January 3, 2013 by cs
The freshly passed legislation designed to avoid the fiscal cliff kicked the proverbial can of sequestration down the road by two months, worsening already existing uncertainty about agency spending levels, according to contractors and budget analysts.
By postponing but not replacing the across-the-board automatic cuts that the 2011 Budget Control Act slated to go into effect on Wednesday, lawmakers who crafted the primarily tax-oriented bill that cleared the House late Tuesday night ratcheted up the pressure on agency managers and private providers of services to government.
“What the press tended not to explain is that the size of the sequestration was reduced by 22 percent or two-ninths,” said Richard Kogan, a senior fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. “So instead of squeezing a sequestration of size X into nine months, you would be squeezing a sequestration that is two-ninths smaller into seven months.”
January 3, 2013 by cs
Negotiation is a universal art, but many of us are surprisingly bad at it, especially those raised in cultures in which bargaining is not the norm. (I once participated in a panel on how to run a successful freelance business; at least half the audience confessed to almost never negotiating with their clients over rates.)
Even if you consider yourself an old hand at getting the best of your bargaining partner, I urge you to check out the Dec. 21 podcast of Planet Money. It’s about how to negotiate for things, especially when you’re Barack Obama and the US Congress and you’re trying to avert the fiscal cliff. I’ve distilled the lessons contained in that episode, plus a few from the literature, below.
Keep reading this article at http://www.govexec.com/excellence/promising-practices/2013/01/how-negotiate-anything/60422/?oref=govexec_today_nl.
Check out this valuable resource on negotiations located on the web site created by The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech: http://contractingacademy.gatech.edu/2011/02/con-120-lession-6-negotiation-rules-bargaining-process/
December 31, 2012 by cs
With the deadline bearing down, Congress and the White House have floated desperate plans to reach an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff and prevent sequestration cuts from gouging the Defense Department and other federal agencies. Each day that passes means the prospect becomes more and more likely the nation goes over the cliff on Jan. 2.
The Defense Department stands to absorb a 10 percent across-the-board cut to planned defense spending over the next decade that amounts to roughly $500 billion. Every branch of the military will suffer. The individuals who might suffer the most are the contractors either working directly for the Defense Department or the ones working within the defense industry.
Industry execs like Bob Stevens, Lockheed Martin’s CEO, have stood up and warned Congress and the White House that the sequestration cuts mean his company, like many other defense firms, will have to lay off waves of employees. Those prognostications drew headlines in the presidential campaign when it appeared the defense contractors would receive notices warning of massive layoffs just days before the election. The issue drifted when the White House informed the defense industry that they notices would not be needed.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2012/12/28/fiscal-cliffs-leaves-contractors-guessing/.
December 28, 2012 by cs
The Pentagon is pretending the threat of the “fiscal cliff” doesn’t exist when it comes to the Defense Department’s 2014 budget.
Budget planners are preparing their 2014 budget as if lawmakers will avoid the spending cuts known as sequestration that are scheduled to hit the Pentagon in January.
“We are still hopeful that Congress will pass a balanced deficit reduction plan that the president can sign, and sequestration is averted,” Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins said.
Keep reading this article at: http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/budget-appropriations/274707-pentagon-budget-moves-forward-despite-fiscal-cliff
December 19, 2012 by cs
There is a federal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) pending that could spell major changes in the way the U.S. Department of Transportation administers its disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) program. DBE requirements are a part of all contracting performed by the nation’s airports, state highway departments, and transit systems.
Some predict that if the new rules go into effect as currently proposed, DBEs will see a decrease in contract opportunities and an increase in the burden on DBE-certified firms.
The deadline for comments to the USDOT proposed rule was originally November 5, 2012, but was extended to 11:59pm on December 24, 2012. The NPRM can be found at http://www.regulations.gov/?sms_ss=gmail&at_xt=4d46cf13eca091f6,0#!docketDetail;D=DOT-OST-2012-0147;dct=FR%2BPR%2BN%2BO%2BSR.
DBE firms and businesses who could potentially benefit from DBE contracting are being urged by several advocacy groups to submit comments by the deadline. Contractor trade associations already have been active in submitting comments, pro and con.
The following is a summary of the most significant proposed changes:
Rebuttal of Economic Disadvantage: The most noteworthy proposed revision is USDOT’s desire to broaden the areas which automatically rebut a presumption of disadvantage. Currently, a Personal Net Worth (“PNW”) exceeding $1.32 million automatically rebuts the presumption of economic disadvantage, but a local Office of Minority and Women Business Enterprises (an OMWBE operated by an airport, highway department or transit system) may rebut the presumption if it has a “reasonable basis to believe the individual is not socially or economically disadvantaged.” USDOT proposes including, as part of that rule, a second statement taken from USDOT’s guidance (which is currently not an official mandate):
- If the person demonstrates an ability to accumulate substantial wealth, has unlimited growth potential, or has not experienced or has not had to overcome impediments to obtaining access to financing, markets, and resources, the individual’s presumption of economic disadvantage is rebutted, even if it individual’s PNW is less than $1.32 million.
USDOT states that with this language, it is appropriate for recipients (certifying agencies such as OMWBE) to review the total fair market value of the individual’s assets and determine if that level appears to be “substantial” and indicates an ability to accumulate substantial wealth. The purported purpose of this provision is to give recipients a tool to exclude an individual who, in overall asset terms, is what a reasonable person would consider to be a wealthy individual, even if their liabilities bring their PNW below the $1.32 million cap. Notably, USDOT also seeks comment as to whether a more “bright-line” approach would be preferable, such as saying that someone whose Adjusted Gross Income on his or her Federal income tax return was over $1 million for two or three years in a row would lose the presumption of economic disadvantage, regardless of PNW.
New Personal Net Worth Form: USDOT proposes a newly designed PNW statement required of all applicants. The new form would include all assets owned by the individual, including ownership interests, personal assets, and the value of the personal residence. USDOT also seeks comment on whether the spouse of an applicant owner should have to file a PNW statement.
Transfers: USDOT proposes to directly add a paragraph into the regulation restating the requirement that assets transferred to an immediate family member for less than fair market value within the last two years can be counted toward an individual’s PNW calculation. USDOT also proposes that transfers from business owners to the companies be counted toward the owner’s PNW to avoid artificially depressing that owner’s PNW.
Certification Related Provisions: USDOT also proposes several changes to how ownership and control are determined. Specifically, the rule will require applicants to submit additional proof as to the sufficiency of their initial capital contribution and the circumstances of any funding streams to the firm since its inception, including collateral value, proof of asset ownership, and more stringent guidelines relating to deposits made by the applicant.
Good Faith Efforts: USDOT adds some clarification for establishing Good Faith Efforts to meet the DBE goal. USDOT states that prime contractor bidders whose bid includes a promise to include DBEs after the contract awarded is not to be considered as a good faith effort. USDOT proposes that bidders would have two options: (1) bidders may submit Good Faith Effort documentation along with original bids, or (2) Bidders may submit good faith documentation within one day of being notified of their winning bid.
Counting Trucking Operations: USDOT proposes to revise the current requirements for how much of a DBE trucking company’s involvement can be counted towards a DBE goal. The proposal would give credit to a DBE that leases trucks from non-DBE entities but uses its own employees as drivers. This change is already implemented in many states.
There are several ways to submit comments on these proposed rule changes. The easiest way is to simply file comments online at the regulations.gov web site. Go to www.regulations.gov and then type in docket number OST–2012–0147. This will connect you to a web page where you can type-in and/or upload your comments. Be sure to include the docket number in any submission you make.
Please note that all comments, including any personal information you provide, will become part of the docket and will be publicly posted without change at www.regulations.gov.
December 19, 2012 by cs
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has published two final rules revising size definitions for small businesses in two broad industry categories: (1) Information and (2) Administrative and Support, Waste Management and Remediation Services.
SBA increased the revenue-based size standards for 15 industries and retained the current revenue-based size standards for five industries in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Sector 51: Information. SBA will review the employee-based size standards within this sector at a later date. As a result of these revisions, the SBA estimates that up to 500 additional firms will become eligible for SBA’s loan and federal procurement programs.
SBA also increased the revenue-based size standards for 37 industries and retained revenue-based size standards for seven industries in the NAICS Sector 56: Administrative and Support, Waste Management and Remediation Services. SBA will review the employee-based size standards within this sector at a later date. Up to 2,700 additional firms will become eligible for SBA’s loan and federal procurement programs because of these revisions, according to the SBA..
December 18, 2012 by cs
Federal contracting is increasingly becoming a high risk business, according to an industry survey scheduled to be released later this month.
The survey from consultant Grant Thornton shows nearly 40 percent of federal contractors achieved lower revenues this year compared to last year while 35 percent made greater revenue, Grant Thornton Principal Lewis Crenshaw said.
