Responding to a scheduling letter from the OFCCP: Little things matter

It is the Tuesday after a long holiday weekend, and you are faithfully going through the pile of mail on your desk when you spy an envelope from the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

OFCCPaffYou open the envelope and, sure enough, your facility has been selected for a compliance review under Executive Order 11246, the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act, and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.  Which of the following most accurately describes your response?

  1. Hot dog! I finally get to do something with those affirmative action plans I have been patiently preparing for years!
  2. Story of my life . . . any time I take a long weekend, I always return to bad news.
  3. An OFCCP audit?  Someone turn off the lights so I can curl up and cry in the corner.

Regardless of which response you chose, before you respond to the OFCCP, there are several things you should do to increase your chances of a successful audit outcome.

Read the six things you should do at:

Federal government can revoke acceptance years later and demand replacement of work

Many contractors mistakenly think that once the government accepts work and pays for it, that the work is, well, “accepted.”

The FARSome also believe that the one-year warranty provided in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) means that the contractor is in the clear after, well, one year.

Those contractors would be wrong.

In JJK Group Inc. v. VW International Inc., a federal court in Maryland recently ruled that the government could revoke its prior acceptance years later and require the contractor to replace an entire system because the system contained “latent defects.”   The court cited the FAR clauses which provide that the one-year warranty only applies to work that has been “accepted” and that acceptance may be revoked if the government later finds “latent defects.”

Keep reading this article at:

Buy Indian Act: 105 years (and counting) of frustration

In 1910, William Howard Taft lived in the White House, the Chicago Cubs were just two years removed from back-to-back World Series titles, and Arizona had yet to be admitted to the Union.  That summer, Congress passed the Buy Indian Act, a statute authorizing a special federal contracting program for Indian-owned businesses.

Bureau of Indian AffairsSince then, it has been mostly downhill.  It took the Bureau of Indian GAO-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-SealAffairs (BIA) 103 years to issue regulations implementing the Act’s contracting preferences.  Now that the regulations are finally in place, the Buy Indian Act program is suffering from lack of effective oversight and implementation.  In fact, a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that the BIA and the Indian Health Service could not even clearly articulate whether Buy Indian Act set-aside contracts take priority over other set-asides.

If the Buy Indian Act is ever to live up to its potential, significant changes are needed.

Keep reading this article at:

New rule allows sole source awards to women-owned small businesses

The Small Business Administration (SBA) published a rule today (Sept. 14, 2015) allowing sole source awards to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) or Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs) in appropriate circumstances.

SBA logo smallThe new rule changes existing SBA regulations in order to conform to section 825 of the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The rule is effective October 14, 2015.  The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) will need to be amended to include the sole source authority so that there is no conflict between the SBA’s rules and the FAR.

The sole source authority can only be used where a contracting officer (CO) conducts market research in an industry where a WOSB or EDWOSB set-aside is authorized, and the CO cannot identify two or more WOSBs or EDWOSBs that can perform at a fair and reasonable price, but identifies one WOSB or EDWOSB that can perform. In addition, the sole source authority for WOSBs and EDWOSBs is limited to contracts valued at $6.5 million or less for manufacturing contracts and $4 million or less for all other contracts.

The rule is published in the Federal Register at:

Relationships key to successful year-end spending

A mix of budget uncertainty and the use-it-or-lose-it nature of federal funding leads to a spending rush at the end of the fiscal year at many agencies. The realities of the contracting process and stipulations under the federal acquisition regulation can make this a daunting time for vendors and contracting shops, alike.

GSA logoDuring a panel discussion at the annual 930Gov end-of-year conference, Casey Kelley, director of the General Services Administration’s Alliant GWAC, said agencies should plan for this months before the fourth quarter arrives. When that’s not possible, it’s important to have strong relationships with internal contracting shops, as well as GWACs and other government buyers, he said.

Keep reading this article at:–year-contracting/32414181/

Here are the Georgia businesses who won federal contracts in August 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 August 2015 right here: FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – AUGUST 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: 

Reminder: Requests for equitable adjustment are not claims

A request for equitable adjustment (REA) is not a “claim” under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).  Although a REA and a claim can look very similar, there are important legal distinctions.

And as one contractor recently learned, the distinction between a REA and a claim can make all the difference when it comes to a potential appeal.

First things first: what exactly is the difference between a REA and a claim?

