When it comes to task order contracting, patience and strategy are needed

Years ago, federal agencies jumped on the indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract bandwagon and never got off. The preference for agency-specific IDIQ contracts and government-wide acquisition contracts continues as agencies seek ways to centralize and reduce contract spending. This is especially true for IT, where more than half of spending flows through such contracting programs.

However, this is not just an IT story. The prevalence, size and complexity of task order contracts make them market-shaping now and in the future. Here are the factors involved in navigating this market:

Jockey for strategic positioning.

Don’t rely on incumbency.

Be ready for the long haul.

Perform well – then measure and share.

Engage with your agency program managers.

Find more details and read the rest of this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/deltek-when-it-comes-to-task-order-contracting-patience-and-strategy-are-needed/2014/09/19/e76d5668-3de1-11e4-9587-5dafd96295f0_story.html

The intricacies of government contract rules

Lexy Kessler, a partner at public accounting and consulting firm Aronson LLC, speaks to Risk & Compliance Journal about the impact of new regulations on government contractors and the uncertainties that arise when lawmakers can’t agree on a federal budget.

What is the Service Contract Act and how is it changing the landscape for companies trying to win government contracts?

Ms. Kessler: The Service Contract Act is a set of labor laws in place relative to certain categories of employees. We are seeing a lot of companies that don’t understand what the regulations are, what is required in having to classify employees. Under these regulations they have to pay them a certain dollar amount that is required for health and welfare benefits. We have had situations where companies come to us and say they didn’t know that and now they have to go back and quantify and capture the appropriate pay and, as importantly, communicate to their employees that they are paying these benefits and how. A lot of times what people, as far as more professional services firms, IT firms, don’t realize is that some of their help desk functions may be subject to the SCA and that they can be fined from the Department of Labor.

Keep reading this interview at: http://blogs.wsj.com/riskandcompliance/2014/08/19/the-intricacies-of-meeting-government-contract-compliance-rules/

A construction contractor’s guide to “Buy American” rules and regulations

The federal government has a long-standing preference for using domestic products in federal manufacturing, supply, and construction procurements. Newer rules are applying this old-age preference to additional sectors of construction that the federal government has a hand

The general rule for federal procurements is that all physical products provided or sold to  the government must be made in the United States, unless an exception to this rule applies.  These domestic preferences are governed by a complex framework of statutes and regulations, prohibitions and waivers, and rules and exceptions that are oftentimes difficult for contractors to understand and follow. It is crucial that all construction contractors, especially federal contractors, understand these domestic preferences in order to avoid the significant penalties that may be imposed for any failure to comply.

The federal government’s domestic preferences are generally governed by one of four statutory schemes: (1) the Buy American Act of 1933 (“BAA”), as modified by the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”); (2) the Buy America provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 (“Buy America”); (3) the American Iron and Steel Requirements (“AIS Requirements”), as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (“Appropriations Act”) and the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (“WRRDA”); and (4) the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“Recovery Act”).

Keep reading this article at: http://www.agc.org/galleries/default-file/The%20Construction%20Contractor-‘s%20Guide%20To%20Buy%20American%20Rules%20and%20Regulations.pdf

Government contracting, the False Claims Act, and the art of voluntary disclosures

With the end of the high levels of government contract spending during the Great Recession and the advent of sequestration and budget cuts, government contractors are competing for fewer and fewer opportunities. As this is occurring, government contracting officers, inspector generals, third-party contract administrators and law enforcement are significantly increasing their collective investigations of fraud, waste, and abuse and related False Claims Act and other statutory violations. Government contractors must prepare for these issues well in advance and ensure a well-developed plan is in place to investigate, evaluate, possibly report and respond to an investigation related to government contracting activities.

It seems like almost every day the government is either reporting the investigation or the settlement and prosecutions of government contractors and government employees for activities related to the False Claims Act. This statute prohibits government contractors, among others, from obtaining payments from the government based on fraud. To be liable, the government does not have to provide that the government contractor knew it was defrauding the government. Individuals and companies have been held liable or settled False Claims Act cases where the only evidence was that the government contractor had a culture of “deliberate ignorance” or “reckless disregard” for the fraudulent acts. In fact, the government contractor does not even need to have had an economic benefit from the fraudulent act to be liable under the False Claims Act.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/government-contracting-the-false-claims-78363/

In tough times, contractors turn to creative marketing campaigns

In the best of times, selling to the government is not an easy task. In the worst of times, it’s even harder.

As federal budgets shrink and competition intensifies, contractors are battling it out not only for dollars, but also for the attention of their government customers.

That’s sparked a slew of creative marketing campaigns over the past couple of years, featuring virtual conferences, 3-D animation, apps, e-books and the increased use of social media. These are not necessarily groundbreaking ideas in the Internet age, but for the world of government contracting, they mark a shift from the old way of doing business.

Traditionally, contractors set up booths at trade shows to interact with government officials and keep them in the loop about new products or technologies. In fact, that was the dominant method of communication between industry and government up until a few years ago.

But as budget constraints have drastically cut down the number of events that federal workers attend, companies have had to come up with alternate ways to reach them, marketing professionals said.

