How to manage a Federal contract during the Government shutdown

October 2, 2013 by

In the wake of the Government’s October 1, 2013 shutdown, clients of the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) have been asking our counselors a lot of questions about the implications.  Here is a summary of the advice we are giving:

  • Generally, if you are competing for a Federal contract, everything is on hold.  Watch FedBizOpps ( where a majority of Federal solicitations are posted to see updates on the status of anything you are bidding on, or have bid on recently.  Don’t expect up-to-the-minute information since so many Federal employees are on furlough, but that’s the best place to check on the status of most Federal procurements.  If you discover that the procurement official assigned to managing the solicitation in which you are interested is not on furlough, an inquiry by email is permissible.  Be patient in waiting for a reply — remember that literally hundreds of thousands of Federal employees are on furlough status at the moment.
  • Some procurements, related to essential Government functions, are proceeding with minimal disruption, but expect delays.
  • If you have an active Federal contract, it is imperative that you comply with all contractual terms and conditions, and that accurate records of shutdown-related impacts be maintained.  Knowing the terms and conditions of your contract inside-out will pay-off right now.  Be sure to read the rest of this article for tips on managing an active Federal contract.

Specific contractual actions to protect your company’s interest will vary by contract type and contract terms.  All have to do with the specific provisions contained in your contract.   Some things to consider include:

Cost-Type/Fixed Price-Type (incrementally funded) Contracts

  • Ensure compliance with the notification requirements of the “Limitation of Cost” or “Limitation of Funds” provision of the contract (cost-type contracts).
  • Develop plans to minimize the impact to the customer (the end-user within the Government) and your firm (i.e., curtail non-essential program elements to stretch program funding) and request a Stop Work be issued by the Government’s Procurement Contracting Officer (PCO or just CO) for the non-essential elements.
  • If a Stop Work is not issued, notify the PCO/CO of potential delays under “Government Delay” and/or “Excusable Delay” provisions. (fixed price-type contracts).
  • Provide direction to your supplier base consistent with the PCO/CO’s direction.
  • Ensure Government payments reflect any adjustments due you under “Prompt Payment” provisions.
  • Segregate costs as documentation for a potential delay and disruption under the Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA) provision of your contact.

Fixed-Price Type Contracts (fully funded)

  • The Government shutdown does not have an immediate impact on contract performance but, over time, the unavailability of Government inspectors or support could lead to delays and disruptions and should be documented for future Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA) consideration.
  • Ensure Government payments reflect any adjustments due you under “Prompt Payment” provisions.

Other Items to Consider

  • Proposals and unexercised options could expire during an extended shutdown period.  If it is in the best interest of your firm, a non-solicited proposal extension/option exercise date extension could be provided to the Government.
  • The Government may not be able to provide inspectors (e.g., Defense Contract Management Agency) under a shutdown and delay, so disruption impacts should be captured and documented for a future Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA).
  • The Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA) does not allow the government to spend money that is not obligated, therefore and firms should be leery of      non-warranted individuals requesting you to work and get paid later; e.g., contracting officer representatives (CORs) or other Government officials.  Only COs and PCOs can make binding commitments.
  • Be mindful of mission creep, where the Government requests you to perform additional contract tasks due to Government personnel unavailability.
  • The Government shutdown potentially impacts to your rates and long-range plans based on prolonged funding gaps and/or stop work orders, so alert your accounting staff to document all impacts of the shutdown.

As always, feel free to contact a GTPAC procurement counselor if you have questions or need guidance.  All contact information is posted at:


New guidebook reveals how government and industry select small businesses

September 12, 2013 by

There’s a brand new resource available to you — free of charge — courtesy of the national community of procurement technical assistance centers (PTACs).

Braddock’s The Winning Edge: How Government and Corporate Buyers Select a Small Business Supplier – 2014 Edition is a practical guide designed for small to medium sized businesses that provides important insights into the decision-making process within the government and large corporations, with an emphasis on the evaluation and selection stages.

Topics include:

  • Overview of the government procurement process
  • How government procurement officers evaluate a small business supplier
  • How small businesses can identify and win subcontracting opportunities
  • Characteristics that corporate buyers are really looking for in a small business supplier
  • Next step resources

A special electronic edition of Braddock’s The Winning Edge is available at no charge to PTAC clients thanks to the generous support of Microsoft Corporation.  Download your free copy today by clicking right here.

We hope you find this resource useful.   As always, we at the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) stand ready to answer any questions you may have and help you take the next steps in your government contracting pursuits.

