Federal government again falls short of its small business goals

July 1, 2014 by

The federal government is falling short of its goals for awarding contracts to small businesses in some industries where it spends the most money, according to the Small Business Administration.

The government has an overall goal of giving 23 percent of its contracting dollars to small businesses. It has routinely missed that goal in recent years.

An analysis of federal spending by the SBA’s Office of Advocacy shows small businesses got less than 12 percent of contracting dollars spent at manufacturers during the 2012 fiscal year. The government spent nearly $200 billion on manufacturing contracts, the most in a single industry.

One problem is not the number of contracts going to small businesses, but the amount of those contracts, the analysis says. And in industries like manufacturing, a high amount of contract dollars go to a small number of companies — for example, defense contractors like Lockheed Martin Corp. or Boeing Co. that each get billions of dollars annually.

One concern continually raised by lawmakers is that some large companies with federal contracts don’t live up to agreements to give subcontracts to small businesses.

Small businesses, meanwhile, got 22.5 percent of the $141 billion spent at companies providing professional, scientific and technical services. They received 21.3 percent of the $43 billion spent at companies providing administrative and support, waste management and restoration services.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.inc.com/associated-press/small-businesses-contracts-fall-short.html 

Defense acquisition rule requiring contractors to report counterfeit parts set to be included in the FAR

June 30, 2014 by

In May, the Department of Defense amended the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) to require certain contractors to detect and report counterfeit electronic parts.  (See DFARS rule on “Detection and Avoidance of Counterfeit Electronic Parts” by clicking here.)

Now, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council has published a proposed rule to greatly expand counterfeit reporting obligations.  The newly proposed rule sets forth sweeping requirements for contractors and subcontractors to report nonconforming items.

Unlike the DFARS rule, which limits application to particular electronic parts and a certain category of contractors, the proposed FAR rule extends beyond electronic parts and specific contractors.  In fact, the proposed rule is designed to effect all contracts for acquisition of supplies or services that include supplies.

Under the proposed rule, contractors and subcontractors at all tiers must screen the Government-Industry Exchange Program (GIDEP) as part of their quality control processes.  Further, the proposed rule requires reporting in GIDEP of any “common” items purchased that are counterfeit, suspected to be counterfeit, or contain “major nonconformance” or “critical nonconformance.”   In addition, contractors must notify Contracting Officers, in writing, when they become aware that “any end item, component, subassembly, part or material contracted in supplies purchased by the government” is counterfeit or suspected to be counterfeit.

Written comments on the proposed rule are due by August 11, 2014.   Comments are to be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking portal by searching for ‘‘FAR Case 2013–002’’.    Select the link ‘‘Comment Now’’ that corresponds with ‘‘FAR Case 2013–002.’’ Follow the instructions provided at the ‘‘Comment Now’’ screen. Please include your name, company name (if any), and ‘‘FAR Case 2013-002’’ on your attached document.  Comments may be faxed to 202–501–4067 or mailed to: General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat (MVCB), ATTN: Hada Flowers, 1800 F Street NW., 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20405.

SBA increases small business size standards for construction

June 27, 2014 by

The SBA has published an interim final rule which increase in size standards for nine major categories of construction.    SBA size standards define the maximum size a firm can be and still be considered a small business.   The new standards are shown in the table below.

While the increases in the size standards are not dramatic, they could make a difference for construction companies on the verge of graduating; those that have recently graduated; and those that want to submit offers as a small business.

The interim rule is effective July 14, 2014, and can be found at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-06-12/pdf/2014-12868.pdf.


NAICS U.S. Industry Title

Old Standard

New Standard


Electrical Contractors and Other Wiring Installation Contractors

$14 million

$15 million


Power and Communication Line and Related Structures Construction

$33.5 million

$36.5 million


Industrial Building Construction

$33.5 million

$36.5 million


Commercial and Institutional Building Construction

$33.5 million

$36.5 million


Water and Sewer Line and Related Structures Construction

$33.5 million

$36.5 million


Oil and Gas Pipeline and Related Structures Construction

$33.5 million

$36.5 million


Land Subdivision

$25.5 million

$27.5 million


Highway, Street, and Bridge Construction

$33.5 million

$36.5 million


Other Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction

$33.5 million

$36.5 million


Dredging and Surface Cleanup Activities

$25.5 million

$27.5 million

Subsector 238

Specialty Trade Contractors

$14 million

$15 million

The new size standards will govern what contractors can certify as small businesses when they bid on or submit a proposal for projects on or after July 14, 2014, or seek certification, after that date, through the SBA for the 8(a), HUBZone or woman-owned small business programs or seek verification through the Department of Veterans Affairs for the Veteran Owned or Service-Disabled Veteran Owned small business programs.