The share of federal workers who didn’t go to a single trade show, conference or industry event has risen every year for the past four years,according to a study by Chantilly-based research firm Market Connections.  Fifty-two percent of workers surveyed said they didn’t physically attend any events in 2013, up from 38 percent in 2011.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-business/wp/2014/08/30/in-tough-times-contractors-turn-to-creative-marketing-campaigns/

Defense department’s ‘sources sought’ for IT services underscores importance of an effective capabilities statement

Market research undertaken last week by a unit of the Department of Defense places significant importance on small businesses having a written capabilities statement.

In fact, as the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) puts it, It is vitally important that Small Businesses responding to this Sources Sought Notice do so with highly effective Capability Statements.”

The call for submittal of capabilities statements comes in DISA’s posting of a sources sought notice on FedBizOpps on September 11, 2014.  The purpose of the sources sought is to determine the availability and technical capability of small businesses to provide a wide range of information technology services to the U.S. Cyber Command, including assistance for offensive and defensive cyber operations.

The sources sought notice is a precursor to an anticipated indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity IT contract which will be open only to small businesses.  Small businesses are being sought to provide support for cyber planning, training knowledge, records management, science and technology research and development, and more than 30 cyber exercises a year.

The small businesses that DISA is seeking to identify include Small Disadvantaged Businesses, HUBZone Firms; Certified 8(a), Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses, and Woman Owned Small Business.

The primary place of performance will be at USCYBERCOM Government facilities within the Ft. George G. Meade, MD local area. Local area is any facility within a 50 mile radius of Ft. Meade, Maryland.

Responses to the sources sough are due not later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on September 29, 2014.

DISA’s sources sought notice may be seen at: https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=63a08d1386b0426debf21c53cd8572db&tab=core&_cview=0.

For background information on the “sources sought” process, read: http://gtpac.org/2010/09/what-is-a-sources-sought-heres-the-answer

For general information on putting together a capabilities statement, read: http://gtpac.org/2010/05/what-is-a-capabilities-statement-and-why-should-i-have-one/

Clients of the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center may ask their assigned counselor for a sample capabilities statement as well as for a review of their capabilities statement before submitting it in response to any sources sought notice.


The complications of cost and pricing

One of the most controversial areas in government contracting surrounds cost and pricing: the means by which a contracting officer makes a “fair and reasonable” price determination. This can be expensive to bidders, especially if they are required to provide “certified cost and pricing data” and respond to Defense Contract Audit Agency or contracting officer questions. Recent inspector general reports have highlighted the problem.

Commercial companies don’t have similar requirements and aren’t structured for it. They maintain that creating such cost-accounting compliance would incur extra overhead costs, drive up prices, and hurt them competitively. Contractor concerns involve onerous government requirements, inapplicability, and potentially abandoning the government market.

Perhaps the biggest difference between government and commercial buying practices is symbolized in the Truth in Negotiations Act (TINA). Its main intent is to ensure accuracy of a contractor’s costs before negotiating with the government and includes providing government access to all cost or pricing data the contractor used to develop its offer. If the cost rises and the bidder is found to have withheld any data, the government can get back the added costs.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140826/BLG06/308260017/The-complications-cost-pricing

A faster way for contractors to recover on claims

Filing claims against the government is not contractors’ preferred method of resolving problems on a federal project, but often contractors are left with little choice with federal procurement officials spread thin. For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not moved on a significant number of pending changes and refused to pay the contract balance because the Corps has assessed an equal amount in liquidated damages for delay. The delay was caused by a differing site condition, for which the contractor submitted a claim for time and money. After waiting 60 days, the Corps responded by stating that it will issue the contracting officer’s final decision in seven months. Meanwhile, the contractor continues to spend money trying to close out the project. 

How can contractors speed up the claims process, recover on favorable terms, and avoid throwing good money after bad on a multiyear dispute resolution process?   The answer: Unbundle your claims and file as many under $50,000 or $100,000 as possible to take advantage of the various board of contract appeals’ expedited or accelerated procedures. Then consolidate all expedited appeals and push aggressively toward a fast and cost-effective global resolution.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.foxrothschild.com/newspubs/newspubsArticle.aspx?id=15032395091

Here are the Georgia companies who won federal contracts in August 2014

Ever wonder who’s winning federal contracts in Georgia?

Wouldn’t this information be helpful if you are looking for subcontracting prospects?  Or when you’re trying to figure out who your competitors are?  Or when considering who might be a good partner on an upcoming bid proposal?

Each month, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) publishes a list of federal contracts awarded to Georgia businesses.  The list comes complete with point-of-contact information on the awardees, the name of the awarding agency, the dollar value of the contract, and much more.

Download details on the award winners for August 2014 right here:  FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – AUGUST 2014

Winners of federal contracts earlier this year may be found at the links below:

For information on Georgia businesses that won federal contracts in 2013, click here.

Don’t get burned by this summer’s OFCCP enforcement

While federal contractors may have been looking forward to having a summer break from new affirmative action regulations and related enforcement activities, President Obama and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP) have had other ideas.

Indeed, President Obama and the OFCCP have turned up the heat on federal contractors this summer by: (1) issuing a slew of new executive orders and other regulations that exponentially increase their compliance obligations, and (2) sending out a second wave of corporate scheduling announcement letters advising of future compliance audits.

Keep reading this article at: http://californiaemploymentlaw.foxrothschild.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2014/08/OFCCP_article.pdf