SBA to include overseas contracts in rating agencies

The Small Business Administration will begin to include overseas contracts as part of the baseline used to rate agency performance against small business contracting goals.

SBA logoCurrently about $100 billion a year in federal contracts — including contracts that support overseas projects — aren’t considered when the agency calculates small businesses’ share of procurement dollars annually. It’s been a bone of contention among the small business community, which argues that all awarded contracts should factor into individual ratings, as well as the overall goal of federal government to allocate 23 percent of contracts to small businesses.

“Overseas contracts, we couldn’t find a justification to continue to exclude that,” said John Shoraka, associate administrator of government contracting and business development at the SBA, during a keynote session at a procurement conference hosted by the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. “So coming into 2016, we’re working with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Defense, USAID and State on including those contracts in the base.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2015/05/sba-to-include-overseas-contracts-in-rating.html

Defense bill asks if contractors are gaming bid protests

Lawmakers want to know if Defense Department contractors are gaming the bid protest process, according to language included in the National Defense Authorization Act.

The NDAA, which passed out of House Armed Services Committee on a 60 to 2 vote April 30, instructs DoD to commission a study regarding how Defense Department contractors use – and possibly manipulate – the bid protest process.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/policy/2015/05/04/ndaa-defense/26883763/

FY 13 Bid Protest Stats - GAO

Contractors oppose plan to centralize Pentagon commercial purchasing

The largest contractors trade organization has asked the House Armed Services Committee to rethink several components of its bill to reform the Pentagon’s acquisition process, opposing in particular a plan to centralize decision-making on whether to buy products on the existing commercial market.

pentagon-sealThe 400-company Professional Services Council on April 17 sent a letter to committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and top Democrat Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., calling their bill (H.R. 1597) a step in the right direction, but raising several objections over provisions they said might place contractors at a disadvantage while complicating acquisition management.

Thornberry’s Agile Acquisition to Retain Technological Edge Act is designed to streamline the acquisition process, modernize military technology and enhance workforce training.

But the bill’s plan to have the Defense secretary designate an individual to make determinations on whether an item sought by a Pentagon unit is commercially available “would likely result in actions contrary to Congress’ desire to foster greater reliance on commercial items and, at the same time, reduce competition,” said the letter from council President and CEO Stan Soloway, who served as an undersecretary of Defense during the Clinton administration.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2015/04/contractors-oppose-plan-centralize-pentagon-commercial-purchasing/110647

Pentagon strives for even better buying power

The Defense Department (DoD) on Thursday, April 9 released the third update of its Better Buying Power acquisition strategy in five years, aiming to preserve U.S. technological superiority by protecting budgets for long-term research and development while enhancing cybersecurity.

“We want to identify the weapons, in the systems in the force today, that we can use in more innovative ways, and we’re looking for these promising technologies that we can pull forward,” Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told a Pentagon press conference Thursday. The goal is to reverse “a steady erosion of our technological superiority that we have relied upon for so long in all of our defense strategies.”

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, in releasing a memo to top management outlining Better Buying Power 3.0, said that flat budgets and sequestration have required the department to raid modernization dollars to pay for readiness. “Our technological superiority is dependent on the effectiveness of our research and development efforts that span science and technology, component development, early prototyping, full-scale development, and technology insertion into fielded products,” Kendall wrote.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2015/04/pentagon-strives-even-better-buying-power/109900

Small is big in DoD business systems contracts … and that’s a good thing

Thirty-six years ago, a young computer programmer working out of his parents’ garage was looking for investments so he could create the world’s most user-friendly personal computer. “The programmer in question is the late Steve Jobs, and the fund that helped seed Apple in its infancy was part of the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program – the SBA’s investment arm,” said the December 19, 2014 SBA Blog.

Until recently, the Air Force struggled to meet SBA “negotiated” small business goals (SBA Agency Small Business Contracts Data), but there have been steady improvements due to a number of factors, such as implementation of the AF Small Business Improvement Plan. On January 20, the headquarters of the Air Force Materiel Command announced they’d met small business goals for the first time in nine years.

