February 16, 2015 by cs
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) to revise its regulations to accept covered disclosures of wrongdoing from employees working under a contract or grant with the Federal government, 80 Fed. Reg. 3182.
The proposed rule can be seen at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-01-22/pdf/2015-00753.pdf.
Comments on the proposed rule are due March 23, 2015.
February 13, 2015 by cs
The Obama administration has ambitious plans to embed a full-scale digital-service team within each agency to help overhaul the way government delivers IT projects.
But the teams won’t do it alone.
Officials at the General Services Administration (GSA) and its in-house digital shop 18F are now sending a message to the traditional contracting industry: We need your help, too.
That was the takeaway from the February 3, 2015 joint GSA-18F industry day where officials and industry representatives mulled over plans for a new agile-only contracting vehicle that will eventually help agencies purchase services specifically from companies that specialize in quick-turnaround software deployments
18F has been doing its part over the past year to help agencies revamp citizen-facing services. All told, the office has agreements with about 18 agencies to perform development and design work, officials said.
The relatively small shop — its staff size currently hovers around 100 — has faced “explosive” demand for its services and can’t keep up, said Greg Godbout, 18F’s executive director.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2015/02/agile-gsa/104577
February 11, 2015 by cs
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council has published the a final rule implementing Executive Order 13627 and title XVII of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, requiring contractors on federal contracts to certify, both prior to award and annually, their human trafficking compliance and monitoring. The Final Rule prohibits contractors from:
- engaging in severe forms of human trafficking during the period of performance of the contract,
- procuring commercial sex acts during the period of performance of the contract,
- using forced labor in the performance of the contract,
- destroying, concealing, confiscating or otherwise denying employees’ access to identity or immigration documents,
- engaging in fraudulent or misleading recruitment practices,
- employing recruiters that violate the labor laws of the country where the recruitment takes place,
- charging recruiting fees,
- failing to provide return transportation to an employee who is not a national of the country where the work is to take place, subject to limited exceptions,
- providing housing, if required, that fails to meet host country safety or housing laws, and
- failing to provide a written work document, if required.
The Final Rule is broadly applicable to all Federal contractors and subcontractors, regardless of contract type or dollar amount, including contractors providing commercial items, commercially-available off-the-shelf items, or goods on General Service Administration (GSA) Federal Supply Schedules (FSS). In addition, certain contractors providing goods and services abroad will be required to make new certifications and implement compliance plans. Failure to comply may result in financial penalties, termination for default, suspension or debarment, and potential litigation, including false claims suits.
This Final Rule will be effective on March 2, 2015. The FAR Council has recommended that Contracting Officers to include the Final Rule in Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts with task orders remaining after March 2 through bilateral modification, so both new and existing contracts will be subject to the Final Rule after that date.
To supplement and implement the new FAR provisions in Department of Defense (DoD) contracts, DoD is issuing a final rule in the form of its Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) at Subpart 252.235-7004. In addition, DoD Procedures, Guidance and Information (PGI) can be found at PGI 222.17. Included is a sample checklist for auditing compliance: CTIPs_Audit_Checklist_10_May_2011.
February 10, 2015 by cs
Large businesses’ subcontracting plans would be subject to stricter compliance standards under a SBA proposed rule introduced December 29, 2014.
The intent of the new regulations is to compel prime contractors to make good faith efforts to comply with their subcontracting plans by implementing reporting mechanisms and harsher penalties for fraudulent actions or actions made in bad faith. Small businesses subcontractors are likely to agree that these are positive changes.
Many large businesses take their subcontracting obligations seriously, and make every effort to meet (or exceed) their goals. But there are also the bad apples–those that continually over-promise and under-deliver when it comes to small business subcontracting. Dealing with these bad apples have led some small businesses to become skeptical that large primes will follow through on their stated subcontracting intentions.
The SBA’s proposed regulation attempts to address this problem.
Comments on SBA’s proposed rule are due by Feb. 27, 2015.
Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/statutes-and-regulations/subcontracting-plans-sba-proposes-stronger-enforcement/
– See more at: http://smallgovcon.com/statutes-and-regulations/subcontracting-plans-sba-proposes-stronger-enforcement/#more-3551
February 9, 2015 by cs
Four persons have been charged with conspiracy and fraud for obtaining money from small business owners for grant funding and services that they never provided or intended to provide, announced U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada and Laura A. Bucheit, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI for Nevada.