Keep reading this article at:

The Dispute Continuum

Ten bid protest trends and tips

It is no secret that federal procurement spending has dropped considerably in recent years. With less dollars being spent and fewer procurements, government contracts are increasingly turning to the bid protest process for a second chance to compete for, and hopefully win, new contracts, and preserve their incumbent contracts.

GAO-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-SealThe statistics bear this out. Bid protest activity at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has steadily increased year-over-year, with a record 2,561 protests filed in fiscal year 2014 alone. But more filings has not meant more sustained protests; the GAO sustain rate in 2014 fell to its lowest recent level of only 13 percent (though this does not account for voluntary agency corrective actions, which have remained steady).

These statistics, and the new federal procurement reality, reinforce the need for contractors to think carefully about effective protest strategies and emerging issues to maximize their chances to successfully protest procurements (or defend contract awards).

See ten key trends and tips to keep in mind:

Fraud alert: Beware of unsolicited purchase orders and other possible government scams

What would you do if you responded to a request for quotation, received an order, and shipped products — only to later discover that the entire transaction was fake?

This is what happened recently to a businesswoman who reported to the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) that she received purchase orders from two out-of-state public universities, one located in Mississippi and the other in Minnesota.  She responded by shipping goods, and sent along her invoice.

It turns out that the purchase orders were bogus.  This small business now finds that it will not receive payment and may not be able to recover the equipment that was shipped.

What are some of the lessons you can learn from this unfortunate experience?   Here are six tips:

  1. An unsolicited order from a governmental entity (e.g., agency, city, county, school) is a virtual impossibility.  If you didn’t submit a bid, chances are you won’t receive a purchase order.
  2. When you receive a purchase order, make sure it identifies the government official placing the order and is signed.
  3. Never assume that any purchase order is valid.  Call the point-of-contact (POC) listed on the order to make sure it is legitimate.  Be alert to the possibility that the phone number on the order might be bogus too.Fraud Waste Abuse
  4. Even if the order appears to be legitimate, conduct an Internet search for the purchasing office of the government buyer to see if the location and contact information line-up with what’s on the purchase order. If the contact phone numbers are different on the order and on the web site, call the buyer to inquire about the order — and be sure to call the buyer at the phone number listed on the government entity’s website.
  5. Also pay attention to the “ship to” location.  If it looks suspicious (i.e., it’s a location other than the government entity’s location), ask the buyer why it’s different.
  6. If, after checking, you suspect the purchase order to be fake, report the incident to the real government organization as well as to appropriate law enforcement authorities.

In the case brought to GTPAC’s attention, the business has reported the incidents to the purchasing offices of both universities.  She furnished them with copies of the documents she received — orders that are on official letterhead and appear to be legitimate.  She also reported the incidents to local law enforcement authorities who are investigating the locations where the equipment was shipped.

GTPAC recommends that all businesses stay alert to possible fraud in the government contracting process and in other government functions.  Here are some tips:

Remember the old saying, “If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.”   Whenever you receive a call, letter, fax or email about something involving government contracting — and it looks fishy — feel free to contact your team at GTPAC.  We’ll be glad to give you any facts we are aware of, along with suggestions about how you might best proceed.




FEMA warns vendors to look twice at privately-operated registration schemes

In addition to registration in the federal government’s vendor registration system — the System for Award Management (SAM) — the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that businesses register in FEMA’s own database.

There’s the rub.

If businesses don’t know how to access FEMA’s vendor database, they sometimes stumble into privately-operated websites which charge upwards of $500 to register.  In actuality, it’s free to register in FEMA’s official database.

Completion of FEMA’s official Vendor Profile Form serves as supplemental market research for the agency — so they have detailed capabilities descriptions on companies — better enabling FEMA to respond in emergencies.  In completing FEMA’s form, vendors are encouraged to be specific about how your products and/or services can support FEMA’s mission.   The official Vendor Profile Form can be accessed at:  Once completed, the Form should be submitted to:

FEMA does not charge any company a registration fee.  FEMA advises that “there are companies that replicate services of Federal Government entities and there are typically fees associated with their services.  Most Federal Government services, if not all, are free of charge.  Always make it a practice to reach out to the appropriate Federal agency first to inquire about the validity of the service, specifically if a fee is associated with it.”

To reiterate: FEMA does not charge a fee to submit a Vendor Profile Form. 

For more information about vendor registration in SAM, please see:

For information about fraud involving government contracting, see our article at:

This is the second time that the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center has written about FEMA registration.  See our July 2014 article at: