Get a contracting plan in place early

When contracting fails, there are several common reasons offered: the source selection and bid protest requirements; onerous acquisition regulations; an understaffed, poorly trained workforce. However, many contracting officers can relate to significant delays during the planning phase, particularly to difficulties obtaining an acquisition plan (AP).

Often it’s developed well after the contracting request for action. When this occurs, it places contract managers in the unenviable position of delaying RFP release, thus risking agency funding, but more importantly, jeopardizing mission success. The alternative is to jump into a contracting process with ambiguous goals or results. Thus, for all the debate about the effectiveness of government contracting, the success or failure of programs involving government contracting is actually determined very early, often unfortunately before the contracting officer’s involvement—that is, during acquisition planning.

Eyes glaze over when someone references the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), and many are on record as wanting to modify, reduce, or even abolish it. However, the FAR’s Part 7 acquisition planning guidance provides a great roadmap to all the many considerations necessary before satisfying a government need via contract. The program office must take non-delegable responsibility to figure out what, why, when, where, and how they will obtain acquired resources to support their goals. This shouldn’t be another paperwork drill, completed by support contractors or the contracting officer and subsequently filed away. However, that sometimes is the case.

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Contracting officer’s death didn’t waive claim requirement

A Contracting Officer’s death did not waive the requirement that a contractor file a claim with the agency before bringing its claim to federal court.

In a recent decision, the Court of Federal Claims held that a contractor was not entitled to forego the claim requirement because of the Contracting Officer’s death–even though the agency did not appoint a replacement.

The Court’s decision in Delaware Cornerstone Builders, Inc. v. United States, No. 10-588C (Fed. Cl. 2014) involved a contract between Delaware Cornerstone Builders, Inc. and the VA.  Under the contract, DCB was to replace a VA health care facility in Maryland.

The project reached substantial completion in June 2004.  In 2004, DCB and the Contracting Officer began discussions about additional payments DBC believed to be due and owing.  The parties never reached a resolution, and communications apparently ceased for a period of years.  In September 2006, the Contracting Officer died.

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Large business’s unmet subcontracting goals result In “marginal” score

A large business was appropriately awarded a “Marginal” score for small business participation based on the large business’s history of failing to meet its small business subcontracting goals.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the procuring agency properly assigned the large business a low score based on the large business’s history of unmet subcontracting goals, even though the large business apparently pledged to subcontract a significant amount of work to small businesses under the solicitation in question.

The GAO’s decision in Cajun Constructors, Inc., B-409685 (July 15, 2014) involved an Army Corps of Engineers solicitation for the construction of a concrete-covered canal in Louisiana.  The solicitation was issued in an unrestricted basis.  Award was to be made to the offeror presenting the best value to the government, considering price and four non-price factors: past performance, technical approach, key personnel and project management plan, and small business participation plan.

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These are the Georgia firms who won federal contracts in July 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 July 2014 right here:  FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – JULY 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.

Agency properly considered joint venture partners’ past performance, says GAO

A procuring agency properly considered the past performance of a joint venture’s two partners, even though the solicitation prohibited the consideration of subcontractors’ past performance.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that where a solicitation only allowed past performance references for the “prime offeror,” the agency was permitted to consider the past performance of two joint venture partners–the entities comprising a “prime offeror.”

The GAO’s decision in System Integration and Development, Inc., B-408865.2, B-408865.3 (July 10, 2014) involved a Department of Labor solicitation for information technology systems operation and maintenance.  The solicitation provided for award on a best value basis, including consideration of offerors’ past performance.

With respect to the past performance factor, the solicitation called for offerors to submit up to five references for contracts completed in the last five years.  The solicitation stated that DOL would evaluate past performance “for the prime offeror only” and that “past performance for any proposed subcontractor will not be evaluated.”

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Subcontracting uncertainty means no HUBZone price preference required, says GAO

An agency properly refused to apply the HUBZone price preference when the agency determined HUBZone company’s proposal was unclear as to whether the company would comply with the subcontracting limits set forth in the Federal Acquisition Regulation’s HUBZone price preference clause.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) reasonably refused to apply the HUBZone price preference in a procurement for supplies because the HUBZone company’s proposal suggested that HUBZone companies might perform less than 50% of the manufacturing costs.

