Barriers to Entry / Doing Business in the Federal Marketplace

Barriers to Entry / Doing Business in the Federal Marketplace

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Well. Good day mr., and Miss GSA. From border to border and, coast-to-coast, welcome. To, today's, GSA. Reverse industry. Training. Extravaganza. Numero. Dos, we, are so honored and pleased, to have you join us today and not, just here in this August chamber in the Washington, DC headquarters of, the u.s. General Services Administration. But around the world for we are being broadcast across, the, greater GSA, Broadcasting, System and you know what that means if it's nine o'clock here, in Washington, DC it's 8, a.m. in the central time zone 7, a.m. in the mountain 6. A.m. in the Pacific, time zone 5. O'clock in Alaska. And 4, o'clock in the morning for our good friends in the Aloha state of Hawaii who, are still recuperating. From, that Presidents, Day blowout, luau you've all been reading about in The Washington Post I am sure and I. Think it's 11 p.m. in Pyeongchang South. Korea so we shouldn't be conflicting. With any Olympic events so, again, we are so glad to have your complete, and undivided attention, now. To continue, with our program if I may allow. Me to introduce the, intrepid, producer. Of these proceedings. GSA's. Procurement, Ombudsman of Budds Minh MS Melissa Gary. Thank. You John good, morning everyone, and thank you for joining us here we are again second, time around, I, would. Just like to thank everybody who, helped to make this possible I'm, not gonna call any names because they're too numerous but you know who you are and I, just want to say a hearty thank you we have a great program lined up for you today. Sure, you'll be happy with it one. Thing I'd like to request you guys in the back move, on up okay. Let's let's get cozy. Okay. Thank. You. We. Were joking about that before it's almost like Church you need to put the bands on the seats in the back to force you to come up closer to. The home and, everything, well. Again. Now to continue, on today's session is very much built around GSA's, Federal Acquisition service. Service. So it is good right and appropriate to. Hear from the individual, who oversees, the delivery, of more, than 50, billion dollars in services, products, and solutions that. Save taxpayer, dollars and, enable, federal agencies, to meet their missions more effectively.

Please. Welcome if you will the Commissioner, of the u.s. General Services Administration's. Federal, Acquisition service. Mr. Allenby, Thomas Jr. Thanks. John John. Normally, here you know people have a say, they have a face for radio IVA John I think has a face for TV and a voice voice for radio right so that's that's a good that's, an impressive combination, so. Good morning it's a I said to someone as we were getting, warmed up here it's ambitious, to plan an event like this Monday. Or Tuesday 9:00, a.m. after a three-day weekend, but. Hopefully all you folks out there in internet. Land are, awake and ready, ready to listen and participate today. So a couple, things as Melissa said this. Is the second year GSA, is doing this it was my, note said it was wildly popular last, year I confirmed that with with, a few with, a few independent, voices and, we're actually doing two this year so there's one sort of focused on the Federal Acquisition service, and then one I think is it in April April 10th, April. 10th excuse me focused on the, public building service, so. If any of you watched a testimony, last week on, the hill. You'll. Know there's some there's some interesting things going on in in. PBS. I've, happened to have a front row seat for. That and my colleague Dan, Matthews was. An hour and a half heard an of grilling and I think I spoke for about 30 seconds, so my, time too coming I'm sure, so. A couple things about the about, the industry day one just want to say thanks to all the folks from, industry who, are here. Participating, giving. Of your time. This. Is this is important, right if you were if, you're in the government you're creating RFPs, you're working on acquisition, strategies, it's. Really important, to know what industry is thinking if you want to create, a you know good. Competition, if, you want it you want to be transparent. Or you want to sort of get the right outcomes, for the requirements, that you're shaping it's. Really it's really really, important to know how, the folks who are responding to those requirements. Think. And, act and how they how they make decisions so you're going to hear from three different panels, over the course of the day today to. Get a sense for that so I know panel, on barriers to start with there's. A biddin teaming panel in, the in the middle of the day which. From my perspective haven't. Been out in industry for a pretty, long time as sort of where all that where all the action happens. Industry. Spends a lot of time thinking, about what to bid on why. They're bidding on it and what sort of resources to commit to it and really, at the end of the day folks. In industry are just. Looking for certainty, so if you've ever been ever. Been on the end of a of, a pipeline meeting, where you're getting grilled about the quality the opportunity, in your pipeline the person, who's grilling you is usually just looking for some certainty because they're they're, essentially making a bet for where to commit resources, in. Their in. Their firm so. It'll. Be great to hear from industry to. Get a sense for sort of how they how they how they go through that process there's an old joke also at least that I've been part of which is every meeting in industry eventually turns into a pipeline meeting, right so I don't know if the panel. In the middle of the day will confirm that or not and then there's a there's. A panel at the end of the day on on, post-award. Modifications. So. Again thanks, thanks, to you all for for, participating, we, said thanks to you and your staff for for. Pulling, this together right. These kind of events are important GSA, really. Goes out of our way to, communicate with industry, to try and be transparent, so in addition to events like this, we. Hold traditional. Industry days we put out draft RFI's, we, have a website called, interact. Where. We post a lot of information, we, do one-on-one sessions, I know when I was on the industry side I participated. In some of the Alliant. To one-on-one. Sessions, and, those. Are great from an industry perspective right, I mean they really really. Do foster, an environment where folks, in industry feel like they're being listened to and, you'll you know we saw, an online, - for example you saw the requirements. Change to some extent based on some feedback that GSA got from industry, which. Is which is heartening and I think it. Really increases the the competitive, pool so, again hope everybody has a, great day, take.

