Changes to GSA Schedules program likely in 2013

January 29, 2013 by

Anyone monitoring government contracting in the last few years has noticed a surge in U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule contracts. As of fiscal year 2012, GSA had over 19,000 Schedule contracts. According to GSA, approximately 10% of federal procurement dollars went through GSA Schedule contracts last year representing nearly $50 billion in spending.  Considering 80% of GSA Schedule contracts are with small businesses, proposed changes to the GSA Schedule program in 2013 will surely impact small businesses.

The first of these changes, spearheaded by SBA, intends to ensure more small businesses reap the benefits of the GSA Schedule program. While small businesses represent 80% of GSA Schedule contract holders, only 36% of contract sales go to small businesses.

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More contractors see decline in federal revenue

January 29, 2013 by

For the first time in a long time, more federal contractors reported decreases in their government contracting revenue last fiscal year than those who saw increases, according to a Grant Thornton survey of about 100 contractors.

Thirty-eight percent of contractors suffered reductions in revenue over the past year, compared with 36 percent that saw revenue increases and 26 percent that experienced no significant change, according to the annual Government Contractor Survey released last week. Professional Services Council sponsored the survey.

“This year’s survey shows more revenue shrinkage than growth and a plunge in net profit, with the majority of contractors seeing a tiny profit or none at all,” the survey said. “This despite reducing headcount and overhead, holding wages at generally the same level as in the last two years, cutting [general and administrative expenses] and benefits, and doing just about all a company can do to sustain profits. Contractors are up against costs that can’t be slashed and must be absorbed: indirect, health care, overtime and, for many, out-of-scope work.”

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New responsibilities placed on contractors subject to the Service Contract Act

January 23, 2013 by

Pursuant to a rule finalized by the the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council, effective January 18, 2013, contractors who win the right to take over a previous federal service contract now must make a first-right-of-refusal employment offer to workers on the earlier contract.  The new rule applies only to contracts that are subject to the Service Contract Act (SCA).

The new rule implements Executive Order 13495, Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts, dated January 30, 2009. The FAR has been amended to add subpart 22.12 and a new clause at FAR 52.222-17.

The new requirement applies when the successor contract is for same or similar services at the same location as the predecessor contract.  29 CFR 9.2 defines “same or similar service” to mean “a service that is either identical to or has one or more characteristics that are alike in substance to a service performed at the same location on a contract that is being replaced by the Federal Government or a contractor on a Federal service contract.”

An exception to the right-of-first-refusal requirement involves the successor contractor’s current employees, who would otherwise face termination themselves, are qualified for the new contract and subject to SCA.  Another exception is for predecessor employees with documented past unsuitable performance. In addition, if the successor contractor will be working with a smaller workforce than the predecessor contractor to achieve greater efficiency, the successor is only required to offer employment to those eligible employees who would be qualified to fill the positions that will exist on the new contract.

If a successor wins a contract award due to a contract terminated for performance reasons, the successor contractor is not to assume it was the fault of the service employees; the assumption to be made is that the employees were performing suitable work in support of the contract and the fault lay with management. If the Government determines that the poor performance of the predecessor contract was due to the entire predecessor workforce, then the new SCA rules may be waived.

FAR 52.222-41(n) already requires the predecessor contractor to provide to the contracting officer a certified list not less than 10 days prior to completion of an existing contract of the names of all service employees on the contractor’s or subcontractor’s payroll during the last month of the contract performance.  This list must contain the anniversary dates of employment on the contract. Under the new rule, this list will be required no less than 30 days prior to completion instead of 10. If the list is not provided, the Government will have the right to suspend contract payments until it is provided.

SAM problems linger: WOSB and EDWOSB designations may not display

January 14, 2013 by

Ever since last year’s launch of the System for Award Management (SAM), the federal database that replaced Central Contractor Registration (CCR), there have been a myriad of problems involving system stability, data entry by vendors, access by users, and data migration from CCR to SAM.  Over time, some of these issues have been resolved.  However, new problems have arisen, and the latest one that has come to our attention could effect the eligibility of women owned businesses for federal contract set-asides.

It’s come to the attention of the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) that SAM may incorrectly omit a company’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and the Economically Disadvantaged Small Business (EDWOSB) designation. This means some small businesses that are legitimate WOSB/EDWOSB concerns are unable to visibly display their status in SAM at this time.   Reports indicate that the Small Business Administration (SBA) has called this latest challenge to the attention of the General Services Administration (GSA), SAM’s administrator.