Contractors at or near the size standard should take this opportunity to conduct a review of their last three fiscal years’ tax returns to determine their average annual receipts. 

Big contracts for Defense, Commerce and State departments coming this summer

June 26, 2014 by

More than $13 billion in large and small-business contracts with the federal government is likely to come up for competition in the three-month period ending September.

These requirements are meant to improve efficiency and decrease the cost of services across and between federal agencies. Requirements range from health systems to professional services, all in IT. Several are recurring requirements, while one is a new competition.

Read about three notable contracts anticipated to be advertised for competition by the Defense, Commerce and State departments in the federal government’s fourth quarter here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/big-contracts-for-defense-commerce-and-state-departments-coming-this-summer/2014/06/13/4a2bc594-f014-11e3-9ebc-2ee6f81ed217_story.html

SDVOSBs take it on the chin: Federal Circuit denies Kingdomware appeal

June 25, 2014 by

In a crushing blow to SDVOSBs, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has denied the appeal of a lower court decision allowing the VA to procure goods and services using the Federal Supply Schedule without first considering whether SDVOSBs can satisfy the requirement.

Rejecting well-stated objections by a dissenting judge, a two-judge majority held that the purpose of the “Veterans First” rule is to ensure that the VA meets its SDVOSB goals, and that so long as the VA meets its SDVOS goals, it is free to procure services and supplies from the Federal Supply Schedule without first considering a SDVOSB procurement.

The Court’s decision in Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. vs. United States, No. 2013-5042 (2014) is the latest (and possibly last) in a long-running battle between SDVOSBs and the VA over the SDVOSB preferences adopted by Congress as part of the Veterans Benefits, Health Care and Information Technology Act of 2006. Because it has been awhile since the last decision in this battle, I have summarized the relevant history before diving into the particulars of the Federal Circuit’s decision.

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/service-disabled-veteran-owned-small-businesses/sdvosbs-take-it-on-the-chin-federal-circuit-denies-kingdomware-appeal/

GSA seeks industry input for HR acquisition planning

June 24, 2014 by

The General Services Administration (GSA) is seeking industry comment to be taken into consideration as the agency puts together an acquisition plan for the procurement of a range of human resources (HR) services.

Listed below are questions that GSA would like industry to answer in order to capture best practices and lessons learned from previous contract vehicles and solicitations, merging industry standards and solutions with the Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to achieve best value in the fields of human resource training and development and human capital management services.

The information provided will be utilized for preliminary planning purposes by the Government to facilitate the decision-making process and will not be disclosed outside of Government. All data received that is marked or designated as corporate or proprietary information will be fully protected from release outside the Government. No reimbursement will be made for any costs associated with providing any information or any follow-up information requests. GSA’s call for industry comment does not constitute a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Quote (RFQ) and is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government for any purpose other than market research.

Furthermore, the Government is not seeking proposals or quotes and will not accept unsolicited proposals or quotes at this time.

The Government anticipates making preliminary decisions on the acquisition strategy by mid-July; therefore, the Government is seeking industry feedback as soon as possible.

Responses can be sent to vog.asgnull@issfrh.

The Government is seeking the following information:

1. What suggestions does industry have to incorporate the OPM’s Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework (HCAAF) in the solicitation and resultant contracts?   The website for the framework is: http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/human-capital-management/#url=Framework

2. What suggestions does industry have in incorporating GSA’s Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) in the solicitation and resultant contracts?  The website for FSSI is: https://strategicsourcing.gov/

3. Would industry prefer a Statement of Objectives (SOO) or a Statement of Work (SOW) be included in the solicitation and why?  Please provide a rationale for your preference?

4. Would industry prefer two separate contract vehicles—one for small businesses and another for large businesses—or combine both sizes into one contract vehicle?

