Where the heck are the SBA SDVOSB mentor-protégé programs?

August 7, 2014 by

A recent Gallup poll puts Congress’s approval rating at 15 percent (which is actually up six points since November).

But service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) hoping to participate in strong federal mentor-protégé programs shouldn’t blame Congress, which has twice passed legislation authorizing — and in one case requiring — the SBA to create or strengthen federal mentor-protégé programs affecting SDVOSBs.

Instead, it is the SBA that has dragged its feet, leaving SBVOSBs to wonder if and when 8(a) firms’ monopoly on SBA mentor-protégé programs will end.

Keep reading this article at: http://vetlikeme.org/where-the-heck-are-the-sba-sdvosb-mentor-protege-programs 

Contractors affected by recent hikes in Service Contract Act’s health & welfare rates must file timely claims

August 5, 2014 by

On federal contracts subject to the Service Contract Act, the prevailing health and welfare (H&W) fringe benefit rate was increased, effective July 22, 2014, to $4.02 per hour.  (One exception: The new benefit rate in Hawaii is $1.66.)

The new H&W rate applies to all invitation for bids opened, or other service contracts awarded on or after July 22, 2014.

Contracting offices are to include a new wage determination reflecting the new H&W rate to trigger the contractor’s obligation to pay the higher H&W rate. Contracting offices may make “pen and ink” changes to the current wage determinations received for contracts beginning on or after July 22, 2014 and for which the updated rates were not included.

Once the contracting authority provides a new wage determination, contractors must submit — within 30 days of the change – any claim for an equitable adjustment as a result of increased costs attributable to wage determination rate changes.

SBA announces federal government met its small business goal in FY13

August 4, 2014 by

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced on August 1, 2014 that the federal government reached its small business federal contracting goal for the first time in eight years, awarding 23.39% in federal contracts to small businesses totaling $83.1 billion of eligible contracting dollars.  The government’s annual small business contracting goal is 23%.

The SBA’s report is for FY13, or the 12-month period ending September 30, 2013.

“When we hit our small business procurement target, it’s a win.  Small businesses get the revenue they need to grow and create jobs, and the federal government gets the chance to work with some of the most responsive, innovative and nimble companies in the U.S. while the economy grows,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.

Performance in four out of five of the small business prime contracting categories showed significant improvement, with increases in performance against statutory goals. While contract dollars have gone down in all categories as a result of overall reduced federal spending, small businesses still secured a greater percentage of the contracting dollars.

FY13 Government-Wide Small Business Contracting - Goals and Actual

Alongside the announcement, the SBA released its FY 2013 Small Business Procurement Scorecard, which provides an assessment of each federal agency’s yearly small business contracting achievement against its goal.   Overall, the federal government received an “A” on SBA’s government-wide Scorecard.   Twenty individual agencies receiving an A or A+.   Three agencies were given a B.  One agency, the Department of Energy, received a failing grade, awarding only 7% of its contracts to small businesses in FY13.

The individual agency scorecards released by the SBA, as well as a detailed explanation of the scorecard methodology, is available online at http://go.usa.gov/Nxxd.

Navy drops $2.5 billion in contracts to update shipboard networks

August 2, 2014 by

The Navy has awarded five companies eight-year contracts valued at $2.5 billion to install standardized shipboard networks.

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command tapped BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services, General Dynamics C4 Systems, Global Technical Systems, Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. and Serco, Inc. for the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts for the Navy’s Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services.

The CANES program is intended to equip every ship in the fleet with a standards-based network.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2014/08/navy-drops-25-billion-contracts-update-shipboard-networks/92006

Schedule 70 cloud listing could shower benefits

July 30, 2014 by

The General Services Administration’s effort to add cloud services to its huge multiple-award Schedule 70 IT contract might give it some leverage over competing government contracting vehicles and a leg up on advancing technology.

Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of GSA’s Office of Integrated Technology Services, wrote in a blog post last week that agency leaders are thinking about creating a single special item number (SIN) for cloud services on its IT Schedule 70 governmentwide acquisition contract — the largest, most widely used IT acquisition vehicle in the federal government.

GSA’s request for information issued in early July said commercial cloud computing services were currently being sold through several SINs on Schedule 70.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/07/17/schedule-70-cloud.aspx 

Strategic sourcing’s subtle effects on small business

July 29, 2014 by

Do federal strategic sourcing initiatives put price ahead of good business relationships — and hurt both small businesses and the agencies seeking their services in the process?

“The strategic sourcing that Wal-Mart does builds long-term relationships with suppliers,” said Emily Murphy, senior counsel of the House Committee on Small Business. The federal government’s brand of strategic sourcing, however, has become “more about leveraging buying and limiting the number of companies that might be able to compete.”

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/07/23/strategic-sourcing-and-business.aspx

Obama renews initiative ordering agencies to more quickly pay small business contractors

July 23, 2014 by

President Obama will renew a federal initiative that requires agencies to quickly pay small business contractors, a July 11 White House statement says.

QuickPay requires agencies to pay small businesses with federal government contracts within 15 days of receiving an invoice, rather than the normal 30-day period, the statement says.

