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Small Business Advocacy

 

We are the voice of the independent dealer community in Washington, D.C. and the states across the country. Tax reform for small business, sensible healthcare reform for all and broadening access to government contracts independent dealers are just a few of the policies we fight for each and every day!  

There was a study discussed that showed data that besides customers having the largest economic value on a company in the next 3-5 years (71 percent), the government/regulators would have the second largest impact at 54 percent. It is, therefore, the job of government affairs specialists to make sure the impact is positive and not harmful to small businesses and allows fair practices. There is no one particular characteristic of a company or business that allows it to have success in legislative outcomes. Each characteristic is only has a 50 percent chance of having the desired outcome. But, by combing more lobbyists, larger PAC money, etc., the chances of success increase. Source: McKinsey Survey  


In addition to ongoing lobbying efforts, the OFDA encourages members to participate in ongoing messaging efforts designed to encourage lawmakers to understand issues that face the industry. The alliance utilizes VoterVoice to streamline this process for our members.

To learn about more about issues currently facing the industry, select the VoterVoice icon below.


 

  


 

Click Here for Special 2014 Election Issue Coverage
 

Helping Independents Gain Ground

IOPFDA is the industry-wide organization representing dealer interests before the U.S. and key state/local governments, insisting on fair and open competition in procurement, seeking small business healthcare reforms, and protecting your business against misguided government proposals. Committee members monitor and represent the dealer community on issues including:

 

FEDERAL ISSUES:

Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI)
Affordable Care Act

IRS & Tax Issues

AbilityOne/JWOD

GSA/VA/SBA Procurement
Furniture Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (F-FSSI)

 

STATE ISSUES:

IRS & TAX Issues

State Procurement

Interior Design Legislation

Particularly active through IOPFDA's National Office Products Alliance (NOPA) division, members have been pushing for fair and open competition at the federal, state and local government levels and encouraging officials to abandon so-called "strategic” sole-source contracting as their primary purchasing strategy. Most recently, a potential GSA Furniture Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) has been announced and is fast becoming an issue that IOPFDA's Office Furniture Dealers Alliance (OFDA) is getting involved with.

IOPFDA plays a central role in helping dealers coordinate efforts and share information on government contracting developments and best-practice advocacy tactics. There is no substitute for unity of purpose when independents advocate for their worthy causes, whether at the federal, state or local level. 

 

 

  

FEB. 6, 2015 - Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies Healthcare Weekly Report 

JAN. 6, 2015 - Affortable Care Act 2015 Challenges
JULY 21, 2014 - House Votes to Make Bonus Depreciation Tax Credit Permanent
JULY 21, 2014 - Senators Renew Internet Sales Tax Push
JULY 21, 2014 - NOPA Testifies at Small Business Committee Roundtable on Strategic Sourcing
JUNE 2, 2014 - IOPFDA Issues letter to GSA Regarding Furniture FSSI
MAY 31, 2014 - IOPFDA Joins Coalition for a Democratic Workplace
MAY 29, 2014 - IOPFDA Joins Coalition for Fair Effective Tax Rates

 


JANUARY 6, 2014 - Affortable Care Act 2015 Challenges

As the Affordable Care Act enters its fifth year, there are still major components of the law to be worked out for the first time.

Both the individual mandate and the employer mandate – which are considered vital pillars of the president’s landmark healthcare law – will confront new challenges in 2015. Doctors and hospitals will also face new penalties for failing to comply with federal rules such as those requiring the use of e-records.

The stakes are high in 2015. The administration will be hoping that the Affordable Care Act regains ground after a muddy patch over the last few weeks that included controversies around the administration’s famously blunt former adviser Jonathan Gruber, an inflated enrollment tally and a new legal threat to the law’s subsidies.

 Employer mandate goes into effect

After years of delays, businesses with at least 100 employees will be forced to offer insurance for the first time in 2015.

Business groups have lobbied hard against the controversial rule, which they have called a major headache that will force layoffs and less hours for workers.

The twice-delayed penalty has also been tweaked over the last two years to require less paperwork for employers. Medium-sized companies, with staffs of between 50 and 100, will have until 2016 to offer coverage.

The GOP-led House has voted numerous times to delay – and ultimately repeal – the employer mandate. The Senate’s incoming Republican leadership has also floated the same approach as part of its battle plan in 2015.