Lots Of notes ask lots of questions. Don't let these industry folks off the hook right so if you got something, you want to know about now, is your chance when, they're up in front of the bright lights to get your get your question asked and hopefully answer, again. Thank, you and have a great day. Excellent. Thank you so very much sir and, we are off I believe we would all acknowledge that the, bulk of innovation, in the u.s. comes from industry whatever. It may be products, or services, the greatest, advances, have come in the private sector we in the federal government need that creativity. And if, we want to procure, that, kind, of innovation and creativity for, GSA, we, need to welcome our industry partners with clarity, and consistency, increasing. Understanding promoting. Collaboration, and building. Trust in our acquisition, processes, so, let's listen to our guests discuss their considerations. When doing business with the federal government and with GSA, in particular, now, I say, listen but, you are also welcome, to interact. In fact we demand it you'll, notice, that we have no microphones. Really here for, our studio, audience that. Is because in this training session, we want you to use your information. And communication. Technology. Devices which I'm sure are section 508 compliant. Now, turn, the volume down put, it on vibrate but if you see or hear anything that, sparks, a question in your mind we'd like you to email it to reverse industry. Training at GSA, gov, that's reverse industry, training all one word at And. We'll pass this information to our moderators, who will leave these questions, into their discussions, and for, those questions that do not get answered, within, the session itself we're. Going to compile a question, and answer document and, post that along, with the recording, of this event and. With. That, barriers. To entry doing business with, the federal marketplace, have. You ever seen or, do you recall a TV, show called most, extreme elimination challenge. For. Those of you that, are not familiar with it it's. An it was an early, 2000. TV show on Spike TV but, it was based on a night, ATS Japanese. Game show called, takeshi's, Castle and I'm pretty, sure, that. The. The. Main thing for it was to inflict maximum contusions. And concussions, on the participants. Because. Aside, from dubbing, English over the Japanese dialogue. Which is hilarious, in itself the, contestants.

Were Just put through some of the most brutal, obstacle courses. One, of my I don't know if I could call it favorite, it makes me giggle a little bit it's when you come to that panel and you've got to choose the right doorway you bust through one you realize it's made of paper no problem, you go on to the next thing you hit the wrong one it's solid, plywood, it knocks you back into last week like, I said it kind of makes me giggle, but it's no giggling, matter if we give our industry, partners concussions. We don't want to do that so, let's heat, our panel, members words as they, discuss the challenges with. The application, processes, and past performance requirements. How, the type of vehicle set, asides Naik's and sins impact. Their decision-making on whether, or not to pursue working. With GSA now. To lead our panel, please welcome a man that I'm fairly sure you're familiar with Jim, Williams of shâm Beck and Williams consulting. Thank. You John I believe, you. Should be announcing, the next Olympics, that was fantastic, and I want to say thank, you to GSA, for having, this reverse industry, day to Melissa. Jeff. Kosis for Allen Thomas for welcome. Is here today we. Have a great panel for you starting off talking, about the challenges, to, entry, and doing business with GSA and, the federal government, and I'm, very proud, to welcome our panel please come up and I'll now introduce them, first. To my right is Tom Romeo, he's, the president, and CEO of Maximus federal a large, business, next. Mark human, vice, president, with ICF, a large. Business. Next. We have lynn and casey the founder, president CEO, of marcus paseo a medium-sized. Business, and unless. Andrea, marsh of acquisition. Research, and, logistics, Inked of the business development for, a small business and I, want to let them also tell you a little bit about, themselves and, and let. You understand where they're coming from so let me start. With Tom please. Okay. That's, better, as. Jim said my name's Tom Romeo I'm the president, and general manager of, Maximus. Federal, we're. A large company, we, have a, 90-70. PSS. Schedule, and, just, maybe two. As. Well I. Am. Are human with ICF, I run our g-wagon IDIQ program management office we. Were a large business on. The services in IT side and, we. Hold the IT, 70, and PSS, schedules as well as HR SS, the. Energy management part of the facility schedule, and, alliance. To Oasis. And HKS. This. Is Lynn and Casey and with ARCA Ciccio, we. Focus primarily on, the department of homeland security we've. Got an IT 70 schedule, we, just got our third renewal, for our PSS, schedule. And we're also a prime on GSA, age cats G wack. Hi. Good morning my name is Andrea Marsh I work with acquisition, research and logistics, Inc which is a service-disabled. Veteran-owned, small business, we. Have a PSS, schedule, we are also. Predominantly. Working in Department of Homeland Security and the Department of, the Navy. Well. Thank you all and before we get started I also want to say thank. You besides GSA, I want to thank the two associations, who have really put. A lot into this and helping us get ready two, key leaders Krista sweet from, the Homeland Security and Defense Business, Council, Bradley saw from the Professional Services Council, thank, you for all the work that you've done talking. About the barriers to entry let, us start with, what. It takes the resources, involved in getting on a schedule, and I want to start with the small business Andrea, can, you tell us from your small company's perspective about. The resources, and effort, involved in pursuing, a schedule. Yes absolutely so, obviously. Companies, are not all built in and staffed alight small, businesses medium/large. Yeah. The small business has the, additional, challenge of we just don't have as many people or, as much, funding to be able to put toward. Going. After schedules. Task orders RFI's all of these things cost a lot of money. Going. After a major schedule, or. A G whack you know it takes probably a good 18, months for four companies large and small to, be preparing, and making sure there they are have all of the their ducks or I'll have all of the requirements, that enable. To bid and for, a small company that maybe doesn't have a proposal shop that might cost us about. Twenty five thousand dollars to pay to outsource. Outsource. Some proposal. And business, intelligence sources. That's. A lot that's a lot of money for a company, of, a. Small size we have 30. Employees. Most. Of whom work on on government sites so we really need to outsource that and of. Course we have to balance that with. Responding. To RFI's and task orders on others on, other contracts. That we might be on from. A component, or a government agency so, I think a lot of that resource is something we need to kind of figure out and so when we're looking at the various, major.

