House committee rips SBA for unauthorized pilot programs, contracting woes

April 1, 2014 by

Members of the House Small Business Committee on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of several revisions to the Small Business Administration’s new budget proposal, with several lawmakers criticizing the agency for committing too much money to new, unproven programs and too little to fulfilling its underlying responsibilities to small employers.

“By necessity, budgets require hard choices,” Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said during a brief markup of the budget on Tuesday. “To the extent that the SBA… budget request makes hard choices, they ultimately make them in the wrong place.”

Democrats and Republicans on the panel agreed on revisions that would trim $50 million from the agency’s $710 million budget proposal that was published earlier this month as part of the president’s broader spending blueprint. The committee’s recommendations now move to the House Budget Committee for review.

SBA officials maintain that the proposal would ensure that employers have the resources they need to start and grow their businesses, and it would give the department the resources it needs to expand important exporting, capital access and other educational programs. On the agency’s blog earlier this month, Marianne Markowitz, the agency’s acting administrator, said the plan “builds on SBA’s proven track record of assisting America’s small businesses.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/house-committee-rips-sba-for-unauthorized-pilot-programs-contracting-woes/2014/03/26/15f84f80-b433-11e3-b899-20667de76985_story.html 

House Small Business Committee calls for $50M cut to SBA budget request

March 28, 2014 by

The House Small Business Committee recommends cutting almost $50 million from President Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget request of $864.64 million for the Small Business Administration.

Committee Democrats will present their own views on the White House request at a later date, said Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) at a March 25 committee markup.

Although the budget request is for $64 million less than the agency’s current year spending, the March 25 majority committee report  says there’s room for more cuts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/house-small-business-calls-50-mil-cut-obamas-sba-budget-request/2014-03-26

 

8(a) Task Orders: No Automatic Size Recertifications

March 20, 2014 by

Submitting a proposal for a task order under an 8(a) Government Wide Acquisition Contract does not result in automatic recertification of the offeror’s small business size status.

In a recent decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals held that unless the Contracting Officer expressly requires recertification, an offeror’s size for an 8(a) set-aside task order is governed by that offeror’s size status for the underlying GWAC.

SBA OHA’s decision in Size Appeal of Reliasource, SBA No. SIZ-5536 (2014involved a Homeland Security RFQ for IT support services.  The RFQ stated that DHS intended to award the contract as a task order under the 8(a) STARS II GWAC.  The RFQ was set aside for 8(a) participants under NAICS code 541513.

After evaluating quotations, the Contracting Officer announced that KNEWEBS, Inc., d/b/a Consulting Services Inc. was the apparent awardee.  An unsuccessful offeror, Reliasource, filed a SBA size protest.

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/sbaohadecisions/8a-task-orders-no-automatic-size-recertifications 

Webinar on surety bonds to be presented April 17th

March 18, 2014 by

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Surety Bond Guarantee Program helps small business get bonded.  If you wish to learn about this program, you are invited to participate in a free, live webinar on Thursday, April 17, 2014 from 10:00 to 11:00 am EDT.

This webinar is ideal for  small businesses with:

  • Limited financial resources
  • No prior bonded work experience
  • Been in business less than three years
  • Desire to increase your current bonding capacity

The webinar will cover Contract Bonds, including:

  • What they are and why they are required
  • How to get pre-qualified
  • Working capital and bank support

The webinar also will provide complete information about SBA’s Surety Bond Guarantee Program, including:

  • Program eligibility
  • Required information
  • Application process and fees

Advance registration is required.  Please register online at http://events.sba.gov/eventmanagement/EventRegistration.aspx?id=9a6d088f-24b1-e311-abc5-02bfa56e2a24 

Date:                    Thursday, April 17, 2014

Time:                    10:00 am – 11 am

Internet:        https://connect16.uc.att.com/sba/meet/?ExEventID=87462470 (copy the link into your browser to attend).