Fines levied for individual mandate

Most Americans have been required to have health insurance since January 2014, but the financial penalties for those who ignored the mandate will only go into effect during tax season this spring.

Each person without insurance will pay $95 or 1 percent of their income, whichever is higher.

The mandate is a crucial part of the Affordable Care Act, meant to push people of all ages and health conditions to seek coverage – and balance the influx of older and sicker people who were expected to flood the marketplaces with younger, healthier counterparts.

Implementing the new fines next year will require full attention from the Internal Revenue Service. It will likely be a major challenge for the already cash-strapped agency that is dealing with sharp budget cuts and new responsibilities such as the employer mandate.

Primary care doctors face pay cut

Family doctors who treat Medicaid patients will see steep drops in payments from the federal government that could make it tougher for millions of low-income people to find care.

Reimbursements from Medicaid will shrink an average of 43 percent starting in January, when the federal government’s temporary raise for primary care doctors is set to expire.

The federal government had raised its reimbursement rates to entice more doctors to accept Medicaid patients under the Affordable Care Act. Patients with Medicaid have been historically known to cost healthcare providers far more than they are repaid for the treatment, causing some doctors to turn away patients.

Medicaid has added 10 million people to its rolls under the Affordable Care Act, reaching a total of 63 million enrollees this year. While Congress decided not to make the hikes permanent, at least 15 states will keep at least a portion of the new payment rates to help Medicaid patients.

Medicare doctors fined for not using e-records

More than 270,000 doctors and 200 hospitals nationwide will see funding cuts from Medicare next year for failing to meet new government requirements for electronic medical records.

The Obama administration has sought to encourage “meaningful use” of e-records and e-prescribing systems to make healthcare providers more efficient and cut down on communication errors that can harm patients.

But the effort has come under fire from some providers who say patients are harmed by the cuts to their reimbursement rates. The cuts will increase to 3 percent within three years.

Electronic medical records have been increasingly adopted by healthcare providers across the country, though the steep investment costs – about $165,000 for an average five-person practice in the first year – continue to be a burden.

CHIP funding set to expire

A 27-year program that has helped millions of children gain insurance is set to end next year without new steps from Congress.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, is reauthorized until 2019 but only funded through September of next year.

The program provides coverage to about 8 million children annually and has been praised by lawmakers of both parties.

Still, members of Congress have failed to take steps to fund the program despite urgent pleas from governors who say they need to know immediately whether the program will end.

While some of the children currently enrolled could now find other options under the Affordable Care Act, the program’s coverage tends to be more generous with deductibles and copays, as well as wider doctor networks, than cheaper plans on the exchanges.


 
JULY 21, 2014 - House Votes to Make Bonus Depreciation Tax Credit Permanent
The House recently passed legislation to extend the bonus depreciation tax credit for businesses permanently. The measure, which passed 258-160, is the latest in the House GOP’s efforts to extend a string of temporary tax incentives indefinitely.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said that permanently renewing the credit, which expired at the end of 2013 along with nearly 50 other breaks, would pave the way for tax reform. But Democrats said the lack of offsets for the tax extender measure ran counter to GOP demands for other bills, such as renewing unemployment insurance.

Under bonus depreciation, companies can generally write off 50 percent of certain purchases in the first year.  Consideration of a package to renew more than 50 tax breaks has stalled in the Senate due to the ongoing disagreement over amendments.

The House, meanwhile, has also passed permanent extensions of the research and development credit, a provision known as Section 179, to allow small businesses to write off investments, and breaks to help corporations that do not pay income taxes and pass along income to shareholders. In the process, the tax breaks have become a part of both parties’ election-year messages.   President Obama and Democrats say the GOP’s tax cut extensions — bonus depreciation alone costs some $287 billion over a decade — are both fiscally irresponsible and hypocritical.

The White House pointed out in its threat to veto Friday’s bill that Republicans have demanded offsets for extending long-term unemployment insurance, but not for hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks.  Bonus depreciation was among dozens of temporary tax breaks to expire at the end of 2013. Unlike the House, the Senate is seeking to extend almost all of those incentives on a two-year basis.

