New rules proposed for mentor-protégé, HUBZone, 8(a) and other SBA programs

February 6, 2015 by

On February 5, 2015, the Small Business Administration (SBA) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register for the purpose of amending existing regulations in order to implement provisions of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act.

Based on these two statutes, SBA is proposing a Governmentwide mentor-protégé program for all small business concerns, consistent with SBA’s existing mentor-protégé program for Participants in the 8(a) Business Development (BD) program. The proposed rule also would make minor changes to the mentor protégé provisions for the 8(a) BD program in order to make the mentor-protégé rules consistent across agency boundaries.

Similarly, SBA is also proposing to amend current joint venture provisions to clarify the conditions for creating and operating joint venture partnerships, including the effect of such partnerships on any mentor-protégé relationships. Finally, SBA’s proposed rule would make several additional changes to current size, 8(a) Office of Hearings and Appeals, or HUBZone regulations, concerning ownership and control, changes in primary industry designations, standards of review, interested party status, and other matters.

Comments on the proposed rule are due on April 6, 2015.

The proposed rule can be seen here: Federal Register Vol. 80 No. 24 Part III Feb. 5 2015

An analysis of the proposed rule can be found here: Analysis of SBA’s Proposed Rule to Create a New Mentor-Protege Program for All Small Businesses – 02.06.2015

Most contracting occurs where government lacks privity

February 5, 2015 by

Of the over $500 billion per year spent contracting for everything from computers to carriers, the vast majority of money ultimately awarded and performed by contractors happened without a contract directly from the government. Therefore, there is usually no business relationship (privity) between the government and the contractor doing work for its benefit.

How that can be? What’s going on?

In fact, while the government awards a prime contract for products and services, most often many of the prime’s deliverables from that contract will be subcontracted out to one or many large and small business firms.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/blog/2015/01/28/government-subcontracting/22478955/

Bidder beware: Mind the details when using a GSA Schedule

February 4, 2015 by

The General Service Administration’s Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) is supposed to be a way for agencies to streamline procurement. However, achieving the desired efficiency requires that the Government buyer use the right contract vehicle for a given requirement. If the Government uses the wrong schedule—or a contractor proposes to provide goods or services that are not available under its schedule contract, and the agency fails to perform a careful evaluation—litigation may effectively eliminate the desired efficiencies. A recent GAO decision, US Investigations Services provides a good example of how thing can go awry.

The FBI issued a task order for services in connection with its National Name Check Program to the awardee using the awardee’s FSS contract. Under the task order, the awardee would research FBI files, assist in responding to FOIA requests, and support the agency in making national security classification determinations.

The protester raised several protest grounds, and GAO sustained one: the labor categories required to perform the task order were not in the awardee’s FSS contract. The agency’s solicitation included four labor categories, and the awardee proposed a single labor category from its FSS contract to satisfy the requirements of three of the categories. GAO compared the labor categories required under the solicitation with the description of the awardee’s category and determined “that the duties, responsibilities and qualifications of the types of employees solicited by the agency are not encompassed within” the awardee’s labor category. The agency was looking for personnel with in-depth knowledge of FBI policy and functions, as well as experience in records management, declassification review, and paralegal services. The awardee’s labor category focused on general aspects of program management, such as developing business methods, identifying best practices, and creating and assessing performance measurements.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?articleid=368660

SBA offers insights into the HUBZone protest process

February 4, 2015 by

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has introduced a new website where visitors can review samples of HUBZone-related protest decisions.

Examining these samples can help you learn about how allegations of non-compliance are analyzed by the SBA.

The website also has a link to a mini-primer to help you better understand the HUBZone protest process.

The award of a HUBZone contract may be protested by an offeror, the contracting officer, or the SBA. There are three possible outcomes of a HUBZone status protest:

  • Dismissed: the protest was not evaluated by the SBA because it was untimely, not submitted by an interested party, or not specific enough. In some cases when a protest is dismissed because it was not submitted on time, but the information presented was specific, SBA may file its own protest.
  • Sustained: SBA found the protested company to be ineligible for the award and/or ineligible for (and therefore decertified from) the program.
  • Denied: SBA found the protested company to be eligible for the award and for the program.

Past HUBZone protest decisions can be found at: https://www.sba.gov/content/protest-case-highlights.

The SBA’s mini-primer on Understanding HUBZone Protests can be located at: https://www.sba.gov/tools/sba-learning-center/training/hubzone-mini-primer-3

Win a GSA Schedule contract with Georgia Tech’s help

February 3, 2015 by

Georgia Tech’s Contracting Education Academy now offers a hands-on, consultant-guided workshop designed to help businesses prepare a proposal to win a GSA Schedule contract in a matter of days — not weeks or months.

 

The schedule for the next upcoming GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshops can be found by clicking here.

