[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 102 (Tuesday, May 28, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 31879-31882]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-12566]


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GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION

48 CFR Parts 501, 538, and 552

[GSAR Case 2012-G501; Docket 2013-0006; Sequence 1]
RIN 3090-AJ36


General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR); 
Electronic Contracting Initiative (ECI)

AGENCY: Office of Acquisition Policy, General Services Administration.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The General Services Administration (GSA) is proposing to 
amend the General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) 
to add a Modifications (Federal Supply Schedule) clause, and an 
Alternate I version of the clause that will require electronic 
submission of modifications under Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) 
contracts managed by GSA. The public reporting burdens associated with 
both the basic and Alternate I clauses are also being updated.

DATES: Interested parties should submit written comments to the 
Regulatory Secretariat on or before July 29, 2013 to be considered in 
the formulation of a final rule.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments identified by GSAR Case 2012-G501, 
Electronic Contracting Initiative, by any of the following methods:
     Regulations.gov: http://www.regulations.gov. Submit 
comments by searching for ``GSAR Case 2012-G501''. Follow the 
instructions provided to ``Submit a Comment''. Please include your 
name, company name (if any), and ``GSAR Case 2012-G501'', on your 
attached document.
     Fax: 202-501-4067.
     Mail: U.S. General Services Administration, Regulatory 
Secretariat Division (MVCB), 1800 F Street NW., 2nd Floor, ATTN: Hada 
Flowers, Washington, DC 20405-0001.
    Instructions: Please submit comments only and cite GSAR Case 2012-
G501 in all correspondence related to this case. All comments received 
will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including 
any personal and/or business confidential information provided.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Dana Munson, General Services 
Acquisition Policy Division, GSA, 202-357-9652 or email 
Dana.Munson@gsa.gov, for clarification of content. For information 
pertaining to status or publication schedules, contact the Regulatory 
Secretariat at 202-501-4755. Please cite GSAR Case 2012-G501.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    GSA is proposing to amend the GSAR to add a Modifications (Federal 
Supply Schedule) clause, and an Alternate I version of the clause that 
requires electronic submission of modifications for FSS contracts 
managed by GSA. This change is the result of modernized technology that 
will improve the process for submission of modifications under the 
Federal Supply Schedules Program, and was developed by GSA to satisfy 
customer demands.
    The basic clause (previously at GSAR 552.243-72) was removed during 
the initial GSAR rewrite under proposed rule 2006-G507 published in the 
Federal Register at 74 FR 4596 on January 26, 2009. The initial GSAR 
rewrite proposed amendments to the GSAR to update text addressing GSAR 
Part 538. Withdrawal of GSAR case 2006-G507 was published in the 
Federal Register at 77 FR 76446 on December 28, 2012.
    The basic clause is being reinstated at GSAR 552.238-81, 
Modifications (Federal Supply Schedule). The alternate version of the 
clause implements and mandates electronic submission of modifications, 
and only applies to FSS contracts managed by GSA. The alternate version 
of the clause links to GSA's electronic tool, eMod at http://eoffer.gsa.gov/. Use of eMod will streamline the modification 
submission process for both FSS contractors and contracting officers.
    Use of eMod will establish automated controls in the modification 
process that will ensure contract documentation is completed and 
approved by all required parties. Additionally, eMod will foster GSA's 
Rapid Action Modification (RAM), which allows contracting officers to 
process certain modification requests to the FSS contract (e.g., 
administrative changes) as unilateral modifications with no requirement 
for contractor signature on the Standard Form 30, Amendment of 
Solicitation/Modification of Contract (SF30).
    Current and new FSS contractors will be required to obtain a 
digital certificate in order to comply with submission of information 
via eMod. A digital certificate is an electronic credential that 
asserts the identity of an individual and enables eMod to verify the 
identity of the individual entering the system and signing documents. 
The certificate will be valid for a period of two years, after which, 
contractors must renew the

[[Page 31880]]

certificate at the associated cost during that time. At present, two 
FSS vendors are authorized to issue digital certificates that 
facilitate the use of eMod, at a price of $119 per issuance and at 
renewals every two years. Having a digital certificate creates digital 
signatures which are verifiable. GSA has developed training on eMod, 
and obtaining a digital certificate. This information is posted on 
GSA's eOffer Web site at http://eoffer.gsa.gov.
    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not have access to 
eMod, and is therefore not required to comply with the requirements of 
the Alternate I version of GSAR clause 552.238-81, Modifications 
(Federal Supply Schedule). VA will continue to utilize the basic 
version of the clause in management of their FSS contracts.
    GSA is in the process of rewriting each part of the GSAR and GSAM, 
and as each GSAR part is rewritten, GSA will publish it in the Federal 
Register for comments. This rule covers the rewrite of GSAR Part 538, 
Electronic Contracting Initiative (Modifications).
    On December 17, 2012, GSA published in the Federal Register at 77 
FR 74631 a request for public comments on an information collection 
requirement for a new OMB clearance. One comment was received and is 
addressed in the Paperwork Reduction Act section of this notice.

II. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Executive Orders (E.O.s) 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess 
all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). E.O. 
13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, 
of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. 
This is not a significant regulatory action and, therefore, was not 
subject to review under Section 6(b) of E.O. 12866, Regulatory Planning 
and Review, dated September 30, 1993. This rule is not a major rule 
under 5 U.S.C. 804.

III. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The General Services Administration does not expect this proposed 
rule to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities within the meaning of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 
U.S.C. 601, et seq., because the proposed rule will implement a 
streamlined, electronic process for submission and processing of 
modification requests pertaining to FSS contracts managed by GSA. 
However, small businesses will be positively impacted by this 
initiative in that the process for submitting information is 
simplified, more structured and easy to use, and processing time is 
significantly reduced. For example, submission of a paper modification 
request is often a labor intensive process that involves repeated 
exchanges of information via standard mail and/or facsimile. The 
electronic process will include controls to prevent submission of 
incomplete requests that require follow-up.
    Contractors will be able to offer the latest products and services 
to the Federal Government faster and more often due to this streamlined 
submission process.
    Contractors will be required to obtain a digital certificate in 
order to comply with the eMod requirement. The cost of the digital 
certificate will impose some economic impact on all contractors, both 
small and other than small, doing business under Federal Supply 
Schedule contracts managed by GSA. Therefore, an Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) has been prepared consistent with 5 U.S.C. 
603, and is summarized as follows:

    The General Services Administration (GSA) is proposing to amend 
the General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) to 
add clause 552.238-81, Modifications (Federal Supply Schedule) back 
into the GSAR, and an alternate version of the clause that requires 
electronic submission of modifications for Federal Supply Schedule 
(FSS) contracts managed by GSA via eMod. The addition of the basic 
clause is an administrative change that reinstates a previous clause 
inadvertently removed from the GSAR. The alternate clause has never 
received public comment.
    The alternate version of this clause mandates electronic 
submission of modifications through GSA's electronic tool, eMod. Use 
of eMod establishes automated controls in the modification process 
that will ensure contract documentation is completed and approved by 
all required parties. Additionally, eMod will foster Rapid Action 
Modification (RAM), which allows contracting officers to process 
certain modifications (e.g., administrative changes) as unilateral 
modifications with no requirement for contractor signature on the 
Standard Form 30, Amendment of Solicitation/Modification of Contract 
(SF30). eMod will streamline the process and result in modification 
actions being processed more timely and efficiently.
    In addition to adding automated controls into the modification 
process, mandating the electronic submission of modifications will 
support several Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) initiatives that 
are currently underway to enhance the MAS Program's ability to 
transition to a completely electronic contracting environment. These 
initiatives include but are not limited to digitization of Multiple 
Award Schedule (MAS) contract files, Contracts Online, and the 
Enterprise Acquisition Solution (EAS).
    eMod is consistent with the Electronic Signatures In Global and 
National Commerce Act (E-SIGN), enacted on June 20, 2000, and the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memoranda M-00-15, Guidance on 
Implementing the Electronic Signatures, dated September 25, 2000.
    All of GSA's FSS contractors (19,000) will be required to obtain 
a digital certificate in order to comply with this requirement. 
Approximately 80 percent (15,200) GSA FSS contracts are held by 
small businesses. A digital certificate is an electronic credential 
that enables eMod to verify the identity of the individual entering 
the system and signing documents. The certificate will be valid for 
a period of two years, after which, contractors must renew the 
certificate. At present, two FSS vendors are authorized to issue 
digital certificates that facilitate the use of eMod, at a price of 
$119 per issuance. The alternate version of this requirement does 
not apply to FSS contracts managed by the Department of Veteran 
Affairs (VA) because the VA does not utilize or have access to eMod.

    The Regulatory Secretariat has submitted a copy of the Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) to the Chief Counsel for 
Advocacy of the Small Business Administration. A copy of the IRFA may 
be obtained from the Regulatory Secretariat. GSA invites comments from 
small business concerns and other interested parties on the expected 
impact of this rule on small entities.
    GSA will also consider comments from small entities concerning the 
existing regulations in subparts affected by this rule in accordance 
with 5 U.S.C. 610. Interested parties must submit such comments 
separately and should cite 5 U.S.C. 601, et seq. (GSAR Case 2012-G501), 
in correspondence.