5. The recently cancelled CHRS solicitation included ten (10) mandatory labor categories and an additional fifteen (15) labor categories industry could propose.  GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) 738 X (Human Resources & Equal Employment Opportunity Services) does not have the same restrictions.  Would industry prefer the Government provide the labor categories and descriptions in the solicitation or allow industry to propose them?  Please provide a rationale for your preference?

6. What changes does industry recommend to the current TMA contract vehicle and recently cancelled CHRS solicitation?

7. How does industry want to be evaluated when the successor CHRS solicitation is released?  What factors and significant subfactors are relevant?  What suggestions does industry have so that the Government obtains best value?

8. The TMA contract vehicle has featured two key service areas (Customized Training and Learning Solutions & Customized Human Capital Solutions) for the past thirteen years.  Would industry recommend any reconfiguration of these key service areas?  Should they be combined into one key service area, remain the same or broken out into additional key service areas?  Please provide a rationale for your preference?

9. The prior CHRS solicitation included two key service areas: Customized Training and Learning Solutions & Customized Human Capital Solutions.  The government is contemplating including staff augmentation.  Should staff augmentation fall under the human capital key service area or stand alone?

10. What subject matter, topics and/or fields should be included in the scope of the successor TMA contract vehicle under the two key service areas: Customized Training and Learning Solutions & Customized Human Capital Solutions?

11. What subject matter(s), topic(s) and/or field(s) are not in the current TMA contract vehicle or were left out of the recently cancelled solicitation that should be included in the successor TMA contract vehicle?

12. For large businesses, how would you want the subcontracting plan evaluated?  What are realistic goals per socioeconomic status?

13. Please describe the federal government’s requirements in the training/human capital domain that you believe will either begin to or continue to need customized solutions from your industry.







19. If the Government utilizes the same evaluation methodology employed in the One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) solicitation, what concerns, comments and/or feedback does industry have?  The OASIS solicitation can be found at https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=9894b0308c….

20. If the Government determines to award an IDIQ and allow Time and Materials (T&M) orders to be issued against it, what would be the impact to both large and small businesses if the IDIQ required contractors to have an approved accounting system, purchasing system and estimating system?


21. What suggestions and/or ideas does industry have to incorporate sustainable metrics into the acquisition? (This question replaces Questions 14-18)

See GSA’s blog posting on this topic at: https://interact.gsa.gov/discussion/seeking-industry-feedback

Mandatory GSA Schedule modification issued

June 23, 2014 by

GSA has announced GSA Schedule Mass Modification number A382 relating to Manufacturer Part Numbers on Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) Price Lists.  This Mass Modification is mandatory for both product and service providers.

On June 17, 2014, GSA began sending out the Mass Mod for Manufacturer Part Number to all applicable contractors.  The purpose of this modification is to reinforce the requirements of clause I-FSS-600 Contract Price Lists (Oct 2013) and clause 552.238-71, Submission and Distribution of Authorized FSS Schedule Price Lists.

Per these clauses, the contractor’s price list must be complete and include all services, prices, and terms and conditions that were accepted by the Government at award and the complete price list must be uploaded to GSA Advantage!™ including the Manufacturer Part Number.

In this modification GSA is explicitly stating and reinforcing that all Government-accepted products, fixed-price services and/or ancillary products that have been awarded must be included in the price list, and that the product descriptive data must include the Manufacturer Part Number.  The complete price list must be uploaded to GSA Advantage!™ per clause 552.238-71, Submission and Distribution of Authorized FSS Schedule Price Lists.

The Government is now treating the Manufacturer Part Number as a critical part of the descriptive product data included in the price list.

A Manufacturer Part Number is considered to be a unique number or code created by the manufacturer of a specific product, and assigned as a means of standardized  product identification. Vendors are cautioned not to alter the Manufacturer Part Numbers.  There should be  no additions, deletions, or other discrepancies between the  Manufacturer Part Number as submitted to the vendor by the manufacturer, and as presented by the contract holder to GSA.  For example, vendors should not add their own prefixes or suffixes to any Manufacturer Part Number.

GSA Schedule contractors are to submit all responses, including all product data, within 90 days of the date of issue of the contract modification received from GSA. Failure to comply with the terms of the modification may result in contract cancellation.

