’10,000 Small Businesses’ program now offered nationwide

October 7, 2013 by

Goldman Sachs has announced that its 10,000 Small Businesses initiative will now be offered to small businesses nationally, enabling small business owners from across the country to participate in the program. Small business owners in all 50 states can now apply to 10,000 Small Businesses, and accepted small business owners will receive intensive training and advice from business experts and peers at Babson College in Massachusetts.  To date, the program had been open to businesses in 15 markets across the United States.

10,000 Small Businesses offers qualified business owners:

  • The opportunity to create a customized growth plan that includes financial management, people management, negotiations and marketing.
  • One-on-one business counseling and a network of support from other small business owners as well as leaders in the business world.

The national program will be delivered through two, four-day sessions held at Babson College, the leading entrepreneurial school in the country for the last 17 years according to U.S. News and World Report, and 8 hours of coursework and interactive sessions per week delivered online for a total of 10 weeks. The costs will be covered by 10,000 Small Businesses.

“When you give small businesses owners the tools they need to grow their businesses, they create jobs and strengthen both the local and national economy,” said Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. “We are pleased to be able to expand the reach of this program to help small businesses grow in every community in the country.”

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is a $500 million program that aims to unlock the growth and job-creation potential of 10,000 small businesses across the United States through greater access to business education, financial capital and business support services. The program is based on the broadly held view of leading experts that greater access to this combination of education, capital and support services best addresses barriers to growth for small businesses.  10,000 Small Businesses is guided by an Advisory Council co-chaired by Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein, Warren Buffett, and Dr. Michael Porter of Harvard Business School. The National Urban League, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Babson College are also represented on the Advisory Council, among other groups.

“Babson is proud to extend the innovative entrepreneurship curriculum we designed for 10,000 Small Businesses to small businesses across the country,” said Babson President Kerry Healey. “The model we have created brings together Babson’s unique methodology, our experience working around the world with people growing businesses and our knowledge of how best to deliver effective blended learning programs. This educational experience is tailor-made for small businesses seeking to grow and create much needed jobs.”

The program is designed for small business owners with limited resources who have a business poised for growth. Business owners interested in applying must demonstrate a commitment to growing their business and creating jobs in their community. Businesses must be in operation for at least two years, have revenues of at least $150,000 in the most recent fiscal year and have a minimum of four employees.

Across the United States, initial results have seen that just six months after graduation approximately 63% of participants reported an increase in revenues, 47% have reported creating net new jobs and 76% are doing business with each other. The program also has a 99% completion rate.

Identification and selection of qualified businesses is led by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC).

“The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program provides the training, tools, and relationships to help local entrepreneurs and their businesses grow and create a self-reinforcing cycle of economic opportunity,” said Michael E. Porter, founder of ICIC and Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at Harvard Business School.

The program currently offers education and capital in nine sites including Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City. Business owners based in, or near, one of these cities may be referred to the local program. Capital is also provided by local nonprofit lenders to businesses in six additional sites: Kentucky, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

Applications to participate in 10,000 Small Businesses at Babson College are due October 18, 2013 and can be found at http://www.10ksbapply.com/.

Here are the Georgia firms who won federal contracts in September 2013

October 2, 2013 by

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?

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 the award winners for September 2013 right here: FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA -SEPT. 2013

Copies of earlier reports are listed below:

How to manage a Federal contract during the Government shutdown

October 2, 2013 by

In the wake of the Government’s October 1, 2013 shutdown, clients of the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) have been asking our counselors a lot of questions about the implications.  Here is a summary of the advice we are giving:

  • Generally, if you are competing for a Federal contract, everything is on hold.  Watch FedBizOpps (www.fbo.gov) where a majority of Federal solicitations are posted to see updates on the status of anything you are bidding on, or have bid on recently.  Don’t expect up-to-the-minute information since so many Federal employees are on furlough, but that’s the best place to check on the status of most Federal procurements.  If you discover that the procurement official assigned to managing the solicitation in which you are interested is not on furlough, an inquiry by email is permissible.  Be patient in waiting for a reply — remember that literally hundreds of thousands of Federal employees are on furlough status at the moment.
  • Some procurements, related to essential Government functions, are proceeding with minimal disruption, but expect delays.
  • If you have an active Federal contract, it is imperative that you comply with all contractual terms and conditions, and that accurate records of shutdown-related impacts be maintained.  Knowing the terms and conditions of your contract inside-out will pay-off right now.  Be sure to read the rest of this article for tips on managing an active Federal contract.

Specific contractual actions to protect your company’s interest will vary by contract type and contract terms.  All have to do with the specific provisions contained in your contract.   Some things to consider include:

Cost-Type/Fixed Price-Type (incrementally funded) Contracts

  • Ensure compliance with the notification requirements of the “Limitation of Cost” or “Limitation of Funds” provision of the contract (cost-type contracts).
  • Develop plans to minimize the impact to the customer (the end-user within the Government) and your firm (i.e., curtail non-essential program elements to stretch program funding) and request a Stop Work be issued by the Government’s Procurement Contracting Officer (PCO or just CO) for the non-essential elements.
  • If a Stop Work is not issued, notify the PCO/CO of potential delays under “Government Delay” and/or “Excusable Delay” provisions. (fixed price-type contracts).
  • Provide direction to your supplier base consistent with the PCO/CO’s direction.
  • Ensure Government payments reflect any adjustments due you under “Prompt Payment” provisions.
  • Segregate costs as documentation for a potential delay and disruption under the Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA) provision of your contact.

Fixed-Price Type Contracts (fully funded)

  • The Government shutdown does not have an immediate impact on contract performance but, over time, the unavailability of Government inspectors or support could lead to delays and disruptions and should be documented for future Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA) consideration.
  • Ensure Government payments reflect any adjustments due you under “Prompt Payment” provisions.

Other Items to Consider

  • Proposals and unexercised options could expire during an extended shutdown period.  If it is in the best interest of your firm, a non-solicited proposal extension/option exercise date extension could be provided to the Government.
  • The Government may not be able to provide inspectors (e.g., Defense Contract Management Agency) under a shutdown and delay, so disruption impacts should be captured and documented for a future Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA).
  • The Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA) does not allow the government to spend money that is not obligated, therefore and firms should be leery of      non-warranted individuals requesting you to work and get paid later; e.g., contracting officer representatives (CORs) or other Government officials.  Only COs and PCOs can make binding commitments.
  • Be mindful of mission creep, where the Government requests you to perform additional contract tasks due to Government personnel unavailability.
  • The Government shutdown potentially impacts to your rates and long-range plans based on prolonged funding gaps and/or stop work orders, so alert your accounting staff to document all impacts of the shutdown.

As always, feel free to contact a GTPAC procurement counselor if you have questions or need guidance.  All contact information is posted at: http://gtpac.org/team-directory.

 

New guidebook reveals how government and industry select small businesses

September 12, 2013 by

There’s a brand new resource available to you — free of charge — courtesy of the national community of procurement technical assistance centers (PTACs).

Braddock’s The Winning Edge: How Government and Corporate Buyers Select a Small Business Supplier – 2014 Edition is a practical guide designed for small to medium sized businesses that provides important insights into the decision-making process within the government and large corporations, with an emphasis on the evaluation and selection stages.

Topics include:

  • Overview of the government procurement process
  • How government procurement officers evaluate a small business supplier
  • How small businesses can identify and win subcontracting opportunities
  • Characteristics that corporate buyers are really looking for in a small business supplier
  • Next step resources

A special electronic edition of Braddock’s The Winning Edge is available at no charge to PTAC clients thanks to the generous support of Microsoft Corporation.  Download your free copy today by clicking right here.

We hope you find this resource useful.   As always, we at the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) stand ready to answer any questions you may have and help you take the next steps in your government contracting pursuits.