Phone:            888-858-2144 and then enter meeting code 7462470# to connect by phone.

Prepare in advance for the conference at: https://connect16.uc.att.com/sba/Prepare

For more information please contact Ms. Melanie Bryant at 404-331-0100, ext. 603 or vog.absnull@tnayrb.einalem.

House committee approves bills to increase agencies’ small biz goals and more

March 10, 2014 by

The House Small Business Committee has marked up and approved a six-pack of contracting reform bills, including legislation that would raise the current agency goals for steering work to small businesses.

The package approved Wednesday would particularly affect the construction industry, women, and disabled veterans. It includes a plan to raise agencies’ small-business prime contracting goal from 23 percent to 25 percent and establish a 40 percent goal for small-business subcontractors.

“Greater small business involvement in federal contracting benefits companies and taxpayers alike,” said panel Chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo., who sponsored the bill outlining the new contracting goals. “Small firms are innovative, and increased competition often leads to savings for the taxpayers.”

A second Grave bill would “improve transparency and accountability” by discouraging bundling of contracts to give an advantage to large companies over small businesses. Bills sponsored by Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., would restrict the government’s use of reverse auctions in awarding construction contracts and increase construction companies’ access to surety bonds for use in federal procurement work.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/03/committee-approves-bill-increase-agencies-small-biz-contracting-goals/80023 

8(a) program mentor to pay $928,000 False Claims Act settlement

March 2, 2014 by

An 8(a) Program mentor has agreed to pay a False Claims Act settlement of $928,000.  The settlement stems from the government’s claims that the mentor abused the 8(a) mentor-protege program.

According to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release, the mentor firm performed eight 8(a) prime contracts on behalf of its protege–without an SBA-approved joint venture.  The government also contended that the mentor’s extensive role resulted in the protege firm failing to meet the applicable limitation on subcontracting.

According to the DOJ, Okland Construction Co. Inc., a large business, entered into an 8(a) mentor-protege agreement with Saiz Construction Co., an 8(a) participant.  Although the SBA did not approve joint ventures between the companies, Okland allegedly prepared the bids for the 8(a) contracts and Okland’s employees served as project managers, submitted invoices, and performed payroll and other accounting functions.

The government also alleged that Okland’s extensive involvement resulted in Saiz’s inability to meet the 15% limitation on subcontracting applicable to general construction contracts.  Okland allegedly concealed its extensive involvement in the 8(a) contracts by misrepresenting to the government that its employees were employees of Saiz.

Keewp reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/8a-program/8a-program-mentor-to-pay-928000-false-claims-act-settlement/

Consultant to veteran-owned small business, once suspended by SBA, says CEO provided inaccurate information

February 10, 2014 by

A consultant for MicroTechnologies LLC, one of the federal government’s most prominent small-business contractors, said the firm’s founder authorized him to submit information to the Small Business Administration in 2005 that the agency later said “appears to be a complete fabrication,” the consultant told The Washington Post.

Alanson R. Anderson said MicroTech founder Anthony R. Jimenez provided the material included in a successful SBA application for entrance into the SBA’s 8(a) program for small, disadvantaged businesses, qualifying for preferential treatment, including contracts awarded without competition.

At the time, Anderson was president of Sourcetec Corp., a small-business consultancy retained to guide Jimenez through the application process.

MicroTech’s application included statements in response to SBA questions about the firm’s ties to two other companies. One of the statements said the firm had “no link, relationship, or partnership of any kind” with a firm owned by two MicroTech investors. SBA rules prohibit small and disadvantaged contractors from being overly affiliated with larger firms.