Acquisitions, And idea queues that that's really something that that resource is one that we have to balance we can't been. On ten different major. Schedules. Out there we need to kind of really think about which one is going to produce the most, ROI, for us and and. That manpower in order for us to manage, those once they come through so, I think that that financial. Resource, along, with the just. The the manpower and the time that it takes is something that we have to all of the companies large and small have to take that into consideration it's. Just different for us we have a lot we. Often, have to do the same amount as the larger companies, just, with a smaller staff and smaller resources. I saw a an hour. Draft RFP or a draft solicitation, coming out soon from a large, agency and in addition to a full proposal, a, lot of video that. Video. Would probably add one this was a one that was focused more towards large businesses, but just as a reference that video would probably add about a hundred thousand dollars to that company's. Bid. And proposal for. That one effort because. It was a full proposal and video that that's a lot of resources, for companies to be putting, together to, make sure that we're answering, the mail with the technical with, the technology, responses, and the program responses, so it's, just something that we we all have to think about well. Andrea thanks in is we all know 80% of the schedulers are small business so, I think it is important, to pay attention to. What you're doing that, can change things to help small business continue, to. Get on schedule, and do business with the federal government but from my experience all, companies, struggle with getting on schedule. And Tom, if you could talk to us from a large company perspective, about, the resources, involved and you've recently, been through this and pursuing a schedule sure. Thanks, Jim so. Large. Company. Decisions, pursuing. Schedules, are very similar, to the common sounder, you made about small. Businesses, and how we make those decisions, as a matter of fact we often hire the same consultants. That the small businesses, hire because. Of their depth of knowledge on, having, it on the schedules. That. Also, well, well we have a bigger team. We. Have to decide how to utilize, those resources, so. The same team that would be pursuing, the schedule, are responding, to horrifies, and, helping. Us to pursue other opportunities. So. For. Our team at Maximus, in the, federal business, we have about 10 people on, our, business, development capture. Team and. Just, to give you some perspective they'll. Respond, to 50 RFI's, this year and pursue. At least that many opportunities. So when you think about 10 people's, time and effort. It. Gets spread pretty thin pretty, quickly. The. So. Scheduling. Or focusing, their time becomes, a critical, piece of, deciding. Which schedules, to pursue and which opportunities to, push that the. Schedule also requires, that the maintenance of maintenance and upkeep and, that plays, into the decision, on whether we should pursue them or not, some.

Things Seem to work very well at GSA, some. Things not, so well and. I'll give you some examples, of some of the experiences. We've had, the. Result. We. We as a company a, large, company, acquired, a small business, about, two years ago that. Small business, was actually, a combination. Of. About 10 small businesses. That had been, acquired. Before, we acquired the one company, that left, us with for, IT 70, schedules, and 3 PSS, schedules. So. We. Have to maintain it up keep all of those schedules, so we have a full time resource, dedicated, to. Just maintenance on, the schedules. So. Some. Of the things that that, that person, deals with or that we deal with with managing, the schedules, so. We we recently changed the. Internal. Support person. For our contracts. And wanted, to notify, GSA, of that change, for. One schedule, that name is kept in four or five different, places, so. We went through a process of, four, or five different. Notifications. To. Make the change of our point of contact, now. Multiply, that times, the for, IT 70, schedules, we have in the three PSS, schedules, that, means we're taking. 20-25. Steps, just. To try to get a point of contact, changed. Another. Situation, we had is we wanted to combine. The ID 70, schedules, it, doesn't. Make sense for, us to have four schedules, but there are contracts, under each of those and they're, out cats under each of those so we approached. GSA. With the idea of combining the, schedules, the, first Contracting, Officer we, worked with said you know that that's a good idea. And they would support, the change they, told us that the elk cats were. Already, deemed, fair and reasonable and, we didn't need to go through the process, of coming up with documentation. To justify that, so, we started working on the modification. To make that change and then. One of the other contracting. Officers, for one of the others ID, 70, schedules, got involved and said absolutely not, that that, wasn't an acceptable, approach and, we. Shut it down now. I can understand, actually, either side, of that argument, but. It. Cost us time and money to, start down the path and then, reverse at that, so just, consistency. Of messaging. And the decision, process means. A lot to the effort, and time that we have to put into the. Schedules. On. The positive, side. We've had several contract. That assistant, visits, and the. Resource, that's worked with us has been great they're. Very helpful, they come in with an attitude of they're there to help us utilize. The schedule, and, minimize. The time that we have to spend in compliance, and the advice they've given us has been very good, and. Also when. We couldn't combine the schedules, we decided, to go for, a new IT 70, schedule under the corporate, name and we, used the fast lane to do that and the. Communication. During that process, was phenomenal. The. Contracting. Officer we worked with was happy, to pick up the phone answer, any questions, we had and sometimes. One. Of the things that I see is a frustration, level for our teams is, when. We get in the email exchange, game, because. A, lot, of times we'll send you information and, you'll send us a questioning back and we'll say well. We thought we sent them all of that we don't even understand, the email, when. A quick phone call would resolve that very. Quickly and the, fast night path utilized. That, communication. So, it was great thank. You Tom and and, talking about going to the process linanne you, mentioned your have just gone through your third renewal of your schedule can you compare. And contrast the, first time to, the third time please. One. Would definitely. Think that the third time would be would be easier, than. The first time but, as a small business, that's becoming, a medium-sized, business, and certainly is now considered.

Other Than stall in our PSS, schedule. We. Only do, renewals, about, every, five years. And. We don't have a full time person dedicated to scheduled renewal so we, essentially, have to learn the process, over. Every, five years. That. Requires. A lot of resources because, we do have to learn and. We, have to learn what's happened, in the last five years to make sure we. Are, providing. The right information now. On the positive side we've, really had some great contracting, officers and they are very willing to answer. Our questions and, support us through the process. At. The same time we, do get the, requests. One. Particular area, that we've had some challenges in is. The commercial sales practices as, a, company that really, only, works with the federal government, the. Federal government, is our most valued customer, and this always causes. Questions. And challenges, with our, contracting. Officer, as. We, prepare our commercial, sales practices, for each renewal so. That's been a little bit of a challenge and, each time we have to spend resources when. We did our first. Application. For. Our PSS, schedule, we, did not have outside, help but, we've really found that by hiring outside, contractors. To support us we, can get our questions answered they, actually, are very familiar with a lot of the GSA contracting, officers and they can help translate, some of the requests, that we get. We've, also had we've had some good experiences with. GSA on the schedules, from a customer, service standpoint, but. I do have some suggestions, if. The. GSA, could focus on. Enhanced. Customer, support. Specifically. For small businesses, this, might be, better. Request, for proposal, that provide more examples or. Samples. Or details, up front. Perhaps. A one on one call with your, contracting, officers for 15 minutes just, as you start, the renewal process to. Make sure that. Both we're, preparing, the right information and, investing, the right amount in our response but, also making, sure that the Contracting Officer gets exactly, what information they, need the, first time.

