Government contracting: When competitors become teammates

In the big business of government contracting, it is common for competitors to also be teammates for a period of time. Team arrangements can encourage innovative solutions, promote competition and allow contractors access to corners of the market that might otherwise be closed.

teamingTeam arrangements between contractors also can result in significant profits to each contributing company, as well as increased capability and know-how that can be leveraged by each contractor for future projects. The potential benefits, however, do not come without risk. Absent a carefully thought-out agreement, parties may find themselves in a situation where competitors turn on each other.

Keep reading this article to learn about common pitfalls:

How vendors can make the most of state & local procurement opportunities

Diversifying among more levels of the government contracting market is a start.

SLED MarketVendors with a data-driven strategy for allocating sales resources among all five levels of the fragmented state, local and education (SLED) government contracting market are most successful, according to a new Onvia report.

Procurement data shows city and state agencies comprise the largest project bid volume, but the agencies most actively issuing awards are a small percentage of the market.

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Contractor update: How to own and control your small business

Today we review more evidence reminding small business owners to get their house in order when it comes to questions of “ownership and control” in the eyes of the Small Business Administration (SBA).  Failing to plan can mean lost contracts and – even worse – losing your small business status and the opportunity for lucrative set-aside contracts.

Small Business - Ownership and ControlWhen we last visited this issue in April, the SBA determined that Precise Systems, Inc. was ineligible for a $134 million State Department SDVOSB set-aside contract because its employee stock ownership plan raised concerns over whether the company’s service-disabled owner exercised proper “ownership and control” under the applicable SBA rules.

After the Court of Federal Claims remanded the issue for further interpretation, the SBA doubled-down on its authority to interpret questions of small business ownership and control.

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4 government contracting trends to watch in 2016

Today’s times represent an ongoing shift in the federal services marketplace. The changes are broad and include shifts in technology; acquisition methods; and the economics of being a contractor with significant hurdles and barriers to success.  These market dynamics will play out over the coming months and years – here’s a rundown of the most significant of those changes now well underway.

1. Cloud Computing Continues to Absorb IT Services Opportunities
Federal agencies have moved beyond the 2010 Cloud-First mandate to adopt cloud computing, and have begun embracing the cloud to support their business and mission objectives.  Cloud computing represents a significant change to the way that the federal government had done business. Cloud computing permits the customer to spend less time managing complex IT resources and more time investing in core mission work.  Companies that have cloud-based offerings are winning significant business away from providers that have historically supported “in-house” solutions.

FedRamp opt outAn estimated $20 billion of the federal government’s $80 billion in IT spending is a potential target for migration to cloud computing solutions, according to the White House’s Federal Cloud Computing Strategy. The size and scope of cloud programs are becoming larger, driven in part by the success of smaller projects, and by the manifestation of supporting policies, including FedRAMP, a security “stamp of approval” that lets government agencies know a solution has an appropriate and detailed security plan in place. To date, 48 systems have been authorized FedRAMP compliant.  With the cost of a FedRAMP certification reaching as high as $300,000 and authorizations taking 9 to 15 months, gaining certification is a major commitment for any company.  As a result, many firms, especially small businesses, may be locked out of this segment of the market.

Read all 4 contracting trends to watch in 2016 at:

Offeror’s winning bid of $0 was acceptable, says GAO

Under certain circumstances, the winning bidder on a fixed-price contract may offer $0.00.

In a recent decision, LCPtracker, Inc.; eMars, Inc., B-410752.3 et al (Sept. 3, 2015), the GAO held an offeror submitting a zero-dollar offer (that is, an offer for $0.00) was eligible to receive a fixed-price contract because both the Government and the contractor would receive benefits under the contract.

HUDIn LCPtracker, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sent a solicitation for web-based payroll tracking services to three small businesses: eMars, Inc., LCPtracker, Inc. and Elation Systems, Inc. The successful offeror was to provide web-based services for over 6,000 users dispersed throughout the nation. The solicitation did not request technical proposal submissions, only price quotations. HUD planned to pay for the entire service, which meant offerors would not be able to charge fees to third party users.

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Here are the Georgia businesses who won federal contracts in Sept. 2015

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?

Federal Contract Award Winners in GeorgiaEach and every month, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) compiles and 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 Georgia federal contract award winners for September 2015 right here: FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – SEPT. 2015

Georgia contract award winners who won federal contracts in the first seven months of 2015 are listed below:

To see award winners in Calendar Year 2014, see: 

HUBZone redesignations looming on October

The next batch of redesignated HUBZone areas is set to lose HUBZone status as of October 1. HUBZone-certified firms located in an expiring HUBZone will be decertified from the HUBZone program unless they have moved their principal office to an eligible HUBZone by October 1.

hubzoneHUBZone boundaries are fluid, with changes driven by census data and other statistics that are regularly updated. When new information causes a HUBZone location to lose HUBZone status, that area will no longer qualify for the HUBZone program. To soften the blow for HUBZone firms operating in a redesignated area, SBA permits the location to remain HUBZone-eligible for three additional years.

There has been some talk of extending this so-called “grandfathering” period by a few additional years, but right now it stands at three years. Therefore, the locations that are set to expire from the HUBZone program on October 1 actually lost HUBZone status three years ago—it is the three-year grandfather period that runs out as of October 1.

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Is your business located in a HUBZone?  Check here:

Nonmanufacturer rule: Large manufacturers OK’d for certain simplified acquisitions

In a small business set-aside simplified acquisition of $25,000 or less, small business offerors may propose using large business manufacturers while still complying with the requirements of the nonmanufacturer rule.

SBA sealIn a recent decision, the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals held that an apparent ambiguity contained in the nonmanufacturer regulation for certain simplified acquisitions should be resolved in favor of exempting offerors from the requirement that the manufacturer be a small business concern.

OHA’s decision in Jamaica Bearings Co., SBA No. SIZ-5677 (Sept. 3, 2015) involved a DLA small business set-aside for bearings, rollers and tape. The procurement was to be conducted under simplified acquisition procedures.

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5 things contractors need to know during a shutdown

If the federal government closes its doors on Oct. 1, it won’t be like past shutdowns for one big reason: contractors.

“The 2013 shutdown was different than every other shutdown that had come before it,” said John Cooney, a former counsel for the Office of Management and Budget and current partner at Venable LLP. “Many more government services are delivered through contracts, they’ve been outsourced. There are just that many more functions that are delivered externally and that complicates everything.”

Professional Services Council - PSCCooney was part of a Sept. 21 Professional Services Council panel that spoke on how to prepare for a government shutdown.

And as the threat of a shutdown looms large on Oct. 1, many in Washington are harkening back to their 2013 recollections of the last government closure.

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For more information, visit PSC’s shutdown resource page.

For more information on managing during a government shutdown, see:

Small business set-aside decisions may include restrictive ‘capability’ requirements

The small business set-aside “rule of two” is not satisfied unless the procuring agency has a reasonable expectation of receiving proposals from at least two small businesses capable of performing the work.

GAO-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-SealAlthough this sounds like a commonsense interpretation of the rule of two, it may give agencies leeway to define “capability” in manner that eliminates small businesses from participation.  In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that an agency appropriately issued a solicitation as unrestricted based on the agency’s determination that there were not two or more small businesses with at least five years of relevant experience. Of concern, the GAO did not require the agency to prove that five years of relevant experience was necessary to render a firm “capable” of performing the contract.

The GAO’s decision in Rice Services, Inc., B-411450, B-411450.2 (Aug. 20, 2015) involved a Department of Homeland Security solicitation for food service at the United States Coast Guard Academy.

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