Nondisclosure of higher profit on fixed price contract does not violate False Claims Act

September 11, 2013 by

Last week, a U.S. District Court judge in Florida held that a government contractor working under a fixed-price contract is not liable under the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) for higher than expected profits and “failing to notify the Government that the work could be performed less expensively and charged at a lower price” than the contract price.   U.S. ex rel. Prime v. Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan, Inc., and Parsons Corporation, No. 10-cv-1950 (M.D. Fl. Aug. 23, 2013).

The nature of the contract was critical to the outcome of the case. In U.S. ex rel. Prime, two contractors, Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan, Inc. (“PBS&J”) and Parsons, formed a joint venture for the project (the “JV”). The JV entered into a fixed price indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract with the Government, under which fixed price task orders would be placed. Prices on the individual task orders were lump-sum, determined in accordance with the agreed-upon labor rates multiplied by the number of days required to complete the work, and included a profit component. The labor rates and lump-sum task order prices were a product of lengthy negotiations between the JV and Government representatives. During those negotiations, which were transcribed, the Government noted the potential for the JV to increase its profit margin by injecting greater efficiency into its performance.

Keep reading this post at http://www.mckennalong.com/publications-advisories-3378.html.

New video offers expert instruction on registering in SAM

August 28, 2013 by

As you may know, one of the prerequisites for doing business with the federal government is registering in SAM — the System for Award Management.  Among other things, SAM is the government’s vendor data base — a way for government buyers (and prime contractors) to find you and pay you once you’re under contract.  The SAM database also serves many other purposes, all important to the acquisition process.

When SAM was created about a year ago, it aggressively combined several large, stand-alone databases and merged them into one.  The “data migration” challenge was great, and glitches emerged.  As a result, many vendors have experienced problems both in getting existing vendor files to move over to SAM (i.e., migrate) as well as with creating a new vendor registration from scratch.

Since SAM’s launch, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) and GTPAC’s counterparts across the country have spent countless hours assisting businesses with SAM.  Our professional development association, the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC), has drawn upon what we’ve learned nationally and has created a new video that explains the SAM registration process.

The SAM instructional video is now available for viewing at: https://netforum.avectra.com/eWeb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=APTAC&WebCode=SAM.

If you are tackling SAM anytime soon, you’ll want to view the video for many helpful hints and tips.  For further help, contact a GTPAC counselor.  If you are located outside Georgia, contact a counselor with a procurement technical assistance center (PTAC) near you.  To find the nearest PTAC, please visit: http://www.aptac-us.org/new/Govt_Contracting/find.php.

Does your firm qualify as a SDB?

August 26, 2013 by

Small businesses, if qualified, can self-represent their status as a small disadvantaged business (SDB).  Doing so could qualify your firm to be considered for federal contracting, including subcontracting, opportunities.

You do not have to submit an application to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for SDB status.

To self-represent as an SDB, you must register your business in the federal government’s vendor database known as the System for Award Management (SAM).  Navigate to end of the SAM database to find the section that deals with small business certifications.   However, first make sure you and your firm understand the SBA eligibility criteria for SDBs.

In order to qualify as an SDB, generally:

  • The firm must be 51% or more owned and controlled by one or more disadvantaged persons.
  • The disadvantaged person or persons must be socially disadvantaged and economically disadvantaged.
  • The firm must be small, according to SBA’s size standards.

While SBA must still certify all firms that participate in the 8(a) Business Development Program, the requirements to be approved are different and more rigorous than SDB status.  If you believe your firm is ready for the 8(a) Business Development program, click here.

For more information on SDB certification, view the October 3, 2008 Federal Register notice  which explains why SDBs do not need to submit an application to the SBA.

