March 16, 2012 by cs
“Supplier Relationship Transformation” is the theme of the regional forum being conducted in Atlanta by the Office of Acquisition and Logistics of the Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.
The forum provides the opportunity for suppliers to network with and gain knowledge from the VA’s acquisition leadership and industry peers.
Advance registration is required and can be accomplished at http://www.theambitgroup.com/vasrt/atlanta_forum.html.
This event is being held at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter North, 7 Concourse Pkwy., NW, Atlanta, GA 30328.
More details are posted at: VA SRT Forum Atlanta 04.10.2012.
March 15, 2012 by cs
The Fairness in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act of 2012 was introduced on March 7, 2012 by seven senators in a bipartisan effort to eliminate dollar-amount restrictions on contracts that WOSBs can compete for.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), speaking to the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, said the purpose of the bill is to remove inequities that exist in the women-owned small business contracting program, when compared to other socio-economic programs.
Sen. Snowe co-sponored the bill with senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
The proposed legislation would remove contract-award limitations as well as provide tools women need to compete fairly in the federal contracting arena by allowing for non-competitive contracts, when circumstances allow, the Congressional Record said.
“Women-owned small businesses have yet to receive their fair share of the federal marketplace,” said Sen. Snowe. “In fact, our government has never achieved its goal of five percent of contracts going to WOSBs, achieving only 4.04 percent in fiscal year 2010. Our bill would greatly assist federal agencies in achieving the small business goaling requirement for WOSBs,” she added.
The proposed legislation has received letters of support from the National Association of Women Business Owners, Women Impacting Public Policy and the U.S. Black Chamber, Inc.
“Women make this country run as business owners, entrepreneurs, politicians, mothers and more, but women-owned small businesses have yet to receive their fair share of federal contracting dollars,” Sen. Mikulski said.
In 2010, the Small Business Administration rolled out the WOSB Procurement Program, but the sponsoring senators and many women’s groups say it doesn’t go far enough.
The biggest complaint is that it still contains barriers that prevent women-owned businesses from fully developing.
“For 11 very long years, we urged the Congress and the federal agencies to put the WOSB program into place. Now that it has been implemented, our work has turned to improving the program and making it a vehicle for business growth for women business owners,” said Barbara Kasoff, president of WIPP, a national nonpartisan public-policy organization that advocates on behalf of nearly one million women-owned businesses.
“Women-owned small businesses are the fastest growing segment of our economy but they remain woefully underrepresented in small business contracting,” added. Sen. Bennet.
The senators proposed the bill to coincide with National Women’s History Month.
It also comes out on the heels of the House Small Business Committee clearing the way for six pro-contractors bills.
About the Author: Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology. This article appeared on Mar. 9, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/03/09/2012-wosb-bill-introduced.aspx?s=wtdaily_120312.
March 12, 2012 by cs
In the wake of reduced federal contract spending, a new study found that the price tag of doing business is higher for minority and women contractors as compared to other small firms.
An American Express survey, “Women and Minority Small Business Contractors: Divergent Paths to Equal Success,” measured 740 active small-business contractors and looked at how the women and minority contractor experiences compares with other small firms in terms of overall contracting activity and success.
It found, particularly for minorities, that the annual investment made to seek federal contracts was 35 percent higher than for the average small firm with the same credentials. While small firms invested an average of $103,827 to secure a federal contract in 2010, the investment made by minority business owners averaged $139,709. Women business owners invested a less-than-average $86,643, but still up 23 percent from their 2009 investment of $70,512.
“It took minority business owners longer to achieve their very first victory in procurement,” the study said.
As bidding activity and success rates dipped for small business contractors from 2008-2010 as compared to three years before, the survey found women contractors were part of the same trend, but minorities weren’t. While minority contractors had a steeper decline in bidding activity than other small businesses, minority firms’ success rates jumped 10 percent in garnering prime contracts between the periods of 2007-2009 and 2008-2010. Meanwhile, overall prime-contracting rates plunged 8 percent during the same period.
Another positive finding showed women and minority contractors were more likely than their non-contracting colleagues to exceed $1 million in revenue and more likely to own larger firms versus their non-contracting peers.