IV. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35) applies. The 
proposed rule contains information collection requirements. 
Accordingly, the Regulatory Secretariat submitted a request for 
approval of a revised information collection requirement concerning 
(GSAR 2012-G501; Electronic Contracting Initiative) to the Office of 
Management and Budget.
    The 1st notice of the information collection requirement was 
published in the Federal Register at 77 FR 74631 on December 17, 2012. 
The comment period closed on February 15, 2013. One comment was 
received. The commenter suggested that GSA increase the estimated 
burden hours per response to reflect the additional time required for

[[Page 31881]]

complex modification requests. The commenter also recommended that the 
number of estimated respondents per year be reduced, based on the logic 
that companies with zero sales under their contracts are not likely to 
submit modification requests.
    GSA responded that the estimate of five burden hours per response 
already takes into consideration that modification requests can range 
from simple administrative changes to more complex changes involving 
the award of additional products and services. Additionally, the 
current estimate of 20,500 respondents per year is based on the total 
number of contracts awarded under the Federal Supply Schedule program, 
and is utilized consistent with other Federal Supply Schedule burden 
calculations for clauses and provisions applicable to all Federal 
Supply Schedule contracts. No change to the burden estimate was made as 
a result of the comment.
    However, the notice indicated that 20,500 contractors would use the 
basic clause with an associated burden of 5 hours per response. This 
notice revises the collection to explain that 1,500 contractors (VA 
contractors) will use the basic clause with 5 hours of burden, and 
19,000 contractors (GSA contractors) will use the alternate clause with 
4 hours of burden. This will result in a total burden reduction for 
this collection of 57,000 burden hours.
    A 2nd notice of the information collection requirement was 
published in the Federal Register at 78 FR 18285 on March 26, 2013. The 
comment period closed on April 25, 2013. No comments were received.
    A. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is 
estimated to average 5 hours per response for manual modification 
requests and 4 hours per response for eMod requests, including the time 
for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering 
and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection of information.
    The annual reporting burden is estimated as follows:


552.238-81  Modifications (VA FSS Contractors Manual process)

    Respondents: 1,500.
    Responses per Respondent: 3.
    Total Responses: 4,500.
    Hours per Response: 5.
    Total Burden Hours: 22,500.


552.238-81  Modifications Alternate I (GSA FSS Contractors eMod 
Electronic process)

    Estimated Respondents/yr: 19,000.
    Number of Submissions per Respondent: 3.
    Total Responses: 57,000.
    Estimated Hours/Response: 4.
    Total Burden Hours: 228,000.
    B. Request for Comments Regarding Paperwork Burden. Submit 
comments, including suggestions for reducing this burden, not later 
than July 29, 2013 to: U.S. General Services Administration, Regulatory 
Secretariat Division (MVCB), ATTN: Hada Flowers, 1800 F Street NW., 2nd 
Floor, Washington, DC 20405-0001.
    Public comments are particularly invited on: Whether this 
collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of 
functions of the GSAR, and will have practical utility; whether our 
estimate of the public burden of this collection of information is 
accurate, and based on valid assumptions and methodology; ways to 
enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be 
collected; and ways in which we can minimize the burden of the 
collection of information on those who are to respond, through the use 
of appropriate technological collection techniques or other forms of 
information technology.
    Requesters may obtain a copy of the supporting statement from the 
General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat (MVCB), ATTN: 
Hada Flowers, 1275 First Street NE., 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20417. 
Please cite OMB Control Number 3090-0302, Modifications (Multiple Award 
Schedules): GSAR Part Affected: 552.243-72, in all correspondence.

List of Subjects in 48 CFR Parts 501, 538, and 552

    Government procurement.

    Dated: May 22, 2013.
Steven J. Kempf,
Acting Senior Procurement Executive, Office of Acquisition Policy, 
General Services Administration.
    Therefore, GSA proposes to amend 48 CFR parts 501, 538, and 552 as 
set forth below:

0
1. The authority citation for 48 CFR parts 501, 538, and 552 continues 
to read as follows:

    Authority: 40 U.S.C 121(c).

PART 501--GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION ACQUISITION REGULATION 
SYSTEM


501.106  [Amended]

0
2. Amend section 501.106 in the table, by adding in sequence, GSAR 
Reference ``552.238-81'' and its corresponding OMB Control Number 
``3090-0320''.

PART 538--FEDERAL SUPPLY SCHEDULE CONTRACTING

0
3. Amend section 538.273 by adding paragraph (b)(3) to read as follows:


538.273  Contract clauses.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (3) 552.238-81, Modifications (Federal Supply Schedule). Use 
alternate I for Federal Supply Schedules that only accept electronic 
modifications.

PART 552--SOLICITATION PROVISIONS AND CONTRACT CLAUSES

0
4. Add section 552.238-81 to read as follows:


552.238-81  Modifications (Federal Supply Schedule).