In addition to self-representing your business as an SDB, if qualified, your firm might also meet the requirements for one or more of the following programs:

  • SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program provides managerial, technical, and contractual assistance to small disadvantaged businesses to ready the firm and its owners for success in the private industry.
  • SBA’s HUBZone Program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. These preferences go to small businesses that obtain HUBZone certification in part by employing staff who live in a HUBZone. The company must also maintain a “principal office” in one of these specially designated areas.
  • The Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program authorizes contracting officers to set aside certain federal contracts for eligible women-owned small businesses.
  • The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Procurement Program provides procuring agencies with the authority to set acquisitions aside for exclusive competition among service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns.

DoD, TSA and HHS officials provide contracting advice to small businesses

August 23, 2013 by

The Pentagon’s point woman for hiring women-owned small businesses said this week that she “needed a lift” from the travails of furloughs and sequestration.

“This is a tough time for the federal government and DoD in particular if your’re concerned about small businesses,” said Linda Oliver, deputy director of the Defense Department’s Office of Small Business Programs. “Our travel dollars have been cut to nonexistent, our training dollars cut. I’m not second- guessing the decisions, but it’s kind of a down time.”

Speaking on Tuesday to hundreds of current and prospective contractors at the American Express Open’s annual summit, Oliver’s chief advice was to take advantage of the “debrief,” the optional meeting companies may request within three days of learning that they have been eliminated during a contract award process. “The debrief is not on the contracting officers’ list of fun things to do, since they fear they’re being set up for a bid protest,” she said. “But it’s really valuable and gives all involved perspective and closure,” she said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2013/08/despite-sequester-agencies-continue-hiring-women-owned-contractors/69104

 

How to reduce the growing number of bid protests

August 21, 2013 by

With bid protests increasing by almost 50 percent since 2008, many industry observers and policymakers may be tempted to place the blame for procurement slowdown — particularly in the defense industry — squarely on the contractors. Yet to do so to the exclusion of the other key player in this equation — the Defense Department — ignores that bid protests have proliferated largely as a result of the way government does business.

It may be the case that some government contractors file frivolous protests in order to hang onto a contract they once held but subsequently lost, or in an effort to extract concessions from the government, such as the opportunity to start or continue work while the protest is resolved. However, bid protests are a game of high-stakes poker for most contractors. Protests are expensive, and protestors are prohibited from billing their protest costs against their contracts.

Even if the Government Accountability Office (GAO) sustains a protest (and awards the successful protestor its protest costs), a contractor may still need to go through the bidding process all over again, and there is no guarantee that it will win the second time around. In addition, the GAO retains the power to summarily dismiss a protest it deems frivolous, ultimately rendering any effort put into filing a protest a waste of resources. In other words, bid protests do not just slow down the government; they also slow down business for contractors.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defenseone.com/management/2013/08/how-reduce-growing-number-bid-protests/68582/ 

There is no “free” government money

August 20, 2013 by

We recently heard about a woman who said the “U.S. Federal Government Grants Department” called and claimed she needed to pay $600 in order to receive federal benefits totaling $8,000.   You guessed it … she paid the money, and never got the $8,000.

The phone call was a scam. The Federal Government Grants Department doesn’t exist.   More importantly, the government will never call, email, or text you to ask for money.

Even though the woman wrote down the phone number of the caller, it can be hard to trace it back to a real person because of tricks like caller ID spoofing.   (Click the link if you don’t know what “caller ID spoofing” is.)   She probably won’t be able to get her money back.

Be suspicious of any call, text, or email that claims to be from the government.  Scammers often use names that sound like real government agencies but aren’t.   The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, has more tips on spotting fake callers who pretend to be the government.

You can find the official names and contact information for federal government agencies in our A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies.   Don’t hesitate to contact the agency that claims you owe them money.   Be sure to use the contact information listed in the A-Z Index and not the contact information the caller or email provides.

If you do get scammed, then you should file a complaint with the FTC and your state’s consumer agency.   The link to Georgia’s consumer affairs offices is located at: http://www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer/georgia.shtml.