Business groups say the bonus depreciation write-off gives companies more leeway to purchase other equipment, giving the economy a jolt in the process. But critics say they’ve seen no proof that the incentive has been a boon to economic growth.  Bonus depreciation was first put into place during President George W. Bush’s tenure in the White House to help stimulate a lagging economy.   Camp had actually sought to slow down business write-offs in the tax reform draft he released this year, raising eyebrows among conservative tax analysts.  Levin indicated that Democrats would ultimately support an extension of the bonus depreciation break, but only if it is paid for.

JULY 21, 2014 - Senators Renew Internet Sales Tax Push

Senators seeking to give states broader latitude to charge sales taxes on Internet purchases are preparing a last-ditch effort to pass legislation through Congress before the midterm elections.  A bipartisan group of lawmakers has been pushing such a fix for years, insisting it would level the playing field between brick-and-mortar and online retailers.

Now, Senate supporters believe they have a perfect vehicle: the Internet Tax Freedom Act, a relatively uncontroversial measure, which sailed through the House on Tuesday, that would extend a long-standing ban on state and local taxes on Internet access.  

Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and several other senators released their new bill recently, which would attach the online sales tax measure to a 10-year extension of the Internet freedom bill. The House passed a permanent version of the online access bill on Tuesday.  The move sets up a potential showdown between the House, where GOP leadership and a key committee chairman have shown little interest in online sales tax legislation, and the Senate, which passed its bill more than a year ago with bipartisan support.

The Internet Tax Freedom Act expires Nov. 1, meaning providers could send out warnings about potential new taxes on online access just weeks before the election, an outcome that neither supporters nor opponents of the online sales tax legislation particularly want.  Still, Enzi said he and other backers of the online sales tax legislation, including Majority whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), would press ahead, despite anticipated resistance from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and other opponents of the measure.

The Senate’s Marketplace Fairness Act, passed in May 2013, would allow states to collect sales taxes from out-of-state retailers. Currently, states cannot enforce the collection of sales tax from retailers that do not have a physical presence in their borders.   While sponsors said the sales tax bill would create parity between physical and online retailers, some members slammed the bill, saying it would subject small retailers to a complex maze of compliance burdens from thousands of state and local tax jurisdictions.   Critics have also condemned the speed with which the bill moved through the Senate, and opponents on Tuesday said they saw no reason to link the sales tax and Internet access measures.

The online sales tax bill has faced more roadblocks in the House, where House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has called for a simpler bill than what passed the Senate.  In September, Goodlatte released a set of seven principles that any online sales tax bill must meet to be considered in the Judiciary Committee, including equal burdens for physical and online retailers and language that encourages local governments to compete on tax policy. He also held a hearing on the issue in March.  Despite the principles, hearing and pledges to work on alternative approaches to the online sales tax bill, Goodlatte has not yet brought a bill up for consideration in the Judiciary Committee. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a Judiciary Committee member, has pursued online sales tax legislation but has yet to release a measure.  Industry groups say the Senate is looking to move the online sales tax bill in the face of Goodlatte’s inaction.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Durbin would have to move the combined measure over the objections of Wyden, who is the original co-author of the Internet access bill and whose committee has jurisdiction over online sales tax issues.   Reid has given Wyden more leeway, at least publicly, than the previous Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Max Baucus (D-Mont.). But Democratic leaders also appear to be accepting a House plan to prop up the Highway Trust Fund, even though Wyden has a similar proposal.

JULY 21, 2014 - NOPA Testifies at Small Business Committee Roundtable on Strategic Sourcing

Last week NOPA had the opportunity to testify during a House Small Business Committee Roundtable focused on Federal Strategic Sourcing.  This was an opportunity for NOPA to share with members of the Committee, other small businesses, members of the General Services Administration, NASA, and the Small Business Administration the solutions it has for moving forward with a long-term strategy on FSSI and also the challenges industry has faced trying to work within the current framework of FSSI.