Nondisclosure of higher profit on fixed price contract does not violate False Claims Act

September 11, 2013 by

Last week, a U.S. District Court judge in Florida held that a government contractor working under a fixed-price contract is not liable under the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) for higher than expected profits and “failing to notify the Government that the work could be performed less expensively and charged at a lower price” than the contract price.   U.S. ex rel. Prime v. Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan, Inc., and Parsons Corporation, No. 10-cv-1950 (M.D. Fl. Aug. 23, 2013).

The nature of the contract was critical to the outcome of the case. In U.S. ex rel. Prime, two contractors, Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan, Inc. (“PBS&J”) and Parsons, formed a joint venture for the project (the “JV”). The JV entered into a fixed price indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract with the Government, under which fixed price task orders would be placed. Prices on the individual task orders were lump-sum, determined in accordance with the agreed-upon labor rates multiplied by the number of days required to complete the work, and included a profit component. The labor rates and lump-sum task order prices were a product of lengthy negotiations between the JV and Government representatives. During those negotiations, which were transcribed, the Government noted the potential for the JV to increase its profit margin by injecting greater efficiency into its performance.

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New video offers expert instruction on registering in SAM

August 28, 2013 by

As you may know, one of the prerequisites for doing business with the federal government is registering in SAM — the System for Award Management.  Among other things, SAM is the government’s vendor data base — a way for government buyers (and prime contractors) to find you and pay you once you’re under contract.  The SAM database also serves many other purposes, all important to the acquisition process.

When SAM was created about a year ago, it aggressively combined several large, stand-alone databases and merged them into one.  The “data migration” challenge was great, and glitches emerged.  As a result, many vendors have experienced problems both in getting existing vendor files to move over to SAM (i.e., migrate) as well as with creating a new vendor registration from scratch.

Since SAM’s launch, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) and GTPAC’s counterparts across the country have spent countless hours assisting businesses with SAM.  Our professional development association, the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC), has drawn upon what we’ve learned nationally and has created a new video that explains the SAM registration process.

The SAM instructional video is now available for viewing at:

If you are tackling SAM anytime soon, you’ll want to view the video for many helpful hints and tips.  For further help, contact a GTPAC counselor.  If you are located outside Georgia, contact a counselor with a procurement technical assistance center (PTAC) near you.  To find the nearest PTAC, please visit:

Does your firm qualify as a SDB?

August 26, 2013 by

Small businesses, if qualified, can self-represent their status as a small disadvantaged business (SDB).  Doing so could qualify your firm to be considered for federal contracting, including subcontracting, opportunities.

You do not have to submit an application to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for SDB status.

To self-represent as an SDB, you must register your business in the federal government’s vendor database known as the System for Award Management (SAM).  Navigate to end of the SAM database to find the section that deals with small business certifications.   However, first make sure you and your firm understand the SBA eligibility criteria for SDBs.

In order to qualify as an SDB, generally:

  • The firm must be 51% or more owned and controlled by one or more disadvantaged persons.
  • The disadvantaged person or persons must be socially disadvantaged and economically disadvantaged.
  • The firm must be small, according to SBA’s size standards.

While SBA must still certify all firms that participate in the 8(a) Business Development Program, the requirements to be approved are different and more rigorous than SDB status.  If you believe your firm is ready for the 8(a) Business Development program, click here.

For more information on SDB certification, view the October 3, 2008 Federal Register notice  which explains why SDBs do not need to submit an application to the SBA.

In addition to self-representing your business as an SDB, if qualified, your firm might also meet the requirements for one or more of the following programs:

  • SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program provides managerial, technical, and contractual assistance to small disadvantaged businesses to ready the firm and its owners for success in the private industry.
  • SBA’s HUBZone Program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. These preferences go to small businesses that obtain HUBZone certification in part by employing staff who live in a HUBZone. The company must also maintain a “principal office” in one of these specially designated areas.
  • The Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program authorizes contracting officers to set aside certain federal contracts for eligible women-owned small businesses.
  • The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Procurement Program provides procuring agencies with the authority to set acquisitions aside for exclusive competition among service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns.

DoD, TSA and HHS officials provide contracting advice to small businesses

August 23, 2013 by

The Pentagon’s point woman for hiring women-owned small businesses said this week that she “needed a lift” from the travails of furloughs and sequestration.

“This is a tough time for the federal government and DoD in particular if your’re concerned about small businesses,” said Linda Oliver, deputy director of the Defense Department’s Office of Small Business Programs. “Our travel dollars have been cut to nonexistent, our training dollars cut. I’m not second- guessing the decisions, but it’s kind of a down time.”

