3-day course covers all federal small business programs

September 11, 2013 by

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech is offering a three-day course delving into the intricacies of the government’s Small Business Programs, including efforts to improve small business participation in prime contracting and subcontracting.   The course will be held Oct. 29-31, 2013 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.

The Contracting Academy is committed to supporting the latest Department of Defense (DoD) directive aimed at achieving higher levels of small business participation in DoD contracting.

On February 10, 2012 Ashton B. Carter, the 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.

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.

How to win government contracts the ‘EZ’ way

September 10, 2013 by

Note: Last year, the Small Business Administration launched an experimental web site called “EZ-RFP” to solicit streamlined bids for some low-cost technology projects as a way of assisting small, high-growth technology firms to do business with the federal government.  This article reports on the status of this pilot project.

A novice might think The MIS Department, a Chicago technology firm, would have no trouble winning government contracts.

The company has a proven track record engineering complex computer systems and building websites. It has done the arduous legwork of getting authorized to provide services to the federal government, the state of Illinois, Cook County and the city of Chicago. It’s even filed paperwork for 8(a) certification, which allows the company to compete for a special class of contracts reserved for minority-owned small businesses.

And, get this: Company president Rajeev Chopra was chief information officer for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, responsible for keeping a suite of information technology tools up and running for more than 2 million staffers and volunteers across 813 field offices.

But even with all that going for it, MIS, which stands for Management Information Systems, for years was unable to take a government contract to the finish line.

Why? Most of the company’s dozen or so employees were busy, for one thing, working on IT contracts with Chicago businesses and political groups in Washington that Chopra encountered during the campaign. That left only Devlin Kane, director of business development, to try to drum up government work.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2013/08/how-win-government-contracts-ez-way/69704

 

Does your firm qualify as a SDB?

August 26, 2013 by

Small businesses, if qualified, can self-represent their status as a small disadvantaged business (SDB).  Doing so could qualify your firm to be considered for federal contracting, including subcontracting, opportunities.

You do not have to submit an application to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for SDB status.

To self-represent as an SDB, you must register your business in the federal government’s vendor database known as the System for Award Management (SAM).  Navigate to end of the SAM database to find the section that deals with small business certifications.   However, first make sure you and your firm understand the SBA eligibility criteria for SDBs.

In order to qualify as an SDB, generally:

  • The firm must be 51% or more owned and controlled by one or more disadvantaged persons.
  • The disadvantaged person or persons must be socially disadvantaged and economically disadvantaged.
  • The firm must be small, according to SBA’s size standards.

While SBA must still certify all firms that participate in the 8(a) Business Development Program, the requirements to be approved are different and more rigorous than SDB status.  If you believe your firm is ready for the 8(a) Business Development program, click here.

For more information on SDB certification, view the October 3, 2008 Federal Register notice  which explains why SDBs do not need to submit an application to the SBA.

In addition to self-representing your business as an SDB, if qualified, your firm might also meet the requirements for one or more of the following programs:

  • SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program provides managerial, technical, and contractual assistance to small disadvantaged businesses to ready the firm and its owners for success in the private industry.
  • SBA’s HUBZone Program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. These preferences go to small businesses that obtain HUBZone certification in part by employing staff who live in a HUBZone. The company must also maintain a “principal office” in one of these specially designated areas.
  • The Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program authorizes contracting officers to set aside certain federal contracts for eligible women-owned small businesses.
  • The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Procurement Program provides procuring agencies with the authority to set acquisitions aside for exclusive competition among service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns.

Veteran-owned businesses must remove ‘large’ NAICS codes from VetBiz within 30 days

August 8, 2013 by

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) has instructed verified service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) to remove so-called “large NAICS codes” from their VetBiz Vendor Information Pages profiles within 30 days – or else.

According to a recent email from the VA’s CVE, SDVOSBs must remove any NAICS codes for which they do not qualify as a small business.  Failing to remove these “large NAICS codes” may result in potentially harsh penalties, including debarment.

The CVE’s August 1, 2013 email states, in part:

Companies verified in the VetBiz VIP database generally list the NAICS Codes under which they are qualified to provide goods and services. The VetBiz VIP database is restricted to service-disabled Veteran-owned and Veteran-owned small businesses. If any verified company lists one or more NAICS Code(s) on its profile in which it is other than small, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE), is requiring that those NAICS Codes be removed. If such NAICS Codes are not removed, CVE may request the SBA to conduct a formal Size Determination, and CVE may also initiate debarment and/or cancellation proceedings against the company.

After quoting a portion of the SBA’s Standard Operating Procedure for Size Determinations, the VA CVE states: “[t]o fulfill the small business concern requirement found in the regulations, CVE is requesting each company, verified in the VetBiz VIP database, to remove all NAICS Codes in its profile that are other than small within thirty (30) days.”

