Congress moves forward on measures for small business contractors

Under the direction of former Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the House Small Business Committee over the past six years made overhauling the federal contracting process one of its top priorities, spearheading a number of initiatives intended to funnel more work – and by extension, taxpayer money – to small businesses. When Graves stepped down from the panel at the end of last year, it was unclear whether that effort would continue, or at least whether it would remain near the top of the committee’s to-do list.

Instead, it’s like he never left.

Now led by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), the small business committee has picked up right where Graves left off. Chabot and crew recently held a series of hearings on a number of challenges facing small contractors, and last week, the panel marked up and approved a comprehensive package of changes stemming from those conversations.

“We know that when small businesses compete for federal work, it creates jobs, improves the quality of work, and saves taxpayers’ money,” Chabot said when rolling out the proposal, calling the proposed bill – dubbed the Small Contractors Improve Competition Act – “a commonsense approach to make sure that Washington is working with Main Street.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-small-business/wp/2015/03/27/congress-moves-forward-on-measures-for-small-business-contractors/

Small business federal contracting would change under House bill

The chairman of the House Small Business Committee introduced a bill that would include more categories for small businesses to get federal contracts.

The bill (H.R. 1481), introduced by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), would increase the number of industries small businesses can compete for contracts as well as identifying new ways to attract small businesses in those new industry categories.

“Small business contracting policies are intended to make sure we have a broad spectrum of small firms working with the government across industries, and when those policies are undermined, it is imperative that we find appropriate solutions,” Chabot says in a March 20 statement.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/small-business-federal-contracting-would-change-under-chabot-bill/2015-03-22

SBA seeks comment on mentor protégé program, small business size rules, government contracting

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is proposing to amend its regulations to implement provisions of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.  Based on authorities provided in these two statutes, the proposed rule would:

  • Establish a Government-wide mentor-protégé program for all small business concerns, consistent with SBA’s mentor-protégé program for participants in SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program.
  • Make minor changes to the mentor-protégé provisions for the 8(a) program in order to make the mentor-protégé rules for each of the programs as consistent as possible.
  • Amend the current joint venture provisions to clarify the conditions for creating and operating joint venture partnerships, including the effect of such partnerships on any mentor-protégé relationships.
  • Make several additional changes to current size, 8(a) Office of Hearings and Appeals and HUBZone regulations, concerning among other things, ownership and control, changes in primary industry, standards of review and interested party status for some appeals.

SBA’s proposed rule, and a discussion of its provisions appears at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=SBA-2015-0001-0001.

SBA is seeking comments on the proposed rule, and comments must be received on or before April 6, 2015.

 

San Antonio businessman sentenced in VA contract fraud

San Antonio 71-year-old Jonathan Patrick Saunders, president of Saunders MEP, Inc., was sentenced last week to one year and one day in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1,494,000 restitution for defrauding the Department of Veterans Administration (VA) in connection with architectural and engineering contracts.

Justice Dept. sealOn January 6, 2015, Saunders pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.  By pleading guilty, Saunders admitted that over a period of five years beginning in March 2008, he knowingly provided fraudulent information to the VA in order to obtain up to $2 million in task orders from the VA for projects to be performed in and around San Antonio.

On Feb. 19, 2015, United States District Judge Orlando Garcia found that Saunders made false representations to the VA.  In his SF-330 “Architect-Engineer Qualifications” package, Saunders falsely represented that his business qualified as a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, that certain persons with particular qualifications worked for his firm, and that certain projects were completed by his firm.  Saunders used interstate wires to execute his fraud scheme.

This case was investigated by agents with the Office of Inspector Generals from the VA and the Small Business Administration.  Assistant United States Attorney Thomas P. Moore prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.

Source: http://www.justice.gov/usao-wdtx/pr/san-antonio-businessman-sentenced-va-fraud-scheme

Deadline for comments is Feb. 27 on proposed rule affecting small business federal contracts

Are you a small business owner doing business with the government?  As previously reported here, the Small Business Administration (SBA) recently published a proposed rule to implement Section 1651 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA), proposing to change several key areas that could impact you:

  • The performance requirements applicable to small business and socioeconomic program set aside contracts and small business subcontracting.
  • The nonmanufacturer rule and affiliation rules.
  • The performance requirements for joint ventures.

From the SBA’s point of view, the proposed regulations should benefit small businesses by allowing small business concerns to use similarly-situated subcontractors in the performance of a set-aside contract, thereby expanding the capacity of small business prime contractors and potentially enabling small businesses to compete for and win larger contracts. SBA also believes the proposed rules will strengthen the small business subcontracting provisions, which may result in more subcontract awards to small business concerns. The proposed regulations also seek to address or clarify issues that are ambiguous or subject to dispute, thereby providing clarity to federal contracting officers as well as small business concerns.