From my perspective as a member of the Air Force for 31 years who has been working on small business contracts for the Air Force the past two years, I have observed the following 10 factors driving the recent success of small business in the Air Force and other services/agencies:

Defense budgets are puckered up. Our Department of Defense (DoD) is painfully trying to balance the needs for research and development, modernizing major weapon systems, increasing personnel costs, heavy deployment requirements and soaring sustainment costs and risks for weapon systems and infrastructure. Amidst all the sequestration, continuing resolutions for funding, budget cuts and racking and stacking priorities, DoD still confronts greater requirement vs. resource deltas than ever before.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.hstoday.us/blogs/guest-commentaries/blog/new-small-is-big-in-dod-business-systems-contracts-and-that-s-a-good-thing/cd9ad5f0c912386bd3f76e9be0ba3296.html

DoD seeks 10-year extension of small business mentoring program

The Defense Department intends to request a 10-year extension of a program that improves the ability of socioeconomically disadvantaged small businesses to compete for defense contracts, the program’s manager said yesterday.

The Small Business Mentor-Protege Program began in 1991 as a way to foster small businesses and improve technology transfer between the Defense Department and industry, Robert Stewart said in a DoD News interview.

Despite having been in existence for nearly 25 years, the program is still categorized as a pilot and must be reauthorized in a National Defense Authorization Act every few years, he said.

Stewart said that through regular outreach with industry representatives, his office has learned that the periodic reauthorizations give the impression that the program isn’t permanent. This has a chilling effect on participation — particularly as the reauthorization period approaches, he said.

“Whenever we’re about a year, year and a half out from an authorization — since it’s a pilot program and it’s still crafted in language as a pilot program — industry does what’s called a chilling-off,” Stewart said. From the perspective of a business owner, he said, “If I’m not sure something’s going to be reauthorized, I’m going to be less apt to put business development dollars into helping facilitate small business.”

Extending the program’s authorization period would provide stability, reassure industry and save the department money, he said.

How to Participate

Small businesses seeking to become prime contractors with the department first choose a mentor from one of the more than 50 larger companies participating in the program, he explained. Part of that selection process is ensuring that the strategic goals of the two companies align, Stewart noted.

“We try to put them in a position to be as successful as possible,” he said.

The larger company provides training and mentorship, and in exchange, receives credit toward their small business contracting goals, Stewart said. If the training is provided through a procurement technical assistance center, a small business development center, minority institution or a historically black college or university, they can claim up to four times the amount spent for credit toward their actual small business participation levels.

The agreements may not last longer than three years, and once an agreement is fulfilled, the small business graduates from the program and is able to serve as a prime contractor for DoD contracts.

“Now you have a small business who’s a prime contractor [and] whose overhead is significantly lower than your traditional government contractors,” Stewart said. “They can do the exact same work, sometimes faster, sometimes cheaper, oftentimes better than larger, more cumbersome agencies or entities.”

This is a win-win situation for industry and the Defense Department, Stewart said. Larger businesses now have a pool of capable, responsive partners with which to team up and seek defense contracts, while small businesses gain better-trained employees and, by piggybacking on the capabilities of their larger partner, they can compete for contracts that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to support.

“It works out in a lot of areas,” he said. “We’re helping grow the manufacturing-industrial base by ensuring that we’re going through our [procurement technical assistance centers], small business development centers, minority institutions and [Historically Black Colleges and Universities], but also identifying tech transfer companies that allow the United States government to be able to fight the threat that the Googles, the Amazons, the Microsofts, the Oracles face every day.”

The Way Ahead

“One of the things that we’re looking for going forward … [is that] we want to focus on the evaluation and criteria and factors to drive contracting commands across the DoD enterprise to utilize Mentor-Protege as a way to meet those subcontracting small business participation goals,” Stewart said.

To accomplish this, he said, the Office of Small Business Programs plans to develop a defense acquisition regulation that would give participants in the Mentor-Protege Program greater weight during the bid solicitation process.

“You’re going to get credit toward being already involved in DoD — you know DoD’s business, you’ve already got an established working relationship with the DoD,” Stewart said.

