June 3, 2014 by cs
Sometimes, it’s the most subtle nuances in a phrase that matter most — and for small government contractors, that appears to be the case in the federal procurement rulebook.
The Federal Acquisition Regulation, a long list of government-wide contracting rules established by the heads of several federal agencies, requires all large companies bidding on prime contracts to specify what percentage of the money awarded would flow through to small-business subcontractors.
The rule is meant to ensure that small firms “have the maximum practicable opportunity to participate in performing contracts,” according to the FAR, and to help the government meet its annual goal of awarding 35.9 percent of all subcontracting dollars to small companies. Collectively, federal agencies have missed that mark each of the last five years.
Bob Justis says one odd word on page 1,343 in the rulebook isn’t helping.
“Out of all your planned subcontracting dollars, you’re required to set aside some percentage of that for small businesses,” Justis, head of Justis Consulting, a contracting proposal development firm based in Washington, said in a recent interview. “However, it’s required to be stated as a percentage of your total subcontract dollars — not as a percentage of the total contract dollars.”
It’s a subtle but important distinction, Justis explained, because a large prime contractor can, based on that rule, pledge to commit 40 percent of its subcontracting dollars to small businesses. If the company then handles all the work itself, resulting in a total subcontracting spend of zero, it still met its small-business subcontracting goal.
After all, 40 percent of nothing is nothing.
Keep reading this article at: http://m.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/how-one-small-word-change-could-mean-many-more-contracting-dollars-for-small-businesses/2014/05/22/30b4c0d8-e106-11e3-9743-bb9b59cde7b9_story.html
May 30, 2014 by cs
Federal agencies are strengthening programs to find and punish unethical contractors, and the efforts may have paid off in increased suspension and debarment activity, according to a new watchdog report.
Governmentwide suspensions and debarments have increased from 1,836 in fiscal 2009 to 4,812 in fiscal 2013, the Government Accountability Office reported (GAO-14-513). And at six agencies that had minimal suspension and debarment activity but made changes to staffing, guidance and the case referral process as recommended by GAO in 2011, the increase was even more dramatic. These agencies went from a total of 19 suspension and debarment actions in fiscal 2009 to a collective 271 actions in fiscal 2013.
The six agencies GAO studied — the Commerce, Health and Human Services, Justice, State and Treasury departments and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — all saw a big jump in their suspension and debarment activity in fiscal 2011, the year they began to address GAO’s recommendations for successful programs. The Justice Department, for instance, went from five actions in fiscal 2010 to 50 in fiscal 2011. Though all six agencies made improvements in the same three general areas GAO pinpointed — “a suspension and debarment program with dedicated staff, detailed policies and procedures, and practices that encourage an active referral process” — they emphasized different reasons for their increased activity level, the report said.
May 29, 2014 by cs
The defense policy bill that cleared the House May 22 is controversial for multiple reasons, most stemming from its rejection of many of the Obama administration’s cost-cutting proposals in troop compensation, military bases and weapons systems.
But deep inside the 700-plus page National Defense Authorization Act are also provisions to open more federal contracting opportunities to small businesses, and some of these measures are troubling to major contractors.
“The contracting amendments offered to the NDAA are common-sense reforms that will provide opportunities for small companies trying to break into the federal marketplace,” said Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., chairman of the House Small Business Committee. “These amendments address many of the barriers created due to the federal procurement system’s bureaucracy and inefficiency.”
The Graves-sought provisions include one to increase the government-wide small business prime contracting goal from 23 percent of contracting dollars to 25 percent and establish a 40 percent subcontracting goal. Another would require that the administration publish contract bundling and consolidation justifications before issuing requests for proposals for awards under the General Services Administration-run Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative.
keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/management/2014/05/house-defense-bill-would-raise-small-business-contracting-goals/85249/
May 27, 2014 by cs
Lowest Price, Technically Acceptable (LPTA) contracts might save the government some money, but they deter innovation, a panel of government contracting officials said Monday (May 19, 2014).
“I don’t know a senior leader in government that thinks LPTA is the best,” said Tiffany Hixson, regional commissioner for the General Services Administration. “Contracting and innovation is about risk management.”
But with shrinking budgets, agencies are looking to lower their costs and LPTA contracts do just that, said Robert Coen, acting director of the National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center.
“There’s way too much LPTA going on,” Coen said at the May 19 ACT-IAC Management of Change Conference. “LPTA should be used for commodity buys, not innovations.”
Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/lpta-contracts-stifle-innovations-contracting-officials-say/2014-05-20
May 23, 2014 by cs
The General Services Administration has awarded its 10-year, multibillion dollar OASIS contract to 74 companies, according to an agency announcement.