I'd, Really like to also, encourage, the GSA contracting, officers, to. Ask. For, more feedback about how a renewal. Went. Or. How a proposal, went it would be really great, for them to, hear. Some of our feedback right after, right. After a renewal, or right after the first award that, would really give them the opportunity, to hear, some patterns, and hear what, some of the things they can do for the next time they send out a. Request to, a small, business for a proposal, I think that would be an. Incredibly, helpful, process. For them to continuously, improve at. A broader level GSA. May ultimately. Decide to do some some, very, general. Survey, mechanisms, to see how some renewals went but, I really think it's up to the contracting, officers in, communication. To ask for some of that feedback and be open to that feedback. Great. Suggestions, Lin and Mark as a veteran, of schedules, from the industry side anything. You'd like to add or reinforce, here yeah thank you appreciate the chance to speak with everyone today it, was a longtime GSA partner we. Do have someone in the house and handles our GSA, interactions, so we I think we're unique on the panel we don't go outside you, know for for support with that that. Said it is most of a full-time job and so it is that you know resource commitment, for us and, on, that regard. You. Know on the positive side really we, do appreciate the consolidation, of the PSS schedule it. Was really great process in terms of getting there and I, think it's it's, great for us it's great for you and it's great for the customers, to to make make everything easier so definitely, really appreciate, that. You. Know we have many, different schedules, and they're managed by lots of CEOs and lots of different regions and. Sometimes. We will work with one region on. On. Getting something done and, we figure out okay here's the process where we're told fears we know what's allowable and here's how we're going to do it and then, the same thing comes up on another schedule, in a different region and sometimes. We hear well that well, here's different guidance and here's what's allowed and what's not allowed and, so we do sometimes find that we are getting kind of released, from our perception, different, policy, and guidance from different SEOs and in different regions and that makes, a bit hard for us to plan and they kind of how are we gonna operate. And so. It. Would help us a lot if there were a little more policy, consistency. I think you know across the regions and across the the CIO's. Well. Thanks mark and we know we have a third panel coming up that's going to be talking about compliance. But our panel, is, about the barriers to entry and and, doing business with, GSA. I want. To turn to Andrea next and talk about ROI and, talk about the value of the wind, explain. The importance, of ROI and the. Factors that go into it and Andrea if you don't mind we also have a question, which I think maybe you might be able to think, about while you're asking. And the, question is has. Your company had any challenges, obtaining. Government approval, to partner with large businesses, on opportunities. What about teaming. Opportunities CTA, versus, subcontracting. Plans and I know your small, businesses, subcontracting. Plans doesn't, impact you but if you have anything on on teaming, I think the audience would like to hear okay, yes sir yeah I'll, talk.

About ROI first and then and then talk about some of that that, teaming, that's. Certainly something that all large and small companies do, on a regular basis, as, I mentioned before you, know and and was noted initially, we all have finite large. And small companies all have sort of finite budgets. For, bid. And proposal so. When we're looking at the schedules, we really want to see you know our opportunities. For, us to bid on going to come out under that schedule. And. And, particularly for a small company or as I said we can't, and either. Afford, to nor manage, you. Know we, can have, a few schedules, and an idea queues to manage but we can't have you know take tens, of them to do that we. Need to think about which, ones are. Closest, to the mission areas that we support. And. And, really. Servicing. Those the government, agencies, and how. Many task orders, what are the funding streams looking, like and. You, know it. Costs, money for us to put an RFI response together it costs money for us to put RFP, tests, sort of responses, together so, we really need to sort of say well which schedule, looks like we're going to be able to, bid. On work, with our main clients, that in our mission space. I'm, sure, lots of people hear about there's so many RFI's, and not enough RFPs, one of the things that can be frustrating, is. Say. You GSA. Or another, idq does a fabulous job vetting everybody and getting us on a schedule, and then, the RFI's oddly. Asked us almost exactly the same thing and if, they just trusted, in the vetting of that, initial. Set of winning, companies, you, could go straight to an RFP and so, looking at some of the patterns the buying patterns that our clients, have through the schedule, is something, that, we need to look at to decide which schedule, we think is going to be the most valuable for, us and. So one, of the things that. That we look for is well what in, a particular. Schedule what kind of marketing, is GSA, doing with the clients, that we won't want to be doing work with to making sure that those relations, relationships. And that communication, is good, then it's likely going to translate, into task. Orders and and, work for us and. Because. I think again, with with like, any communication. In life the more open and the more frequent, that communication. Is in this case in you, know both with, industry, with government client. And with schedule management. I think that that would be really, very helpful. For everybody, to. Make sure that we can do that certainly. The. Teaming is something that, we all do we do it on individual, task orders, we do it on major. Acquisitions. Small. Businesses, you know in my case we're in SDV OSB obviously, on large acquisitions, where somebody, you know where somebody large, companies go to to make sure that those subcontracting. Plans are in place but. Also on. Contracts. That we manage we need to also work with large businesses, and that's. Something that we think about really, on a daily, basis both again, both for small task orders which company, makes the most sense we try and develop strategic relationships. With a few larges, a few other smalls to, make sure that we have sort of go-to relationships. In, what sometimes we call the over-under, in terms of like okay well if this comes out as a small business problem we'll prime it you can sub to us so, you know or we'll flip that if it comes out as a large business, industry. Spends a lot. Of time and, a lot of money, therefore, to make, sure that we are putting the right teams together for the right client, solutions, and so. I'm not sure if that entirely addresses. The question that was asked, but certainly that that teaming, aspect is is one that I'm sure that other, panelists, would agree is something we all well, know Andrew that was great in other thank you other panelists, if you want to address that, teaming question please feel free to but. Do you talk to about marketing, I'd like to talk to Tom can you tell us from, your perspective, the importance. Of. Marketing, with. Regard to the schedules sure, thanks. So as I mentioned earlier you know we're forced, every day to decide, how. To our apply, our resources and. Which, opportunities. To pursue. And. And it's. Disappointing. If, you pick an opportunity. To pursue or a schedule to pursue and then don't see, opportunities. Come through that schedule, so. You, know from. From. A contract. Holder perspective. It's. Very helpful if, you share with us who. You're marketing that, schedule, to which agencies, so. Maximus. Does business with most, federal civilian, agencies. And. What. Their reaction is especially. Even on specific, opportunities. If you've been talking to them about, potentially. Using this schedule, it's very helpful, for us to know that because.