The GAO’s decision in Wakan, LLC, B-408535.2 (June 19, 2014) involved a DLA procurement for chicken products.  The procurement included a small business set-aside portion and an unrestricted portion.  The unrestricted portion of the procurement was to be awarded on a lowest-price, technically acceptable basis.

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45-minute bid confirmation deadline ruled unreasonable by GAO

A procuring agency acted unreasonably by leaving a voicemail for a winning bidder requiring confirmation of the bid within 45 minutes of the voicemail.

In a recent GAO bid protest decision, the GAO found that the winning bidder had already confirmed its bid by responding to a Bid Validation request sent by the FedBid electronic reverse auction system.  Under these circumstances, the agency’s second request for a bid validation – with a very short response time – was improper.

The GAO’s decision in AeroSage LLC, B-409627 (July 2, 2014) involved a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) request for quotations for the next-day delivery of 6,000 gallons of fuel for the FCC Coleman Federal Prison in Coleman, Florida.  The RFQ was issued as a small business set-aside and was posted on the FedBid website as a reverse auction.  The RFQ called for award to the lowest-priced, technically acceptable quotation.

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Protester’s scores could be lower than in original evaluation

When a procuring agency re-evaluates proposals in response to a protest, the agency need not stick with the results of the original evaluation.

As demonstrated in a recent GAO bid protest decision, when an agency re-evaluates proposals, it is expected that the re-evaluation could result in different findings and conclusions–including new conclusions that are not favorable to the protester.

The GAO’s decision in All Points Logistics, Inc., B-407273.53 (June 10, 2014) involved the Department of Homeland Security’s solicitation for Enterprise Gateway for Leading-Edge Solutions II (EAGLE II).  The EAGLE II solicitation offered different tracks in which offerors competed for awards under three functional categories.

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Beware of ‘government vendor registration’ websites that charge a fee

We’ve previously alerted you to the existence of websites which unnecessarily lead businesses to pay a fee to be registered in government databases such as SAM, the System for Award Management (see, for example,

Now, we want to make you aware of other websites that purport to get businesses registered to do business with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — for a hefty fee, of course.

Please be aware of the fact that commercial websites (.com websites, in other words) are just that — commercial.  When a commercial website advertises to help you with the process of registering to do business with the government, there’s almost always going to be a fee involved.  On the other hand, government websites (designated as .gov) offer free advice and registration.

One commercial website — currently running an aggressive advertising campaign directed at businesses — solicits vendors to fill out a “FEMA Contract Registration Form.”  Once the form is filled out and submitted on-line, applicants receive the following message: “Thank you for submitting your information. We will be in contact with you shortly. Click below to make a payment of $500.00 for this service.”   By clicking on the “Buy Now” button, you’ll be directed to a site to pay $500.00 via a PayPal account for “FEMA Registration.”

Please know that FEMA does not charge any money to register as a vendor to do business with them.  And neither does any other federal agency.

In order to register as a potential vendor to FEMA, we recommend you:

  1. Visit FEMA’s official website at  There, you are given instructions to register in SAM ( and then download FEMA’s Vendor Profile Form at
  2. Read the instructions for submitting FEMA’s Vendor Profile Form for free.  The instructions are located at:

To receive assistance with any aspect of vendor registration with any government agency at no cost, please feel free to contact the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center.  Our contact information is at: team-directory.

If your business is located outside the state of Georgia, you can get free help from the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) nearest you.  For a map of locations and complete contact information for PTACs nationwide, please visit:


The top 3 biggest mistakes small and minority firms make in government contracting

The Unites States federal government is the world’s largest single buyer of products and services spending billions of dollars annually. And when the federal market procurement dollars are combined with State and local government agencies procurements then the overall government market is an ideal market for minority businesses to generate revenue and grow. This is especially the case with our tax dollars are involved and given the goals that government agencies have in making contract awards to small and minority businesses.

Many minority firms have enjoyed eating at the government procurement trough, but based on government agency data from all levels, a substantial number of minority firms are unsuccessful in government procurement and miss in winning contract awards. There are many cited causes for this contract award gap, but from my many years of being successful in winning government contracts and from my observations, below are the three biggest mistakes that minority firms make in government contracting.

  • Mistake #1: Not conducting research and learning about how to do business with a targeted government agency.
  • Mistake #2: Failing to attend pre-bid and pre-proposal meetings to build relationships.
  • Mistake #3: Not consistently marketing and staying top of mind with agency procurement staff.

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