Have comments? Visit the Federal Register online for information and to submit your comments by February 27, 2015.

SBA proposes stronger enforcement of subcontracting plans

Large businesses’ subcontracting plans would be subject to stricter compliance standards under a SBA proposed rule introduced December 29, 2014.

The intent of the new regulations is to compel prime contractors to make good faith efforts to comply with their subcontracting plans by implementing reporting mechanisms and harsher penalties for fraudulent actions or actions made in bad faith.  Small businesses subcontractors are likely to agree that these are positive changes.

Many large businesses take their subcontracting obligations seriously, and make every effort to meet (or exceed) their goals.  But there are also the bad apples–those that continually over-promise and under-deliver when it comes to small business subcontracting.  Dealing with these bad apples have led some small businesses to become skeptical that large primes will follow through on their stated subcontracting intentions.

The SBA’s proposed regulation attempts to address this problem.

Comments on SBA’s proposed rule are due by Feb. 27, 2015.

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/statutes-and-regulations/subcontracting-plans-sba-proposes-stronger-enforcement/

– See more at: http://smallgovcon.com/statutes-and-regulations/subcontracting-plans-sba-proposes-stronger-enforcement/#more-3551

SBA to host webinar on joint ventures on Feb. 17th

Joint venturing in federal contracting is defined differently than in commercial contracting.

To help small businesses understand the differences, the Georgia District office of the Small Business Administration (SBA) is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, February 17, 2015.

This SBA workshop will outline how federal regulations define joint ventures, as well as discuss some of the technical issues that firms face when pursuing this strategy for winning federal contracts.

To register, please go to: http://events.sba.gov/eventmanagement/EventRegistration.aspx?id=c72aae7a-cda7-e411-88c7-02bfa56e2a24.

For further information, please contact Jennifer Tilden 404-331-0100, ext. 501, jennifer.tilden@sba.gov.

New rules proposed for mentor-protégé, HUBZone, 8(a) and other SBA programs

On February 5, 2015, the Small Business Administration (SBA) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register for the purpose of amending existing regulations in order to implement provisions of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act.

Based on these two statutes, SBA is proposing a Governmentwide mentor-protégé program for all small business concerns, consistent with SBA’s existing mentor-protégé program for Participants in the 8(a) Business Development (BD) program. The proposed rule also would make minor changes to the mentor protégé provisions for the 8(a) BD program in order to make the mentor-protégé rules consistent across agency boundaries.

Similarly, SBA is also proposing to amend current joint venture provisions to clarify the conditions for creating and operating joint venture partnerships, including the effect of such partnerships on any mentor-protégé relationships. Finally, SBA’s proposed rule would make several additional changes to current size, 8(a) Office of Hearings and Appeals, or HUBZone regulations, concerning ownership and control, changes in primary industry designations, standards of review, interested party status, and other matters.

Comments on the proposed rule are due on April 6, 2015.

The proposed rule can be seen here: Federal Register Vol. 80 No. 24 Part III Feb. 5 2015

An analysis of the proposed rule can be found here: Analysis of SBA’s Proposed Rule to Create a New Mentor-Protege Program for All Small Businesses – 02.06.2015

SBA offers insights into the HUBZone protest process

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has introduced a new website where visitors can review samples of HUBZone-related protest decisions.

Examining these samples can help you learn about how allegations of non-compliance are analyzed by the SBA.

The website also has a link to a mini-primer to help you better understand the HUBZone protest process.

The award of a HUBZone contract may be protested by an offeror, the contracting officer, or the SBA. There are three possible outcomes of a HUBZone status protest:

  • Dismissed: the protest was not evaluated by the SBA because it was untimely, not submitted by an interested party, or not specific enough. In some cases when a protest is dismissed because it was not submitted on time, but the information presented was specific, SBA may file its own protest.
  • Sustained: SBA found the protested company to be ineligible for the award and/or ineligible for (and therefore decertified from) the program.
  • Denied: SBA found the protested company to be eligible for the award and for the program.

Past HUBZone protest decisions can be found at: https://www.sba.gov/content/protest-case-highlights.

The SBA’s mini-primer on Understanding HUBZone Protests can be located at: https://www.sba.gov/tools/sba-learning-center/training/hubzone-mini-primer-3

SBA to hold 8(a) and HUBZone eligibility workshop Feb. 11th

Small businesses interested in learning about the Small Business Administration’s eligibility requirements for becoming 8(a) or HUBZone certified will be interested in a workshop on that subject to be held on Feb. 11, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. to noon.

The workshop will be held at 233 Peachtree St. NE, Ste. 1900, Harris Tower, Atlanta, GA, 30303.

Advance registration is required and may be accomplished by visiting: http://events.sba.gov/eventmanagement/EventRegistration.aspx?id=b73797b8-cba0-e411-8f7e-02bfa56e2a24.