We Can support you with. The customer, we usually have pretty, deep relationships. With them and if, we know that they're receptive. To it it's very helpful, so we, hold a CIO, sp3, contract. As well and they're, very aggressive, at marketing, their schedule, to the agencies. They. Share their pipeline, with us monthly, they. Tell us who they've been talking to in the agencies, and what the reaction has been to their discussions. And that, really helps us to understand, the receptivity, that we're gonna get when we go into that customer, and suggest. The use of that, vehicle. So, if, that communication. Is. Very, very helpful to us I mentioned. That it's frustrating to, get on a schedule and not see, the use of it so, we. Recently. Spent. The time to qualify for the helps in under. IT 70, and, we've. Been disappointed with, the, number, of task orders that have come I think. There's only been less. Than a dozen task, orders, we. Do a lot of work in the health area in, the federal civilian space, and you. Know those are the kind, of disappointments. That make you think later. Well, should we have spent the time and effort to get qualified for this thing, well. Thanks Tom and I think that is a very important, point that Andrea and Tom are making talking. About marketing. I don't know how many people here. Or in the virtual. Audience are, part of the the customer, account stakeholder, engagement organization. But, I think everyone, should be asking are, we appropriately, marketing, the schedules, and as. I said four it seems like gee, wax seemed to get a lot more attention and I'm a believer in the schedules, many. Of these panel. Members are also. Gee whack holders but I will tell you they've devoted. Their lives to serving the federal government, the resources, of their, company, and they. Do need to look at that ROI and I think understanding. The, marketing, is very very important, and. In talking about that Linnaean, also. Looking at the the best-in-class vehicles. In the consolidation, of schedules, can, you can you address your, comments in that area please. Marketing to, our. 0:04. Tasks at all and, so we're going through that roi and, as, we go through that we're going to be looking at what the additional requirements, are if we have to do a whole, new set of rates and a whole new thing then it is really. Not going to be good return, on investment, we're also looking at combines, from that schedule, to determine, how, often it's used and, whether the customers, that we tend to work with, really. You're on that schedule we're in the middle of that analysis. Process, now so I figured I would I would share that with you I. We. Are thinking, it might be a good investment but, we are wondering. What. What. Advertising. What marketing, you guys are doing on these, types of sins to, our customers, and if they're a place in GSA that we could actually inquire. On that and find out it would be really helpful for, us to make that decision about whether or not we go for that. Certainly. The. Value, of schedules, as compared, to the G wax and best-in-class is. A question. That we have right now it, seems like GSA. Is at least in what. What their outreach is is very focused, on the G wax at the moment and so the, ROI for the schedules, is becoming less, clear, as you see so, much. Advertising. And outreach about Alliant. To about, each cat about releases, and, we see, so. We're questioning whether, or not you, know continuing.

To Invest in schedules, really, makes a lot of sense. And. It's definitely, a question, that we have we would really though love GSA, to continue, investing. In schedules, because GMAX aren't for every company, while. We do have an each cat vehicle, interestingly, in, the last six, months we've seen at least five or six opportunities. That we would have been on and. It come out underage, calves but instead, is going they're, going to Oasis, and their, human capital opportunities. But. Oasis, has a lower fee structure, and so, that's. Even more confusing. As. Well so those are just some examples we. Are we are hoping, that GSA, continues, to invest in marketing the schedules, to its, to. Its agencies, we. Also, we've. Also seen a really, big increase in blanket. Purchase agreements. And, the use of blanket, purchase agreements, in the agencies, that we work in we're, finding our customers, especially in the Department of Homeland Security, absolutely. Love the flexibility. Of the blanket purchase agreements, and how quickly they. Can do task orders, off of these BPA's, and. That's a significant. Opportunity of, significant. Significant. Opportunity, for GSA and, for industry to, continue to have some of these blanket, purchase agreements. That are really focused on some of the specialty, areas so, I would, encourage. Marketing. Of schedules. I think, the consolidation, is free and I would also say BPA, one differentiator. That the schedules. Can provide, to. GSA, and to the customers, that are very excited about them, it's. A great suggestions, linen and talking, about one of the trends being increased, use of BPA, is a good thing there's another trend. Is new, sins and and. Mark can you talk about the challenges, involved. In, the creation of new sins, yeah, that's specifically, you know looking at the return on investment and how industry makes makes decisions. I know TSA is very active in creating new new sends, you, know whether it's health IT or, cybersecurity, or identity management I know that are there others I think that's great so he's got to be out there responding, to to the market but. You know new sin is is a is, a new product it's an experiment, and then like any other new product whether it's industry. Creating a software system or a new brand, of cereal out there somewhere you, know you don't know exactly what's going to happen it's it's an experiment, you try to try to make it as successful, as you can and I think the the. Added challenge for, GSA and these, new products is that you need industry industry behind you you, know when you roll out a new sin you need a good you know stable of vendors to attract to attract customers so. I, want to support you on that you know we all want to support GSA, and making, these successful. But. As we talk about them internally you, know the question always comes up you, know who's gonna use it how much are they gonna use it our, customers, gonna use it and then, if we don't get sales in two years are we gonna get kicked off and. That last question is kind of a tough one because even if a new, sin takes off it might take off like, the health IT maybe it takes off in the San. Diego and San Antonio military. Health centers but less you, know in other agencies like CDC, or NIH. So. I, think I'm gonna ask ask you you know help help, me help help you you, know help industry get on these on the new sends you know if we knew that there were a five-year, runway for us you. Know that you know if you help GSA, launch. A new sendou, be part of that first wave the vendors getting on it if we had a confidence we'd have a five-year runway we to stay on that and and take, the time to develop it over over time and, work new customers, in overtime that, would help us a lot in terms of making that making, that case and in, getting on the new the new sense and supporting you in the and the new product launches, well.

