Course is essential to understanding small business contracting rules

June 18, 2014 by

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech is repeating its three-day course that delves into the intricacies of the federal government’s Small Business Programs.  The course focuses on the government agencies’ efforts to improve small business participation in both prime contracting and subcontracting.

Because of its relevance and popularity, the course is now scheduled to be held:

  • July 8 – 10, 2014
  • October 7 – 9, 2014

These classes will be held in the world-class Global Learning Center on Georgia Tech’s campus in midtown Atlanta.  Registration details may be found by clicking here.

Academy identifier - gold & black w-white bkgrndKnown as “CON 260B – Small Business Programs,” the course is a Defense Acquisition University (DAU) level 2 contracting course that goes a long way to ensure that those in the acquisition field are more aware of and responsive to small business concerns.  Historically, this class was designed for small business specialists, however The Academy has fashioned this class so that it is applicable to all interested parties – senior executives, managers, contracting officers and contracting staff, small business specialists from all agencies, small business advocates, as well as large and small business concerns.

A review of DAU’s prerequisite course, CON 260A, is included in the Contracting Academy’s course.

Small business participation in federal contracting is a high-profile issue.  For example, a recent Dept. of Defense (DoD) memo (seen here) reiterates how essential small businesses are to our nation’s economic recovery because they produce more jobs, represent a major source of innovative solutions to warfighter needs that help maintain our status as the world’s finest military, and contribute more to gross domestic output.  The Contracting Academy is committed to supporting DoD and other agency directives aimed at achieving higher levels of small business participation in federal contracting.

Uncle Sam's DollarsAll leaders who manage budgets and allocate funds for contracts and contracting officers are collectively responsible for achieving the government’s 23 percent small business goal.  To ensure that this collective responsibility is met, many federal agencies’ senior executives are evaluated and held accountable for small business participation in contracting.  A mandatory performance requirement for supporting this goal includes language that “establishes a command or program climate that is responsive to small business concerns.”

The Academy’s CON 260B is very relevant to the training needs of everyone involved in the process of seeing to it that small businesses participate in government contracting and subcontracting opportunities.  This includes, of course, small businesses themselves — as well as large businesses who are required to establish small business subcontract participation plans.

The Academy offers CON 260B, a 3-day course, as an open enrollment course which virtually ensures seating for all registrants.  Register here for the next CON 260B – Small Business Programs class at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

2.1 CEUs are granted to those successfully completing this course.

Newly organized concern affiliation: “Key Employee” must influence entire company

June 16, 2014 by

Newly organized concern affiliation under the SBA’s affiliation rules did not exist when the alleged former key employee of the affiliate did not exercise influence over the entire company.

In a recent decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals held that no matter the size of the alleged affiliate, a former “key employee” must have had the ability to influence the entire company in order for the newly organized concern affiliation rule to apply.

SBA OHA’s decision in Size Appeal of Metis Technology Solutions, Inc., SBA No. SIZ-5538 (2014) involved a size determination conducted in connection with Metis Technology Solutions’ application for admission to the 8(a) program.  The SBA Area Office initially found Metis to be affiliated with two large businesses.

Metis subsequently applied for recertification as a small business.  The SBA Area Office found that Metis was no longer affiliated with one of the large businesses.  However, the SBA Area Office found that Metis was still affiliated with the second large business, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., under the newly organized concern affiliation rule.

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/sbaohadecisions/newly-organized-concern-affiliation-key-employee-must-influence-entire-company/

GAO rejects protest of GSA’s massive office supply contract

June 13, 2014 by

The Government Accountability Office (GAO)  denied the protests of the GSA’s Office Supplies 3 (OS3) strategic sourcing contract, leaving the protesters dismayed and in shock.

In issuing their decision Monday, GAO’s lawyers found the General Services Administration (GSA) did indeed meet the requirements under the Small Business Jobs Act to evaluate the economic impact of OS3 on small businesses.

GAO’s decision comes despite the fact that the Small Business Administration in April ruled that GSA’s analysis was faulty. SBA found GSA’s analysis didn’t fully consider the negative impact OS3 could have on small firms.