Participating in the Roundtable included:

Congressional Participants:
Chairman Richard Hanna (R-NY)
Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH)
Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO)
Emily Murphy, Counsel to Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO)
Barry Pinellas, Chief Counsel to Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO)

Agency Participants:
Jeff Koses, GSA
Amanda Fredriksen, GSA strategy
Darlene Cohen, NASA
John Shoraka, Small Business Administration

Industry Participants:
Roger Waldron, Coalition for Government Procurement
Kevin Paul, KPaul
Joe Wynn, Vet Force
Trey Hodgkins – Information Tech Alliance For Public Sector
Roger Jordan, Professional Services Coalition
Renee Robinchaux, GMS Industrial Supply
Steve Roemerman, Lone Star
Laurie Flannagan, ISSA (Coalition For Common-Sense Contracting)
Paul Miller, NOPA

The Roundtable focused on four areas:  1) The Schedule Program; 2) Lack of Opportunity for Small Businesses; 3) Current System Does Not Met Small Business Goals; 4) Failure to Conduct Impact Studies on Industry.

The Schedule Program
Roger Waldron began the discussion on how the Schedule program could be a viable buying tool for GSA if it was cleaned-up.  Mr. Waldron contends the savings GSA touts from FSSI may not be any more than they would receive through the Schedule program.  Paul Miller supported Waldron’s claim about cleaning up the Schedule program and agreed that part of NOPA’s dialogue with GSA in the past has been offering an option of cleaning up Schedule 75, which would make GSA’s job easier to manage these Schedules, but should also be a way to lift the current 4-year moratorium on issuing new Schedule 75’s.  Miller contended that the number one question asked by the membership was when Schedule 75 would re-open and is it GSA’s plans to eliminate it all together.  Miller had the opportunity to ask GSA several times this question and Jeff Koses could only answer that no decision has been made at this time to either re-open Schedule 75 or eliminate Schedule 75.  Others on the panel also supported cleaning up and keeping the Schedule program as a viable buying vehicle for the government.

Lack of Opportunities For Small Businesses
This issue was a large part of the debate.  You had Joe Wynn with Vet Force and Kevin Paul focused their comments on the failures of FSSI to provide real opportunities for Veterans returning home.  Jeff Koses responded by saying GSA is doing everything it can to help and support Veterans in this process and will continue to do so.  Miller added that NOPA’s concern was the few contracts being awarded under FSSI and what that has done to the industry as a whole as well as what it means to GSA’s long-term strategy of savings. Miller applauded GSA’s efforts to drive FSSI business to small businesses, but in doing so, it has had a negative impact on the overall industry.  Miller contends that by offering as many as 50 awards, which would include several of the industries consortia models, GSA would be doing more for the overall small business community than their current approach.  Several other small businesses on the panel concurred and made similar comments to GSA.

Current System Does Not Meet Small Business Goals
NOPA, as well as several other panelists, pressed GSA on it plans to meet its small business goals when they are doing business with fewer and fewer vendors.  GSA again reiterated its support of small businesses and said FSSI will help them meet their goals and will help boost small businesses winning awards.  Miller and others challenged GSA on this point saying that GSA is going to be unable to meet its small business goals in the future because too few vendors in these categories will remain in the government market.  If you don’t receive an award you have to wait as long as five years and most will not stay around for the hopes they will win an award next time with so few contracts being awarded the panelists contended.  The panelists also stated that GSA’s efforts are doing more harm than good to small businesses because it is not looking at the long-term impacts on those not winning awards and too few opportunities to truly team with other small businesses.

Failure to Conduct Impact Studies on Industry
The panel moved onto the subject of GSA’s failures to conduct industry impact studies before issuing RFP’s for FSSI to gauge the impact on industry.  Miller contended it has been asking all the way back to OS1 for GSA to do a real industry impact study. Miller contends that by doing these studies GSA would get a better sense of the industry and may find out that there are more effective ways to structure FSSI.  Others on the panel made similar assertions and really challenged GSA to do industry impact studies moving forward.

This was a great first step from the House Small Business Committee.  NOPA applauds Chairman Graves, Chairman Hanna and their staff for hosting this event.  It was a real opportunity for industry impacted by FSSI to share their concerns directly with GSA about how this program has positively and negatively impacted their businesses.  NOPA will be sending another letter to GSA urging them to reconsider their position and add more BPA’s to OS3 for office supplies as well as hold off on issuing any RFP for office furniture until such time it can assure industry that it has a strategic plan that has industry support and solutions included.  NOPA asked during the panel discussion for GSA to become a true partner with industry who not only listens, but takes industry solutions into consideration.  NOPA will also be asking the House Small Business Committee to send a letter to GSA requesting they reconsider NOPA’s solutions for OS3 and beyond.  NOPA has offered real solutions that meet GSA’s needs as well as offers more opportunities for small businesses.  NOPA will also be asking the Coalition for Common-Sense Contracting to request the same type of letter from the Committee.


