MnDOT to pay $300,000 contractor settlement

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) will pay $300,000 to C.S. McCrossan Construction Inc. as part of a settlement in a suit the Maple Grove-based contractor filed after the agency rejected its low bid for work on a portion of the St. Croix bridge project.

McCrossan had submitted a bid nearly $6 million lower than the one that was awarded, but MnDOT gave the job to another firm because McCrossan hadn’t shown it would comply with minority and women hiring rules under the federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. In an order signed Monday by state Chief Appeals Court Judge Matthew Johnson, McCrossan agreed to end its suit claiming the bid was improperly rejected.

MnDOT awarded a $58.1 million bid for the contract to partners Ames Construction Inc. and Lunda Construction Co. to complete approach work on the bridge. McCrossan’s proposal of $52.3 million was lowest and also got the best technical score under a MnDOT rating system.

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Bids due Oct. 14th on NASA’s massive IT hardware buy

NASA has kicked off its fifth omnibus information technology procurement, issuing a request for proposals for contracts valued at between $5 and $10 billion open to use by all federal departments and agencies.

Like the previous four versions of the acquisition contract NASA has run since 1993, the Solutions for Enterprisewide Procurement — known as SEWP V — serves all federal agencies seeking desktops, laptops, servers, network gear and storage. To keep pace with technology, SEWP V will also serve as a vehicle to acquire cellphones, tablet computers, and voice over internet protocol phones.

SEWP IV, which was awarded in 2007, has 38 contract holders providing more than two million products from over 3,800 manufacturers.

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New app takes government contracting mobile

The race to open up government data to the public is typically described in terms of creating better services for citizens and new opportunities for businesses and nonprofits.

The benefits of open data can sometimes show up closer to home, however, as demonstrated by the new mobile application hōrd, which allows government contractors to track project solicitations from their iPhones.

Hōrd was developed by the company GovTribe, founded by three former Deloitte consultants. The app allows users to search for federal contracting notices and awards using keywords. They can also search by a contractor’s name to keep tabs on what their competitors are up to.

App users can also “hōrd” a particular notice to receive alerts every time it’s updated.

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VA changes VOSB verification requirement to every-other year

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued a final rule, effective August 22, 2013, that adopts, without change, the interim final rule originally published in the Federal Register on June 27, 2012.

This new rule implements a portion of the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006, which requires the VA to verify ownership and control of veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs), including service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs), in order for these firms to participate in VA acquisitions set-asides for SDVOSB/VOSBs.

Specifically, this final rule requires re-verification of SDVOSB/VOSB status only every two years rather than annually.

The purpose of this change is to reduce the administrative burden on SDVOSB/VOSBs regarding participation in VA acquisitions set asides for these types of firms. Verified SDVOSB/VOSBs are placed on the Vendor Information Page (VIP) at

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Small businesses bid on fewer contracts over the last 5 years, survey says

Bidding activity from small businesses for federal contracts dropped  significantly over the last 5 years, an August American Express government  contracting survey  says.

The company sent surveys to all small businesses registered within the System  for Award Management and performed on a contract in the last 5 years, receiving  684 responses.

Survey authors say the data shows small business submitting fewer bids or  proposals, with the average annual number dropping by 72 percent for prime  contract bids since 2007, the survey says. In 2012, small business respondents  submitted on average 7.9 bids or proposals, as opposed to 19.5 in 2007.

One reason for a decrease in bidding activity may be reductions in government  spending, the survey says.

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OASIS under protest

Anyone who was waiting for the General Services Administration’s requests for proposal for its one-stop consulting, professional engineering, logistics, and finance services contract will have to wait just a bit longer before acting. Although GSA has issued the documents, two protests have already been filed.

The One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) contracts has an estimated total value of up to $60 billion. OASIS is divided into two contracts, one unrestricted and one for small businesses.

USFalcon, of Morrisville, N.C., has filed a formal protest with the Government Accountability Office, said Ralph White, managing associate general counsel for Procurement Law at GAO, in an Aug. 9 emailed statement.

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Rule would boost consideration of contractor past performance

A proposed rule published Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013 would update the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to help agencies consider past performance of contractors in awarding new work while shortening the comment period available to affected firms. The industry appears receptive.

As required by the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) President Obama signed on Jan. 2, the Defense Department, the General Services Administration and NASA drafted a rule to allow data on contractor past performance to be added to two databases, the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) and the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS). The rule would also give contractors 14 days to submit comments, rebuttals or additional information in the database, rather than the current 30 days.

“It is important for past performance information to be shared with source selection officials immediately, so that award decisions can be better informed and made in a more timely manner,” the proposed rule states. “Expediting the time allotted to contractors to respond to performance evaluations should improve communication between the contractor and the government, enable current information to be shared quickly throughout the government, and ultimately ensure the government does business with high performing contractors.”

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As federal contracts shrink, minority-owned small business participation drops-off

About 17 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic, and 13 percent is black.  In federal small-business contracting, award ratios for those groups are in the single digits.

Small businesses, called the “drivers and engines of growth” by President Barack Obama, attracted about $98.2 billion in government awards last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Hispanic-owned companies won about 8.4 percent of that total, or $8.21 billion, while black-operated small businesses won about 7.2 percent, or $7.1 billion.

“The needle hasn’t moved,” said Ruth Sandoval, president of the National Hispanic Business Group, a New York-based organization representing business owners.

The gap may reflect stiffer competition over a shrinking pool of contract revenue as agencies cut spending. Black- and Hispanic-owned businesses also may have difficulty breaking into the $512 billion market because acquisition officers don’t have a mechanism to specifically target those companies.

Small businesses are generally defined by the government as having fewer than 500 employees or less than $7 million in average annual sales.

Contracts for black-owned small companies declined about 1 percent in the year that ended Sept. 30, 2012 from the previous fiscal year. Awards to the Hispanic-owned businesses rose 1.5 percent — a gain that wasn’t enough to compensate for a bigger drop in fiscal 2011, according to federal procurement data.

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DoD’s reduced furloughs mean delays and cuts in contracts

The Defense Department’s decision to trim the number of furlough days for employees came at a cost to contractors, with the Pentagon making up for the sacrificed savings by delaying and trimming contracts, among other things.

The savings needed to be found somewhere. The original plan to furlough employees for 11 days would have saved about $2 billion; trimming that number to six days, which was announced Tuesday (August 6, 2013) meant the Pentagon had to find roughly $1 billion in savings from somewhere else.

And a lot of the savings came from approval from Congress of some reprogramming requests, enabling the department to move money from acquisition accounts, impacting 200 programs.

Defense officials were a little short on specifics in a briefing Tuesday.  Speaking on background, they said this: “Sometimes contracts had been delayed.  Sometimes we just made a decision [about what] was lower priority.”

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GSA Schedule sales continue to slide

When Tom Sharpe oversaw procurement policy at the Treasury Department, his agency used the General Services Administration supply schedules about as much as most other departments across government do — which, if you ask top GSA officials, isn’t nearly enough.

Last year, about 12 percent of federal procurement dollars that could have gone through GSA actually did. Now, GSA officials say they’re expecting to hit 17 percent by the end of the year. What’s more, they’ve made it clear they’re aiming to hit the 90 percent mark within a decade.

In the face of such lofty goals, GSA schedule sales dipped in 2012 for the second year in a row — 2.9 percent from 2011 and a total 3.5 percent from 2010, according to data compiled for Federal Times by market research firm Deltek.

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