But GAO stated the Small Business Jobs Act doesn’t require agencies to develop a “more detailed” or “quantified cost-benefit analysis” and therefore GSA’s determination met the letter of the law.

“GSA conducted market research and considered alternatives to the procurement approach set forth in the solicitation,” GAO’s Susan Poling, GAO’s general counsel, said in the opinion. “Further, the agency prepared a consolidation analysis which recognized that there was a potential for a reduction in sales for small business contractors who did not receive awards under the OS3 solicitation. The agency concluded, however, that the benefits to be gained through OS3 outweigh the potential negative impact to small business concerns. We find that GSA’s analysis addressed the relevant requirements of the SB Jobs Act, and therefore find no basis to sustain the protest.”

GAO addressed SBA’s ruling in the protest decision. Lawyers say SBA’s procurement center representative’s disagreement with GSA’s analysis wasn’t a basis for GAO to conclude the evaluation was unreasonable.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/index.php?nid=851&sid=3638981

4 sectors where most federal procurement is happening, and why that’s bad for small businesses

June 10, 2014 by

The vast majority of federal procurement is happening in four sectors — only one of which meets its goals for divvying contract dollars to small businesses.

According to a report from the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration, more than 80 percent of federal procurement was concentrated in these categories in fiscal 2012:

  • Manufacturing, with nearly $200 billion.
  • Professional, scientific and technical services, with about $141 billion.
  • Administration and support, waste management and remediation, with about $43 billion.
  • Construction, with about $35.44 billion.

But within that massive chunk of contract spending, how much is making its way to small business?  For three of the four categories, not enough to meet the federal goal of 23 percent, according to the report.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2014/06/4-sectors-where-mostfederal-procurement-is.html

June 19 webinar demonstrates use of federal data to establish marketing strategies

May 29, 2014 by

The SBA is hosting a webcast that will consist of a live demo of three primary federal market research tools to help identify potential contracting opportunities.

The webinar will demonstrate the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS), FedBizOpps (FBO), and various publicly-available procurement forecasts published by federal agencies.

The one-hour webinar will be held on June 19 at 10:00 am EST.

To register, visit: http://events.sba.gov/EventManagement/EventRegistration.aspx?id=614fbe79-f5d1-e311-a143-02bfa56e2a24.

A call-in number and access code will be emailed to registrants prior to the scheduled webcast.

It’ll cost $1 million to get better data on bundled federal contracts

May 7, 2014 by

A bill that would require agencies to do a better job of reporting when they combine what could be smaller contracts into a single solicitation would cost about $1 million over five years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The 2014 Contracting Data and Bundling Accountability Act aims to improve how agencies report their consolidated and bundled contracts. Agencies consolidate contracts by including multiple requirements in a single solicitation, and if the resulting contract becomes unsuitable for small businesses to bid on — because it’s too large or diverse, for instance  – it’s considered a bundled contract. Agencies are supposed to identify and then justify the move when they’ve either consolidated or bundled a contract.

CBO said it believed agency data on consolidated and bundled contracts is already available, but the analysis conceded that the Small Business Administration would require better software to retrieve that data from the Federal Procurement Data System. The software upgrade would cost about $1 million between 2014 and 2019, CBO said.

Small business advocates argue that the real problem is federal procurement officials are not properly reporting their consolidated contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2014/04/cost-better-data-bundled-federal-contracts/83164 

SBA: Women 8(a) applicants don’t need “smoking gun” bias evidence

May 6, 2014 by

A woman does not need to provide the SBA with “smoking gun” evidence of bias in order to be considered socially disadvantaged for purposes of her company’s application to the 8(a) program.

In a recent decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) sharply criticized the SBA’s evaluation of a woman-owned small business’s 8(a) application, holding that the SBA had improperly discounted evidence of bias, needlessly demanded that the woman provide irrelevant details, and made several other errors.

SBA OHA’s decision in Matter of Bartkowski Life Safety Corp., SBA No. BDPE-516 (2014) involved Bartkowski Life Safety Corporation’s 8(a) application.  Bartkowski initially applied to the program in January 2012.  Bartkowski asserted that its owner, Lauren Sustek, was socially disadvantaged on the basis of gender.

