October 9, 2013 by cs
In the week following the US government shutdown, tea party Republicans are now poised for a new attack on federal spending as lawmakers and the White House battle over the nation’s borrowing limit.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has put Congress on notice: The United States will hit its borrowing ceiling on Oct. 17. Far-right House Republicans have been salivating for a debt-ceiling fight for months, eager to take on what the chamber’s top Republican calls “Washington’s spending problem.”
A dramatic few weeks of political wrangling that led to a government shutdown saw House Republicans go after President Barack Obama’s health care reform law. And while it’s likely they will take that fight to a coming debate over raising the nation’s debt ceiling, House GOP leaders and rank-and-file members also want more spending reductions.
“On the debt limit, we’re going to introduce a plan that ties important spending cuts and pro-growth reforms to a debt-limit increase,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who many in Washington view as being driven by the tea party wing of his caucus.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20131007/AGENCY01/310070010/Debt-ceiling-fight-will-imperil-defense-spending
October 8, 2013 by cs
As the government shutdown drags on, contractors both large and small are raising alarms about ripple effects on their workforces and cash flow that threaten to worsen if the budget stalemate continues.
The Aerospace Industries Association on Thursday called on Congress to accelerate the process toward a solution or risk private-sector furloughs and certification delays that could wreak havoc on schedules for aircraft delivery and space launches.
“A number of our member companies have notified us that if this shutdown continues — which is affecting all of the Defense Department’s functions involved in contracting – they will be forced to furlough tens of thousands of workers,” said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey in a statement. “The most immediate concern is the absence of Defense Contract Management Agency inspectors…..required to audit and approve parts and operations throughout the manufacturing process for military products. The manufacturing process must stop if these inspections and certifications are not performed, choking off the flow of new equipment to our armed forces.”
Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2013/10/contractors-start-feel-shutdown-pain/71356
October 7, 2013 by cs
A key change in Washington since the government shutdown in the mid-1990s is an increased reliance on contractors, industry specialists note, but the damage a spending lapse might inflict on contracting companies this year would depend on their ability to use past-year funds.
“The short-term impact is that no new awards can be made, no options can be exercised and payments for ongoing work may be delayed,” said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel at the Professional Services Council, a contractors trade group. “Since many companies already have been awarded contracts paid with prior-year appropriations, that work will continue provided that there’s no need for continuous government supervision or direction,” which is not the case with most contracts.
Trey Hodgkins, senior vice president for national security and procurement policy at TechAmerica, said, “If you have a valid contract in place that has a life beyond fiscal 2013, the funds are available and obligated, and employees are expected to show up at work. The biggest challenge you may find is that your government counterpart may not be there, or the government facility may not be open.”
Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2013/09/contractors-might-weather-shutdown-using-prior-year-funds/71056
October 4, 2013 by cs
The Pentagon will continue to award hundreds of millions of dollars in acquisition, services and other types of contracts despite a government-wide shutdown, but don’t expect to hear about them.
The Defense Department will not publicly announce contracts during the shutdown, Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman, wrote in an email.
But that should not stop the military services and defense agencies from signing pacts for equipment, supplies and other items.
The Pentagon will do “one big announcement” of the contracts awarded during this period when the shutdown ends, Christensen wrote.
So how is this possible? It is because the money being used to sign the deals was appropriated by Congress in prior years.
October 3, 2013 by cs
A Transportation Department program designed to help women, minority and disabled owners compete for federal contracts, in fact, may be disadvantaging the very people it is intended to help by failing to root out bad actors.
The Transportation Department’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program has continued to give money to contractors in the process of being debarred or suspended for defrauding taxpayers, depriving more deserving firms of millions of dollars, the agency’s internal watchdog reports.
“Weaknesses in DBE program management and implementation have allowed ineligible firms to win DBE contracts and have left the majority of DBE firms without work,” the department’s inspector general said.
The report shines a poignant light on Uncle Sam’s continuing inability to punish wayward contractors or protect taxpayers from instances of procurement fraud.
Federal agencies are supposed to suspend or debar federal contractors who have tried to defraud taxpayers, thus preventing them from getting new business.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/30/transportation-department-program-fails-to-root-ou/
October 2, 2013 by cs
Many companies that cannot perform their federal contract work during the government shutdown will still have to pay their employees, which could be a challenge with their government revenue cut off.
Contractors retain employees who can’t work during the shutdown because once it ends, “you have to have the people available to start work again immediately,” said Trey Hodgkins, a senior vice president at the trade association TechAmerica. “The company is faced with having to pay these people even if they have nowhere to go to do the work.”
They can’t simply furlough their employees the way federal agencies can, for legal reasons.
Contracts that require new funding in fiscal 2014, which began today, are mainly on hold during the shutdown. Those that support essential government functions are the exception, and agencies can also award new contracts for essential functions.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/contractors-may-struggle-under-burden-shutdown/2013-10-01
October 1, 2013 by cs
Contractors in recent weeks have complained about losses in productivity from preparing for a potential government shutdown, but worse impacts are almost certainly on the way now that the closure has taken effect.