Furthermore, the survey examined “turning points” toward procurement success in these two groups. It found that 55 percent of most small businesses couldn’t point to a single action that defined their success. However, fellow business owners were found to be “more helpful than average” to minorities in sharing tips and experiences. Outside consultants (procurement advisors, accountants, or attorneys) and agency purchasing officials ranked “higher than average” at helping women.
These groups were more likely to have a specific certification or procurement designation. For women, getting on the GSA schedule was shown to buoy their business and 41 percent said that the designation has been “very or extremely helpful.” On the other hand, certification as a women-owned business was “very or extremely useful” to only 17 percent of the group. For minorities, 8(a) and disabled-veteran status has proved to be the most helpful certification.
The findings are part of the second annual government contracting survey from the American Express OPEN’s Victory in Procurement small business program.
All the businesses in the study are contained in the Federal Procurement Data System and are registered on the Central Contractor database.
About the Author: Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology. This article appeared Mar. 6, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/03/06/women-minority-contracting-study.aspx?s=wtdaily_070312.
March 9, 2012 by cs
The House Small Business Committee passed six bills on Wednesday (3/7/2012) through a voice vote to promote small business contracting.
The 2012 Government Efficiency through Small Business Contracting Act imposes a quota that agencies must use small businesses for 25 percent of their contracting work.
It also aims to expand the varieties of contracts by using the Small Business Administration’s formula in comparing agency performance against small business goals and endorses increased liability for senior agency officials by withholding bonuses.
The 2012 Small Business Advocate Act gives the Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization more authority.
The act also requires officers within the offices to review and revise agency resolutions and insource work performed by a small business.
The 2012 Subcontracting Transparency and Reliability Act modifies subcontracting provisions that guarantee small businesses will be designated a majority of the work and receive succeeding income.
Restrictions in subcontracting will not be measured by the amount given to the small business or the cost of the whole project.
Decisions must also be made public to give small businesses the chance to challenge resolutions in court.
The 2012 Small Business Opportunity Act encourages small business advocates within federal government to participate in federal procurement and acquisition planning proposal request announcements.
The 2012 Small Business Procurement Act extends an agency’s small business contracting goals to commission orders against multiple contract awards, including those with the General Services Administration’s Federal Supply Schedule Program.
Finally, the 2012 Early Stage Small Business Contracting Act launches an independent project to stimulate contract awards given to early-stage small businesses.
Early-stage small businesses have a maximum of 15 employees and report annual revenue of less than $1 million.
In February the Small Business Administration issued a ruling outlining revenue guidelines for small business consideration.
The ruling increased 37 small businesses standards for 34 industries and three sub-industries.
– by Gino Troiani, published ExecutiveGov on Mar. 8, 2012 at http://www.executivegov.com/2012/03/house-passes-6-bills-to-promote-small-business-contracting-2/.
March 2, 2012 by cs
Here are just a few of the companies that were considered a small business in the past year: Apple, Chevron, Verizon, Bank of America and Disney. At least, that’s what one advocacy group found when it perused the Federal Procurement Data Systems for government contracts for the past year.
Each year, the government attempts to award at least 23 percent of all federal contracts to small businesses. But new research from the American Small Business League (ASBL) shows that 72 large companies received $16.4 billion in federal small-business contracts, which the group attributes to a combination of policy loopholes, human error and mis-categorization.
“It’s really hard for a small company to compete with a company that has 5,000 employees,” said Brian Reeder, communications director for the ASBL. “When bigger companies are actually receiving the contracts, there’s nothing left for small businesses.”
The Small Business Administration cautions that it has not yet released its official data on contracting for 2011 and therefore can’t speak to the accuracy of ASBL’s findings. SBA will publish its official 2011 Small Business Procurement Scorecard this summer
“Each federal agency is responsible for ensuring the quality of its own contracting data, but SBA conducts an additional analysis to help agencies identify any potential data anomalies,” said John Shoraka, the SBA’s Associate Administrator for Government Contracting and Business Development in an e-mail statement. “As part of its ongoing data quality efforts, SBA is continuing to work with federal agency procurement staff to provide tools to facilitate review of data, implement improvements to procurement systems and conduct training to improve accuracy.”