Since Georgia Tech’s GSA Schedule Workshop was launched in January 2014, folks have traveled from 10 states to attend.  To date, every single businessperson who’s attended has prepared their proposal, has successfully submitted it to GSA, or has been awarded a contract.

What Attendees Are Saying

Post-Workshop evaluations show that 100% of attendees say the Workshop met or exceeded their expectations.  Here are typical statements made by attendees:

  • “I received a vast amount of information on how to apply for a GSA Schedule contract.  I valued the one-on-one question-answering provided by the instructors.”
  • “I expected a canned presentation consisting of a lot of theoretical advice, but I received practical and specific help to understand the GSA application.  I really valued the instructor’s knowledge and communication skills.”
  • “This workshop provided excellent advice and training, walking through all the documents in detail.  I valued the relaxed environment, the ability to work at my own pace, and the ability to ask lots of questions.”
  • “I now have a complete understanding of the step-by-step process to complete my company’s proposal to the GSA.  The workbook, examples, templates, and the presentation – all very well put together.”
  • “I expected a great presentation from Georgia Tech, but was afraid of information overload.  The presenter and the presentation were fantastic …. I now have a much clearer idea of how to get on a GSA Schedule.”
  • “I received one-on-one assistance with filling-out various proposal forms and walking through the submission and upload process.  Fantastic!”
  • “I received significant information and background on what GSA reviewers and contracting officers are looking for, and I valued the forms for completing my GSA Schedule proposal and building my pricing.”

The Facts about GSA Schedules

Is your company considering going after a GSA Schedule contract?  Maybe you should consider these facts:

  • The federal General Services Administration (GSA) awards about $50 billion in blanket contracts known as “Schedules” to hundreds of companies each year.
  • Eighty percent (80%) of Schedule contractors are small businesses who are successful at 36% of those sales.

The process to win a GSA Schedule contract begins with a proposal, an arduous task that often takes several months to prepare. But now, thanks to Georgia Tech’s Workshop — sponsored by the Contracting Education Academy — a GSA proposal can be actually completed during the Workshop.   If a business is not prepared to submit all the documentation at the time of the Workshop, the GSA proposal preparation process easily can be shortened to within 30 days following the Workshop.

Workshop Benefits

By attending Georgia Tech’s GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop, you will:

  • Save time and money with instructor-guided, do-it-yourself approach.
  • Avoid mistakes that can delay or stop a GSA Schedule proposal from being considered.
  • Receive expert guidance, hands-on personal help, and answers to all of your questions.
  • Be given access to exclusive templates and sample narratives based on successful GSA Schedule offers.
  • Receive up to 4 hours of individual consulting after the Workshop to review your package and receive further advice.
  • Earn 15 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits.

Registration Details

Don’t miss out!  To register for the Workshop, simply click here. If you have questions or need further information, please email ude.hcetag.ymedacAgnitcartnoCnull@ofni.

GSA Schedule Contract

Here are the Georgia companies who won federal contracts in Jan. 2015

February 3, 2015 by

Ever wonder who’s winning federal contracts in Georgia?

Wouldn’t this information be helpful if you are looking for subcontracting prospects?  Or when you’re trying to figure out who your competitors are?  Or when considering who might be a good partner on an upcoming bid proposal?

Federal Contract Award Winners in GeorgiaEach month, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) compiles and publishes a list of federal contracts awarded to Georgia businesses.  The list comes complete with point-of-contact information on the awardees, the name of the awarding agency, the dollar value of the contract, and much more.

Download details on the award winners for January 2015 right here: FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – JANUARY 2015

To see award winners in calendar year 2014, see: http://gtpac.org/2015/01/here-are-the-georgia-companies-who-won-federal-contracts-in-2014 

DoD seeks 10-year extension of small business mentoring program

February 2, 2015 by

The Defense Department intends to request a 10-year extension of a program that improves the ability of socioeconomically disadvantaged small businesses to compete for defense contracts, the program’s manager said yesterday.

The Small Business Mentor-Protege Program began in 1991 as a way to foster small businesses and improve technology transfer between the Defense Department and industry, Robert Stewart said in a DoD News interview.

Despite having been in existence for nearly 25 years, the program is still categorized as a pilot and must be reauthorized in a National Defense Authorization Act every few years, he said.

Stewart said that through regular outreach with industry representatives, his office has learned that the periodic reauthorizations give the impression that the program isn’t permanent. This has a chilling effect on participation — particularly as the reauthorization period approaches, he said.

“Whenever we’re about a year, year and a half out from an authorization — since it’s a pilot program and it’s still crafted in language as a pilot program — industry does what’s called a chilling-off,” Stewart said. From the perspective of a business owner, he said, “If I’m not sure something’s going to be reauthorized, I’m going to be less apt to put business development dollars into helping facilitate small business.”