    As prescribed in 538.273(b), insert the following clause:

Modifications (Federal Supply Schedule) (DATE)

    (a) General. The Contractor may request a contract modification 
by submitting a request to the Contracting Officer for approval, 
except as noted in paragraph (d) of this clause. At a minimum, every 
request shall describe the proposed change(s) and provide the 
rationale for the requested change(s).
    (b) Types of Modifications. (1) Additional items/additional 
SINs. When requesting additions, the following information must be 
submitted:
    (i) Information requested in paragraphs (1) and (2) of the 
Commercial Sales Practice Format to add SINs.
    (ii) Discount information for the new items(s) or new SIN(s). 
Specifically, submit the information requested in paragraphs 3 
through 5 of the Commercial Sales Practice Format. If this 
information is the same as the initial award, a statement to that 
effect may be submitted instead.
    (iii) Information about the new item(s) or the item(s) under the 
new SIN(s) as described in 552.212-70, Preparation of Offer 
(Multiple Award Schedule), is required.
    (iv) Delivery time(s) for the new item(s) or the item(s) under 
the new SIN(s) must be submitted in accordance with FAR 552.211-78, 
Commercial Delivery Schedule (Multiple Award Schedule).
    (v) Production point(s) for the new item(s) or the item(s) under 
the new SIN(s) must be submitted if required by FAR 52.215-6, Place 
of Performance.
    (vi) Hazardous Material information (if applicable) must be 
submitted as required by FAR 52.223-3 (Alternate I), Hazardous 
Material Identification and Material Safety Data.
    (vii) Any information requested by FAR 52.212-3(f), Offeror 
Representations and Certifications--Commercial Items, that may be 
necessary to assure compliance with FAR 52.225-1, Buy American Act--
Balance of Payments Programs--Supplies.
    (2) Deletions. The Contractors shall provide an explanation for 
the deletion. The

[[Page 31882]]

Government reserves the right to reject any subsequent offer of the 
same item or a substantially equal item at a higher price during the 
same contract period, if the contracting officer finds the higher 
price to be unreasonable when compared with the deleted item.
    (3) Price Reduction. The Contractor shall indicate whether the 
price reduction falls under the item (i), (ii), or (iii) of 
paragraph (c)(1) of the Price Reductions clause at 552.238-75. If 
the Price reduction falls under item (i), the Contractor shall 
submit a copy of the dated commercial price list. If the price 
reduction falls under item (ii) or (iii), the Contractor shall 
submit a copy of the applicable price list(s), bulletins or letters 
or customer agreements which outline the effective date, duration, 
terms and conditions of the price reduction.
    (c) Effective dates. The effective date of any modification is 
the date specified in the modification, except as otherwise provided 
in the Price Reductions clause at 552.238-75.
    (d) Electronic File Updates. The Contractor shall update 
electronic file submissions to reflect all modifications. For 
additional items or SINs, the Contractor shall obtain the 
Contracting Officer's approval before transmitting changes. Contract 
modifications will not be made effective until the Government 
receives the electronic file updates. The Contractor may transmit 
price reductions, item deletions, and corrections without prior 
approval. However, the Contractor shall notify the Contracting 
Officer as set forth in the Price Reductions clause at 552.238-75.
    (e) Amendments to Paper Federal Supply Schedule Price Lists.
    (1) The Contractor must provide supplements to its paper price 
lists, reflecting the most current changes. The Contractor may 
either:
    (i) Distribute a supplemental paper Federal Supply Schedule 
Price List within 15 workdays after the effective date of each 
modification.
    (ii) Distribute quarterly cumulative supplements. The period 
covered by a cumulative supplement is at the discretion of the 
Contractor, but may not exceed three calendar months from the 
effective date of the earliest modification. For example, if the 
first modification occurs in February, the quarterly supplement must 
cover February-April, and every three month period after. The 
Contractor must distribute each quarterly cumulative supplement 
within 15 workdays from the last day of the calendar quarter.
    (2) At a minimum, the Contractor shall distribute each 
supplement to those ordering activities that previously received the 
basic document. In addition, the Contractor shall submit two copies 
of each supplement to the Contracting Officer and one copy to the 
FSS Schedule Information Center.


(End of Clause)

    Alternate I (Date). As prescribed in 538.273(b)(3), add the 
following paragraph (f) to the basic clause:
    (f) Electronic submission of modification requests is mandatory via 
eMod (http://eOffer.gsa.gov), unless otherwise stated in the electronic 
submission standards and requirements at the Vendor Support Center Web 
site (http://vsc.gsa.gov). If the electronic submissions standards and 
requirements information is updated at the Vendor Support Center Web 
site, Contractors will be notified prior to the effective date of the 
change.

[FR Doc. 2013-12566 Filed 5-24-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6820-61-P