September 24, 2014 by cs
Lexy Kessler, a partner at public accounting and consulting firm Aronson LLC, speaks to Risk & Compliance Journal about the impact of new regulations on government contractors and the uncertainties that arise when lawmakers can’t agree on a federal budget.
What is the Service Contract Act and how is it changing the landscape for companies trying to win government contracts?
Ms. Kessler: The Service Contract Act is a set of labor laws in place relative to certain categories of employees. We are seeing a lot of companies that don’t understand what the regulations are, what is required in having to classify employees. Under these regulations they have to pay them a certain dollar amount that is required for health and welfare benefits. We have had situations where companies come to us and say they didn’t know that and now they have to go back and quantify and capture the appropriate pay and, as importantly, communicate to their employees that they are paying these benefits and how. A lot of times what people, as far as more professional services firms, IT firms, don’t realize is that some of their help desk functions may be subject to the SCA and that they can be fined from the Department of Labor.
Keep reading this interview at: http://blogs.wsj.com/riskandcompliance/2014/08/19/the-intricacies-of-meeting-government-contract-compliance-rules/
September 22, 2014 by cs
The federal government has a long-standing preference for using domestic products in federal manufacturing, supply, and construction procurements. Newer rules are applying this old-age preference to additional sectors of construction that the federal government has a hand
The general rule for federal procurements is that all physical products provided or sold to the government must be made in the United States, unless an exception to this rule applies. These domestic preferences are governed by a complex framework of statutes and regulations, prohibitions and waivers, and rules and exceptions that are oftentimes difficult for contractors to understand and follow. It is crucial that all construction contractors, especially federal contractors, understand these domestic preferences in order to avoid the significant penalties that may be imposed for any failure to comply.
The federal government’s domestic preferences are generally governed by one of four statutory schemes: (1) the Buy American Act of 1933 (“BAA”), as modified by the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”); (2) the Buy America provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 (“Buy America”); (3) the American Iron and Steel Requirements (“AIS Requirements”), as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (“Appropriations Act”) and the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (“WRRDA”); and (4) the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“Recovery Act”).
September 19, 2014 by cs
With the end of the high levels of government contract spending during the Great Recession and the advent of sequestration and budget cuts, government contractors are competing for fewer and fewer opportunities. As this is occurring, government contracting officers, inspector generals, third-party contract administrators and law enforcement are significantly increasing their collective investigations of fraud, waste, and abuse and related False Claims Act and other statutory violations. Government contractors must prepare for these issues well in advance and ensure a well-developed plan is in place to investigate, evaluate, possibly report and respond to an investigation related to government contracting activities.
It seems like almost every day the government is either reporting the investigation or the settlement and prosecutions of government contractors and government employees for activities related to the False Claims Act. This statute prohibits government contractors, among others, from obtaining payments from the government based on fraud. To be liable, the government does not have to provide that the government contractor knew it was defrauding the government. Individuals and companies have been held liable or settled False Claims Act cases where the only evidence was that the government contractor had a culture of “deliberate ignorance” or “reckless disregard” for the fraudulent acts. In fact, the government contractor does not even need to have had an economic benefit from the fraudulent act to be liable under the False Claims Act.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/government-contracting-the-false-claims-78363/
Defense department’s ‘sources sought’ for IT services underscores importance of an effective capabilities statement
September 16, 2014 by cs
Market research undertaken last week by a unit of the Department of Defense places significant importance on small businesses having a written capabilities statement.
In fact, as the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) puts it, “It is vitally important that Small Businesses responding to this Sources Sought Notice do so with highly effective Capability Statements.”
The call for submittal of capabilities statements comes in DISA’s posting of a sources sought notice on FedBizOpps on September 11, 2014. The purpose of the sources sought is to determine the availability and technical capability of small businesses to provide a wide range of information technology services to the U.S. Cyber Command, including assistance for offensive and defensive cyber operations.
The sources sought notice is a precursor to an anticipated indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity IT contract which will be open only to small businesses. Small businesses are being sought to provide support for cyber planning, training knowledge, records management, science and technology research and development, and more than 30 cyber exercises a year.
