advantage!® catalog and eLibrary contract terms and conditions Interesting note: initiatives like the Formatted Product Tool are intended to replace SIP for GSA Pricelist updates – this is only focused on products at this time.
Evergreen contracting expands the multiyear contracts for all GSA Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) to one five-year basic contract period and three five-year Evergreen option periods. no order option periods can be exercised on existing Schedule contracts once the underlying Schedule contract has expired. Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) and orders cannot extend beyond the expiration date of the underlying FSS contract unless there are option periods remaining under the FSS contract that, if exercised, would cover the BPAs/orders period of performance
Typically, the award of a new contract will result in the cancellation of the existing contract upon award. However, if the contractor has one or more active BPAs or orders under its existing contract (or has submitted quotes for either and is awaiting an award decision), it is eligible for the award of a new contract that is allowed to overlap and run alongside the existing one. This is referred to as holding continuous contracts. Holding continuous contracts enables the FSS contractor to complete work under BPAs and orders awarded via the existing contract, while utilizing the new contract for new business opportunities.
Previous submission window: 9 months. Increased to at Year 14. Now: AT any time. Why does this matter? Opportunity to bid on long-term contract opportunity and want contract coverage BD team working on an RFP that says need contract coverage for 5 years – now it’s too late to get a new contract in place. You will lose the opportunity and the BD person. Aronson is actively working with clients to ensure that they have continuous contract coverage
Emphasize: Existing contract must not be used for new business opportunities Emphasize: Currently, the time required to evaluate and award an FSS contract can be up to 12 months or longer.
So what are the requirements (next slide)
3. How does a continuous contract work?
A contractor that wishes to hold continuous contracts must: Indicate with its offer that it wishes to hold continuous contracts, along with a listing of all active submitted quotes, established BPAs, and awarded orders under the existing contract. For each, the contractor must include the ordering activity name and point of contact, RFQ/BPA/order number, dollar value, and period of performance (including options). This information can be uploaded in eOffer as an Other (optional - offeror defined) document. Assist the FSS contracting officer in determining the proper cancellation date for the existing contract. The existing contract is to be cancelled the day after the final day of the ordering period for the active BPA or order (including options). In situations where multiple BPAs and/or orders are active, the cancellation date should be based on the last remaining BPA or order. Agree not to use the existing contract to compete for new business opportunities
Emphasize: Again, Existing contract must not be used for new business opportunities
The FSS program now offers a streamlined process and set of requirements for historically successful FSS contractors submitting an offer for a new contract under the same Schedule. These streamlined requirements for contractors approaching or in Option period 3 of the GSA Schedule were released in the latest refresh to the PSS Solicitation, Refresh 24.
(a) Offers can be submitted per the streamlined instructions detailed under this provision provided that the contractor meets ALL of the following criteria (otherwise the offer must be submitted in accordance with SCP-FSS-001-N Instructions Applicable to New Offerors):
Streamlined Offer Requirements for Successful FSS Contractors The FSS program now offers a streamlined process and set of requirements for historically successful FSS contractors submitting an offer for a new contract under the same Schedule. A successful FSS contractor, and thus a contractor who is eligible to submit a streamlined offer, is defined as a contractor that Has, at a minimum, started Year 14 under its existing contract -> changed to AT ANY TIME (clause A-FSS-11 Consideration of Offers under Standing Solicitation (DEC 2000)) The contractor has an existing FSS program contract under this Schedule and is submitting a new offer for the same SINs. Sales under the existing contract have averaged a minimum of $25,000 per year for the previous five years of reported sales. There is a demonstrated pattern of satisfactory past performance under the existing contract
Regarding past performance. I recently had a contractor who’s renewal was in jeopardy due to a negative past Contractor Assessment. Luckily….
On April 14th, I wrote a blog about Contractor Assessments for our “From the GSA Trenches” blog series. It provides some good information about the most frequent problems areas we’ve encountered when helping clients with Contractor Assessments. I encourage you to check it out and take steps to ensure you demonstrate a pattern of satisfactory past performance.
