It’ll cost $1 million to get better data on bundled federal contracts

May 7, 2014 by

A bill that would require agencies to do a better job of reporting when they combine what could be smaller contracts into a single solicitation would cost about $1 million over five years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The 2014 Contracting Data and Bundling Accountability Act aims to improve how agencies report their consolidated and bundled contracts. Agencies consolidate contracts by including multiple requirements in a single solicitation, and if the resulting contract becomes unsuitable for small businesses to bid on — because it’s too large or diverse, for instance  – it’s considered a bundled contract. Agencies are supposed to identify and then justify the move when they’ve either consolidated or bundled a contract.

CBO said it believed agency data on consolidated and bundled contracts is already available, but the analysis conceded that the Small Business Administration would require better software to retrieve that data from the Federal Procurement Data System. The software upgrade would cost about $1 million between 2014 and 2019, CBO said.

Small business advocates argue that the real problem is federal procurement officials are not properly reporting their consolidated contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2014/04/cost-better-data-bundled-federal-contracts/83164 

GSA names ombudsman to give industry a louder voice

May 6, 2014 by

A new procurement ombudsman aims to close the communications gap between the General Services Administration (GSA) and its vendors.

The ombudsman, Millisa Gary, is one of several ways GSA is trying to be more responsive to its government and industry customers.

“Her role is to indeed be a voice for industry, make sure we are hearing their concerns and helping an industry partner in navigating our bureaucracy,” said Jeff Koses, GSA’s senior procurement executive, in an exclusive interview with Federal News Radio. “Not necessarily to resolve the issue but to get them a fair hearing and to get them in front of the right audience. Often as we are pursuing best value and pursuing savings, the value of industry conversations can’t be overstated.”

Koses, who took over as senior procurement executive in January after spending the last six years as the director of acquisition operations for the General Supplies and Services portfolio at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, is making changes such as naming an ombudsman part of the agency’s key initiatives to improve supplier and customer relations.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/445/3609830/GSA-names-ombudsman-to-give-industry-a-louder-voice- 

Contractor liable under False Claims Act for sub’s failure to pay Davis-Bacon prevailing wages

May 5, 2014 by

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently affirmed a decision that a federal contractor violated the Federal Civil False Claims Act when its subcontractor failed to pay prevailing wages to its employees.  In United States v. Circle C Construction, L.L.C., 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 20433 (6th Cir. 2012), the United States brought a False Claim Act suit against Circle C Construction Company, a general contractor for the U.S. Army for construction of buildings at Fort Campbell.

Circle C’s contract with the Army required payment of Davis Bacon Act prevailing wages and required that Circle C and its subcontractors submit payroll records certifying that prevailing wages were paid.  The prevailing wage rate for electricians was $19.19 per hour and fringe benefits of $3.94 per hour.  Circle C subcontracted with Phase Tech to perform electrical work on the project.  A Department of Labor investigation revealed that Phase Tech failed to pay prevailing wages.  Nevertheless, Circle C’s payroll certifications to the Army stated that the certifications were complete when in fact no Phase Tech employees who worked on the project were listed and the certifications wrongly represented that the prevailing wages were paid to all subcontract employees.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/308734/Building+Construction/Contractor+Found+Liable+Under+The+Federal+False+Claims+Act+For+Subcontractors+Failure+To+Pay+Davis+Bacon+Act+Prevailing+Wages&email_access=on 

Budget cuts bring 11 percent decline in contract spending for 2013

May 2, 2014 by

The sequester, the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and overall budget cuts produced an 11 percent decline in federal contract spending in fiscal 2013, according to the third annual Bloomberg federal industry leaders study released on Tuesday.

With spending on defense contracts slowing by 15 percent, overall federal contracting fell from $516.3 billion in fiscal 2012 to $462.1 billion in fiscal 2013.

The companies leading Bloomberg’s list of the top 200 contractors remained defense firms, with their rankings unchanged from the previous study. The five companies that did the most business with the government in fiscal 2013 were: Lockheed Martin Corp., with $44.3 billion in contracts; Boeing Co., with $21.6 billion; General Dynamics Corp., with $14 billion; Raytheon Co., with $13.7 billion; and Northrop Grumman Corp., with $10.8 billion.

“All three companies in the top 10 that increased their contract totals — Lockheed Martin, Huntington Ingalls and McKesson Corp. (No. 10) — benefited because they worked on politically protected programs,” the analysts wrote. Those programs were the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for Lockheed Martin, a “number of warships for Huntington Ingalls and pharmaceuticals for the Veterans Administration for McKesson.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/04/budget-cuts-bring-11-percent-decline-contract-spending-2013/82972 

Got an idea to improve IT contracting? The government wants to know

May 1, 2014 by

The federal government is looking for a few good ideas to improve how it does business with information technology contractors.

Using IdeaScale’s crowdsourcing platform, the Federal Chief Acquisition Officers and Federal Chief Information Officers councils are seeking an “open dialogue” to help the government “streamline, modernize and improve” the federal contracting process whether it’s through executive action or new laws. The deadline for participation – which is open to anyone – is May 5.

According to the council’s website, such steps could help “remove barriers and burdens for small and minority-owned businesses and new entrants with limited resources and expertise in federal contracting” as well as reduce costs and red tape for existing government contractors.