JUNE 4, 2014 - BREAKING NEWS: GSA Suspends OS2 Amid Protests
Earlier today IOPFDA received word that the General Services Administration (GSA) had immediately suspended Federal Strategic Sourcing OS2 for office supplies due to several protests filed claiming GSA violated the FAR in extending these contracts as well as the Jobs Act passed by Congress in 2013.
Click here to Download a Copy of the Notification Letter.

JUNE 2, 2014 - IOPFDA Issues letter to GSA Regarding Furniture FSSI
One June 2, IOPFDA issued a letter to Linda Valdes, Director of Engineering for the General Services Administration's Federal Acquistion Services requesting that the GSA permanently put on hold its efforts to isuse a RFP in 2015 for office furniture as part of its Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI).
Read the letter, reasoning, and suggestions moving forward by clicking here.


MAY 31, 2014 - IOPFDA JOINS COALITION FOR A DEMOCRATIC WORKPLACE
BALTIMORE (May 30, 2014) – The Independent Office Products & Furniture Dealers Alliance (IOPFDA) has recently joined the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of workers, employers, associations and organizations who are fighting to protect the right to a federally supervised private ballot when workers are deciding whether or not to join a union. We are opposed to the so-called Employee Free Choice Act because it would strip Americans of that right and replace it with a system where your vote is no longer private, and it is made public to your employer, the union organizers and your co-workers.

Whether it’s legislation or regulation, the principle is the same: CDW believes the only way to guarantee worker protection from coercion and intimidation is through the continued use of a federally supervised private ballot election so that personal decisions about whether to join a union remain private.

MAY 29, 2014 - IOPFDA JOINS COALITION FOR FAIR EFFECTIVE TAX RATES
BALTIMORE (May 29, 2014) – The Independent Office Products & Furniture Dealers Alliance (IOPFDA) has recently joined the Coalition for Fair Effective Tax Rates, a Washington, D.C.-based alliance whose mission is to educate Congress and key stakeholders that tax reform should be viewed through the lens of effective tax rates, the amount of taxes businesses actually pay.

The coalition is comprised of all types and sizes of businesses – large and small, corporations and businesses that pay taxes through the individual rate system. More than 1,500,000 businesses are members through the nearly 200 trade associations and organizations which include the Business Solutions Association, National School Supply & Equipment Association, North American Equipment Dealers Association, National Federation of Independent Business and the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors.

According to the Coalition, in order to accomplish its mission , the coalition will establish effective tax rate fairness as the best metric to make meaningful comparisons among policy choices and how they would impact different business types and industries; use this metric to bolster the supporters of comprehensive tax reform that broadens the tax base while lowering tax rates for corporations, pass through businesses and individuals alike; and impress upon lawmakers and key stakeholders the negative impact that high effective tax rates have on job creation, economic growth, and the competitiveness of American businesses.

“We look forward to becoming an active member of the Coalition,” continued Jones. “Through this membership, we will be able to further our stand and truly represent and educate the dealer community on this important issue.”



MAY 28 -

Amendment Requires GSA To Conduct Impact Studies Under FSSI Program
WASHINGTON (May 28, 2014) – On Thursday, May 22 Congress passed the FY'15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 325-98. In a show of support for small businesses, Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) and Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI) offered a bi-partisan amendment to HR 4435, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, which passed unanimously.

This amendment requires GSA to conduct industry impact studies before issuing any Requests For Proposals (RFP) under their Federal Strategic Sourcing (FSSI) program. It would also require GSA to issue a consolidation report 30-days prior to issuing any RFPs.

“This is a significant step forward in IOPFDA’s efforts to bring about solution based ideas to FSSI,” stated Paula Kreuzburg, Executive Director of the Independent Office Products & Furniture Dealers Alliance (IOPFDA). “We fully appreciate GSA’s efforts to drive dollars to small businesses but in doing so, they are doing more harm than good to the health and stability of the industry. We applaud Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) and Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI) for introducing this bi-partisan amendment which we believe will go a long way in helping ensure the health of the small business community.”