Thanks Mark and that's a great suggestion, increasing, that runway, for new sins from two, years to five years and I hope GSA will consider. It I want to talk it about compliance, issues, again we don't want to step on the toes of, the third panel but those compliance, issues go, into that ROI decision. Before. I do that I also want to say we do have some questions, from, from. Out there, one. Of the ones that I want you all think about it I and I'll read the teaming. Question again has, the company had any challenges obtaining, government, approval. To, partner with large businesses, on opportunities. What, about teaming, opportunities against. ETA versus. Subcontracting. Plans and if anybody wants to add to that your comments please do here's. A question I love do you think you can adequately, compete, for RFPs, that, are lowest price technically acceptable. LptA. Before. The panel. Answers. That question I'd. Like to give you my answer I think LptA is there ought to be a law against. Them in services, contracts, because. Essentially you're commoditizing, people, you're, telling, your. Customers that you can get the solution you want and you're. Converting, it to LptA, is a giant. Mistake again, this is my opinion but it's from, a few years in government few, years on the outside. But, let me go to some of these compliance, issues and feel free to comment on the LptA issue you have an an open. Mic for this now. On. The compliance issues linen can you talk about how, these compliance issues serve. As a barrier to entry or, effect your desire to renew it, sure. And to. Your question on the teaming. We. Have not had any trouble getting CTAs, or. Approval. For large business subcontractors. At all from GSA, so just. A very positive shout, out we, did our first CTA. This year and know problems at all and it's really working well for our customer, as well. On. The. Compliance, issues. Again. Not to take away from from. The third panel but. Compliance. On the vehicles does go into the initial decision, and the barrier to decide whether or not to go after and schedule. The. Contractor, assistance, visits, as, we were preparing for the panel, I literally, got, a contractor. Assistance, visit request across, my desk in the past week and it. Was a one-page. Letter and. It. Asked, for a, generic, list of things, invoices. Like. For. The last five years for. Which contracts. That's. A lot of work we, we, outsource as a small business our accounting, system and so, to pull all of those invoices, is. A lot, of work so we just need to know which invoices. And and how much we have to do I was, excited though that the contractor, assistance, visit was going to be virtual, so, we're gonna upload all our material, to a central, site that, was wonderful that was a new surprise for, me and I was very excited about it. But I'm still looking at this and saying what do they really want with, this list of things that we have to provide so, I. Would, say those. Contractor, assistance visits and the work we have to do does, go into a decision, on whether or not we want to renew or go for new sins, so.

That's Just something to think about, when, you're when you're, planning. Out, new. Sins or the compliance, I would love to really streamline. The, contractor, assistance visits I don't know if it's ever possible for, them to to, go away but, to. Kind of consolidate, them across schedules, at the same time or, to. Really. Try anyway, to provide, better customer, service or better, information, about what really the contracting, officers are looking for that, would be very helpful to us because those. Alone, for. This contractor, assistance, visit. I have four, internal, people and, my, accounting, people all on, Stan, by pulling, stuff prior to the meeting attending. The meeting it'll, probably cost me a couple of thousand dollars just to support the, contractor. Assistance visit so I. Think. I've. Already mentioned commercial, sales practices. So. We'll get a lot of questions I, would. Love the contractor, assistance visits I think one of the panelists, mentioned that it was you've really had a great experience with them and. The. Contractor, assistance, representatives. Were in a mindset of how can we help you like how can we assist you and I, find when the. Representatives. Have that kind of customer service, attitude the, visits go faster, they're more effective and, you're. More able to comply with with the, schedules going forward but, that isn't always the case and sometimes we do have to decode. Some of the acronyms. And language, and understand, some things to, try to make sure we're just just, complying so I'm looking forward to the the third. Panel. And more of the discussion on compliance later on, well. Thanks Lynn and I think those contractor, assistance visits are important, area that GSA. Can look at and are they really necessary, in, services. And and how do you apply a risk management so, the end and alleviate, the burden there one. Of the things I think all the panel members have talked about is communication. Communication. From a frequency, and openness standpoint, and, Mark. You certainly, had to get a lot of experience could, you talk about the importance, of communication, and any, suggestions, you might have here yeah thank you you, know I think you, know on our end you.

Know In administering, and getting, on on the schedules communication, is very important for us and I think you. Know on the, GSA side you may not always understand, the the. Pressure that that's going on on on, the individuals, who you're communicating with you know if we're, getting on a new scent or getting a renewal or getting a new schedule there. May be a specific procurement. That we need, that for and. That. The company is investing, in and the, timelines, may be may be getting you know make us very nervous and, so there's a lot of pressure on on your counterpart, in industry that contract administrator, who's probably getting pinged every week or more than once a week what's, the latest what's the status are we gonna get this in time so we continue to invest in this procurements, so. Just. Just on their behalf just I'm going to ask you know if frequent. Updates are important even if there's no nothing, new you, know if they can get back to their internal stakeholders, and every week and say here's the status here's the status there's a status I did hear from GSA, here's, what's going on that. Helps that person a lot I mean it helps our companies but it helps that person that you're communicating with, a lot in that regard. On. A couple of the questions that have popped up on. The teaming front I did, want to share that you know you go around the Beltway in industry. 99%. Of the time when someone says the word teaming, they're talking about prime so, so. If, it is a different, situation if it is a contractor. Teaming arrangement, under the schedules. Please. Be very clear about that in the RFPs when you issue them because it's always a learning curve for some of the folks in the room on our side sometimes. We're not sure when an RFP comes out are they talking about prom sub are they talking about lowercase, teaming, or is it a CTA so. That that would would help us a lot and. Then. I know PTA, I'm sure others will will join them but you. Know it's obviously not an industry, favorite for a lot of reasons that are out there but I think, you know it might be sometimes use not because necessarily it's, best sort for the solution, is procured, but, best for the procurement to get a clean procurement, a quick procurement, something that's maybe protest, proof and, I. Can certainly understand. You. Know pressure to do that I think that kind of puts the cart before the horse I mean the main thing is get the right solution for the mission, so. You, know if there are other ways you know with GSA as a leader in acquisition, other, ways to get a clean quick you know protest, procurement. Done other than LPGA which can have a negative effect you, know for the for the customer I. Think that would be that would be better thanks. Mark to be fair to the person who asked a question they asked do, you think you can adequately, compete, on things, that are LptA. And. Feel, free to answer that question anybody. I think it's a wrong question as Mark. Said I don't, think LptA. Particularly. In service. Arina does the, mission any good at all when, you're trying. To buy a solution, or trying to procure. The services, of people anybody else want to comment, on that sure, I'll. Make a comment Jim so you, know it depends, a lot on how, the. Acquisition. Is set up if, it's just purely, we, need this pending headcount, for our services, and it's LptA then. As a large business, we, wouldn't compete, with that it's going to be the. Cheapest, labor that you can buy with the least overhead, so, that's what you're gonna get if what, on, the other hand if really. It's about the most effective. Way to deliver. The. Business, process, and get the outcome, that's, a business that we sign up for every day so, I think the importance, is let, us figure, out how, to get, to the lowest price, by. Applying, our, commercial. Knowledge, and our understanding in the marketplace, and allow. Us to apply. Techniques. Methodology. And technology and. We can get to lowest price. Yeah. I'll just chime in on that too so working for a small business with very low overhead and pretty. Competitive, rates we. Very rarely feel. Like we could competitively. Bid on an LptA. Procurement. I think that you know we do have engineers, we have some scientists. And. Just, speaking to the level of service I think that would make it very difficult for us we've seen some LPT. Procurements. Coming out saying they're only gonna read the cheapest proposal. And if it meets the bare minimum, they're not even gonna read any one of the other proposals and we. See that and we think well there's $10,000. Down the drain because we're probably not going to be the absolute cheapest, so we're gonna be pretty inexpensive, but, we're not going to spend $10,000.