Jason Demko, 38, Lorraine Riddiough, 66, Lissette Alvarez, 27, all of Las Vegas, and Mark Jones, 32, of Barberton, Ohio, are charged in a criminal indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and criminal forfeiture. They appeared on January 27, 2015 before Magistrate Judge Ferenbach and pleaded not guilty to the charges, and were released on personal recognizance bonds pending a March 16, 2015 trial date. Demko was scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach on January 28, 2015 for an arraignment.
“Unfortunately, advance fee fraud schemes are very common,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “The con artist will ask for money up front before any tangible service or product is provided, and it will be very difficult to get your money back once you have turned it over to the scammers.”
“These arrests emphasize the FBI’s continued commitment to investigate financial crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Bucheit. “It also serves as a reminder for consumers to protect themselves, and remember if it seems too good to be true, it almost always is.”
According to the indictment and other court records, from about January 2013 to February 2014, the defendants allegedly made false and fraudulent representations and promises to small business owners to persuade and induce them to pay initial fees, usually between $2,500 and $5,000 for goods and services they thought would help them obtain grants for their businesses. The business owners were told that the total cost for obtaining a grant was between $10,000 and $15,000, depending on the total amount of funding requested, and that the remaining fees would not be charged until the owners received 100 percent of the grant funding. Among other things, the defendants falsely stated that they represented a company named Foundation Processing Center in Wilmington, Del., when in fact, they represented JCD Business Services in Las Vegas; falsely stated that only certain clients had qualified for grants, when in fact anyone who paid the fees were qualified by the defendants; and stated that they had obtained grants for other clients, when in fact they had not done so. The defendants also re-solicited clients for additional fees, including business plans, when they knew that the plans were not going to assist the clients in obtaining any grants. The defendants knew that the true purpose of their solicitations was to obtain funds to personally enrich themselves.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on all counts.
This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.com.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
February 6, 2015 by cs
On February 5, 2015, the Small Business Administration (SBA) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register for the purpose of amending existing regulations in order to implement provisions of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act.
Based on these two statutes, SBA is proposing a Governmentwide mentor-protégé program for all small business concerns, consistent with SBA’s existing mentor-protégé program for Participants in the 8(a) Business Development (BD) program. The proposed rule also would make minor changes to the mentor protégé provisions for the 8(a) BD program in order to make the mentor-protégé rules consistent across agency boundaries.
Similarly, SBA is also proposing to amend current joint venture provisions to clarify the conditions for creating and operating joint venture partnerships, including the effect of such partnerships on any mentor-protégé relationships. Finally, SBA’s proposed rule would make several additional changes to current size, 8(a) Office of Hearings and Appeals, or HUBZone regulations, concerning ownership and control, changes in primary industry designations, standards of review, interested party status, and other matters.
Comments on the proposed rule are due on April 6, 2015.
The proposed rule can be seen here: Federal Register Vol. 80 No. 24 Part III Feb. 5 2015
An analysis of the proposed rule can be found here: Analysis of SBA’s Proposed Rule to Create a New Mentor-Protege Program for All Small Businesses – 02.06.2015
February 5, 2015 by cs
Of the over $500 billion per year spent contracting for everything from computers to carriers, the vast majority of money ultimately awarded and performed by contractors happened without a contract directly from the government. Therefore, there is usually no business relationship (privity) between the government and the contractor doing work for its benefit.
How that can be? What’s going on?
In fact, while the government awards a prime contract for products and services, most often many of the prime’s deliverables from that contract will be subcontracted out to one or many large and small business firms.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/blog/2015/01/28/government-subcontracting/22478955/
February 2, 2015 by cs
The Defense Department intends to request a 10-year extension of a program that improves the ability of socioeconomically disadvantaged small businesses to compete for defense contracts, the program’s manager said yesterday.
The Small Business Mentor-Protege Program began in 1991 as a way to foster small businesses and improve technology transfer between the Defense Department and industry, Robert Stewart said in a DoD News interview.
Despite having been in existence for nearly 25 years, the program is still categorized as a pilot and must be reauthorized in a National Defense Authorization Act every few years, he said.
Stewart said that through regular outreach with industry representatives, his office has learned that the periodic reauthorizations give the impression that the program isn’t permanent. This has a chilling effect on participation — particularly as the reauthorization period approaches, he said.