The initiative, which was originally launched in 2011, has saved small businesses more than $1 billion, the White House notes.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/obama-renews-initiative-ordering-agencies-more-quickly-pay-small-business-c/2014-07-14 

Man sentenced to 42 months in prison for defrauding SBA and IRS of more than $7 million

July 21, 2014 by

Earlier this month, Vernon J. Smith III, age 61, of Edgewater, Maryland, was sentenced to 42 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to defraud the United States in connection with schemes to fraudulently seek federal contracts under a Small Business Administration (SBA) program to assist disadvantaged small businesses, and to defraud the IRS.

U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm found that the actual loss to the government as a result of Smith’s offenses was $7,033,844, and entered an order requiring Smith to pay that amount in restitution and forfeiture.

“When individuals defraud the government by falsely claiming eligibility for SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, the biggest victims are the taxpayers and legitimate small businesses,” said Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson of the Small Business Administration.

Thomas J Kelly, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office pointed out that “Americans were victimized twice by the greed of Vernon Smith. Not only did Smith decide not to pay his fair share of federal taxes and ultimately defraud the IRS out of $839,016, his actions also denied legitimate business owners of socially and disadvantaged groups the opportunity to receive government contracts to which they were entitled.  [This] sentencing should put corrupt business owners like Vernon Smith on notice that the government will get to the truth no matter how they may try to conceal their involvement and income.”

Vernon Smith was the president and sole owner of Capitol Contractors since 2002. Capitol Contractors was a Maryland corporation with its headquarters in Capitol Heights, Maryland and later Edgewater, Maryland. Capitol Contractors had provided roofing and construction services, but was largely dormant after 2002.

In 1999, Vernon Smith caused a new roofing and construction company, Platinum One Contracting, Inc. (“Platinum”) to be incorporated in Maryland. Although Vernon Smith installed Anthony Wright, an African-American who was a former roofer and project manager at Capitol Contractors, to be the president and 60% owner, and Smith’s son was vice president and owned the remaining 40% of Platinum, Vernon Smith exercised complete and undisclosed control over Platinum’s business operations. Vernon Smith’s wife, Georgia Smith was in charge of Platinum’s accounting, and acted as the de facto Controller for the company.

Vernon Smith admited that from August 1999 to June 2013, he conspired to defraud the SBA in several ways. For example, Smith directed Wright to submit an application to the SBA for certification in the Section 8(a) program which did not reveal that Vernon Smith exercised control over the company, had previously supervised Wright, owned more than 10% of Capitol Contractors, and was related to an owner of Platinum. From May 2004 through April 2010, Vernon Smith also caused Platinum to submit annual updates to the SBA Section 8(a) program that contained false information, including that the company was controlled by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual, and that no non-disadvantaged member of Platinum’s management received compensation that exceeded that received by Wright. In fact, Vernon Smith controlled the company, and Platinum’s payments to Vernon Smith and other corporate officers far exceeded payments received by Wright for 2004 through 2009. Based on the fraudulent application and annual updates, Platinum One received more than $52 million in contracts from the federal government under the Section 8(a) program, to which it was not entitled. The total loss to the government resulting from Vernon Smith’s illegal conduct, regarding the illicit profit he received by defrauding the SBA, and depriving a legitimate Section 8(a) contractor of such profit, is $6,194,828

Vernon Smith and his wife, Georgia Smith, also transferred millions of dollars from Platinum to bank accounts in their own names, to casinos on their own behalf, to Capitol Contracting and another company owned by Vernon Smith, and to credit card companies to pay for personal expenses that Vernon and Georgia Smith charged to Platinum’s corporate credit cards, including extensive dental work, veterinary visits for personal pets, lavish vacations, a Royal Caribbean cruise, limousine transportation to casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., funeral expenses for a family relative, fencing for their personal residence, among others. Georgia Smith also mischaracterized numerous payments to casinos as subcontractor expenses.

In addition, Vernon and Georgia Smith signed false corporate and personal tax returns for 2005 and 2006. The Smiths knew that the cost of goods sold and payments to contractors reported on the corporate returns were false because almost all of that money was paid to, and for the benefit of, Georgia and Vernon Smith at casinos. They also knew that the income reported on their personal income taxes omitted hundreds of thousands of dollars that Capitol Contractors had paid to, and for their benefit. As a result, the Smith’s owed additional personal income tax to the IRS totaling $264,105, and Capitol Contractors owed an additional $574,911 to the IRS for tax years 2005 and 2006. The total tax loss resulting from Georgia and Vernon Smith’s conspiracy to defraud the IRS is $839,016.

Georgia Smith, age 52, of Edgewater, Maryland, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States by filing false tax returns and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 21, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. Anthony Wright, age 42, of Bowie, Maryland, pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme and will be sentenced on September 15, 2014, at 9:30 a.m.