The government is seeking discussion and input in three specific areas in an effort to make existing rules and practices more efficient and less onerous

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/got-idea-improve-it-contracting-government-wants-know/2014-04-28

 

SAM ‘inelegant and cumbersome’ says GSA CIO

April 30, 2014 by

The System for Award Management (SAM) is operational but it’s not what the future of acquisition systems should look like, said Sonny Hashmi, chief information officer at the General Services Administration (GSA).

Commonly called “SAM,” the consolidated acquisition system launched in August 2012 to bring together three previously separate systems.

“It is still inelegant and cumbersome. We have done just enough to make it operational,” said Hashmi during an April 11 chat on GitHub.

Shortly after the system went live, SAM ran into a variety of problems that required the back-end security architecture, business process management layer and database schema to be completely reconfigured.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/sam-inelegant-and-cumbersome-says-gsa-cio/2014-04-16

Don’t pay anyone to register your company in SAM.  SAM registration is free!  For details, please visit: http://gtpac.org/sam-gov-registration-is-free-and-help-with-sam-is-free-too 

GSA divvies up $67 million for 19 renovation projects

April 29, 2014 by

The General Services Administration (GSA) has identified 19 renovation projects with a price tag of $67.4 million the agency says will lead to long term savings.

The renovations, which include the creation of open work spaces, will allow agencies to rent 507,000 fewer square feet of space, saving them $17 million per year, GSA says. The projects will also allow agencies to move into federally owned space freed up by the consolidations, reducing costs associated with managing leases.

The fiscal 2014 appropriations bill (H.R. 3547) that became law in January provided GSA with $70 million for renovations that reduce the annual rent paid by tenant agencies. The law requires GSA to give preference to projects that result in offices with less than 130 square feet of usable space per employee.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/gsa-divvies-67m-19-renovation-projects/2014-04-22

SBA isn’t ready to boast yet, but all agencies have met their small biz contracting goals

April 28, 2014 by

For the first time in seven years, all federal agencies in fiscal 2013 met their goals of steering 23 percent of contracting to small businesses, according to panelists at an industry conference on Thursday, Apr. 24, 2014.

Emily Murphy, senior counsel for the House Small Business Committee, in a discussion on legislation and the Small Business Administration’s rulemaking progress, made the disclosure and suggested that SBA is tardy in making the announcement.

Her co-panelist, Kenneth Dodds, SBA’s director of policy, planning and liaisons, said the announcement “deadline is soft,” and that the score card is still being readied.

The Small Business conference was staged by the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council and is intended as an opportunity for small business contractors to interact with agency representatives on how to qualify and win more work.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/04/sba-isnt-ready-boast-yet-all-agencies-have-met-their-small-biz-contracting-goals/83176

 

Grants and missile defense hit hardest in DoD’s science and technology budget request

April 25, 2014 by

Overall funding for the Defense Department’s science and technology budget undergo about a $500 million reduction in the president’s fiscal 2015 budget proposal, with grants and missile defense bearing the brunt of the cut, says a DoD official.

About $200 million of the proposed budget reduction would come from cuts to grant programs nationwide, which equates to about 1,500 grants, said Alan Shaffer, acting assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering.

The department also took about $150 million out of its Missile Defense Agency Science and Technology program, said Shaffer during an April 8 hearing of the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities. The decision made sense because much of the technology has matured to a level where it could be moved to other parts of the department, he added.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/grants-missile-defense-hit-hardest-dod-st-budget-request/2014-04-17 

Phony small businesses pay $1.9 million to settle False Claims Act charges

April 24, 2014 by

Five California-based masonry subcontractors and two individuals paid the government nearly $1.9 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by misrepresenting their disadvantaged small business status in connection with military construction contracts, the Department of Justice announced on April 9, 2014.  The defendants are Frazier Masonry Corp., F-Y Inc., CTI Concrete & Masonry Inc., Masonry Technology Inc., Masonry Works Inc., Russell Frazier and Robert Yowell.

“This settlement demonstrates our continuing vigilance to ensure that those doing business with the military do so legally and honestly and that taxpayer funds are not misused,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery.  “Among the rules that military contractors and subcontractors must follow are those relating to the use and hiring of small businesses.”

The case involved contracts to construct facilities at Marine Corps bases at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Camp Pendleton, Calif.  Under the rules of the Small Business Administration, the contracts required that a certain percentage of the work be performed by disadvantaged small businesses.  This contract requirement was intended to benefit small firms owned by women, minorities and other disadvantaged groups.

The government alleged that the defendant masonry subcontractors and their principals misrepresented to the prime contractors that they were small businesses, and that these misrepresentations caused the prime contractors to falsely certify that they had complied with the small business provisions of the contracts in claiming payment.  Russell Frazier previously pleaded guilty in related criminal proceedings to causing false statements.

The settlement resolves allegations filed in two lawsuits by Rickey Howard, a former employee of Frazier Masonry Corp., in federal court in Raleigh, N.C.  The lawsuits were filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery.  The act also allows the government to intervene and take over the action, as it did in this case.  Howard will receive $393,383. 

The cases are captioned United States ex rel. Howard v. Harper Construction Co., et al., Case No. 7:12-CV-215-D (E.D.N.C.) and United States ex rel. Howard v. RQ Construction LLC, et al., Case No. 7:13-CV-48-D (E.D.N.C.).  The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.   More details at: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/April/14-civ-357.html