In 2011, by comparison, half of government contractors reported increased revenues and about 30 percent reported a decrease, Crenshaw said during a Dec. 14, 2012 event hosted by the Association for Federal Information Resources Management. The consultant plans to release its 18th annual government contractor industry survey later this month.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2012/12/federal-contracting-increasingly-risky/60190/?oref=nextgov_today_nl.
December 10, 2012 by cs
The 2013 defense authorization bill passed last week by the Senate includes a provision that would remove caps on contract set-asides for women-owned small businesses.
The Senate-passed bill also includes an amendment approved on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 to remove current limits on the dollar value of federal contracts awarded to women-owned small businesses. The bill also calls for the Small Business Administration to conduct a study every five years to examine disparities in the North American Industry Classification System code.
Advocates for women in contracting had for nearly a decade argued that the cap of $4 million for goods and services contracts and $6.5 million on manufacturing contracts discouraged contracting officers from taking the trouble to solicit women-owned businesses.
December 7, 2012 by cs
The National Veteran Small Business Coalition (NVSBC) is holding its annual Veteran Entrepreneur Training Symposium (VETS) for the 3rd consecutive year at the Silver Legacy Hotel in Reno, Nevada, on June 10-13, 2013.
VETS2013 will assemble more than 500 stakeholders to discuss how to take full advantage of federally-mandated contracting opportunities specifically for veteran-owned small businesses. The event includes representatives from the veteran small business community, federal agencies, and prime contractors who exchange knowledge and business opportunities in the classroom, the exhibit hall, and in the one-on-one business sessions.
Complete conference details, including registration information, can be found at http://www.veterantrainingsymposium.com.
You also can follow conference and sponsor developments at:
December 4, 2012 by cs
Federal, state and local government agencies frequently host trade shows or expos to publicize their contract opportunities and attract new vendors. Wonder whether you should attend a government-sponsored business expo? What should you expect if you go? How should you prepare? Are you disappointed in the last trade show you attended?
These are the kinds of questions often posed by clients of the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Fundamentally, businesses want to know how they can gain a competitive advantage by attending an event sponsored by a government agency. The answer lies as much in preparation and follow-up as it does in actual attendance.
GTPAC Counselors believe these kinds of events are what you make them. If you go to just listen, you may come away disappointed. If, on the other hand, you go to make something happen, you can come away with some good contacts,valuable insights, and solid business leads.
Here are a few tips …
- Establish some objectives for yourself – what do you hope to accomplish by attending? State this in concrete, quantifiable terms.
- Think about the specific kinds of opportunities you want to go after and be prepared to explain how you represent the solution to the government’s contracting objectives.
- Identify who is going to be in attendance and research in advance as much as you can about who will be there and those persons you want to meet. Think about why they are going to the show and what they want to accomplish there – align yourself with their objectives.
- Familiarize yourself with all details of the show so that you can envision how you are going to use the structure of the show to accomplish your objectives.
- Be prepared with marketing materials, including business cards, brochures and/or product/service fact sheets, product samples/portfolio, and a detailed capabilities statement. (Don’t have a capabilities statement? See our article on this subject here.) Tailor at least one of your handouts to the expo or show itself.
- Be prepared to talk about pricing. You may not need to, but be prepared just in case someone asks.
- Begin to envision how your competitors at the show can be potential partners as a result of the show.
- Develop and be prepared to deliver a 30-second “elevator speech” which explains in layman’s terms exactly what you are an expert at doing. Don’t be shy to explain what’s special about your company and why your products/services are the best. (If you need help constructing an elevator speech, see our article at http://gtpac.org/2010/07/whats-an-elevator-pitch-and-why-you-need-one.)
- Remember that buyers don’t have time to waste. Buyers want specific information, and buyers want to know what’s special about you (that’s your competitive advantage).
- Preparation is essential. It’s better not to go than to go unprepared – you never have a second chance to make a good first impression.
- Dress to impress. And wear comfortable shoes!
- At the show, listen to how your competitors are selling themselves and learn as much about their marketing as possible. Also learn from their mistakes.
- Understand that follow-up after the show is critical. Gather all the business cards you collected, write follow-up notes or emails – promptly. Set-up follow-up meetings/conference calls, if possible and appropriate. Send more marketing materials.
- Write yourself a report on lessons-learned. Review this report before planning to participate in another event.
Your GTPAC Counselor will be glad to elaborate on this topic and provide you with additional advice. You can find our contact information right here.
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