Speaking on Tuesday to hundreds of current and prospective contractors at the American Express Open’s annual summit, Oliver’s chief advice was to take advantage of the “debrief,” the optional meeting companies may request within three days of learning that they have been eliminated during a contract award process. “The debrief is not on the contracting officers’ list of fun things to do, since they fear they’re being set up for a bid protest,” she said. “But it’s really valuable and gives all involved perspective and closure,” she said.

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How to reduce the growing number of bid protests

August 21, 2013 by

With bid protests increasing by almost 50 percent since 2008, many industry observers and policymakers may be tempted to place the blame for procurement slowdown — particularly in the defense industry — squarely on the contractors. Yet to do so to the exclusion of the other key player in this equation — the Defense Department — ignores that bid protests have proliferated largely as a result of the way government does business.

It may be the case that some government contractors file frivolous protests in order to hang onto a contract they once held but subsequently lost, or in an effort to extract concessions from the government, such as the opportunity to start or continue work while the protest is resolved. However, bid protests are a game of high-stakes poker for most contractors. Protests are expensive, and protestors are prohibited from billing their protest costs against their contracts.

Even if the Government Accountability Office (GAO) sustains a protest (and awards the successful protestor its protest costs), a contractor may still need to go through the bidding process all over again, and there is no guarantee that it will win the second time around. In addition, the GAO retains the power to summarily dismiss a protest it deems frivolous, ultimately rendering any effort put into filing a protest a waste of resources. In other words, bid protests do not just slow down the government; they also slow down business for contractors.

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There is no “free” government money

August 20, 2013 by

We recently heard about a woman who said the “U.S. Federal Government Grants Department” called and claimed she needed to pay $600 in order to receive federal benefits totaling $8,000.   You guessed it … she paid the money, and never got the $8,000.

The phone call was a scam. The Federal Government Grants Department doesn’t exist.   More importantly, the government will never call, email, or text you to ask for money.

Even though the woman wrote down the phone number of the caller, it can be hard to trace it back to a real person because of tricks like caller ID spoofing.   (Click the link if you don’t know what “caller ID spoofing” is.)   She probably won’t be able to get her money back.

Be suspicious of any call, text, or email that claims to be from the government.  Scammers often use names that sound like real government agencies but aren’t.   The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, has more tips on spotting fake callers who pretend to be the government.

You can find the official names and contact information for federal government agencies in our A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies.   Don’t hesitate to contact the agency that claims you owe them money.   Be sure to use the contact information listed in the A-Z Index and not the contact information the caller or email provides.

If you do get scammed, then you should file a complaint with the FTC and your state’s consumer agency.   The link to Georgia’s consumer affairs offices is located at:

Veteran-owned businesses must remove ‘large’ NAICS codes from VetBiz within 30 days

August 8, 2013 by

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) has instructed verified service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) to remove so-called “large NAICS codes” from their VetBiz Vendor Information Pages profiles within 30 days – or else.

According to a recent email from the VA’s CVE, SDVOSBs must remove any NAICS codes for which they do not qualify as a small business.  Failing to remove these “large NAICS codes” may result in potentially harsh penalties, including debarment.

The CVE’s August 1, 2013 email states, in part:

Companies verified in the VetBiz VIP database generally list the NAICS Codes under which they are qualified to provide goods and services. The VetBiz VIP database is restricted to service-disabled Veteran-owned and Veteran-owned small businesses. If any verified company lists one or more NAICS Code(s) on its profile in which it is other than small, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE), is requiring that those NAICS Codes be removed. If such NAICS Codes are not removed, CVE may request the SBA to conduct a formal Size Determination, and CVE may also initiate debarment and/or cancellation proceedings against the company.

After quoting a portion of the SBA’s Standard Operating Procedure for Size Determinations, the VA CVE states: “[t]o fulfill the small business concern requirement found in the regulations, CVE is requesting each company, verified in the VetBiz VIP database, to remove all NAICS Codes in its profile that are other than small within thirty (30) days.”

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There’s growth in state and local contract spending

August 7, 2013 by

For those who specialize in work for state and local governments, it can be unsettling to read headlines announcing teacher layoffs in Chicago or bankruptcy in Detroit.

However, the big picture for local governments and school districts is looking much brighter.

Deltek’s growth forecast for state and local consumption of information technology goods and services improved this year to 3.2 percent, with the total market expected to grow from $58.5 billion in 2013 to $68.6 billion in 2018.

One of the best annual market indicators is a review of the governors’ State of the State addresses.

This year, we found governors restoring K-12 education funding and promising to rein in tuition at public universities.

Governors also called for innovative ways to reduce correctional spending and improve health care and social services. All of these goals must be supported by technology investments.

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