Extending the program’s authorization period would provide stability, reassure industry and save the department money, he said.

How to Participate

Small businesses seeking to become prime contractors with the department first choose a mentor from one of the more than 50 larger companies participating in the program, he explained. Part of that selection process is ensuring that the strategic goals of the two companies align, Stewart noted.

“We try to put them in a position to be as successful as possible,” he said.

The larger company provides training and mentorship, and in exchange, receives credit toward their small business contracting goals, Stewart said. If the training is provided through a procurement technical assistance center, a small business development center, minority institution or a historically black college or university, they can claim up to four times the amount spent for credit toward their actual small business participation levels.

The agreements may not last longer than three years, and once an agreement is fulfilled, the small business graduates from the program and is able to serve as a prime contractor for DoD contracts.

“Now you have a small business who’s a prime contractor [and] whose overhead is significantly lower than your traditional government contractors,” Stewart said. “They can do the exact same work, sometimes faster, sometimes cheaper, oftentimes better than larger, more cumbersome agencies or entities.”

This is a win-win situation for industry and the Defense Department, Stewart said. Larger businesses now have a pool of capable, responsive partners with which to team up and seek defense contracts, while small businesses gain better-trained employees and, by piggybacking on the capabilities of their larger partner, they can compete for contracts that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to support.

“It works out in a lot of areas,” he said. “We’re helping grow the manufacturing-industrial base by ensuring that we’re going through our [procurement technical assistance centers], small business development centers, minority institutions and [Historically Black Colleges and Universities], but also identifying tech transfer companies that allow the United States government to be able to fight the threat that the Googles, the Amazons, the Microsofts, the Oracles face every day.”

The Way Ahead

“One of the things that we’re looking for going forward … [is that] we want to focus on the evaluation and criteria and factors to drive contracting commands across the DoD enterprise to utilize Mentor-Protege as a way to meet those subcontracting small business participation goals,” Stewart said.

To accomplish this, he said, the Office of Small Business Programs plans to develop a defense acquisition regulation that would give participants in the Mentor-Protege Program greater weight during the bid solicitation process.

“You’re going to get credit toward being already involved in DoD — you know DoD’s business, you’ve already got an established working relationship with the DoD,” Stewart said.

Source: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=128014

Tight budgets, terrorism and task orders: What’s next for government contracting

January 30, 2015 by

If you ask government contractors to talk about what affects their business, it takes less than a minute before you hear the familiar refrains of budget cuts, sequestration, and political gridlock. Those issues may be at the top of everyone’s minds now, but for those who do business with the government, a long-term vision is essential for surviving Washington’s ongoing crises.

Capital Business asked local executives to take a step back and name one issue that will be a game-changer for contracting over the next decade.

From the threat of terrorism to the inexperience of a younger government workforce, here’s what they said:

Kenneth Asbury – Chief executive of CACI International, a large services contractor

Now, more than almost any time I can recall, the world is a very dangerous place in many dimensions.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/tight-budgets-terrorism-and-task-orders-whats-next-for-government-contracting/2015/01/23/b78d5884-a0ca-11e4-b146-577832eafcb4_story.html

SBA to hold 8(a) and HUBZone eligibility workshop Feb. 11th

January 30, 2015 by

Small businesses interested in learning about the Small Business Administration’s eligibility requirements for becoming 8(a) or HUBZone certified will be interested in a workshop on that subject to be held on Feb. 11, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. to noon.

The workshop will be held at 233 Peachtree St. NE, Ste. 1900, Harris Tower, Atlanta, GA, 30303.

Advance registration is required and may be accomplished by visiting: http://events.sba.gov/eventmanagement/EventRegistration.aspx?id=b73797b8-cba0-e411-8f7e-02bfa56e2a24.

Survey: Federal procurement culture impedes innovation

January 29, 2015 by

Signs of technology malaise can be seen across the federal government. The Pentagon has warned that it is losing its military technological superiority as other countries rush to develop advanced conventional and cyber weapons to counter U.S. armaments and satellites. The U.S. intelligence community worries that technologies it used to own almost exclusively — like high-resolution satellite imagery, encryption and biometrics — are progressing far more rapidly in the civilian world.

These appear to be symptoms of a widespread ailment that affects government contracting, say procurement experts. “Agency acquisition professionals are not focused on innovation,” says a new report by the consulting firm Grant Thornton LLP and the Professional Services Council, a trade group that represents government contractors.

The report is based on a survey of 51 acquisition executives. Asked to rank issues based on their importance, innovation placed low. It was rated as the fifth of six objectives of a “sound acquisition process” even though senior administration officials have been emphatic about the need for agencies to become more innovative.

“Innovation is the word of the day,” and yet the bulk of the federal acquisition community has neither the incentives nor the skills to change the status quo and attract innovative vendors, says Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=1719