Strategic sourcing was implemented in 2005 with the goal to leverage the government’s buying power to reduce costs and improve overall efficiency. Today GSA continues to claim that federal government purchasing is decentralized and has too many duplicative contracts being utilized by its many agencies.

“We are excited about this amendment as it goes a long way to ensuring that the government, in its contracting process, will be required to look at the impact their decisions have on small businesses and the entire industry,” stated Rod Manson, chair of the IOPFDA’s Legislative & Regulatory Affairs Committee and President of Office Advantage, a Poway, CA office products dealership.

“We applaud the bi-partisan support this amendment received. The new requirement ensures small businesses won’t be left behind in any new federal procurement programs that appear to be putting more emphasis on a strategy that looks to buy from fewer vendors rather than ensuring a healthy small business community and on the long-term savings to the government.” added Manson.

“IOPFDA wants to thank Representative Meng and Representative Walberg for their willingness to work across the aisle in an effort to protect small businesses,” said Kreuzburg. "We could not have found two better small business champions for taking on this issue on behalf of all small businesses in this country.”


MAY 21, 2014 - Your Help Needed in Combating Federal Strategic Sourcing

We need your help today to weigh in with Congress to support an important amendment that will help our efforts to fight the negative economic impact that the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative will have on the office products and furniture industry.

Congress will consider the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2015 this week.  At the urging of NOPA and its coalition partners, Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Tim Walhberg (R-MI) plan to offer an amendment to the bill that would require the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study of the effects of the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) on small businesses. It would also require that an agency’s justification of a strategic sourcing solicitation be published prior to the issuance of a solicitation.  While NOPA plans to continue its efforts to create a more positive solution to OS3 that helps GSA meet their needs to save money and offers more opportunities to more small businesses, this amendment will provide us with some important tools for that fight. 

If you are willing, we are asking dealers to send a letter  to your member of the House of Representatives and let them know that you support this amendment. Download our sample letter and contact Paul Miller, IOPFDA Director of Legislative & Regulatory Affairs at pmiller@mwcapitol.com for key office contacts.



MAY 6, 2014 - GSA Announces Proposed Extension to OS2 Term
According to letters recently received by several National Office Products Alliance (NOPA) dealers dated April 30, the GSA Federal Acquisition Service (FAR) has announced its intent to extend the current term of the Federal Strategic Sourcing (FSSI) Office Supplies Second Generation (OS2) Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) which was due to expire on May 31, 2014.
 
According to FAR Clause 52.217-8, the option to Extend Services clause allows the provision to be exercised more than once, but the total extension of performance may not exceed six months. The total proposed period of performance will be effective beginning June 1 through November 30, 2014 but may be cancelled at any time earlier and, according to the letter, shall be discontinued upon OS3 award(s).
 
The letter also suggests that the Government intends to utilize the tier volume discounts as established in effect April 30 and does not commit the Government to extend the BPA; reserving the to evaluate whether the extension of the term of the BPA, is in the best interest of the government. However, if the BPA is extended by the Government, it will be accomplished via a bilateral modification the will specifically identify the period of performance for said extension.

“IOPFDA welcomes the GSA decision to extend the FSSI OS/2 BPA beyond the end of the Federal Government’s 2014 fiscal year end on September 30th, said Rod Manson, President of Office Advantage and Chair or the IOPFDA Legislative & Regulatory Affairs Committee. "In so doing, dealers around the country can more effectively map out sales and operational strategies in support of the higher demand for goods and services by the Federal Government that peaks in the final months of their fiscal year.”


APRIL 7, 2014 - 28, 2014
- Federal Office Furniture Strategic Sourcing Update & Participation Request
On Tuesday, April 15, 2014 from 10:00AM  to 12:00PM (EST), GSA will be holding a virtual meeting in an effort to gather information from the commercial office furniture industry regarding best practices as they work to shape a Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) for the purchase of furniture products and services.

To be sure, the FSSI program has deeply impacted hundreds of independent office products dealers many of whom hold GSA Schedules but are now excluded from selling to significant portions of the Federal Government.  In fact, OFDA's sister alliance, the National Office Products Alliance (NOPA) has spent years in an effort to moderate the effects of the FSSI on NOPA members.

