Multiple Award Schedule Contracting

On Friday, the General Services Administration (“GSA”) announced that it had awarded three contracts to develop online shopping portals for commercially-available off-the-shelf (“COTS”) items.  The awardees are Amazon Business, Fisher Scientific, and Overstock.com.

Continue Reading GSA Awards First Contracts to Develop an Online Shopping Platform, and the White House Seems to Be Paying Attention

Tight deadlines are a fact of life in the world of government contracting.  Indeed, it is not unusual for the government to expect a contractor to provide large amounts of information in just a few short days.  And the draconian penalty for missing such a deadline is usually the rejection of a proposal.

But can an agency’s deadline be unreasonably short?  Yes.  In MCR Federal, LLC, GAO determined that the agency’s deadline for submitting its final proposal revision (“FPR”) was so short that it deprived the protester of a fair opportunity to improve its proposal.


Continue Reading Not So Fast Guy: Recent GAO Decision Provides Rule For When Agency Deadlines Are Unreasonably Short

(This article was originally published in Law360 and has been modified for this blog.)

Government contractors undergoing an asset transaction know all too well the peculiarity and uncertainty associated with the transfer of a U.S. government contract through the required novation process. In two recent decisions, the Government Accountability Office considered the impact of such transactions and the novation process on the pursuit of new task orders from the U.S. government, with disappointing results for the affected contractors.
Continue Reading More Novation Complexity In Gov’t Contracts M&A?

On July 25, the GSA’s Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published a report summarizing its audit of the GSA Transactional Data Reporting (“TDR”) pilot program.  That ongoing pilot program, which we have covered previously and have been tracking since the beginning, allows participating Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) contract-holders to report government-sales data each month, in exchange for relief from regulations that would require them to disclose their commercial sales practices.  According to the OIG report, however, GSA cannot objectively measure whether the TDR program is working as intended, because the pilot lacks specific objectives and performance targets.  Moreover, the data that GSA has collected from TDR participants is “not available for . . .  evaluation of the pilot.”  Although the Federal Acquisition Service (“FAS”) disagreed with some of the report’s findings, the report suggests that the TDR program remains a work-in-progress.

Continue Reading OIG Report Criticizes GSA’s TDR Pilot Program

For contractors who are concerned that filing a bid protest in the Government Accountability Office or Court of Federal Claims may alienate their customer, agency-level protests are a welcome, less-confrontational alternative that allows them to raise their concerns in a discreet, non-public fashion.  But as shown by GAO’s recent decision in GovSmart, Inc. – Protest and Costs, B-415871.3 et al., Apr. 19, 2018, 2018 CPD ¶ __, an agency-level protest of a proposed purchase order or other time-sensitive contract may ultimately preclude an offeror from obtaining meaningful relief in a subsequent GAO protest of that same procurement.

Continue Reading When Not to Pass Go and Go Directly to GAO: Decision Highlights Risk of Protesting Purchase Orders and Other Time-Sensitive Contracts at the Agency Level

Contractors that must comply with the government’s domestic preference laws should take note of United States ex rel. Folliard v. Comstor Corp., __ F. Supp. 3d __, 2018 WL 1567620 (D.D.C. 2018) — a recent decision dismissing a country-of-origin fraud lawsuit initiated by serial relator Brady Folliard.

Continue Reading Alleged TAA Non-Compliance Is Not “Material” Under The False Claims Act, Federal Court Holds

Recent news reports have raised a substantial question about who has authority to run the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) in the wake of Dr. David Shulkin’s departure from the agency.  According to the White House, Dr. Shulkin resigned.  Meanwhile, Dr. Shulkin himself has publicly insisted that he did not resign and was instead fired.

This inconsistency sets up a potential dispute over whether, under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (“Vacancies Act”), President Trump had the authority to appoint Robert Wilkie, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness, to serve as Acting Secretary of the VA.

As a result, contractors doing business with the VA have found themselves confronted with a series of knotty questions about the impact this uncertainty may have on the VA’s procurement priorities and actions.


Continue Reading If Shulkin Didn’t Resign, Who Runs the VA Until a New Secretary Is Confirmed? A Vacancies Act Puzzle

Following instructions from Congress to create a new online shopping system leveraging existing commercial practices, the General Services Administration (“GSA”), in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”), has released an implementation plan (“Plan”) to begin e-commerce purchases by 2019.  As discussed in a previous blog post, GSA’s Plan is a first step toward implementing Section 846 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2018, which requires GSA to develop “e-commerce portals” – essentially online shopping sites – for commercially available off-the-shelf (“COTS”) item procurements.

Continue Reading GSA Unveils Plan for Commercial Online Shopping Portal

Few issues have bedeviled the GSA Schedules program as much as the provision of incidental supplies and services under Schedule orders.  For years, it has been unclear how such supplies and services are to be purchased and priced, since they are not themselves on Schedule.

But now, with GSA’s new Order-Level Materials (“OLM”) rule, GSA has resolved this issue by expressly permitting the government to easily and quickly obtain incidental supplies and services through the Schedules program.


Continue Reading At Long Last – GSA Issues Final Rule on Purchasing “Order-Level Materials” on Schedule Orders

A U.S. District Court recently dismissed a False Claims Act (FCA) qui tam action alleging that numerous GSA Schedule contractors violated their obligations under the Trade Agreements Act (TAA), resulting in the submission of false claims under the “implied certification” theory of FCA liability.  As discussed further below, the court’s decision — United States ex rel. Berkowitz v. Automation Aids, No. 13-C-08185, 2017 WL 1036575 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 12, 2017) — is important for at least two reasons:

  1. The court found that “often” it is “tougher” to satisfy the heightened pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b) when FCA allegations are based on an implied certification theory.
  2. The court held that, when dealing with conduct arising from a “sprawling federal procurement statutory and regulatory framework” (like the TAA), general allegations of non-compliance may support a breach-of-contract claim, but are insufficient in an FCA case. Rather, “specific allegations” about the fraudulent scheme are needed.

This decision comes at a particularly opportune time for contractors, given the likelihood of increased TAA and Buy American Act (BAA) enforcement during the Trump Administration and the corresponding potential uptick in whistleblower FCA activity involving these country-of-origin issues.
Continue Reading Common Sense Prevails: “Tougher” To Satisfy Rule 9(b) Standard in “Implied Certification” FCA Case Arising from GSA Schedule Contractors’ Alleged TAA Non-Compliance