Large firms land small business contracts

July 23, 2012 by

Small businesses are called the engine that drives the American economy—they provide more than half of the nation’s workforce.  Billions of your tax dollars are set aside to help small businesses survive. But the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit discovered hundreds of millions of dollars set aside for small businesses, instead go to huge corporations. Dozens of those companies are here in Silicon Valley.

Nationally, $422 billion worth of federal contracts in 2011 were meant to give small business a shot at servicing one of the largest clients in the world—the federal government. The government’s goal is to give at least 23 percent of all federal contracts to small businesses. Instead, year after year, the NBC Bay Area investigation found the government falling short of that goal.

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SBA proposes increases to size standards in utilities, construction, arts, entertainment and recreation categories

July 19, 2012 by

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is seeking comment on three proposed rules published in the July 18, 2012 Federal Register that would revise the size definitions for small businesses in the Utilities; Construction; and Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sectors.  The proposed revisions reflect changes in marketplace conditions.

The proposed rule for the Utilities sector will revise the size standard for nine industries.   The rule proposes changing six of the industries dealing with electric power generation, distribution and transmission from revenue-based size standards to an employee based size standard of 500 employees.

It would also increase the size standards for the remaining three industries in the Utilities sector from $7 million to $25.5 million for water supply and irrigation systems, $7 million to $19 million for sewage treatment facilities, and $12.5 million to $14 million for steam and air conditioning supply.   SBA estimates as many as 400 additional firms in this sector would become eligible for SBA programs as a result of these revisions.

SBA also proposed increases in size standards for one industry and one sub-industry in the Construction sector.  Specifically, SBA proposed to increase the size standard for Land Subdivision from $7 million to $25 million and from $20 million to $30 million for businesses engaged in Dredging and Surface Cleanup activities.  SBA estimates that more than 400 additional firms will become eligible for SBA’s programs and services, if adopted.

The SBA’s third proposed rule would increase the small business size standards for 17 industries in the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sector.   As many as 1,450 additional firms could become eligible for SBA’s programs and services if the proposed increases are adopted.

Comments can be submitted on these proposed rules on or before September 17, 2012, at, identified by the following RIN numbers:

1.         Proposed Rule:  Small Business Size Standards; Utilities (NAICS Sector 22) (RIN 3245-AG25)

2.         Proposed Rule:  Small Business Size Standards; Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation (NAICS Sector 71) (RIN 3245-AG36)

3.         Proposed Rule:  Small Business Size Standards; Construction (NAICS Sector 23) (RIN 3245-AG37)

You may also mail comments to Khem R. Sharma, Chief, Size Standards Division, 409 3rd St., SW, Mail Code 6530, Washington, DC  20416.

As part of an ongoing review of all size standards, the SBA takes into account the structural characteristics within individual industries, including average firm size, the degree of competition, and federal government contracting trends to ensure that small business size definitions reflect current economic conditions within those industries.  Under provisions in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, SBA is expected to be conducting a comprehensive review of all size standards for the next several years.

The SBA says the revisions to the size standards in these sectors will:

  • enable more small businesses to retain their small business status,
  • give federal agencies a larger pool of small businesses to choose from for small business procurement opportunities, and
  • help eligible small businesses benefit from SBA’s loan programs.

An SBA-issued White Paper entitled, “Size Standards Methodology”, which explains how the SBA establishes, reviews and modifies its receipts-based and employee-based small business size standards can be viewed at  For more information about SBA’s revisions to its small business size standards, click on “What’s New with Size Standards” on SBA’s Web site at:

Agencies told to ensure subcontractors get prompt payments

July 13, 2012 by

Agencies have to pay their prime contractors promptly and, in turn, try to get the primes to make faster payments to their small-business subcontractors, and the Office of Management and Budget wants to see their progress.

OMB is requiring two reports—one in six months and the second report a year from now—to assess agencies’ work to get money into the hands of subcontractors faster, according to a memo released July 11.

The reports have three aspects.

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Vet-owned small firms received 20 percent of VA FY 2011 contracts

July 10, 2012 by

The Department of Veterans Affairs awarded 20 percent of its contract dollars to veteran-owned small businesses in fiscal year 2011, exceeding the department goal set by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

According to a VA release, Shinseki set a goal of 12 percent for veteran-owned small businesses.

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Senators asking contractors for sequestration impact outlines

July 9, 2012 by

Six Republican senators and one independent senator want several contractors to submit written information on the potential impact of defense cuts under sequestration.

Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) released the letter Thursday, addressed to companies such as ATK, BAE Systems’ U.S. subsidiary, Boeing, Computer Sciences Corp., General Dynamics, ITT Exelis, L-3 Communications, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and SAIC Inc.

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Small business share of contracts shrunk slightly in 2011, SBA reports

July 6, 2012 by

The Small Business Administration on Tuesday released its annual score card on federal contract dollars won by small businesses, reporting that contractors meeting the eligibility criteria were awarded $91.5 billion in government work in fiscal 2011, or 21.65 percent of the total.

Current law requires agencies to reach for a goal of awarding 23 percent of contract dollars to qualified small businesses. In the Obama administration’s first three years, SBA reported, the 24 major agencies awarded a total of $286.2 billion in contracts to small businesses, or 22.07 percent, just short of the target. SBA said this represented a $32 billion increase over the three preceding years even as contract spending dropped governmentwide.

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Contractors object to parts of Defense authorization bills

June 19, 2012 by

Both the House and Senate versions of the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act contain contracting provisions that are out of synch with competitive market forces, according to leaders of the Professional Services Council, a contractor trade group.

Objectionable provisions include those affecting executive pay reimbursements, efforts to steer more work to small businesses and efforts to reduce contract bundling, the leaders said in a Thursday conference call with reporters.

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Vendors start to see contracts slowing down with sequestration looming

June 18, 2012 by

With every passing moment, agencies inch toward automatic spending cuts totaling more than $1 trillion. But a leader for one of the largest federal contractors is urging the government to act as if sequestration will not happen.

Uncertainty about how much money agencies will end up with in 2013 has prompted them to delay contract awards in the current year, said SAIC executive Debbie James in an interview with Federal News Radio as part of the week long multimedia series, Inside the World’s Biggest Buyer.

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Small businesses neglected in GSA procurement modernization, lawmakers fear

June 13, 2012 by

Just as the General Services Administration was announcing a new effort to modernize office supply purchasing schedules, a set of small business contractors were complaining to lawmakers that GSA’s changes were dealing too many vendors out of federal eligibility.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C.., chairman of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce, brought GSA’s top acquisition executive on Thursday to a hearing to listen to the concerns of a panel ranging from architects to office furniture vendors who feel left out from some of the agency’s recent efforts to economize on behalf of taxpayers.

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Procurement chief tells agencies to focus on small business set-asides

June 12, 2012 by

Agencies must report on their progress in steering federal contracting set-asides to specific types of small businesses, according to new direction from Joe Jordan, the recently installed White House chief procurement officer.

Joined by Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills, Jordan told agencies in a Wednesday memo to meet their statutory goal for contracting 23 percent with small businesses by considering the use of multiple award contracts with an eye toward “maximizing opportunities for small businesses when agencies make small dollar awards, and strengthening accountability for small business goal achievement.”

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