Prior to the implementation of the FSSI program in the office products industry over 550 companies held a GSA Schedule 75.  Today that number is under 400.  Most importantly, the 3rd generation of the FSSI BPA will be awarded within the next 90 days and we know that fewer than 20 companies will receive a BPA.

Recently the GSA has issued an RFI targeting the furniture industry for Best Practice suggestions regarding a  government-wide program it says is designed to improve the way the federal government sources and manages furniture products and services.

The proposed federal strategic sourcing initiative (FSSI) furniture solution will center around office furniture including, but not limited to, seating, shelving, tables, workstations, and displays.

Just last week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a report examining the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) efforts to improve acquisition through strategic sourcing. The OIG audit reviewed the  procurement practices in the BOP from October 2010 through March 2013, during which time the BOP awarded almost  $9 billion in contracts.

The OIG found that, "while the BOP had established national contracts and blanket purchase agreements to help  reduce costs and achieve the goals of strategic sourcing, it had not, established a program to implement and oversee  the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative or other federal strategic sourcing  initiatives. Purchasing operations are largely de-centralized, with institutions making procurement decisions locally, and  that the procurement personnel at BOP institutions were uncertain about whether the use of the national contracts and  blanket purchase agreements was mandatory or optional. As well, the BOP does not track participation in the national  contracts and other cost-savings initiatives, and does not require documentation of cost savings achieved through  participation in such programs."

The most recent FSSI OS3 office products solicitation calls for the use of only a handful of independent dealers for the entire federal government. Is this what you want to happen to government office furniture sales?

We are in the process of working to secure a meeting with GSA officials on Capitol Hill to discuss the initiative and to present a case for continued support to the independent dealer community but WE NEED YOUR HELP! There are several ways that you can help:

    Register to attend the above mentioned GSA Virtual Meeting by Monday, April 14th!
    Contact OFDA and become active today by sharing your experiences and opinions on the initiative.
    Join in the conversation, stay up to date and become a member of GSA's FSSI - Furniture Interact Group

In order to attract the attention of GSA and FSSI officials, we need to bring a united front to the table and, representing the entire office furniture industry is essential to showcase the big picture and the effect that strategic sourcing could have on the livelihood of our dealer community.

We need to make our voices heard now, when the GSA is in the beginning stages of development. Thank you for your contributions, your participation and your support of OFDA.


FEBRUARY 28, 2014
- GSA Posts FSSI OS3 RFP Q&A Document

General Services Administration (GSA) posted answers to many of the questions posed during the GSA's February 19th OS3 Requisition Industry Day GSA Presentation and NOPA's subsequent meeting with GSA officials following the presentation. Download the document by visiting here.

Following GSA’s efforts in OS3 is critical to dealers and participating in the interact site will help you better understand GSA’s needs and requirements for OS3.  Like the commercial market, GSA is using the Internet and Social Media to get their messages out and this site will help you find important information as it becomes available. Join Interact at https://interact.gsa.gov/.



FEBRUARY 4, 2014 - GSA Final OS3 Issued
As most of you know by now that at 3:44 p.m. this past Friday GSA issued the final RFP for OS3.  You will also see very quickly that GSA made only minor tweaks to the original draft RFP. For the past 14 months or so, NOPA has been trying to work with GSA on an OS3 solution for office products that met the government’s  need of saving money, while also provided government buyers with more legitimate opportunities to get the best possible price through competition.
 
GSA should be applauded for their current efforts to spend more dollars with small businesses, but this large spend comes at a huge price to the industry and those independent dealers who win awards.  The new OS3 RFP is a one year contract with four option years, meaning OS3 is a five year contract for those who win the awards.  This is good news as the way the RFP is structured, independents will receive 23 out of the 24 awards that will be made.  The problem is we will find ourselves back in the same situation we were with OS2 in that a small number of vendors will receive all of the spend and a majority of the industry will be most likely permanently locked out of doing business with the federal government.  Our industry has over 500 GSA Schedule 75 holders and to now continue to only do business with 23 is a devastating blow to the industry.  We are not alone in this.  If you look at the Jan/San industry and IT’s industries you will see they are experiencing the same problems as the office products industry.  GSA is looking at their bottom-line annual savings and it is impressive, but what they fail to look at our hear from industry is the huge negative impact it will have on all those small businesses around the country who do not receive awards.  In case you were unaware, the current RFP’s for Jan/San and IT have been protested on the same issues raised by NOPA with GSA.
 
