VA must pay attorneys’ fees in SDVOSB ownership transfer case

December 5, 2013 by

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has ordered the VA to pay attorneys’ fees to Miles Construction, LLC stemming from the Court’s February decision that the company’s  ”right of first refusal” provision did not render it ineligible for the VA’s SDVOSB program.

In ordering the VA to pay attorneys’ fees, the Court held that the VA’s defense of its broad interpretation of “unconditional ownership” was not substantially justified–but also suggested that the Court might not reach the same result under the SBA’s SDVOSB rules.

The Court’s decision in Miles Construction, LLC v. United States, No. 12-597C (2013) involved Miles Construction’s request for reimbursement of its attorneys’ fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act.   Under EAJA, a qualifying small business may recover its attorneys’ fees for prevailing in litigation against the government, but only if  the government’s litigation position was not “substantially justified.”

Opposing the request for attorneys’ fees, the VA argued, in part, that it had been “substantially justified” in taking the position that the SDVOSB program’s “unconditional ownership” requirement prohibited right-of-first-refusal provisions.  The VA primarily relied upon SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decisions holding that right-of-first-refusal provisions defeat “unconditional ownership” under the SBA’s SDVOSB regulations.

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/service-disabled-veteran-owned-small-businesses/sdvosb-program-va-must-pay-attorneys-fees-in-ownership-transfer-case/ 

Little guys complain they’re tossed aside as big contractors absorb cuts

November 22, 2013 by

Computer Frontiers Inc.’s owner thought she’d gotten a break when Stanley Inc. agreed to team up with the small technology company in the U.S. government market.

Instead, Barbara Keating says she feels betrayed. Canada’s CGI Group Inc., after buying Stanley, touted the relationship to win orders in the past three years under a State Department visa-processing contract valued at as much as $2.8 billion. Then it mostly cut the small business out of the deal, sending some work overseas, according to a federal lawsuit.

“We were a big part of winning the contract,” Keating said in a phone interview. “We definitely thought we’d all grow together because of this relationship. But that obviously didn’t happen.”

Large companies are increasingly reducing subcontractors’ roles to help cope with $1.2 trillion in automatic federal spending cuts that began in March, according to attorneys and contracting specialists. Those grievances have reached U.S. officials, who want to know when vendors won’t be working with small businesses that helped them get the work.

“We went to many different parts of the country and met with companies, and in almost every city there was someone that said this was an issue,” said Ken Dodds, director of policy, planning and liaison for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 demanded that the government start requiring contractors that operate under a subcontracting plan to notify agencies when they’re not using small businesses that were part of their bids, Dodds said. A regulation to implement that part of the law hasn’t been approved.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-07/little-guys-said-tossed-aside-as-contractors-absorb-cuts.html

Affordable Care Act for small business webinar is Dec. 5

November 21, 2013 by

The Georgia District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)  and SCORE Atlanta are hosting an Affordable Care Act informational webinar for small businesses on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:00 p.m.

In this webinar, you’ll learn about the ACA and your business, including:

  • Small Business Health Care Tax Credit
  • Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)
  • Shared Employer Responsibility

Presenters include:

  • Ms. Amanda Ptashkin, Outreach and Advocacy Director, Georgians for a Healthy Future,
  • Ms. Kim Agah, Vice President for CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services, Inc.

Online Registration is at: http://events.sba.gov/eventmanagement/EventRegistration.aspx?id=1efa91b3-6851-e311-9914-02bfa56e2a24This is a Tele-Conference/Webinar. Instructions will be mailed to the e-mail address used for registration for dial-in and webinar instructions.

If you would like to submit a question in advance that you would like answered during the Q&A session, please e-mail your question(s) to: vog.absnull@aigroeg with ACA Seminar Question in the subject line.

For questions regarding registration please contact Ms. Patrice Dozier at 404-331-0100 ext. 411.

Workshop on women’s and veteran’s contracting programs to be held on Nov. 14

November 4, 2013 by

The Georgia District Office of the Small Business Administration (SBA) is holding an orientation to the SBA’s Women and Veteran Federal Contracting Programs on Nov. 14, 2013.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Eligibility requirements for service disabled veteran-owned small business concerns.
  • Patriot Express Loan Program
  • Eligibility requirements for the Women Owned Small Business  Contracting Program
  • How the WOSB Program can provide significant opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

Event Details:

  • Thursday, November 14, 2013
  • 10:00 AM -  12:30 PM EST
  • Location: SBA Georgia District Office, Peachtree  Center – Harris Tower, 233 Peachtree Street, NE – Suite 1900, Atlanta, GA, 30303

Register at: http://events.sba.gov/eventmanagement/EventRegistration.aspx?id=39e916df-5f24-e211-b354-02bfa56e2a24

SBA holds 8(a) and HUBZone eligibility workshop Nov. 13

November 4, 2013 by

The Georgia District Office of the Small Business Administration is holding a workshop on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 to provide an overview of the eligibility requirements for 8(a) and HUBZone certifications, and other procurement related information.

Event Details:

  • Wednesday, November 13, 2013
  • 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
  • Location: 233 Peachtree Street NE, Ste. 1900, Harris Tower-Peachtree Center, Atlanta, GA, 30303

Register at: http://events.sba.gov/EventManagement/EventRegistration.aspx?id=8627e5fb-a22a-e211-aa20-02bfa56e2a24

Popular small business course scheduled to be repeated

November 1, 2013 by

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

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

  • Dec. 3 – 5, 2013
  • Jan. 21 -  23, 2014
  • Apr. 15 – 17, 2014
  • July 8 – 10, 2014

All classes will be held in the world-class Global Learning Center on Georgia Tech’s campus in midtown Atlanta.