The companies include Accenture Federal Services, LLC., Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., Boeing Service Company, Deloitte Consulting, LLP., Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems, Inc., Raytheon Company and others across six separate pools of contractors.
OASIS is governmentwide acquisition contract that offers professional services, such as financial management and engineering, scientific and logistics services. OASIS also features separate contracts for small businesses and larger firms.
The market for all of the services offered through OASIS adds up to about $60 billion per year, according to research firm Deltek. The company estimates GSA may capture between 5 percent and 10 percent of the market — up to $6 billion a year.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140519/ACQ/305190012/GSA-awards-long-awaited-OASIS-contract
May 21, 2014 by cs
Companies have protested more Army contract awards in the last 18 months than any other Defense Department agency’s awards, and the Veterans Affairs Department tops the list as the most protested non-Defense agency, according to an analysis by the open data supporters at GovTribe.
The Government Accountability Office, meanwhile, is researching electronic docketing systems to simplify and organize the process of protesting contract awards.
Between September 2012 and May 13, the Army posted more than 12,000 contract award notices on the Federal Business Opportunities website and received 891 protests. That’s a 7 percent protest rate, GovTribe said, noting that some awards are protested more than once and not all protests are public, so the statistic may be misleading.
Table by GovTribe, Inc.
VA had a 6 percent protest rate by the same measure, with more than 400 protests. The Homeland Security Department was the next protested non-Defense agency, with fewer than 250 protests. The analysis did not include a percentage rate for DHS, and GovTribe declined to provide one.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2014/05/why-are-so-many-army-and-va-contracts-protested/84589
May 19, 2014 by cs
Customs and Border Protection’s IT technology acquisition operation is developing ways to help explain to unsuccessful contract bidders why they lost out to competitors, according to the agency’s top IT acquisition official.
In remarks at a presentation on acquisition and programming at FOSE in Washington, D.C., Guy Torres, CBP director of IT contracting, said he and his legal team had developed an “explanation plus” document to provide more information to vendors bidding under Federal Acquisition Regulation. The FAR can restrict providing explicit information on some bids to vendors. Torres said he wanted to provide some information to help vendors understand why they may have lost, instead of providing only a short statement that they didn’t get a contract.
Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/05/13/cbp-informs-losing-vendors.aspx
May 16, 2014 by cs
The General Services Administration (GSA) unveiled tools that they say will simplify the process for small businesses to find contracting opportunities.
The initiatives were part of a May 9 program showcasing the agency’s 18F team – a lab of developers and designers from both inside and outside the government working together to build digital services that will be used across agencies.
GSA says one of those services will help small businesses search for contracting opportunities. FBOpen acts as a website where businesses can search available federal contracts and grants across all federal platforms.
Since FBOpen was unveiled, 1,750 users have queried it 50,000 times, said Presidential Innovation Fellow and 18F developer Aaron Snow at the event.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/gsas-18f-lab-brings-registration-tracking-sam-demos-fbopen/2014-05-11
May 15, 2014 by cs
In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) the supervising court for the Court of Federal Claims and the Boards of Contract Appeals, among others) clarified important legal principles concerning the federal government’s duty of good faith and fair dealing and its responsibility for differing site conditions. Metcalf Construction Company, Inc. v. United States controls disputes with the federal government and also provides authority and rationale useful to contractors in disputes with any project owner, public or private.
In October 2002, Metcalf Construction, a small business based in Hawaii, was awarded a $48 million contract to design and build 212 housing units for the U.S. Navy on a Marine Corps base in Hawaii. Saying the project did not go smoothly is an understatement. Metcalf’s performance was hindered and delayed by unanticipated soil conditions and other issues made worse by the Navy’s failure to administer the contract fairly and according to its terms. By the time the Navy finally accepted the project as complete in March 2007, almost two full years after the original completion date, Metcalf had incurred costs in excess of $76 million — leaving the contractor with losses of approximately $27 million.
May 13, 2014 by cs
While most documents generated by the government have made the transition from paper to digital, there are still a few hiccups in the process, notably contracts and other documents that require signatures.
The General Services Administration is looking for an agency-wide service that can obviate the need for pen-and-ink signatures and move the contracting process entirely online, according to documents posted on April 28, 2014. GSA now uses a variety of procedures to obtain signatures, some of which include a mix of electronic and pen-and-ink, or what the agency calls “wet” signatures. Transitioning fully to digital signatures would raise GSA’s efficiency and reduce costs, the agency said.
The document, posted on the Federal Business Opportunities Contracting site, is a sources sought notice, which means GSA wants to gather feedback from industry about possible products but isn’t seeking bids yet. The agency expects to issue a formal solicitation and award a contract before the end of 2015, the notice said.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2014/04/gsa-wants-contractors-sign-digital-line/83236