Source: Winvale – GSA Schedule Blog
Source: Winvale – GSA Schedule Blog
Source: Winvale – GSA Schedule Blog
There are three routes commercial cloud service providers (CSPs) can take to be compliant with the government’s baseline cloud computing standards, known as the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). Although these three routes lead to the same ultimate goal, they can differ in time to accreditation and also differ in cost.
Route to FedRAMP #1
The first route, and the most common for commercial cloud service providers, is gaining a provisional authority to operate or (ATO) from the FedRAMP Joint Authorization Board (JAB). This board is led by CIO’s at the General Sales Administration (GSA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Homeland Security (DOS). In addition to an ATO, a FedRAMP-accredited third-party assessment organization (3PAO) is required to complete this process.
Route to FedRAMP #2
The second route comes as an alternate. Agencies can grant an ATO to a CSP, and other agencies can choose to take advantage of this authority and work with the company as well. 3PAOs also work with agency-issued ATOs and work with both parties to make sure security standards are met.
Route to FedRAMP #3
The third route and least common is the CSP Supplied route. In this route, a CSP can hire a FedRAMP-accredited 3PAO to complete all required documentation, testing and security assessments. Once all these procedures are complete, the information is sent to GSA’s FedRAMP office for verification. Very few companies have taken this route, due to high cost, but it is a good option for companies that cannot or do not want to take advantage of existing federal contracts and do not wish to partner with other CSP’s.
At the FedRAMP Industry Fair on June 4, 2014 the GSA released a table, which outlined the approximate time it took to become compliant with the government’s baseline cloud computing standards. This table broke out the three routes toward compliancy, under the categories JAB P-ATO’s (Joint Authorization Board) (provisional authority to operate), Agency ATO’s, and CSP Supplied. The timeframe can be found below:
- JAB P-ATO’s: 9+ Months
- Agency ATO’s: 4+ Months
- CSP Supplied: 6 Weeks
As you can see, the process to become cloud computing compliant becomes quicker, when more money and more energy is spent trying to achieve it. These three paths give options, and these options are for companies to choose. This enables you to ask yourself, what route will you take?
GSA Schedule Contracts are a great acquisition vehicle for many reasons and its ability to speed acquisition is touted by many as its greatest feature. The Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) program streamlines procurement for government agencies and private industries because the GSA has already determined pricing on supplies and services to be fair and reasonable. Agencies simply need to follow procurement procedures outlined under FAR 8.4 which simplify a best value award.
Agencies interested in identifying the best procedures outlined in FAR 8.4 should first consider reading the applicability and ordering procedures for Federal Supply Schedules. These two sections are crucial to the procurement process because they determine whether the agency fulfills the correct requirements for further business with their industry of choice.
Late last month, the DOD issued a new deviation to FAR 8.4 which requires DOD contracting officers to make a deeper DOD pricing analysis now through their own fair and reasonable price determination on any FSS order using the analysis techniques outlined under FAR 15.404-1. The change shouldn’t be a surprise given the current budgetary environment and cost cutting measures currently in place throughout the government.
DOD contractors utilizing the FSS program should make note of the change and consider how they are differentiating themselves when responding to DOD opportunities. If this new rule has affected you, please feel free to share it with the group.
To learn more about the change, please visit: https://interact.gsa.gov/blog/determination-fair-and-reasonable-prices-when-using-federal-supply-schedule-contracts
A new amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) will greatly impact the way service providers track both theirs and subcontractor hours. The ruling comes from the Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) act that mandates agencies annually submit an inventory of activities performed by service contractors to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The new rule requires that prime contracts submit their hours worked.
This new amendment requires contractors with fixed-priced definite-delivery contracts to track and report hours worked on their service contracts. Prime contractors will not only be responsible for their own internal hours, but for reporting the hours worked by their first-tier subcontractors as well. First –tier subcontracts are those awarded directly by the prime contractor for the purpose of acquiring supplies or services (including construction) for performance of a prime contract. This does not include the supplier agreements with vendors, such as long-term arrangements for materials or supplies that benefit multiple contracts and/or the costs of which are normally applied to a Contractor’s general and administrative expenses or indirect costs.
The new rule will be implemented in the following phases with regards to fixed-priced definite-delivery contract values:
- $2.5 million in Fiscal Year 2014.
- $1 million in Fiscal Year 2015.
- $500,000 from Fiscal Year 2016 onwards.
While cost-reimbursement, time-and-materials, and labor-hour contracts already track and report hours, the determining dollar threshold has been lowered to the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT), which is currently $150,000
In regards to IDIQs, FSS contracts, GWACs, and multi-agency contracts, the reporting requirements will be determined based on the expected dollar amount and type of orders issued under the contracts. For any existing indefinite-delivery will be modified bilaterally within six months of January 30, 2014 so long as the contract performance period extend past October 1, 2013; and there is $2.5 million or more obligated.
This rule change applies to both solicitations and contracts issued on or after January 30, 2014. The DoD is exempt from this requirement as the DFAR already stipulates this reporting requirement. Reports will be due annually by October 31, for services performed during the preceding Government fiscal year (October 1-September 30).
The new amendment can be found under FAR clauses 52-204-14 and 52-204-15.
Selling to state and local governments may seem similar to selling to Federal agencies. There are several similarities and differences from working with Federal organizations. Whether you are a GSA MAS Contract holder or considering selling through a partner’s existing GSA Schedule Contract, you may ask yourself, “Can I sell to state and local governments through my GSA Schedule?”
While GSA Schedule Contracts are a very convenient and widely used contracting vehicle for the Federal government, there many other entities that are also eligible to purchase off of GSA Schedules. In certain situations, Federal, state and local governments may in fact purchase off of GSA Schedule contracts.
State and Local Governments
State and local governments have use GSA Schedules through two platforms, the Cooperative Purchasing and Disaster Recovery Purchasing Programs. The Cooperative Purchasing Program allows state and local governments to use GSA Schedule 70, Information Technology, and GSA Schedule 84, Law Enforcement and Emergency Services to purchase products and services. The Disaster Recovery Purchasing Programs allows state and local governments to purchase off of GSA Schedules to help facilitate recovery from major disasters, acts of terror or attacks from weapons of mass destruction. The 1122 Purchasing Program allows state and local governments to purchase security and emergency equipment through the Department of Defense.
The Obama administration is making an effort to standardize several acquisition rules that have to do with small-business size protests. They are doing this by amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to implement the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) revision of the small business size and small business status protest and appeal procedures. This proposal, released on March 7, 2013, seeks to achieve the following:
- Increase the amount of time the SBA has to determine the size of a company to 15 business days (rather than the 10 business days previously allowed).
- Make it clear that contracting officers can determine whether to suspend work until the Office of Hearing and Appeals at the SBA renders a decision.
- Make it clear that contracting officers have the authority to give the SBA more time to determine business size.
- Provide guidance for Contracting Officers on what to do if the SBA misses the deadline
The ultimate aim in amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), as proposed by the Obama administration through the DoD, the GSA and NASA, is to ensure that contracts set-aside for small businesses are awarded to eligible small business concerns. If you would like to submit a comment in response to this FAR Case 2012-014 you can do so at http://www.regulations.gov, on or before May 6, 2013.