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/service-disabled-veteran-owned-small-businesses/va-cve-sdvosbs-must-remove-large-naics-codes-from-vetbiz-within-30-days

SBA offers workshops on government contracting topics

July 26, 2013 by

The Georgia District Office of the Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering several workshops in the coming months to help small businesses understand how to take advantage of SBA programs that can enhance their ability to pursue government contracts.

Below is the latest listing of SBA workshops, along with registration links:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to the above workshops, the SBA also provides a number of on-line short courses to acquaint small businesses with government contracting.  You can find these resources at: http://www.sba.gov/gcclassroom.

 

 

 

New SBA rule mandates notification if contractors don’t use small business subcontractors

July 22, 2013 by

A new rule set to go into effect Aug. 15, 2013 directs prime contractors to notify  contracting officers if they don’t use small business subcontractors that were  integral to producing a bid proposal.

In the Small Business Administration’s discussion of the final  rule, the agency says a prime contractor must represent that it will  make a good faith effort to utilize the small business subcontractors used in  preparing its bid or proposal.

The rule, authority for which comes from the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010,  spells out three conditions of small business involvement in a prime contract  bid, any one of which trigger the notification requirement: the prime  specifically references a small business in a bid or proposal; the small  business has entered into a written agreement with the prime to perform specific  work as a subcontractor under the contract should the prime win; or the small  business drafted portions of the proposal or submitted pricing or technical  information that appears in the bid or proposal.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/new-sba-rule-mandates-notification-if-contractors-dont-use-small-business-s/2013-07-19

 

New rule implements ‘presumption of loss’ over small business misrepresentation

July 12, 2013 by

A new rule goes into effect Aug. 27, 2013 implementing a “presumption of loss” of the entire dollar value of any contract given to small businesses that  misrepresent their status.

The rule makes the basis of damages for a civil lawsuit equal to the value of the full  contract.

The government will consider any misrepresentation to be intentional after a  business registers itself as small in any federal database or submits a bid for  a contract as a small business.

The rule, which implements provisions from the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act, does limit liability in cases of unintentional error, technical  malfunction, “or other similar situations.” The Small Business Administration  found 200 firms that misrepresented their size in 2010.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/new-rule-implements-presumption-loss-over-small-business-misrepresentation/2013-07-08?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal 

Federal government again falls short of small business contracting goals

July 3, 2013 by

The federal government made progress but again fell short of its small business contracting goals last year, according to government data released Tuesday.

Just 22.25 percent of federal contracting dollars, or $89.9 billion, went to small businesses in fiscal 2012, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). That’s higher than last year’s 21.65 percent but still shy of the goal of 23 percent set by Congress. It is the 12th consecutive year officials have missed the target.

The government also fell short of its goal for women-owned businesses and firms in economically disadvantaged areas.

The Obama administration has made it a priority to funnel more of the billions the government spends every year on contracts to small businesses, but it has struggled to move the needle significantly. The problem has been exacerbated by federal spending cuts related to the sequester, which economists say tend to hit small firms the hardest.

Interim rule removes dollar limitation for set asides to women-owned small businesses

June 27, 2013 by

A new interim rule took effect on June 21, 2013, formally amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), that removes the dollar limitation for set-asides to women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs), eligible under the Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business program.

The new interim rule implements section 1697 of the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which amends the part of the Small Business Act that establishes the regulations governing federal agencies’ administration of the WOSB contracting program.

Agencies previously could award WOSB/EDWOSB set-aside contracts only up to the limit of $6.5 million for manufacturing and $4 million for all other acquisitions.

Written comments need to be received by Aug. 20 before the interim rule becomes final.  The interim rule can be found at: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/06/21/2013-14616/federal-acquisition-regulation-contracting-with-women-owned-small-business-concerns.

The SBA previously announced that agencies should take immediate steps, per the provisions of the NDAA, to dispense with the dollar caps on contracts set-aside for WOSBs or EDWOSBs.   Other restrictions on WOSB/EDWOSB set asides (e.g., the rule of two and NAICS code applicability) still apply.

If you have questions about the federal government’s WOSB contracting program, or if need assistance in certifying your business as a WOSB and/or EDWOSB, please contact your GTPAC Counselor.

8(a) contractor indicted on Federal charges of conspiracy, money laundering, obstruction of justice, wire, and tax fraud

June 11, 2013 by

On May 20, 2013, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson and Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division Kathryn Keneally of the U.S. Attorney’s Office f0t the District of Idaho announced that a federal grand jury in Boise returned a 42-page Superseding Indictment this week that charges Elaine Martin, 66, of Meridian, Idaho, with making false statements, conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, and obstruction of justice. It also seeks forfeiture of over $9 million as the proceeds of the alleged crimes. Darrell Swigert, 67, of Boise, Idaho, is charged with obstructing and conspiring to obstruct a federal criminal proceeding.

Martin was the president and majority stockholder of Marcon, Inc., a Treasure Valley construction company. Swigert was a minority shareholder. An earlier indictment that charged only Martin, filed on March 13, 2013, was unsealed by the court today. A court date has not been set.

