January 17, 2013 by cs
Two men employed by a machine products vendor in Albany, Ga., have pleaded guilty to bribing a public official working for a military organization at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany (MCLB-Albany) to secure contracts for machine products, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore for the Middle District of Georgia.
Thomas J. Cole Jr., 43, and Fredrick W. Simon, 55, both of Albany, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands in the Middle District of Georgia to one count of bribery of a public official.
During their guilty pleas, Cole, the general manager of an Albany-based machine products vendor, and Simon, an employee responsible for processing sales orders, admitted to participating in a scheme to secure sales order contracts from the Maintenance Center Albany (MCA) at MCLB-Albany by subverting a competitive bid process. The MCA is responsible for rebuilding and repairing ground combat and combat support equipment, much of which has been utilized in military missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other parts of the world. To accomplish the scheme, Cole and Simon bribed a MCA purchase tech responsible for placing machine product orders. Cole and Simon admitted to participating in the scheme at the purchase tech’s suggestion, after Simon had spoken with the purchase tech about how his company could obtain business from the MCA. Cole and Simon admitted that, at the purchase tech’s request, they paid the purchase tech a bribe of at least $75 for each of the more than 1,000 sales orders MCA placed with their company. According to court documents, the purchase tech would transmit sales bids to Simon and then communicate privately to him exactly how much money the company should bid for each particular order. Cole and Simon admitted that these orders were extremely profitable, often times exceeding the fair market value of the machine products, sometimes by as much as 1,000 percent.
Cole and Simon further admitted that, at the purchase tech’s urging, in 2011 they began routing some orders through a second company, owned by Cole, because the volume of orders MCA placed with the first company was so high. They also admitted that the purchase tech increased the bribe required for orders as the scheme progressed. Cole and Simon admitted to paying the purchase tech approximately $161,000 in bribes during the nearly two-year scheme. Cole admitted to personally receiving approximately $209,000 in proceeds from the scheme; Simon admitted to personally receiving approximately $74,500. Both admitted that the total loss to the Department of Defense from overcharges associated with the machine product orders placed during the scheme was approximately $907,000.
At sentencing, Cole and Simon each face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of not more than twice the pecuniary loss to the government. As part of their plea agreements with the United States, Cole and Simon both agreed to forfeit the proceeds they received from the scheme, as well as to pay full restitution to the Department of Defense. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Richard B. Evans and J.P. Cooney of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alan Dasher of the Middle District of Georgia. The case is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, with assistance from the Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office Economic Crime Unit and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.
– from January 10, 2013 news release issued by the U.S, Dept. of Justice at http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2013/January/13-crm-044.html.
January 15, 2013 by cs
The Obama administration plans to help small businesses access new markets quicker by giving them better access to technology developed in federal laboratories, as well as by expanding grant programs.
As part of its recently updated small business cross agency priority framework, the administration says it wants agencies to take steps to streamline the process for private-public research partnerships so that startups can access research and development grants 50 percent faster.
Keep reading this article at: White House to expand small business access to federal innovation, grants – FierceGovernment http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/white-house-expands-small-business-access-federal-innovation-grants/2013-01-08#ixzz2Hb2FbXP6
January 11, 2013 by cs
Congress has authorized the SBA to create a mentor-protege program for all small businesses, not just socioeconomically disadvantaged companies.
This major change was included in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act and signed into law by President Obama on January 3. The 2013 NDAA also addresses the recent proliferation of agency mentor-protege programs (and, by extension, the SBA’s refusal to acknowledge an exception from affiliation for participants in most other agencies’ mentor-protege programs) by requiring most procuring agencies to obtain SBA approval for their mentor-protege programs.
The 2013 NDAA amends the Small Business Act to state that “[t]he [SBA] Administrator is empowered to establish a mentor-protege program for all small business concerns.” The new mentor-protege program for small businesses “shall be identical to the mentor-protege program of the [SBA] for small business concerns that participate in the program under section 8(a) . . . except that the Administrator may modify the program to the extent necessary given the types of small business concerns included as proteges.”
January 7, 2013 by cs
Washington’s elected officials are taking new steps to direct more government work to small businesses, just as contractors are bracing for the threat of sequestration.
President Obama on Tuesday signed as part of the military spending budget a series of provisions to help small firms compete for more federal contracts and ensure that agencies take their annual small business contracting goals more seriously. Most notably, the law requires that small business contracting performance be part of employee reviews for senior agency officials, which factor into their consideration for bonuses and promotions.
The change comes after the federal government missed its stated small business contracting goal (23 percent of total procurement across all agencies) for the eleventh straight year in 2012. Though lawmakers stopped short of imposing penalties like reducing budgets or senior level compensation for agencies that fall short of the annual goals, as had been previously proposed in both chambers, this is the first time they have provided formal incentives to encourage agencies to deliver on their annual pledge to small businesses.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/obama-signs-law-intended-to-deliver-more-government-contracts-to-small-businesses/2013/01/04/eb452e10-55f7-11e2-bf3e-76c0a789346f_print.html.
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.”
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.