“Whenever we’re about a year, year and a half out from an authorization — since it’s a pilot program and it’s still crafted in language as a pilot program — industry does what’s called a chilling-off,” Stewart said. From the perspective of a business owner, he said, “If I’m not sure something’s going to be reauthorized, I’m going to be less apt to put business development dollars into helping facilitate small business.”
Extending the program’s authorization period would provide stability, reassure industry and save the department money, he said.
How to Participate
Small businesses seeking to become prime contractors with the department first choose a mentor from one of the more than 50 larger companies participating in the program, he explained. Part of that selection process is ensuring that the strategic goals of the two companies align, Stewart noted.
“We try to put them in a position to be as successful as possible,” he said.
The larger company provides training and mentorship, and in exchange, receives credit toward their small business contracting goals, Stewart said. If the training is provided through a procurement technical assistance center, a small business development center, minority institution or a historically black college or university, they can claim up to four times the amount spent for credit toward their actual small business participation levels.
The agreements may not last longer than three years, and once an agreement is fulfilled, the small business graduates from the program and is able to serve as a prime contractor for DoD contracts.
“Now you have a small business who’s a prime contractor [and] whose overhead is significantly lower than your traditional government contractors,” Stewart said. “They can do the exact same work, sometimes faster, sometimes cheaper, oftentimes better than larger, more cumbersome agencies or entities.”
This is a win-win situation for industry and the Defense Department, Stewart said. Larger businesses now have a pool of capable, responsive partners with which to team up and seek defense contracts, while small businesses gain better-trained employees and, by piggybacking on the capabilities of their larger partner, they can compete for contracts that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to support.
“It works out in a lot of areas,” he said. “We’re helping grow the manufacturing-industrial base by ensuring that we’re going through our [procurement technical assistance centers], small business development centers, minority institutions and [Historically Black Colleges and Universities], but also identifying tech transfer companies that allow the United States government to be able to fight the threat that the Googles, the Amazons, the Microsofts, the Oracles face every day.”
The Way Ahead
“One of the things that we’re looking for going forward … [is that] we want to focus on the evaluation and criteria and factors to drive contracting commands across the DoD enterprise to utilize Mentor-Protege as a way to meet those subcontracting small business participation goals,” Stewart said.
To accomplish this, he said, the Office of Small Business Programs plans to develop a defense acquisition regulation that would give participants in the Mentor-Protege Program greater weight during the bid solicitation process.
“You’re going to get credit toward being already involved in DoD — you know DoD’s business, you’ve already got an established working relationship with the DoD,” Stewart said.
January 30, 2015 by cs
If you ask government contractors to talk about what affects their business, it takes less than a minute before you hear the familiar refrains of budget cuts, sequestration, and political gridlock. Those issues may be at the top of everyone’s minds now, but for those who do business with the government, a long-term vision is essential for surviving Washington’s ongoing crises.
Capital Business asked local executives to take a step back and name one issue that will be a game-changer for contracting over the next decade.
From the threat of terrorism to the inexperience of a younger government workforce, here’s what they said:
Kenneth Asbury – Chief executive of CACI International, a large services contractor
Now, more than almost any time I can recall, the world is a very dangerous place in many dimensions.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/tight-budgets-terrorism-and-task-orders-whats-next-for-government-contracting/2015/01/23/b78d5884-a0ca-11e4-b146-577832eafcb4_story.html
January 29, 2015 by cs
Signs of technology malaise can be seen across the federal government. The Pentagon has warned that it is losing its military technological superiority as other countries rush to develop advanced conventional and cyber weapons to counter U.S. armaments and satellites. The U.S. intelligence community worries that technologies it used to own almost exclusively — like high-resolution satellite imagery, encryption and biometrics — are progressing far more rapidly in the civilian world.
These appear to be symptoms of a widespread ailment that affects government contracting, say procurement experts. “Agency acquisition professionals are not focused on innovation,” says a new report by the consulting firm Grant Thornton LLP and the Professional Services Council, a trade group that represents government contractors.
The report is based on a survey of 51 acquisition executives. Asked to rank issues based on their importance, innovation placed low. It was rated as the fifth of six objectives of a “sound acquisition process” even though senior administration officials have been emphatic about the need for agencies to become more innovative.
“Innovation is the word of the day,” and yet the bulk of the federal acquisition community has neither the incentives nor the skills to change the status quo and attract innovative vendors, says Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=1719