Source: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=128014

Businesses, Pentagon agree this program doesn’t work — Congress saved it anyway

Over the past quarter century, the Defense Department has been testing a contracting program that was intended to help small businesses obtain a larger share of federal work. However, Pentagon officials and small business leaders say the initiative has not only failed to help small contractors, it’s actually hurt them.

In other words, neither those running the program nor those it was supposedly intended to help believe the program works. Thus, many expected the experiment to come to an end when its most recent congressional approval expires on Wednesday.

But that’s not happening.

In what critics are calling another victory for Washington’s massive contracting darlings at the expense of small businesses, Congress has approved legislation extending the contracting initiative, called the Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program (CSPTP), for another three years. It’s the eighth time the program has been revived.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/businesses-pentagon-agree-this-program-doesnt-work-congress-saved-it-anyway/2014/12/30/80d72aa0-9066-11e4-ba53-a477d66580ed_story.html

For government contractors, 2015 is in full swing

Contractors with their eyes on hot-button issues such as cybersecurity legislation, information technology (IT) acquisition reform, and strategic sourcing policy have plenty to consider in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and a recent policy memorandum issued by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Administrator Anne Rung. Some key items to consider:

  • Cybersecurity: In 2015, the Department of Defense must issue rules requiring “operationally critical contractors” to report cyber incidents in their network and information systems.
  • IT Acquisition Reform: Under the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), Chief Information Officers in Federal agencies will take key roles in the acquisition process, which could affect the nature of IT-related acquisitions for years to come.  FITARA also sharpens the Government’s FOCUS on strategic sourcing.
  • Strategic Sourcing and Category Management: In an initiative that complements strategic sourcing, OMB has established “category management” as a key Federal acquisition strategy, which will foster Government-wide purchasing of items, such as IT hardware and software, by one source instead of through multiple agencies.

For a broad array of contractors, those “operationally critical contractors” working with the DoD, providers of IT-related supplies and services, and those supplying “categories” of supplies throughout the Federal government, these changes will affect their daily operations and how they market and sell to their Federal customers in 2015 and beyond.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?articleid=362362

Federal contractors now find opportunities for growth in healing, not war

Two years ago General Dynamics, one of the biggest federal contractors, reported a quarterly loss of $2 billion. An “eye-watering” result, one analyst called it.

Diminishing wars and plunging defense spending had slashed the weapons maker’s revenue and left some subsidiaries worth far less than it had paid for them. But the company was already pushing in a new direction.

Soon after Congress passed the landmark Affordable Care Act, the maker of submarines and tanks decided to expand its business related to health care. Its 2011 purchase of health-data firm Vangent instantly made it the largest contractor to Medicare and Medicaid, the huge government health plans for seniors and the poor.

“They saw that their legacy defense market was going to be taking a hit,” said Sebastian Lagana, an analyst with Technology Business Research, a market research firm. “And they knew legislation was coming up that was going to inject funds into the health-care market.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/federal-contractors-now-find-opportunities-for-growth-in-healing-not-war/2014/12/04/3ed2ff08-7a63-11e4-9a27-6fdbc612bff8_story.html

Former CEO of defense contractor pleads guilty to bribery

The former chief executive of a Northern Virginia defense contractor pleaded guilty to a federal charge of providing gratuities to a federal contracting official, and the company agreed to pay a $300,000 fine for its involvement in the bid-rigging scheme, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

Harry Martin, who stepped down as the head of Intelligent Decisions last month, pleaded guilty to charges that he and other company officials paid illegal gratuities to an Army procurement official based in South Korea, spending more than $10,000 on dinners and golf outings and, in one case, agreeing to spend more than $30,000 on a Lexus ES350 for the official to use, according to the department.

In return, the company received lucrative contracts from the official, identified as Seon Lim, and preferential treatment on Army subcontracts worth up to $4 million.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/former-intelligent-decisions-ceo-pleads-guilty-to-bribery-charges/2014/11/25/f3ae43d0-74c1-11e4-bd1b-03009bd3e984_story.html