The full DOJ announcement report may be found at: http://www.justice.gov/usao/md/news/2014/EdgewaterMarylandManSentencedTo42MonthsInPrisonForDefraudingSBAAndIRSOfMoreThan7Millio.html

See April 2, 2014 report of guilty please in this case at: http://gtpac.org/?p=7780

CEO of fraudulent DBE firm sentenced to 51 months in prison

July 18, 2014 by

Ernest G. Fink, Jr., 68, of Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, the former Chief Operating Officer and co-owner of Schuylkill Products Inc., was sentenced in federal court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on July 14, 2014 to 51 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay fines totaling $25,100 for his role in a massive conspiracy to defraud the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, announced Peter Smith, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Senior U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia H. Rambo directed that Fink report to prison no later than September 8, 2014.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Rambo stated “DBE fraud is pervasive in the construction industry, and persons so inclined to commit the same kind of fraud need to be aware that they face serious consequences from DBE fraud.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), this scheme, which lasted for over 15 years and involved over $136 million in government contracts in Pennsylvania alone, is the largest reported Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) fraud in the nation’s history.

On August 16, 2010, Fink pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Sentencing was deferred pending the resolution of the case against Joseph W. Nagle, SPI’s former president and co-owner.

In April 2012, after a four-week jury trial, a federal jury found Nagle guilty on 26 charges in the indictment, including conspiracy to defraud the USDOT and to commit wire and mail fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, six counts of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and 11 counts of money laundering.

On June 30, 2014, Nagle was sentenced to 84 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay fines totaling $27,600.

Fink was Vice-President, Chief Operating Officer and co- owner of Schuylkill Products Inc. (SPI) and its wholly-owned subsidiary CDS Engineers Inc. (CDS), until April 2009 when SPI was sold. SPI, based in Cressona, Pennsylvania, manufactured concrete bridge beams used on highway construction projects in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. CDS was SPI’s erection division and installed SPI’s bridge beams as well as other suppliers’ products on highways in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. The conspiracy defrauded USDOT, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in connection with the federal government’s DBE program.

USDOT provides billions of dollars a year to states and municipalities for the construction and maintenance of highways and mass transit systems on the condition that small businesses, owned and operated by disadvantaged individuals, receive a fair share of these federal funds. In Pennsylvania, PennDOT and SEPTA receive these funds and requires contractors to award a percentage of their subcontracts to eligible DBE’s.

The USDOT Office of Inspector General has cautioned prime contractors and subcontractors not to engage in fraudulent DBE activity and encouraged them to report any suspected DBE fraud by contacting www.oig.dot.gov/hotline.

Fink and his co- conspirators executed the scheme by using a small Connecticut highway construction firm known as Marikina Construction Corporation as a front company to obtain these lucrative government contracts.

Marikina was owned by Romeo P. Cruz of West Haven, Connecticut, a naturalized American citizen born in the Philippines. Marikina was certified by PennDOT and SEPTA as a DBE. Although Marikina received the DBE contracts on paper, all the work was performed by SPI and CDS personnel, and SPI and CDS received all the profits. In exchange for letting SPI and CDS use its name, Marikina was paid a small fixed-fee, set by SPI.

SPI and CDS personnel pretended to be Marikina employees by using Marikina business cards, e-mail addresses, stationery, and signature stamps, as well as using magnetic placards and decals bearing the Marikina logo to cover up SPI and CDS logos on SPI and CDS vehicles.

Earlier this year, three other former executives associated with SPI, CDS and Marikina were sentenced for their roles in the scheme.

Romeo P. Cruz, the former owner of Marikina, was sentenced to 33 months’ imprisonment, must pay $119 million in restitution and serve two years’ supervised release.

Timothy G. Hubler, of Ashland, Pennsylvania, CDS’ former Vice-President in charge of field operations, was sentenced to 33 months’ imprisonment, pay $119 million in restitution and serve two years’ supervised release.

Dennis F. Campbell, of Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, SPI’s former Vice-President in charge of sales and marketing was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment, $119 million in restitution and serve two years’ supervised release.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General’s Office, the U.S. Department of Labor Inspector General’s Office, and the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS. Senior Litigation Counsel Bruce Brandler handled the prosecution.

Source: http://www.fbi.gov/philadelphia/press-releases/2014/former-chief-operating-officer-and-co-owner-of-schuylkill-products-sentenced-in-largest-disadvantaged-business-enterprise-fraud-in-nations-history

See earlier articles about this case at: http://gtpac.org/?p=5357 and at http://gtpac.org/?p=7555

OFPP to issue contractor past performance guidance this summer

July 17, 2014 by

The Office of Management and Budget wants agencies to have greater transparency into contractors’ past performance before they sign on the dotted line.

Through additional guidance it hopes to help agencies better assess which vendors they should and shouldn’t work with.

White House OMB OFPP seal“We are a couple of weeks from issuing additional guidance that broadens the sources of past performance information,” said Lesley Field, acting administrator of OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

This forthcoming guidance aims to provide agencies with timely information about how contractors are doing and will also help new entrants break into the federal contracting market, said Field, during a June 3 event in Washington, D.C. jointly hosted by the Association of Government Accountants and AFFIRM.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/ofpp-issue-contractor-past-performance-guidance-summer-says-omb-official/2014-06-04