The small businesses that DISA is seeking to identify include Small Disadvantaged Businesses, HUBZone Firms; Certified 8(a), Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses, and Woman Owned Small Business.
The primary place of performance will be at USCYBERCOM Government facilities within the Ft. George G. Meade, MD local area. Local area is any facility within a 50 mile radius of Ft. Meade, Maryland.
Responses to the sources sough are due not later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on September 29, 2014.
DISA’s sources sought notice may be seen at: https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=63a08d1386b0426debf21c53cd8572db&tab=core&_cview=0.
For background information on the “sources sought” process, read: http://gtpac.org/2010/09/what-is-a-sources-sought-heres-the-answer
For general information on putting together a capabilities statement, read: http://gtpac.org/2010/05/what-is-a-capabilities-statement-and-why-should-i-have-one/
Clients of the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center may ask their assigned counselor for a sample capabilities statement as well as for a review of their capabilities statement before submitting it in response to any sources sought notice.
September 9, 2014 by cs
One of the most controversial areas in government contracting surrounds cost and pricing: the means by which a contracting officer makes a “fair and reasonable” price determination. This can be expensive to bidders, especially if they are required to provide “certified cost and pricing data” and respond to Defense Contract Audit Agency or contracting officer questions. Recent inspector general reports have highlighted the problem.
Commercial companies don’t have similar requirements and aren’t structured for it. They maintain that creating such cost-accounting compliance would incur extra overhead costs, drive up prices, and hurt them competitively. Contractor concerns involve onerous government requirements, inapplicability, and potentially abandoning the government market.
Perhaps the biggest difference between government and commercial buying practices is symbolized in the Truth in Negotiations Act (TINA). Its main intent is to ensure accuracy of a contractor’s costs before negotiating with the government and includes providing government access to all cost or pricing data the contractor used to develop its offer. If the cost rises and the bidder is found to have withheld any data, the government can get back the added costs.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140826/BLG06/308260017/The-complications-cost-pricing
September 4, 2014 by cs
Filing claims against the government is not contractors’ preferred method of resolving problems on a federal project, but often contractors are left with little choice with federal procurement officials spread thin. For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not moved on a significant number of pending changes and refused to pay the contract balance because the Corps has assessed an equal amount in liquidated damages for delay. The delay was caused by a differing site condition, for which the contractor submitted a claim for time and money. After waiting 60 days, the Corps responded by stating that it will issue the contracting officer’s final decision in seven months. Meanwhile, the contractor continues to spend money trying to close out the project.
How can contractors speed up the claims process, recover on favorable terms, and avoid throwing good money after bad on a multiyear dispute resolution process? The answer: Unbundle your claims and file as many under $50,000 or $100,000 as possible to take advantage of the various board of contract appeals’ expedited or accelerated procedures. Then consolidate all expedited appeals and push aggressively toward a fast and cost-effective global resolution.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.foxrothschild.com/newspubs/newspubsArticle.aspx?id=15032395091
September 3, 2014 by cs
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 August 2014 right here: FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – AUGUST 2014
Winners of federal contracts earlier this year may be found at the links below:
- FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – JULY 2014
- FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – JUNE 2014
- FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – MAY 2014
- FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – APRIL 2014
- FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – MARCH 2014
- FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – FEB. 2014
- FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – JAN. 2014
For information on Georgia businesses that won federal contracts in 2013, click here.
August 27, 2014 by cs
While federal contractors may have been looking forward to having a summer break from new affirmative action regulations and related enforcement activities, President Obama and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP) have had other ideas.
Indeed, President Obama and the OFCCP have turned up the heat on federal contractors this summer by: (1) issuing a slew of new executive orders and other regulations that exponentially increase their compliance obligations, and (2) sending out a second wave of corporate scheduling announcement letters advising of future compliance audits.
Keep reading this article at: http://californiaemploymentlaw.foxrothschild.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2014/08/OFCCP_article.pdf
August 19, 2014 by cs
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.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140814/BLG06/308140006/Get-contracting-plan-place-early