Known 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 – DoD and non-DoD agencies alike – 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, and large and small business concerns.

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

On February 10, 2012 Ashton B. Carter, then Deputy Secretary of Defense released a memorandum regarding “Advancing Small Business Contracting Goals.”  The 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 Department of Defense and other agency directives aimed at achieving higher levels of small business participation in federal contracting.

Carter’s memo identifies all leaders who manage budgets and allocates funds for contracts in addition to contracting officers as being collectively responsible for achieving the 23 percent goal.  To ensure that this collective responsibility is met, Carter announced that senior executives will be rigorously evaluated and held accountable.  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.

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.

This 3-day course is also available for instruction at your site.  For more information or to make arrangements, call 404-894-6109 or email ude.hcetag.ymedacagnitcartnocnull@ofni.

VA sole decider in SDVOSB status protest decisions, rule says

October 21, 2013 by

The Veterans Affairs Department will decide status protests for all  service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses and veteran-owned small  businesses and not cede that authority to the Small Business Administration, a  Sept. 31 interim rule says.

The rule doesn’t change the fact of self-certification for SDVOSB status by  companies bidding on contracts at agencies other than the VA.

The VA’s director of the Center for Veterans Enterprise will initially  adjudicate all SDVOSB and VOSB status protests, but those businesses can appeal  to the VA’s executive director of small and disadvantaged business utilization,  the rule says.

The VA says it considered reaching an interagency agreement with the SBA for it  to review and decide status protests, but determined that SDVOSB and VOSB status  protest adjudication should remain within VA.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/va-sole-decider-sdvosb-status-protest-decisions-rule-says/2013-10-16

See the new interim rule at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-09-30/html/2013-23759.htm

Federal rule mandates small business updates, imposes monetary penalties

September 24, 2013 by

Small businesses need to pay closer attention than ever to their “small business size status.”

New rules from the Small Business Administration (SBA), recently published in the Federal Register, require that small businesses:

  1. Accurately maintain their size status with the federal government, and
  2. Face substantial financial penalties, if willful misrepresentation of size or socioeconomic status is proven.

What actions are expected to be taken by small businesses?

First and foremost, it’s imperative that every small business update its profile in the System for Award Management (SAM) at least once a year.  A small business failing to perform annual updating will no longer be identified in the SAM database as a small business.  Lack of updating also will cause a firm’s other socioeconomic designations (such as SDB, 8(a), HUBZone, WOSB, EDWOSB, VOSB and SDVOSB) to be dropped from SAM.   Losing these designations in SAM potentially means losing eligibility for federal contracts set-aside for various small business classifications.  Firms not identified as small businesses also will not likely be considered as potential subcontractors by prime contractors who are required to meet small business subcontracting goals.

The possible penalty for a business misrepresenting itself as a small business has never been as severe as now.  If the SBA finds that a business “willfully misrepresented” itself as a small business in order to win a federal contract, the agency can cancel the contract and impose a penalty equal to the total dollar value of the contract.  Previously, when a contractor misrepresented its size or small business status, the contractor had to forfeit its contract and pay back profits associated with the contract.

The bottom line is this.  Businesses should make sure they update SAM at least annually.  In addition, businesses should expect to see a new certification form in bid and proposal solicitations, requiring each small business to certify its status as a small business along with any other socioeconomic classification the firm may hold.  The form must be signed by an authorized official.  If a federal solicitation does not contain a certification section, offerors (bidders and proponents) are expected to prepare a signed certification of their own to be included in their offer.

 

SBA loan guarantee program for veteran-owned businesses goes unevaluated

September 23, 2013 by

A loan-guarantee program for veterans that began in 2007 is the latest Small  Business Administration pilot program that the agency has neglected to  evaluate.

The SBA originally planned to evaluate its Patriot  Express loan-guarantee program by the end of 2010, but instead extended it  through December 2013, a Sept. 12 report from the Government Accountability Office says. With the extension now  near its end, the SBA has still yet to evaluate it or make a plan to do so.

In recent years, Patriot Express loans — for businesses majority-owned by  veterans and other members of the military community — defaulted at more than  three times the rate of other SBA loans.

The GAO report says SBA has not established any measurable goals for the  program.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/another-sba-pilot-goes-unevaluated/2013-09-16

Download the GAO report at: http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657793.pdf 

Step-by-step 8(a) certification training offered by SBA on Oct. 17

September 18, 2013 by

The federal government’s 8(a) Business Development (BD) program is a part of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s efforts to promote equal business access for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals including Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, subcontinent Asian Americans, and in some cases women business owners.

Companies with an 8(a) Certification can benefit from the wide-range of services offered including government contracting opportunities, access to capital, management and technical assistance, and much more.

When

Thursday, October 17, 2013 10:00:00 AM – 1:00:00 PM EST

Location

SBA Georgia District Office, Peachtree Center – Harris Tower, 233 Peachtree Street, Suite 1900, Atlanta, GA, 30303

Click here for Event Location Map

Registration

Pre-registration is required as seating is limited.  Register at: http://events.sba.gov/eventmanagement/EventRegistration.aspx?id=00d19c5e-e517-e211-b1ac-02bfa56e2a24

Event Contact

Patrice Dozier at (404) 331-0101