Or 5,000, or however much it is gonna be to put that response together in. Hopes. That you, might be the the one that gets read so, I think that that's something. That we just then don't bet on them because we don't think we will, we will win them nor, do we think that even if we won them that. We could then provide. The. Services. Adequately. We, would be I think, under serving, our government. Clients by, giving, them a. Really. Inferior, product, of services. Andre, just to, make sure. Perspective. You, mentioned a couple of numbers we've. Seen some LptA, bits, come out that cost us. $500,000. To bid on not five thousand, or ten thousand so, the, larger, or the opportunity. Obviously the more money we as an industry have, to spend and respond to it but, the decision process would be the same is if, we don't feel we can deliver value and we, feel like we're not even going to have our, response. Read then, obviously it, would be a non-starter, I. Would. Just say again from my perspective using. LptA, when it doesn't belong means that acquisition. People, are not affording. Themselves, the opportunity to use good business judgment on behalf of the mission and the taxpayers, we, do have some questions from the audience but before, we do that I want to run, through the panel and allow, each of you the opportunity to. Make any last, suggestions. For improving the schedules, or improving the process, or the relationship, with GSA, let, me start with Andrea I. Sort. Of repetitive I would just say that the communication and. Again the sort of three-way communication. Between industry. GSA. And the. Components. And agencies, that they use the schedules and vehicles I think, that's really something, that is crux and then also, from a small business perspective not. All not, all small, businesses, are even created, equal I've reached out to some small business. Liaisons. I. Tell. Them who I'm with I tell them how long we've been in government, and then they say you need to sign up for an X code and I well you'd read my email you'd see that we've, been in business for more than 15 years we've we figured that part out, so let's, live there and there there are small, businesses with vastly. More complex. Work than we do and less and just kind of understand it remembering, that small businesses, have, a unique place, in all of this and. Before, you go on Linnea let me just as, you answer this question think. About this question too. Once, you have a scheduled, contract, what is your role or responsibility, to. Make it successful more than GSA's, role I think you all have touched upon that to the marketing but if you think of anything else in that area what's, your role versus. GSA's, role in working together to make it successful. Well. To. Answer that question interestingly, I think both of our roles are marketing, but. I think we do them a little bit separately, so, I, think, our role with. A schedule is to market that we have it get it out on our website tell. Our customers about, it. You. Know share and focus and success stories so, they. Know what, our past performance is and, that we're available on this vehicle. I think. GSA's role, is also marketing, and in a lot of sense. And it would be great, when, you, first get a schedule or first do a renewal, to have a touch point with someone in marketing. To be able to at. GSA, to talk to them about how. Can we help you what are your primary strategies. To market to, say, this certain, department that were focused, on if we understood, what your marketing, messages are we could reinforce that we, talked to the customers, all the time and, so we're a channel, and a voice for GSA with the customers, and. We can share that in. Terms of, exciting. Ideas, or any last thoughts on ideas I have a couple the. First would be I. Would, love to see more either. Podcast. Or videos, from. GSA. Especially. So now were we, were a small business we're, still a small business, in many contracts. But we're starting to be a large business. In one. Of our schedules. I. Think. Back to when I was a brand-new small business. Getting. On his schedule was, absolutely. Terrifying, if I could see what a contractor, assistants visit was like in a, video if I could see what, that first conversation was, with, a contracting, officer so, that I knew you. Always hear about the negotiations. That happen, with GSA contracting, officers if you could demystify. That process, a little bit more it would be it would be wonderful for small businesses, so I'm advocating for, the really the first time small businesses. But. For, my spur for our company, when we do the renewals. I would love to refresh, and get some resources, podcasts. Or videos to, kind of see, what, that is like that, would really help give. Us the confidence be prepared, make sure we're giving all the information. Another. Suggestion, I have is. Around. Sharing. More success, stories around, your BPA's, and, agencies.