See A492 SF30
The following requirements were eliminated or reduced to the greatest extent possible:
Section I – Administrative/Contract Data Readiness Assessment Financial Statements Pathways to Success (In the future, systems modifications will allow removal of the Pathway to Success Training. For now, the firm will not be required to recertify only if you are an existing firm who is going to be submitting a new offer due to the migration process and if the point of contact of the “Pathways to Success” certificate is still the same with the certificate being less than one year old) Section II – Technical Proposal Corporate Experience Open Ratings Report Relevant Project Experience Section III - Price Proposal No requirements eliminated
Look to IT70 – Special requirements for contractors with less than 2 years of experience.
Section I – Administrative/Contract Data Registration in SAM Other – cancellation letters (2 yrs); rejection notices (2 yrs); info on pending pffers; info on currently awarded GSA Schedule contracts (A) A copy of any cancellation letters received within the preceding two-year period for previously awarded Schedule contracts, (B) A copy of any rejection notices received within the preceding two-year period for previously submitted Schedule offers, (C) Information regarding any pending offers under other Schedules, to include the name and phone number of the assigned GSA contract specialist, (D) Information regarding any currently awarded GSA Schedule contracts, to include the awarded contract number and price list. Subk Plan if applicable Agent Authorization Letter if applicable Pathways to Success - A designated Authorized Negotiator who is also a company officer (i.e., President, CEO, CFO, etc.) must complete (or have completed within one year of the date of offer submission) the Pathway to Success training.
Section II – Technical Proposal Quality Control – single narrative NTE 2 pgs Past Performance references if desired - The offeror is not required to address this factor, as past performance will be evaluated based on existing information available to the contracting officer. The offeror may submit relevant past performance references if desired but is not required to. If submitting relevant past performance references please include point of contact information for each.
Section III - Price Proposal All requirements remain. GSA's pricing goal is to obtain equal to or better than the offeror’s Most Favored Customer (MFC) pricing under the same or similar terms and conditions. (ii.) Submit proposed pricing using the attached Price Proposal Template (iii.) Provide supporting documentation for EACH proposed product/service price. (iv.) The offeror must submit a detailed price narrative including propose a mechanism for future price adjustments (vi.) Complete the Commercial Sales Practices Format (CSP-1)
===== Emphasize: Currently, the time required to evaluate and award an FSS contract can be up to 12 months or longer.
GSA anticipates providing feedback on all new offers within 30 days from the date they are received. This is part of GSA’s pre-screening process implemented in Oct 2015 to reduce the queue of approximately 530 offers awaiting review. All offerors will receive a notification on the status of their offer once the pre-screening process is complete. Successfully passing the pre-screen does not mean the contract will be awarded - while unlikely, further evaluation may result in the offer being rejected due to previously unidentified issues. It is important to review the most current contract terms and conditions as they may have chance in the latest solicitation refresh – The latest IT refresh eliminate the requirements for Pathways to Success. We anticipate that the next PSS refresh will do the same. We anticipate continued evolution and interpretation of the Streamlined Process and contractors submit and GSA evaluates these offers.
MAS contracts will now include the standard FAR clause 52.216-22 Indefinite Quantity to allow ordering activities and MAS contractors to continue orders up to 60 months after the base MAS contract has expired. This aligns the FSS contracting flexibilities for task orders with order GWACS and MACs, including Alliant and OASIS. Previously in accordance with 52.216-22 Indefinite Quantity (Oct 1995) (Deviation I – Jan 1994), orders may currently were able to be issued against MAS contracts up until the final effective date of the contract, but options to those orders could not be issued beyond contract expiration when there were no options left on the base contract. This change will impact new orders issued against current contracts as well as all new contracts. The change will NOT retrospectively update task orders issued prior to the change. Clause 52.216-22 Indefinite Quantity is specific to orders and is not applicable to BPAs. BPAs and Task Orders are different contracting instruments. The change to period of performance should not be understood to apply to BPAs.
FAS is removing the deviated clause from MAS contracts and replacing it with the standard FAR clause and “fill in the blank” for period of completion of order, including options, with 60 months, the maximum time allowable by regulation.
Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Thresholds Adjusted for Inflation: GSA, along with DoD and NASA, issued a final rule effective October 1, 2015, to implement the inflation adjustments for acquisition-related dollar thresholds as follows: The micro-purchase threshold of $3,000 will increase to $3,500 (FAR 2.101). The simplified acquisition threshold of $150,000 is unchanged. The threshold for use of simplified acquisition procedures for acquisition of commercial items will increase from $6.5 million to $7 million (FAR 13.500). The prime contractor subcontracting plan floor will increase from $650,000 to $700,000, but the construction threshold of $1.5 million will remain the same (FAR 19.702). The threshold for reporting first-tier subcontract information, including executive compensation, will increase from $25,000 to $30,000 (FAR Subpart 4.14 and FAR clause 52.204-10). Additionally: The threshold for including the clause requiring contractors to provide equal employment opportunities to veterans will increase from $100,000 to $150,000 (FAR 22.1303 and FAR clause 52.222-35). The threshold requiring contractors to flowdown the clause regarding a contractor’s Code of Business Ethics and Conduct will increase from $5 million to $5.5 million (FAR clause 52.203-15). The threshold restricting subcontracts with a contractor that has been debarred suspended, or proposed for debarment will increase from $30,000 to $35,000 (FAR 9.409 and FAR clause 52.209-6).
Commercial Supplier Agreements (CSAs): CSAs are most commonly associated with information technology offerings— software, products, services, and solutions – when standard Terms of Service or End User License Agreements or other similar legal agreements have been negotiated into the GSA Schedule contract. This is generally not applicable to Service contractors On July 31, 2015, the GSA Senior Procurement Executive (SPE) implemented a Class Deviation in order to mitigate the legal risk of incorporating common CSA terms and conditions that conflict with or are incompatible with Federal law into GSA contracts. The class deviation will increase uniformity and consistency among all CSAs on GSA contracts by addressing 15 common areas where CSAs conflict with or are incompatible with Federal law. Vendors are permitted to negotiate terms and conditions including license terms, except those that conflict with Federal law. Vendors are encouraged to negotiate mutually acceptable terms and conditions with the Government. The best approach is for both parties to know and agree up front to the terms and conditions of the contract. Vendors interested in negotiating new terms and conditions for existing CSAs prior to accepting the MAS modification should contact their GSA Contract Specialist to discuss the desired changes. The Contract Specialist will review the new CSA terms and conditions accordingly.
See more at: https://interact.gsa.gov/node/456026#sthash.0B8Xghwy.dpuf
As discussed: For many vendors dual compliance, monitoring, and reporting will be the norm until BPAs expire or otherwise terminate PSS is the point of the spear – as Category Management evolves so will PSS Be prepared to defend your proposed pricing for modifications and offers Expect things to change especially with the Streamlines Offer process check current requirements
Important GSA links and our blog. We’ll continue to update you with new information.
We encourage you to bookmark out blog – FedPoint. There you can search for and find our take on the latest PSS related trends as well as broader GovCon issues affecting industry.
Now just to give you a bit of background on Aronson, we are a CPA management firm located in Rockville, MD and we’ve been in business for over 50 years.
Most important to this audience is that we have a Government Contracting group here at Aronson made up of 80 employees who support the government contract industry on a full time basis. We also have one of the largest GSA schedule practices in the nation which is where Joel and I come from. Last but not least, I’d like to point you to our active and insightful blog and highly recommend that you all check it out. We do have it specifically designed for government contractors. Also, we encourage you all to connect with us on LinkedIn which is located at the end of the slide deck. Joel and I would love to hear from you!
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Remember that we will accumulate and answer commonly asked questions in a Q & A blog that will be posted to Aronson’s Fed Point website. Also, the slides from today's webinar will be distributed within a few business days to all registered participants.
GSA Professional Services Schedule (PSS) - Spring 2016 Progress Report
GSA Professional Services Schedule (PSS)
- Spring 2016 Progress Report
Vanessa Payne & Joel Emmerich | April 27, 2016