4 sectors where most federal procurement is happening, and why that’s bad for small businesses

June 10, 2014 by

The vast majority of federal procurement is happening in four sectors — only one of which meets its goals for divvying contract dollars to small businesses.

According to a report from the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration, more than 80 percent of federal procurement was concentrated in these categories in fiscal 2012:

  • Manufacturing, with nearly $200 billion.
  • Professional, scientific and technical services, with about $141 billion.
  • Administration and support, waste management and remediation, with about $43 billion.
  • Construction, with about $35.44 billion.

But within that massive chunk of contract spending, how much is making its way to small business?  For three of the four categories, not enough to meet the federal goal of 23 percent, according to the report.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2014/06/4-sectors-where-mostfederal-procurement-is.html

Construction company sentenced for veteran-owned business fraud

June 9, 2014 by

Max R. Tafoya, 64, the owner of an Albuquerque-area construction company, and his son-in-law, Tyler Cole, 41, of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, were sentenced Thursday on fraud charges related to claims Tafoya’s company was eligible for contracts reserved for businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.

Tafoya was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison to be followed by a year of supervised release, according to federal prosecutors. Cole was sentenced to a 37 months in prison.

Tafoya also was ordered to repay the government $1,350,000. Cole was ruled to be jointly liable for $500,000 of that amount, prosecutors said.

“Today Max Tafoya and Tyler Cole were held accountable for abusing a program that seeks to fulfill our obligation to provide disabled veterans with benefits designed to ease the losses and disadvantages they have incurred as a consequence of disabilities they sustained while serving our country,” said U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez. “This prosecution is part of a nationwide effort to protect service-disabled veterans who own small businesses by tightening controls to prevent fraud and abuse.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/blog/morning-edition/2014/06/construction-company-owner-sentenced-for-fraud.html

Read U.S. Attorney’s statement here: http://www.justice.gov/usao/nm/press-releases/2014/Jun/200%20-%202014-06-05_tafoya_pr.html

Budgets reveal contracting priorities for state governments

June 4, 2014 by

The Affordable Care Act roll-out that ended March 31 marks the last federal initiative with significant state implications, freeing the nation’s governors to chart their own courses through a wide range of issues.

Each year, Deltek reviews every governor’s state-of-the-state address to learn what trends could influence vendor opportunities over the coming year and beyond. These agenda items provide a comprehensive look at where the states are heading.

A few key subjects tend to dominate the governors’ thinking. For example, this year’s big policy gains were in education, justice and public safety and social services.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/state-contracting-priorities-are-revealed-in-governors-agendas/2014/05/23/624ea922-df91-11e3-8dcc-d6b7fede081a_story.html 

How one small word change could mean many more contracting dollars for small businesses

June 3, 2014 by

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

Agencies get tougher on misbehaving contractors

May 30, 2014 by

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.

House bill would raise small business goals and require bundling justifications

May 29, 2014 by

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/

LPTA contracts stifle innovations, contracting officials say

May 27, 2014 by

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

GSA awards long-awaited OASIS contract

May 23, 2014 by

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

Why are so many Army and VA contracts protested?

May 21, 2014 by

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

Customs and Border Protection agency offers more information to losing bidders

May 19, 2014 by

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