That Have done BPA's. Why, that's good why you can really do, incredibly. Fast task order procurements, off of BPA's, I. Personally. I'm, not even advocating, for just single-award, BPA's, I like the, BPA's where maybe there are 3-3, winning companies so you still, have competition. Within. The agency, but. You. Can you can have that competition and you, can know. That you're gonna get two or three great. Proposals. Really, quickly and you can make a decision very quickly and in, those BPA, tasks corners the, protest. Likelihood. Is so, low, because. There. Are three companies that are working with you for say a five-year, BPA and, so, you, get to know the companies, the companies get to know the, agency, and how they make decisions and. They're comfortable with whoever, wins on those task orders so, that, would just those would be my recommendations, and, ideas. On lowering. The barriers and tree or encouraging. More use of schedules, thanks. Lana I think those are great suggestions, and I think looking. At the BPA's for the multiple, awardees, and getting. Competition, and task order level that fits squarely and, I think, one of administrator, Murphy's key goals so I think that's a great, suggestion, mark, yeah. In terms of you, know the vendor. Responsibilities. On making contracts. And schedules successful, you know I spend a lot of my time helping, customers navigate the options that are out there for them that may not be as educated, on all of them so the schedules, the, G whacks the government-wide idea cues and the agency specific, you know vehicles, and and, what's been great over the last several years is more, and more and more. Openness. And recognition, the value proposition, of the GSA vehicles, the, schedules in the tea wax and maybe. A little bit less focus on that and the agency specific, idea. Cues and so I think that's a great opportunity for, us you know collectively, there's really a, movement. There that I think I think we can all capitalize, on. In. Terms of other other kind of a kind of last thoughts. Something. You hear a little bit more about today I think in a very interesting way so watch for it is though. RFI's, and if you ever issue RFI's, be it at a scheduled level or task order kind, of the importance on our end of a communication, after the fact so, so watch for that in the in the next session. I think. We've touched on the communication. Piece quite a bit but but I can't, stress, the importance, of pick. Up the phone it. Shortens, the cycle, for everyone it, decreases. The frustration. Level, immensely. So, so. I would just reinforce, that, we've. Talked a lot about. Communications. Around marketing, and the pipeline. Helping. Us to understand, that will. Help us know which customers. To approach, and. I, think, you, know we, want to help. Get. Our customers, to utilize the, schedule, we invest it in the schedule for a reason so, knowing, where we're working on the same. Outcome. Would be very helpful and then, finally, I think you've heard a couple examples of. Where we. As contractors. Felt we got inconsistency. And answers from GSA, so, you. Know I would. Request. Maybe, an. Appeals, process somewhere. For us to say look. We we got this answer from one side this answer from another side can. We take it up a level and have just one answer it. Would help us, to understand, a lot more about, where. The policy, lies and what the what, the absolute answer. Is. Tom. I think that's a very important, suggestion, and, anywhere else in in. Society or in. Government, you can appeal. If. You think something is just plain wrong and I think. GSA. And and its. Management should, be open to that I've certainly had in my experience, people appeal, to, my boss and I understand, it as. Tom said a lot of times they're dealing on issues where, there is inconsistency. Or maybe, it's somebody who doesn't. Know all the history and I think being able to, use. That appeal not frequently, but but when it's appropriate I think would be very helpful I think the message is on the. Communication. Everybody's. Talked about mark just, talked about the targeting, and understanding. Where. You are having success and where you're targeting, with agencies, I will tell you in talking. To a senior, procurement executive a cabinet-level agency. Said. She. Didn't want to use schedules they were too rigid, talking. To another senior. Procurement executive, said. I want to use schedules, because gee wax are too rigid and I. I mean just contradictory. Messages, and I think the, more that, this partnership, between, GSA, and the industry can, align on the, communications. Between them, and the communications. Together to, the end agency. Customers the better we.

Do Have another question here, that I want to get to. GSA's. Many training, subjects, available online. Is. There any suggestions. You have for, other, training, topics, and I know then an you suggested. The podcast, on on, various things like the contractor, assistants. Visits anything. Else to do that any of you all see in terms of training. Online that's not available today and. I gonna, be honest I don't know if it's available I haven't checked that that site but I mentioned, CTAs and how how confusing, it is for many of us on our end because it doesn't happen as frequently, so. Training. On there about about CTAs what they are how they work how you bid them I think, would be it would be great. Thanks. We. Have other questions they have managed to disappear, from my screen. Here but. Let. Me go to one that I think I remember and the question, was around ebuy, and, for. A small business but also for all of you how. Much do you see ii by as a good tool for you and Andrea, can we start with you I, am. Sure so I would say that we've not used it at all but. At my former company which is a large company we did use it so I'm sorry I can't really comment on it with, with. Much authority other, than it's, not something, that we looked. At for ticket been able to manage I. Think. There there are improvements. Can be made and there may be one of the last groups might might talk about that but, I think doing things through a tool versus, email is great, from my perspective, email. Is unpredictable, my. Email servers go up and down, there. Are always issues that come up with emails and and everyone's, worried are we gonna see the RFP, as it come out yet what about the amendments are we missing something and it's all out there on a website that makes everything much cleaner. And the same thing with proposal submissions, submitting a proposal via, email it can be very stressful file. Size email. Glitches, you, don't know and then we're bugging you to get a confirmation did, it come through so. Doing, all that through a through, a website and makes that a lot cleaner. You. Know looking at where the schedules, are headed, you, know I think there's the, possibility, that products.

Commodity. Products, go in a different direction and, that, the schedules are really focused, on services. I guess, I want to ask the panel. To question. Looking. At the current. Compliance. Issues, around and I don't can steal, the Thunder but as you look on services, things, like price reduction, Clause commercial. Sales practices I know, those, are areas that are very confusing, to, companies, but as we, go down the path of potentially. Schedule those schedules, being all about services, are, there any other suggestions. You have in this area, Marc. I know you're been in this game the longest. You. Know nothing just jumps off right to mine I think you know just making. It simpler and more, consistent, and easier for everybody I think that that, piece of it that you know is is that where a lot of the resources get spent and a lot of white companies have to go outside to. You. Know spend. Money on getting support so I don't know that I have the answer but I noticed it could be a good area of focus to streamline. Well. Just thinking about this in terms of you're. Buying services, you're buying labor, and that. Seems like that's something that's pretty easy to check through other, sources rather. Than going through all of this detailed. Information, from the company if you're proposing labor rates it seems to me might, there not be an easy way to verify. The reasonableness, of these anybody, like to comment on that oh. Go. Ahead. Okay, if not let me let me get to the other questions. So. Can. I make a comment, on sure for the previous, question so one. Of the. Concerns. With schedules, going forward, for, for, us as a company is. That. Services. Are becoming a blend of Technology, and people and. It. Makes it difficult under, is schedule to blend, it so you. Know I know the, like, the, the. Cloud work has been an example, of that but. We, see, things. Like citizens. Services heading, in the same direction where. You. Know the combination. Of digital, technology. And, people. Answering, the phone or answering. Questions, are, often required as part of the contract, and you. Know at figuring. Out how to address that under a schedule, that's split, into technology. And people. Makes. For very difficult discussion with our cost. Thanks. Let, me go to another. Question, yes. You. Have a question from the audience yes. I'd. Rather take one from the audience here. Montrezl. Thank, you this. Question is you've spoken, a lot about RFI's. And, so, I want to ask you if you've encountered. RFI. Instructions. That read. You, must reply, to this, RFI. Prior. To or subsequent, to. Replying. To an RF. You. Haven't seen any of that no I've seen, the opposite, I usually, find that the it's, very clear that you are not required to respond to the RFI to, respond, to the RFP and I have, found personally that the instructions, are very clear, in that direction I, don't, wonder if my panelists. Have seen something u

2018-03-29 08:23

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