In December, the SBA suspended MicroTech after agency officials said they had new information that Jimenez had provided “false and misleading statements” about the firm’s ownership, operations and ties to other companies. The suspension was triggered when the SBA began a process known as “debarment” that would block ­MicroTech from future contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/consultant-for-microtech-said-he-vetted-inaccurate-information-with-firms-ceo/2014/01/30/9fb50e9c-89dc-11e3-a5bd-844629433ba3_story.html 

Outside relationships undermine service-disabled veteran-owned small biz, says SBA

February 7, 2014 by

A would-be SDVOSB’s relationships with a company controlled by the SDVOSB’s minority owner undermined the service-disabled veteran’s control – and cost the SDVOSB an Air Force contract.

In a recent decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals ruled that a SDVOSB did not adequately control his company where the company (and the veteran) appeared to be unduly dependent on an outside firm.

SBA OHA’s decision in Battalion, LLC, SBA No. VET-242 (2013) involved an Air Force solicitation seeking a contractor to repair exterior building walls.  The Air Force set aside the procurement for SDVOSBs under NAICS code 238140 (Masonry Contractors).

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/service-disabled-veteran-owned-small-businesses/sdvosb-protests-outside-relationships-undermined-sdvs-control-says-sba-oha 

Applications for SBA’s “Emerging Leaders” program now open

January 29, 2014 by

What is Emerging Leaders?

The Emerging Leaders is an intensive training initiative to accelerate high-potential small businesses’ growth in America’s inner-cities. This comprehensive curriculum provides the tools to catapult participating companies to the next level and help them emerge as growing, self-sustaining businesses in their community.  In Atlanta, the Emerging Leaders initiative is supported by a coalition of local economic and business development entities.

What does the Emerging Leaders advanced training entail?

Over seven months, participants are required to participate in approximately 60-80 hours of classroom instruction, generally two three-hour sessions per month. The method used is primarily instructor-facilitated discussion of the training curriculum. Outside subject matter experts are included as guest speakers to bring a “real world” perspective. Additionally, class participants meet and work in smaller CEO Peer Mentoring Groups for an additional 15-20 hours during the training period.

Topics/subjects include:

  • Business & Leadership Assessment
  • Finances
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Business Development Resources
  • Growth Action Plan

Eligibility and Requirements

The Emerging Leaders advanced training series is open to the President, Managing Partner, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, or Chief Operating Officer of small businesses that:

  • Are located in Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, and Rockdale counties
  • Have been in active operation at least three years
  • Have generated for the past three years an average annual revenue of at least $400,000 not to exceed $10,000,000
  • Have at least one employee besides the owner(s)

In order to successfully complete and graduate from the program, participants must not have more than two unexcused absences from classroom or CEO Peer Mentoring Group sessions. They must also prepare and give a 15-minute presentation at the last class session on a three-year strategic growth plan for their business developed from their learning experience before a panel of business and economic development experts.

There will be up to fifteen small businesses accepted for the 2014/Emerging Leaders program. This program is provided at NO COST to participants.

For more information, please contact SBA’s Dorothy Atkins (404) 331-0100 ext. 305 or Charlotte Johnson, (404) 331-0100 ext. 405.  Formal “Expressions of Interest” to participate must be received by midnight, March 21, 2014.  The 2014 Emerging Leaders class begins on April 21, 2014.

SBA issues final rule on surety bond guarantee program

January 29, 2014 by

In a rule (79 Fed. Reg. 2084) scheduled to go into effect on Feb. 12, 2014, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is modifying its Surety Bond Guarantee Program to incorporate certain provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA).  This includes provisions that increase the contract amounts for which SBA is authorized to guarantee bonds, grant SBA the authority to partially deny liability under its bond guarantee, and prohibit SBA from denying liability based on material information that was provided as part of the guarantee application in the Prior Approval Program.

The rule also makes changes to the Quick Bond Guarantee Application and Agreement, the timeframes for taking certain actions related to claims, and the dollar threshold for determining when a change in the Contract or bond amounts meets certain criteria or requires certain action. Finally, the final rule eliminates references to the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) that has expired.

The new rule can be downloaded here: 79 Fed. Reg. 2084