The 4 stages of a construction dispute

In this posting, construction attorney Christopher G. Hill of Richmond, VA discuses the four stages of a construction dispute.  He writes:

What started as a kernel of thought in my mind turned into what has seemed to be a popular set of four posts that I hope were both informative and interesting.  Because of the great feedback I’ve gotten, I thought that I’d consolidate the posts into one so that my readers (thank you, by the way) will have them all in one place.  Here they are:

The Anatomy of a Construction Dispute- The Claim– This post discussed the steps for setting out a claim under your construction contract and the steps to lay the groundwork should you need to move forward with a more formal means of collection.

The Anatomy of a Construction Dispute Stage 2- Increase the Heat– This post discussed various methods to increase the heat on the party with whom you have a claim prior to litigation or arbitration.

The Anatomy of a Construction Dispute Stage 3- The Last Straw–  This post discussed what to do when your construction claim is not resolved in either of the first two stages and the steps in either litigation or arbitration.

Anatomy of a Construction Dispute- An Alternative– This post discussed my favorite form of dispute resolution, mediation, as an alternative to the cost and uncertainty of construction litigation or arbitration.

Each of these posts provides a brief overview of the construction dispute process.  Your particular construction issues and necessary actions will depend on your state’s laws and the contract between you and the other party.  I always recommend that you consult a local construction attorney to help advise you through this process.


Top 3 trends from 2014 to influence government contractors in 2015

Federal government contractors, especially those in the manufacturing sector, continue to experience the economic impact of budget cuts, decreased federal spending, and increased regulatory requirements.

Nonetheless, the federal government continues to be one of the largest consumers in the country, spending more than $500 billion annually on procuring goods and services.

Here is a summary of the key trends in government contracting in the areas of cybersecurity and privacy, mergers and acquisitions, and bid protests from 2014 and how they are likely to impact government contractors in 2015.

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Listing solicitation’s NAICS code not required in SAM

Contrary to a common misconception, a contractor need not list the solicitation’s NAICS code in its SAM profile in order to qualify for contract award.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO confirmed that the government may award a contract to a small business even if the awardee does not list the solicitation’s NAICS code in its SAM profile.

The GAO’s decision in High Plains Computing, Inc. d/b/a HPC Solutions, B-409736.2 (Dec. 22, 2014) involved a Social Security Administration procurement for video teleconferencing support services.  The solicitation was issued as an 8(a) set-aside under NAICS code 517919.

After reviewing competitive proposals, the agency awarded the contract to National Cable Contracting, LLC.  An unsuccessful competitor, High Plans Computing d/b/a HPC Solutions, filed a GAO bid protest.  HPC contended, in part, that NCC was ineligible for award because NCC did not list NAICS code 517919 on its SAM profile.

The GAO noted that it had examined a similar question in 2007 under the old ORCA system.

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Bidder beware: Mind the details when using a GSA Schedule

The General Service Administration’s Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) is supposed to be a way for agencies to streamline procurement. However, achieving the desired efficiency requires that the Government buyer use the right contract vehicle for a given requirement. If the Government uses the wrong schedule—or a contractor proposes to provide goods or services that are not available under its schedule contract, and the agency fails to perform a careful evaluation—litigation may effectively eliminate the desired efficiencies. A recent GAO decision, US Investigations Services provides a good example of how thing can go awry.

The FBI issued a task order for services in connection with its National Name Check Program to the awardee using the awardee’s FSS contract. Under the task order, the awardee would research FBI files, assist in responding to FOIA requests, and support the agency in making national security classification determinations.

The protester raised several protest grounds, and GAO sustained one: the labor categories required to perform the task order were not in the awardee’s FSS contract. The agency’s solicitation included four labor categories, and the awardee proposed a single labor category from its FSS contract to satisfy the requirements of three of the categories. GAO compared the labor categories required under the solicitation with the description of the awardee’s category and determined “that the duties, responsibilities and qualifications of the types of employees solicited by the agency are not encompassed within” the awardee’s labor category. The agency was looking for personnel with in-depth knowledge of FBI policy and functions, as well as experience in records management, declassification review, and paralegal services. The awardee’s labor category focused on general aspects of program management, such as developing business methods, identifying best practices, and creating and assessing performance measurements.

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SBA offers insights into the HUBZone protest process

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has introduced a new website where visitors can review samples of HUBZone-related protest decisions.

Examining these samples can help you learn about how allegations of non-compliance are analyzed by the SBA.

The website also has a link to a mini-primer to help you better understand the HUBZone protest process.