Upon receipt of the contract mod, contractors should go to https://vsc.gsa.gov and accept the modification.  Contractors then must access SIP or EDI and upload all products, fixed price services, and ancillary products with all required descriptive data including Manufacturer Part Numbers.

GSA’s Answers to Frequently-Asked Questions:

1: Is this mass modification mandatory?

A: Yes.  This mod is mandatory to ensure GSA is capturing all the  Manufacturer Part Numbers and all other descriptive data for all Products award on the GSA MAS contract, including Ancillary Products  fixed-price services (i.e., training course).

2: I have a service-only contract, and have no fixed-price services or ancillary products. How do I respond?

A: Although the reinforcement is not applicable to your contract, select “Yes” to acknowledge the requirement on the Vendor Support Center website.

 3: Do I need to submit all my products?

A: Yes.  Any product, ancillary product, or fixed-price service that  you have listed on your MAS contract should be submitted, along with its corresponding product data.

 4: Does this rule apply to previous submissions?

A: Yes.  Industry partners should take this opportunity to revisit previous submissions and correct or refine any missing or altered manufacturer part numbers.

 5: What should I do if I do not have (or can not obtain) the Manufacturers Part Number?

A: Industry partners should make a best effort to obtain accurate product information.

 6: Why is GSA asking for Manufacturer Part Numbers?

A: GSA is focusing on bolstering data driven offerings in order to improve the acquisition experience for customers, acquisition officials, and industry partners alike.  Expanded data repositories pave the way for streamlined, value-added functionality that will minimize effort while maximizing returns.

Are tight budgets straining trust between agencies and industry?

June 18, 2014 by

Even under the best circumstances, the relationship between agencies and industry can be strained at times.

But are federal budget and staffing shortfalls — particularly among the federal government’s acquisition workforce — fueling a climate of mistrust between the government and its contractors?

It’s not quite that dire yet, contracting experts told Federal News Radio as part of the special series, Trust Redefined: Reconnecting Government and Its Employees.

But improving the relationship between government and industry remains deserving of some attention — especially in today’s austere budget climate.

“It’s no secret that [in terms of] the numbers of federal employees, there’s a decrease, the retirements are going up, certainly the budget issues of the last couple years don’t improve morale within the federal-employee workspace,” said Michael Fischetti, executive director of the National Contract Management Association, in an interview on In Depth with Francis Rose. “And as those folks leave, the ability of the government to hire and retain quality individuals that understand the requirements that they’re levying on the contractor is challenging. So the contractor and the government have to have their best foot forward in this relationship and communicate well to make that happen. And that’s been a concern.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/1291/3628149/Are-tight-budgets-straining-trust-between-agencies-industry

GSA plans to double its market share by 2017

June 17, 2014 by

The General Services Administration (GSA) plans to more than double its market share of government spending by crafting a new digital ecosystem of contract offerings and interactive purchasing tools.

Tom Sharpe, the commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, told Federal Times the agency plans to boost its market share from 14 to 33 percent by the end of fiscal year 2016. Reduced budgets at agency procurement shops means now is the time for GSA to show what it can do for agencies, he added.

GSA logo“I would argue the Federal Acquisition Service at GSA should be a centralized buyer — and we are going to make that case and we are going to fight for that,” Sharpe said.

GSA is already rolling out the cornerstone of that case, calling it “The Government Acquisition Marketplace.”  The agency is billing it as a one-stop digital shop for government acquisition and the next stage in an acquisition landscape that requires data-driven solutions.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140521/ACQ/305210016/How-GSA-plans-double-its-market-share-by-2017

Contractor pay cap will apply to all employees under new rule

June 16, 2014 by

A new rule would limit the amount contractors could charge the government for any of their employees’ salaries under cost-reimbursement contracts.

Currently contractors can charge back $487,000 for employee salaries, but the ceiling only applies to top senior executives. With the new Federal Acquisition Regulation rule, that limit would be expanded to all employees including scientists and engineers.

The final rule, issued May 30, would only affect the Defense Department, NASA and the Coast Guard, and applies retroactively to compensation costs on government contracts signed after Dec. 31, 2011.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/contractor-pay-cap-will-apply-all-employees-under-new-rule/2014-06-03