The Superseding Indictment charges Martin with four counts of making and subscribing a false tax return, two counts of conspiracy, five counts of wire fraud, one count of making a false statement, five counts of mail fraud, four counts of interstate transportation of property taken by fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, and one count of obstructing justice.

The Superseding Indictment alleges that as early as 2000, and continuing through January 2012, Martin took steps to lower her personal net worth, such as acquiring, holding and transferring assets into the names of nominees. According to the Superseding Indictment, this and other alleged conduct enabled Martin to successfully apply for and be admitted into the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) Program. The Superseding Indictment alleges that Martin’s actions also allowed Marcon to fraudulently maintain its certification with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, in the states of Idaho and Utah. The SBA 8(a) Program and DBE Program are designed to help economically and socially disadvantaged business compete in the marketplace. Both programs require applicants to show that their personal net worth is below a certain statutory threshold. The Superseding Indictment alleges that Martin remained in control of her assets while appearing to meet the personal net worth requirements of both programs.

According to the Superseding Indictment, Martin also caused false and fraudulent tax returns to be filed for herself and Marcon, Inc., which did not report all of the income received by Martin or the company. These false returns were allegedly submitted in support of Marcon’s applications to the SBA 8(a) Program and DBE Programs for Idaho and Utah, along with allegedly false personal financial statements. According to the Superseding Indictment, Martin caused the financial books and records for Marcon to be false by purposefully omitting, deleting, altering or mis-categorizing entries. The Superseding Indictment further alleges that Martin concealed her role or relationship in other business entities that dealt with Marcon, Inc.

While a participant in the SBA 8(a) Program, the Superseding Indictment alleges that Martin sought to conceal withdrawals of capital that exceeded the SBA 8(a) Program limits by executing loans with her family members and with entities that she controlled.

The Superseding Indictment charges that Marcon received more than $2.5 million in government contracts based on the company’s fraudulently obtained SBA 8(a) status. The Superseding Indictment further alleges that Marcon received more than $6 million in government contracts based on the company’s fraudulently obtained DBE status in the states of Idaho and Utah.

Both Martin and Swigert are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice by fabricating documents and making false statements that sought to conceal the true nature, source, and extent of property belonging to Martin. According to the Superseding Indictment, Martin and Swigert fabricated a loan document and document that purported to memorialize a gift in order to impede a civil audit by the IRS and criminal investigation by the IRS and U.S. Attorney’s Office. Swigert is also charged with a second count of obstruction of justice based on allegedly false statements that he made to conceal the nature, source, and extent of property belonging to Martin.

The government seeks forfeiture of $9,237,722.10, which represents the proceeds that Martin obtained as a result of the alleged offenses.

“Those who seek federal contracts and seek to benefit from federal funds have a solemn obligation to deal honestly and openly with the federal government,” said Olson. “This office will continue to work side-by-side with its federal program partners to ensure that fraud is thoroughly investigated and, where appropriate, vigorously prosecuted.”

“The 8(a) Business Development Program is designed to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the marketplace and offers significant benefits to eligible small businesses,” said Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson of the Small Business Administration. “Preferences for federal contract awards must not be given to persons who lie in order to claim eligibility. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their commitment to seek justice on behalf of the American taxpayer.”

“Those who commit tax fraud and fraudulently benefit from government programs are cheating honest taxpayers. IRS-Criminal Investigations will work diligently with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who engage in these illegal activities are vigorously investigated and brought to justice,” said Stephen Boyd, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent-in-Charge for the State of Idaho.

“The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program is a business assistance program of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) which helps economically and socially disadvantaged small businesses compete in the marketplace. DBE fraud harms the integrity of the program and adversely impacts law-abiding, small business contractors trying to compete on a level playing field,” said William Swallow, regional Special Agent-in-Charge of the DOT’s Office of Inspector General. “Working with our Federal, State, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial colleagues, we will vigorously pursue those who violate the law, and expose and shut down fraud schemes that adversely affect public trust and DOT-assisted highway programs.”

Each charge of making and subscribing a false return, as charged in counts one through four, is punishable by up to three years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. The charge of conspiracy, as charged in counts five, twelve, and23, is punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. Each count of wire fraud, as charged in counts six through ten, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to five years of supervised release. The charge of making a false statement, as charged in count 11, is punishable by up to two years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to one year of supervised release. Each charge of mail fraud, as charged in counts 13 through 16, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to five years of supervised release. Each charge of interstate transportation of property taken by fraud, as charged in counts 18 through 21, is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering, as charged in count 22 is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. The charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, count 23, and obstruction of justice, counts 24 and 25, are each punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release.

The case is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The announcement is part of an effort by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), created in November 2009, to combat financial fraud crimes by waging aggressive, coordinated and proactive investigations and prosecutions. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, the task force is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.

An indictment is a means of charging a person with criminal activity. It is not evidence. The person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Posted at: http://www.justice.gov/usao/id/news/2013/may/martin05202013.html