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/8a-program/women-8a-applicants-dont-need-smoking-gun-evidence-of-bias-says-sba-oha/

SBA isn’t ready to boast yet, but all agencies have met their small biz contracting goals

April 28, 2014 by

For the first time in seven years, all federal agencies in fiscal 2013 met their goals of steering 23 percent of contracting to small businesses, according to panelists at an industry conference on Thursday, Apr. 24, 2014.

Emily Murphy, senior counsel for the House Small Business Committee, in a discussion on legislation and the Small Business Administration’s rulemaking progress, made the disclosure and suggested that SBA is tardy in making the announcement.

Her co-panelist, Kenneth Dodds, SBA’s director of policy, planning and liaisons, said the announcement “deadline is soft,” and that the score card is still being readied.

The Small Business conference was staged by the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council and is intended as an opportunity for small business contractors to interact with agency representatives on how to qualify and win more work.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/04/sba-isnt-ready-boast-yet-all-agencies-have-met-their-small-biz-contracting-goals/83176

 

Phony small businesses pay $1.9 million to settle False Claims Act charges

April 24, 2014 by

Five California-based masonry subcontractors and two individuals paid the government nearly $1.9 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by misrepresenting their disadvantaged small business status in connection with military construction contracts, the Department of Justice announced on April 9, 2014.  The defendants are Frazier Masonry Corp., F-Y Inc., CTI Concrete & Masonry Inc., Masonry Technology Inc., Masonry Works Inc., Russell Frazier and Robert Yowell.

“This settlement demonstrates our continuing vigilance to ensure that those doing business with the military do so legally and honestly and that taxpayer funds are not misused,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery.  “Among the rules that military contractors and subcontractors must follow are those relating to the use and hiring of small businesses.”

The case involved contracts to construct facilities at Marine Corps bases at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Camp Pendleton, Calif.  Under the rules of the Small Business Administration, the contracts required that a certain percentage of the work be performed by disadvantaged small businesses.  This contract requirement was intended to benefit small firms owned by women, minorities and other disadvantaged groups.

The government alleged that the defendant masonry subcontractors and their principals misrepresented to the prime contractors that they were small businesses, and that these misrepresentations caused the prime contractors to falsely certify that they had complied with the small business provisions of the contracts in claiming payment.  Russell Frazier previously pleaded guilty in related criminal proceedings to causing false statements.

The settlement resolves allegations filed in two lawsuits by Rickey Howard, a former employee of Frazier Masonry Corp., in federal court in Raleigh, N.C.  The lawsuits were filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery.  The act also allows the government to intervene and take over the action, as it did in this case.  Howard will receive $393,383. 

The cases are captioned United States ex rel. Howard v. Harper Construction Co., et al., Case No. 7:12-CV-215-D (E.D.N.C.) and United States ex rel. Howard v. RQ Construction LLC, et al., Case No. 7:13-CV-48-D (E.D.N.C.).  The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.   More details at: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/April/14-civ-357.html

SBA says GSA failed to assess negative impact of office supply contract on small businesses

April 17, 2014 by

The General Services Administration (GSA) failed to assess the negative impact that the Office Supplies 3 (OS3) strategic sourcing contract would have on small businesses, a Small Business Administration (SBA) analysis says.

Under the Small Business Act, agencies must determine whether new consolidated contracts would negatively affect small businesses, and the SBA is tasked with making sure the agencies execute the determination properly.

SBA undertook the analysis at the Government Accountability Office’s request after several small businesses protested to the OS3 request for proposals, saying GSA failed to look into the economic consequences of the businesses who don’t receive an OS3 award. FedNewsRadio posted a copy (pdf) April 7.

In response to the protests, GSA argued that the OS3 contract is a follow-on contract to the OS2 and not a consolidated contract. GSA also said it’s “contrary to law” to provide an economic analysis on the negative impacts a consolidate contract would have on small businesses.

SBA disagrees on both points.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/sba-says-gsa-failed-assess-negative-impact-os3-small-businesses/2014-04-08