Proposed contract bundling changes aim to increase small business contracting

As required by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, on June 3, 2015, the FAR Council introduced a proposed change to the FAR contract bundling requirements. 80 Fed. Reg. 31,561-01. The proposed rule aims to improve small business participation in federal contracting by clarifying existing FAR regulations that discourage agency utilization of contracting bundling. The proposed rule would require increased reporting, parses the definitions of “bundling” and “consolidating” of contracts, and requires agencies to publicly justify their decisions to bundle requirements or consolidate contract vehicles. This definitional distinction between bundling of requirements and consolidation of contracts is intended to discourage agencies from combining unrelated requirements or contracts into a single award.

Under the proposed rule, agencies that bundle contracts or requirements in excess of $2 million will face greater notification and reporting requirements. If an agency wants to bundle two existing contracts, it must first notify small businesses at least 30 days beforehand of its intent to bundle its contracts. Agencies will also be required to provide public notice of the agency’s bundling policy and a list of and rationale for any bundled requirements for which the agency solicited offers or issued an award. If adopted, the proposal’s enhanced notification requirements may afford small business contractors an opportunity to protest an agency’s improperly bundled contracts.

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Here are the 50 fastest growing small businesses in government contracting

Washington Technology has just issued its annual “Fast 50” rankings — the 50 fastest growing small businesses in the government market.  The listing is based on calculations of each businesses’ compound annual growth rate from 2010 to 2014.

The rankings include prime and subcontracting revenue at the federal, state and local levels.  Depending on the company, some international public sector work is factored in as well.

The companies submitted this information to Washington Technology during a call for nomination period earlier this summer. Click here to see the rankings, where you can view the Fast 50 and learn who are these companies with explosive growth.

Read our analysis of what the 2015 Fast 50 says about the current market, and where it is headed.

Washington Technology Senior Staff Writer Mark Hoover will be presenting a free webinar on the Fast 50 on August 19.  Click here for more information and to register.


Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals reaffirms only a CO can modify a contract

A construction contractor was unable to recover the costs of performing changed work allegedly ordered by the government’s project engineers because the engineers did not have authority to modify the contract.
asbca sealAs demonstrated in a recent Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) decision, only a contracting officer or the contracting officer’s designated representatives may modify a contract, and a contractor bears the risk of non-payment by performing changed work directed by an unauthorized government employee.

The ASBCA’s decision in Circle, LLC, ASBCA No. 58575 (July 1, 2015) involved a contract between Circle, LLC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, pursuant to which Circle was to construct a concrete flume on the Two Mile Canal in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. As part of its scope of work, Circle was to erect a Temporary Retaining Structure to stabilize the site while the flume was constructed.

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Four ways to prep for fourth-quarter contracting

As of July 15, there were 55 shopping days left in fiscal 2015, Bill Gormley, president of the Gormley Group, reminded the audience at BGOV’s July 15 Next/Edge event, The Race to the Finish. The Coalition for Government Procurement cosponsored the session.

The fourth quarter is the busiest season of the year for federal contractors. Here are four ways companies can prepare to maximize business in the fourth quarter, gleaned from the event.

  1. Identify Your Closing Strategy
  2. Look for Set-Aside and Sole-Source Work
  3. Have a ‘Black Friday’ Plan
  4. Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s

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Queue set up for SBA 7(a) loans until more money is found

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has instituted a waiting list for its flagship 7(a) loans because the program hit its annual lending cap of $18.75 billion on Thursday (July 23, 2015).

SBA logo smallSBA officials, lenders and small business groups are urging Congress to raise the program’s authorization to $23.5 billion in order to free up loans for small businesses. Demand for the program is high because the government-guaranteed loans are the primary source of long-term loans, which feature lower monthly payments, for small businesses.

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Actions foreshadow uniform cybersecurity regulations for federal contractors

Two recent Executive Agency actions lay the groundwork for a FAR cybersecurity clause in 2016.

  • Government contractors should expect an amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation in 2016 that mandates cybersecurity clauses and standards.
  • Companies can prepare now by comparing new government standards to their existing system protections.
  • As part of this process, companies should not just be reviewing the capabilities of their information systems, but also their written information assurance policies, training materials, and employment and third-party agreements.

cyber securityFederal government contractors handling Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) should take notice of two recent executive agency actions. Combined, they lay the groundwork for a new cybersecurity clause to be added to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) in 2016.

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White House wants agencies to prioritize emerging tech in next year’s budget

The White House plans to prioritize emerging technology and big data in the fiscal year 2017 budget, according to a memorandum published last week.

ombWhen submitting budget requests to the Office of Management and Budget, federal agencies should “prioritize investments in enabling technologies that benefit multiple sectors of the economy, such as nanotechnology, robotics, the Materials Genome Initiative, and cyber-physical systems and their application to smart cities,” the memo said.

General topics mentioned in the memo include “advanced manufacturing and industries of the future,” and “information technology and high-performance computing,” in addition to other science-related subjects such as climate change.

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How this venture capital firm wants to help start-ups, with no government experience, navigate Washington

Yanev Suissa, a venture capitalist formerly with New Enterprise Associates, wants to invest in startups that could eventually snap up government contracts.

His approach, he admits, is unorthodox: to invest in startups who have so far had nothing to do with the public sector.

A former senior investment officer under the Bush and Obama administrations, Suissa recently founded SineWave Ventures, an early-stage investment fund aiming to back commercial startups and help guide them through marketing to local, state and federal governments.

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Illustration courtesy Harvard Business Review -
Illustration courtesy Harvard Business Review –

Why are government contractors cutting their cybersecurity budgets?

Government contractors reduced their spending on cybersecurity in the past year, despite several high-profile data breaches, a new survey shows.

American Flag 2About 52 percent of businesses reported a slight decrease in cyber spending in the past year. About 17 percent said their cyber spending increased dramatically, while 31 percent said it increased slightly, according to a new survey from contracting analysis firm Deltek.

“We’re surprised that over half of the companies . . . had experienced decreased spending in cybersecurity,” Deltek Vice President Kevin Plexico said during a call discussing the results. “Our best guess is that the ones that are decreasing are probably not the ones that have had breaches.”

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Yes, there will be a federal spending spree this fall

Federal agencies typically squeeze much of their contract spending in at the end of the federal fiscal year, and that trend is expected to continue this fall, analysts and agency officials said Wednesday.

Federal BudgetSince 2009, agencies have spent an average of 32 percent of their annual contract dollars in the last three months of the fiscal year, which ends in September, Bloomberg Government analysts said at an event sponsored by the company. The event, called “The Race to the Finish,” was aimed at companies seeking to increase their government contracting opportunities.

Much of the late-stage spending is on large multiple-award contracts, especially for information technology purchases. For example, about half of the spending under NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-wide Procurement vehicle — which is available to all federal agencies for purchasing IT products — occurs in the the fourth quarter.

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To see the top 100 federal contractors in FY14, click here: Top 100 Contractors Report_FY14