Until this problem is resolved, GTPAC recommends that WOSB and EDWOSB firms  familiarize themselves with the procedure by which a federal Contracting Officer is to verify a firm’s WOSB or EDWOSB status so that, if necessary, suggestions can be made to the Contracting Officer.

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at CFR 127.301(2) indicates that a Contracting Officer may accept a concern’s (bidder or proponent) representation as a WOSB or EDWOSB if the apparent successful offeror provides the appropriate documentation, as described in §127.300(e) at the time of initial offer.

Here are three ways a Contracting Officer can verify a WOSB/EDWOSB concern’s legitimacy:

  1. If an WOSB/EDWOSB concern has a valid certificate from one of SBA’s four approved third party certifiers (i.e., El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Women Business Owners Corporation, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council), the concern can submit the certificate along with a signed copy of SBA form 2413 Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) or SBA 2414 (EDWOSB) form to the Contracting Officer to validate the concern’s eligibility status.  Furthermore, the WOSB/EDWOSB concern must have the same documentation uploaded into SBA’s WOSB Repository at the time of initial offer.  (Under no circumstances are certifications to be accepted from parties other than the four organizations approved by the SBA; in other words, state certifications or any other forms of certification are not to be considered or accepted.)
  2. The WOSB/EDWOSB concern may submit a hard copy (signed) of all the required documents mandated by in the Code of Federal Regulations 13 CFR 127.300(e) and a signed copy of SBA WOSB form 2413 or to the EDWOSB form 2414,  for verification of WOSB/EDWOSB status.  These records are to be maintained for six years in the contract file.
  3. If the WOSB/EDWOSB concern is also an SBA-certified 8(a) concern, the concern may submit a copy of the SBA 8(a) BD Participant certificate and the signed SBA WOSB form 2413 or to the EDWOSB form 2414.

In all instances, the Contracting Officer must verify a concern’s status in SBA’s WOSB Program Repository.  It is the obligation of the WOSB or EDWOSB to provide current, accurate and complete documents to the Contracting Officer for each contract award.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the Contracting Officer to verify WOSB/EDWOSB status.  If the Contracting Officer has information that calls into question the eligibility of a concern as an WOSB/EDWOSB, or the concern fails to provide all of the required documents to verify its eligibility, the Contracting Officer is to not award a WOSB/EDWOSB contract to that business concern.

Regardless of how a business concern is listed in SAM, Contracting Officers should affirm the status of WOSB and EDWOSB concerns by checking their documentation online in the WOSB Program Repository per 13 CFR § 127.300(c).  Apparent awardees can only provide access to those Contracting Officers who are registered for the WOSB Program Repository.  Contracting Officers should go to: and click on “Request SBA User ID” to establish an account.

Any WOSB/EDWOSB who encounters questions because a Contracting Officer cannot identify a firm as a WOSB or EDWOSB in SAM should communicate the foregoing procedural information to the Contracting Officer.

GTPAC’s sister organization, The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech, has created a presentation that addresses various issues involving the System for Award Management (SAM), including helpful tips and work-arounds for both the vendor and acquisition communities.  To download a copy, please click here.

Analysis of web site shows your interests in 2012

January 9, 2013 by

43,905 people visited the GTPAC web site in calendar year 2012, viewing individual pages 126,703 times.

An analysis shows that these were the top 10 articles and resources that visitors read:

  1. What is a Capabilities Statement and why should I have one?
  2. What is a “Sources Sought”?  Here’s the answer!
  3. It’s a mistake to rush into the SAM vendor registration process!
  4. What’s an “elevator speech”?  And why you need one!
  5. The 2 most important parts of a gov’t solicitation — and why you should pay attention to them
  6. Find Davis-Bacon in federal construction contracts, not in a supermarket
  7. Business owner convicted of largest DBE fraud in U.S. history
  8. 3 steps to getting your small business discovered
  9. What do those symbols mean in my bid match “search profile”?
  10. Three tips for researching contract awardees and probable bidders

And what topics did visitors to the GTPAC web site search for most in 2012?  Here’s a list:

  1.  iSearch (GTPAC’s powerful government contracting research tool)
  2. HUBZone
  3. NIGP codes
  4. PTAC
  5. Government contract training
  6. GSA Schedule resources
  7. Minority owned business
  8. Bid proposal
  9. Davis-Bacon Act
  10. Woman-owned business

Be sure to visit the GTPAC web site regularly for all the latest news and information on doing business with the government!