The award of a HUBZone contract may be protested by an offeror, the contracting officer, or the SBA. There are three possible outcomes of a HUBZone status protest:

  • Dismissed: the protest was not evaluated by the SBA because it was untimely, not submitted by an interested party, or not specific enough. In some cases when a protest is dismissed because it was not submitted on time, but the information presented was specific, SBA may file its own protest.
  • Sustained: SBA found the protested company to be ineligible for the award and/or ineligible for (and therefore decertified from) the program.
  • Denied: SBA found the protested company to be eligible for the award and for the program.

Past HUBZone protest decisions can be found at:

The SBA’s mini-primer on Understanding HUBZone Protests can be located at:

Here are the Georgia companies who won federal contracts in Jan. 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 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 the award winners for January 2015 right here: FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – JANUARY 2015

To see award winners in calendar year 2014, see: 

FedBizOpps searches: Be thorough (or be out of luck)

If one type of FedBizOpps search does not turn up a solicitation, try a different search – or run the risk of missing the solicitation.

That is the message to contractors from a recent GAO bid protest decision, in which an offeror was unable to discover a VA opportunity by searching the “Place of Performance” field on FedBizOpps.  As it turned out, the solicitation would have popped up if the offeror had tried other types of FedBizOpps searches, and the GAO held that it was the offeror’s responsibility to more thoroughly attempt to locate the solicitation.

In The Creative Mobility Group, LLC, B-410380.2 (Dec. 19, 2014), the VA issued a request for quotations for home medical equipment services for patients of Veterans Integrated Service Network 11 medical facilities in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois.  The VA posted the opportunity on the FedBizOpps website.

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Beware of Affordable Care Act phishing campaign

The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has issued an alert about a phishing campaign purporting to come from a federal government agency. The phishing emails reference the Affordable Care Act in the subject line and claim to direct users to health coverage information, but instead direct them to sites which attempt to elicit private information or install malicious code.

US-CERT encourages users to take the following measures to protect themselves:

  • Do not follow links or download attachments in unsolicited email messages.
  • Maintain up-to-date antivirus software.
  • Refer to the Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks Security Tip for additional information on social engineering attacks.

If affected by the campaign, users should report the incident to appropriate parties within their organization and notify US-CERT.

Here’s how to decide whether a GSA Schedule is right for you

As a business person pursuing government contracts, you may have heard about the benefits of having a GSA Schedule.  But you may not know what a Schedule contract involves — or whether it’s worth your while to pursue one.  This article presents you with the facts about a GSA Schedule, how to qualify, and the decisions you need to make.


Consider the Facts

Here are some facts to help make an informed decision.

First of all, “GSA” stands for the General Services Administration, a federal agency which awards, each year, about $50 billion in blanket contracts (known as “Schedules”) to hundreds of companies.  Eighty percent (80%) of Schedule contractors are small businesses who are successful at winning 36% of those sales.

The process to win a GSA Schedule contract begins with your preparation of a proposal.  This is a demanding task that can take several months to prepare.  Many businesses choose to hire a consultant to prepare their proposal, even though proposal preparation is actually something that just about anyone can do — if you are willing and able to follow detailed proposal preparation instructions.

Qualifying for a Schedule

Not every business qualifies for a GSA Schedule, so before preparing a proposal, you first should determine your eligibility. Here are the major requirements:

  • Your company must have at least two years’ experience in successful sale of the products and/or services you offer.
  • Your company and its corporate officers must have a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics.
  • You must make sure all your NAICS codes are accurate and reflect the type of services that you plan to offer on your GSA Schedule.
  • Your registration in the System for Award Management (SAM) must be active and up-to-date.
  • You must be willing to obtain a “digital certificate” (at a cost of about $119) so that GSA can authenticate your electronic signature and allow you to upload and access your proposal documents.
  • Your company must have adequate financial resources to perform a federal contract, or you must have the ability to obtain them.
Your Options

If you meet the requirements listed above, then it’s appropriate to chart a course of action.  Here are some things to consider:

  • If you decide to hire a consultant to help you navigate the proposal process, please proceed with caution.  You should be aware of the fact that no consultant can do 100 percent of the work for you.  In fact, it’s desirable that someone from your company actively participates in the GSA Schedule proposal process.  Your company representative will need to compile a lot of information to be included in the proposal and also needs to carve-out enough time to learn the process, develop a relationship with GSA’s contracting officials, and make strategic decisions about how and to which government agencies the eventual contract will be marketed.  A consultant can play a valuable role but, before hiring one, make sure you investigate their experience, ask about their track-record, and have a clear understanding of exactly what they will do for you and at what price.
  • Attending a GSA training session can help you better understand the GSA Schedule process.  The Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) regularly offers a free webinar entitled “Understanding the GSA Schedule Process.”  Visit GTPAC’s training calendar at to register for the next session.  GTPAC also has compiled a group of resources for companies seeking help with the Schedule process.  You can find these resources at:

Feel free to discuss your GSA Schedule needs and options with any GTPAC Counselor.  You can find our contact information at: