The General Services Administration (GSA) has recently announced significant updates through the GSA MAS Refresh #17 for the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Solicitation 47QSMD20R0001. This comprehensive Refresh aims to enhance contracting opportunities for all GSA Schedule contractors, regardless of the products or services they offer. As we delve into the details of Refresh #17, we will explore the various changes and their impact on businesses seeking to participate in government procurement.
To streamline the evaluation process and foster a competitive marketplace, the GSA plans to remove language from the SCP-FSS-001 (Instructions to All Offerors) indicating that proposed pricing must be “highly competitive” to be considered fair and reasonable. This modification will ensure that contractors are assessed on the merits of their offerings without undue emphasis on price competitiveness. Additionally, Refresh #17 introduces a new bullet, xii., to address obsolete items, enhancing clarity and relevance in the solicitation. The last sentence in section
- (508 Standards) will also be removed, as instructions for providing 508 compliance information will be provided in I-FSS-600, streamlining the process for contractors.
Clause and Provision Updates
To ensure the security and compliance of government-owned or contractor-used technology, GSA Refresh #17 will incorporate the “Tik-Tok” clause (FAR 52.204–27), prohibiting the use of TikTok and other ByteDance Limited applications during a contract. The introduction of this clause responds to growing concerns over data security and privacy, safeguarding government and contractor information from potential risks associated with these applications.
Clarification on Sustainability Requirements
GSA Refresh #17 aims to strengthen sustainability practices by referencing the GSA Green Procurement Compilation (GPC). Contractors will be required to identify sustainable products under Federal Supply Service schedule contracts on GSAAdvantage! and other communication media. Compliance with applicable statutory mandates and directives will be mandatory for products and services purchased by federal agencies. The sustainability requirements will encompass the following:
- Energy-efficient products
- Contractors must offer products that are ENERGY STAR® certified or designated by the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) to reduce energy consumption and promote sustainability.
- Biobased products
- Products must meet the content requirement of the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the BioPreferred® program, supporting the use of renewable materials.
- Environmentally acceptable chemicals and products
- Contractors must offer products listed under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, which ensures a safe transition away from substances contributing to ozone depletion.
- Products containing recovered materials
- Contractors must provide products designated by the EPA under the Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines, promoting recycling and reducing waste.
- Water-efficient products and services
- Contractors must offer products and services with WaterSense® labels, ensuring responsible water usage.
- Safer Choice-certified products
- Contractors must provide products with safer chemical ingredients to promote safer working environments.
- Third-party certifications
- Contractors must demonstrate compliance with EPA Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels through third-party certifications, ensuring credibility and transparency.
Clarification of JV Requirements
For Joint Venture (JV) contractors on the MAS Program, Refresh #17 brings updates to the SF30 Attachment. Existing MAS JV contractors will need to complete and submit the JV solicitation Attachment through eMod, provide necessary documents (e.g., SBA Mentor-Protégé Agreement), resubmit the Price Proposal Template (Price Proposal Templates) with relevant JV partner information, and update the Federal Supply Service (FSS) Pricelist and Labor Category (LCAT) descriptions. These updates aim to improve transparency, compliance, and accountability for JV contractors, streamlining the process and providing clear guidelines for the submission of essential documentation.
Please note that existing JVs should wait until the release of Refresh #17 to submit the required information. Ensuring timely and accurate submission will enable smooth processing and foster a conducive environment for joint ventures.
GSA/SBA 8(A) Partnership Agreement on MAS Update
In June, the SBA and GSA signed a revised 8(a) Program Partnership Agreement (PA). This agreement represents a joint goal for these agencies to increase contracting opportunities for 8(a)-certified firms, mainly through the MAS program. The revised MAS 8(a) DRAFT Offer Instructions will be added to the solicitation, providing updated guidelines for MAS 8(a) contractors.
Under the new instructions, offerors who are current 8(a) Program participants at the time of their MAS contract offer will be offered acceptance by the MAS Contracting Officer (CO) into the MAS 8(a) Pool. To be accepted into the pool, current 8(a) program participants must qualify as a small business for the applicable NAICS assigned to the contract and meet all other SBA 8(a) Program eligibility requirements.
Once accepted by the SBA, the 8(a) contract will be added to the 8(a) Pool upon award of the MAS contract. MAS 8(a) Pool contractors will receive an icon in GSA eTools, indicating their eligibility for competitive and sole source 8(a) task order awards. Additionally, 8(a) pool contractors will remain eligible for sole source awards as long as they remain active in the 8(a) Program and continue to qualify as small for the size standard corresponding to the NAICS code assigned to the sole source order at the time of order award.
Furthermore, 8(a) pool contractors will continue to remain eligible for competitive set-aside awards for up to five (5) years from the date of award or until representation by FAR 19.301- 2(b), whichever is first, even after the contractor has exited the 8(a) Program. Ordering contracting officers may request recertification of status in connection with a specific 8(a) order. However, a contractor that has exited the 8(a) Program cannot represent its status as an eligible 8(a) Participant.
Large Category, Subcategory, or SIN Updates
Several Large Categories, Subcategories, and Special Item Numbers (SINs) will undergo updates in Refresh #17, enhancing the clarity and relevancy of the solicitation for both contractors and government buyers.
Office Management (A)
Sustainability requirements and references to GSA GPC will be clarified for SINs 339940OS4 and 339940OVER, promoting eco-friendly practices in office product procurement.
SIN 561210FAC – Facilities Maintenance and Management will be updated to include a comprehensive list of maintenance services offered. The updated SIN description will encompass services related to the complete operations, maintenance, and repair of federal real property, covering facilities of varying complexities. Contractors will be able to offer or order these services individually or in combination, catering to the diverse needs of government agencies.
Industrial Products (E)
SIN 332510C – Hardware Store, Home Improvement Center, Industrial or General Supply Store, or Industrial Maintenance Repair and Operations (MRO) Distributor – Catalog will require diversified offers in at least three distinct product categories. This update aims to foster a broader range of product offerings from contractors, providing government buyers with more options in procuring industrial products.
Professional Services (H)
SIN 541611 will feature a new subgroup, Program Evaluation Services, facilitating more targeted offerings in management and financial consulting, acquisition and grants management support, and business program and project management services.
Transportation and Logistics Services (K)
The term “highly competitive” will be omitted from the Price Proposal Templates for several SINs, including 492110, 492110SB, 485, and 532111. This change removes potential ambiguities and ensures consistent evaluations for contractors in the transportation and logistics services category.
The term “highly competitive” will also be omitted from the Price Proposal Templates for SINs 531 and 531110, fostering a level playing field and fair competition for travel-related services.
GSA MAS Refresh #17 signifies a significant step forward in enhancing contracting opportunities and promoting sustainability in government procurement. The updates aim to simplify processes, foster a competitive marketplace, and facilitate increased participation from 8(a)-certified firms. Contractors must stay vigilant and familiarize themselves with the changes to optimize their prospects in the dynamic landscape of government contracting. By embracing these updates, businesses can position themselves for success in the GSA MAS program and beyond. The Refresh empowers contractors to provide cutting-edge solutions and services to government agencies while ensuring efficiency, transparency, and adherence to the highest standards of sustainability and compliance. As Refresh #17 unfolds, the GSA continues to drive innovation and transformation in the government procurement landscape.