How to negotiate for anything

January 3, 2013 by

Negotiation is a universal art, but many of us are surprisingly bad at it, especially those raised in cultures in which bargaining is not the norm. (I once participated in a panel on how to run a successful freelance business; at least half the audience confessed to almost never negotiating with their clients over rates.)

Even if you consider yourself an old hand at getting the best of your bargaining partner, I urge you to check out the Dec. 21 podcast of Planet Money. It’s about how to negotiate for things, especially when you’re Barack Obama and the US Congress and you’re trying to avert the fiscal cliff. I’ve distilled the lessons contained in that episode, plus a few from the literature, below.

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Check out this valuable resource on negotiations located on the web site created by The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech: 

State purchasing information, training and webinars now available on Facebook

November 14, 2012 by

As the state’s centralized procurement office, the State Purchasing Division (SPD) of the Dept. of Administrative Services (DOAS) purchases over $4.5 billion of goods and services each year.  Through volume buying and competitive bidding, State Purchasing creates statewide contracts used by state agencies, colleges and universities, as well as many local government partners.
As Georgia’s procurement resources hub, State Purchasing strives to create equal access and competition among suppliers to ensure quality products and services are made available to state and local government.    To assist in meeting this goal, State Purchasing has created a presence on Facebook.  You can access it at   No sign-up is necessary.
State Purchasing information also is available through the traditional DOAS website.   Visit the supplier homepage at for direct access to news, training, tools and procurement information.

Quiz on state contracting, including colleges and universities, now available

October 15, 2012 by

The University System of Georgia held its annual vendor expo, this year on the campus of the University of Georgia, on Oct. 15, 2012, and the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center developed a special quiz for attendees at the event.

The quiz features details on procurement rules and procedures followed by University System of Georgia schools and state agencies, including changes in purchasing rules that became effective on July 1, 2012.

Details on Georgia Tech’s participation and a copy of the quiz can be seen at

Browser settings can make a difference in SAM

August 28, 2012 by

Since the launch of the federal System for Award Management (SAM) in late July, vendors have encountered numerous problems accessing the SAM database.  Those problems range from inability to locate a previously established record to slow response time.  SAM’s administrator, the General Services Administration (GSA), has directed that capacity be added to the SAM database and other improvements be made.

While improvements to SAM continue to be pursued by the government, SAM’s users themselves can influence SAM’s performance by using a current version of their Internet browser and activating the correct browser settings.

Browser settings can be a factor in whether or not certain features in SAM work.  GSA says that SAM is compatible with all of the dominant browsers, including Internet Explored, Chrome, FireFox, Opera, and Safari.  What’s important to know, howver, is that the browser being used to access SAM must be a recent version, and that particular settings within the browser must be activated.  A detailed guide to each browser and the appropriate settings can be found at:

Over time, SAM will replace and consolidate several government databases.  The initial phase of SAM includes consolidation of Central Contractor Registration (CCR), Online Representations and Certifications (ORCA), and the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS).


Recap of recent news involving SAM:

DoD Temporarily Alters Vendor Registration Rule Due to SAM’s Launch Shortcomings –

GSA Issues IBM a Letter of Concern for Problems with Procurement System –

It’s a Mistake to Rush into the SAM Vendor Registration Process –

CCR Closed until SAM emerges on July 30th –

SAM Implementation Changed from May 29 to the End of July 2012 –

CCR Shuts Down on May 23 and SAM goes live on May 29 –

SAM Takes Over CCR and ORCA at the End of May — Check Your Records Now! –

SAM Deployment Likely To Be Delayed, GSA Might Replace DUNS –


SBA introduces ‘Quick Bond’ application

August 27, 2012 by

SBA has developed a new streamlined application to help small business owners bid and compete for contracting opportunities.

The Quick Bond Guarantee Application Agreement is for contracts less than $250,000 and combines the contractor application and SBA’s agreement with the surety to guarantee the bond into one easy-to-use form. The new form, the Quick Bond Guarantee Application and Agreement (SBA Form 990A) is available here.

The streamlined application reduces paperwork for both contractors and surety companies participating in SBA’s Prior Approval Program. The Quick Bond Guarantee Application Agreement helps:

  • Reduce processing time,
  • Streamline application requirements,
  • Speed up the application approval process.

For more information on surety bonds and SBA’s Surety Bond Guarantee Programs, visit