The question NOPA has raised with GSA is what happens to the government’s ability in five years to buy goods and services from office products, Jan/San, and IT industries if most of those who were vetted firms leave and no longer focus on this space?  Not sure GSA believes this will happen, but I have talked to enough independent dealers to know that if most don’t get awards in OS3 they will simply get out of the government space permanently.  Who is realistically going to wait five years for another opportunity?  I’d say very few.  This means this countries industrial base will shrink, which in term will be a problem for agencies like the Department of Defense. 
 
The other problem I can see is what happens to those contract winner’s when they reach the dollar threshold of being listed by the Small Business Administration as “other than small” because of the sales under OS3?  Will they lose that business and immediately plummet back down to earth and have to start over?  With OS3 expected to spend roughly $250 million annually, you could see where independent dealers will become “other than small” very quickly. 
 
NOPA has and continues to urge GSA to reconsider its decision by awarding so few contracts in OS3.  We believe a combination of additional awards to independent dealers and a couple more awards to industry small business consortia is the model that ensures the long-term success of Federal Strategic Sourcing.  We hope to meet with GSA again this week to discuss these issues.  Our solutions are not just in the industries best interest, but have been designed to be in the government’s best interests as well. 


DECEMBER 12, 2013

NOPA Offers GSA Real Solutions to FSSI OS3:
Agrees to Meet with GSA Officials & Urges Members to Encourage NOPA Reforms

 In response to GSA's recently released FSSI OS3 RFP, the National Office Products Alliance (NOPA), recently submitted detailed recommendations to GSA prior to its  FSSI OS3 Virtual Industry Engagement Event held on December 10, 2013.

Throughout the hour-long virtual presentation, Paul Miller, NOPA’s Director of Government Affairs, continued to submit remarks and ask questions about the true validity of the program’s goals and whether or not NOPA’s December 6, 2013 letter with suggestions and questions sent to Nelson Duncan, FSSI Section Chief for NE& Caribbean, would be addressed.

In NOPA’s letter, it acknowledged that while the GSA has undertaken efforts in connection with the FSSI initiative to establish opportunities for small businesses, the possibility of awarding part of the OS3 BPA to twelve (12) small businesses while excluding over 400 small businesses that hold a schedule 75 contract and currently sell to the Federal Government, has the potential to detrimentally impact the small business community.

NOPA made a number of recommendations in the letter to improve GSA’s admirable attempt to include small business in OS3 including but not limited to:

        Creating a fifth CLIN open to all offerors working with, and providing opportunities for, a large number of small businesses and small business consortiums working with small businesses.
        Reconsideration of GSA's decision to make OS3 an open competition
        Expanding the number of BPA’s from 15 to 50 for OS3
        Making Federal Strategic Sourcing Non-Mandatory
        Reconsider any plans to eliminate the Schedule 75 program

In response to the letter and to its outspoken stance during the virtual event, just hours after the end of the event, NOPA received a December 17th meeting request from Jeff Koses, Director, Office of Acquisition Operations, GSS at GSA. In anticipation of said meeting, NOPA is encouraging all office products dealers to send letters to the GSA in support of NOPA’s recommendations and explaining the likely impact that the existing proposed OS3 contract would create for the dealers’ business.

A sample letter is available that need only be customized before sending and NOPA encourages all dealers to show their support of NOPA's efforts and download today.

"NOPA continues to lead the charge on FSSI OS3,” said Miller who has worked with individual dealers, buying groups and office products wholesalers to develop a strategy that best suits the dealer community. "We are looking forward to sitting down with GSA officials and are hopeful that GSA sees the merits of our suggestions for the good of the industry and small business needs as a whole.”

"NOPA has spent this year communicating with GSA about its concerns with OS2 in hopes of building a better OS3 model that helps the government achieve the savings it is seeking and provides more competition and opportunities for small businesses,” stated Glenn McDaniel, NOPA Chairman. "We will continue this dialogue and the meeting on the 17th is a continuation of that effort and strategy and we thank GSA for its willingness to hear our recommendations.”

 

 

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