The Department of Homeland Security warned of what would be in store last week in a letter to partner firms. “As a consequence of the lapse, certain planned procurements may be cancelled and certain existing contracts may be stopped, reduced in scope, terminated or partially terminated,” the memo said.
DHS promised to notify businesses of any changes that would be necessary, but the answers cannot come soon enough for some firms. A recent Post article quoted company planners saying they found it nearly impossible to determine how the shutdown would affect them because of the many variables involved.
Among the factors to consider: Whether contracts are covered by past or future congressional appropriations — the latter would require a new spending deal from lawmakers and the White House – and whether their workers are exempt from furloughs because they assist with essential government functions.
September 30, 2013 by cs
Agencies on Friday began posting their contingency plans online to prepare for a possible government shutdown on Tuesday, Oct. 1. If the government closes, approximately 800,000 federal civilian employees could be furloughed. Those placed on unpaid leave will receive official furlough notices on Oct. 1, if necessary.
We’re compiling a list of agency shutdown guidance as it’s posted. We’ll continue to update this information over the next few days as agencies publish their plans. The Office of Management and Budget also will link to agencies’ guidance on its website. Click here to read the 2011 contingency plans that agencies prepared the last time the government nearly shut down.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/2013/09/agencies-post-shutdown-plans-online/70976
September 26, 2013 by cs
Minnesota has failed for three years to meet federal requirements for a program designed to steer millions of dollars in state transportation projects to minority- and women-owned businesses.
The program has been so plagued by mismanagement and weak oversight that some firms were awarded multimillion dollar contracts for which they might not have otherwise qualified.
In one case, nearly $1.6 million for buying materials on the Union Depot project in St. Paul was funneled through a minority- or women-owned firm to a non-minority-owned contractor. In another case on the same project, nearly $2 million was improperly credited to a non-minority-owned firm.
The findings and others, included in an internal audit of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, have led to a shake-up in the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Office of Civil Rights and may result in additional investigations.
“This is absolutely a wake-up call,” said state Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, chairman of the Transportation and Public Safety Committee. Given the gravity of the issues raised by MnDOT’s internal audit, Dibble said he may ask the Legislative Auditor’s Office to conduct its own independent review.
Transportation department officials said they are moving quickly to address the shortcomings cited in the audit of the DBE program.
“This is a high priority for Commissioner [Charles] Zelle and the agency. We need to ensure that all contractors have an opportunity to work on MnDOT projects,” MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said in an e-mail. “MnDOT fully supports diversity and believes that a diverse workforce, internally and externally on MnDOT projects provides a stronger and better outcome and better projects.”
The 30-year-old DBE program has long been plagued with fraud and oversight problems at both the federal and state levels. In 2010 and 2011 alone, U.S. Department of Transportation fraud investigations led to $88 million in recoveries, restitutions and fines, along with 10 federal indictments and eight criminal convictions.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.startribune.com/local/east/224726392.html?page=all&prepage=1&c=y#continue
September 24, 2013 by cs
Small businesses need to pay closer attention than ever to their “small business size status.”
New rules from the Small Business Administration (SBA), recently published in the Federal Register, require that small businesses:
- Accurately maintain their size status with the federal government, and
- Face substantial financial penalties, if willful misrepresentation of size or socioeconomic status is proven.
What actions are expected to be taken by small businesses?
First and foremost, it’s imperative that every small business update its profile in the System for Award Management (SAM) at least once a year. A small business failing to perform annual updating will no longer be identified in the SAM database as a small business. Lack of updating also will cause a firm’s other socioeconomic designations (such as SDB, 8(a), HUBZone, WOSB, EDWOSB, VOSB and SDVOSB) to be dropped from SAM. Losing these designations in SAM potentially means losing eligibility for federal contracts set-aside for various small business classifications. Firms not identified as small businesses also will not likely be considered as potential subcontractors by prime contractors who are required to meet small business subcontracting goals.
The possible penalty for a business misrepresenting itself as a small business has never been as severe as now. If the SBA finds that a business “willfully misrepresented” itself as a small business in order to win a federal contract, the agency can cancel the contract and impose a penalty equal to the total dollar value of the contract. Previously, when a contractor misrepresented its size or small business status, the contractor had to forfeit its contract and pay back profits associated with the contract.
The bottom line is this. Businesses should make sure they update SAM at least annually. In addition, businesses should expect to see a new certification form in bid and proposal solicitations, requiring each small business to certify its status as a small business along with any other socioeconomic classification the firm may hold. The form must be signed by an authorized official. If a federal solicitation does not contain a certification section, offerors (bidders and proponents) are expected to prepare a signed certification of their own to be included in their offer.