Holes in the system
The ASBL report, released Thursday morning, found that of the top 100 companies receiving federal small business contracts, 72 were large companies that exceeded the SBA’s small-business size standards, which vary depending on the sector.
It’s difficult to identify just one reason why the contracts are awarded as they are, but experts say there are countless small leakages in the government procurement process that can cause large businesses, either purposefully or indirectly, to occasionally win out over small ones.
Ray Bjorklund, chief knowledge officer with the government-contractor software company Deltek, said it can be hard for the SBA to pick the “right” size for a company to be considered a small business under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes, the government’s business classification system.
“When SBA is looking at one class of establishment, such as a corn farmer, there are a lot of small-business corn growers, but also large corporate growers,” Bjorklund said. “It’s not an easy thing to maintain size standards in a way that keeps up with growth in the economy and changing relationships between sectors.”
Beyond that, when agencies begin feeling the pressure to meet their 23 percent goal, Bjorklund said they sometimes choose NAICS codes that have larger-sized caps if they want a large company to fit into a small-business contract.
“If the agency is anxious to meet its socioeconomic goals, they say, ‘I can make this a small-business set aside if I can justify it this way,’” he said. “All of this is legal, but they should have been more judicious in their acquisition strategy.”
Not close enough for government work
Reeder said human error is another problem in how contracts are coded. For example, Apple was likely never registered as a small business, but Reeder speculates an agency simply needed something only Apple could provide — iPads, for example — and then neglected to change the code from “small” to “not small” before the transaction was completed. That contract would ultimately be counted toward an agency’s small-business goal.
“There are a lot of those examples, and they really add up,” he said.
The errors may stem from a larger problem in the contracting world — the thin ranks of the acquisition workforce and the paucity of the available funds to train them.
“The acquisition workforce is not as big as it should be, and they’re not as qualified, because years ago, their funding was slashed,” Bjorklund said. “These people have inboxes stacked very high, and they want to do the very best possible job, but sometimes mistakes get made.”
The SBA drew a similar conclusion in a report it issued on the same topic last October, saying, “While some contractors may misrepresent or erroneously calculate their size, most of the incorrect reporting results from errors made by government contracting personnel.”
Small, then big, but still small
There is also a loophole that allows small businesses that are bought by large companies to continue to count as “small” for the purposes of contracting for years after they’re purchased. For example, the report says that CapRock Government Solutions, which ASBL asserts received more than $200 million in small business contracts last year, is a subsidiary of Harris Corporation, a multi-billion dollar company.
“We’re not arguing the companies should lose those contracts, but it seems silly to count them as small when they’re not small,” Reeder said.
Many of these contracts were awarded to small businesses that are actually subsidiaries of large companies, Reeder said, and they, therefore, don’t face the same odds that independent small companies do.
Bjorklund said he believes there are not quite as many large companies receiving small-business contracts as the ASBL has found. Still, he said, “the problem still exists, there’s no denying that.”
Last year, the ASBL found that there were 60 large companies included among the top 100 federal small business contractors, so they say the problem has “at best, stayed the same, if not gotten worse.”
Reeder called for better enforcement of contracting standards by the SBA, but Bjorklund explained that the SBA is largely “hands-off,” and that the ultimate responsibility falls on the agency issuing the contract.
In the October report, the SBA’s Office of the Inspector General said it had made “mixed progress” on the issue of small-business contracts going to large businesses. The agency has developed a program to ensure that contracting personnel review contractor sizes, but it has made “limited progress” in developing regulations to correct the misapplication of industry codes.
So how big of a problem is this for small contractors? Medium, according to Bjorklund. Contractors of every size are losing business as the Department of Defense and other agencies cut back. Small firms don’t have quite the same lobbying clout that larger ones do, he explained, so the impacts for them might be greater — especially if they aren’t getting all the contracts they should be. Then again, at least the government is doing something for small firms.
“At least there are small-business goals that the government is trying to meet,” he said. “That makes it a little better than it would be in the commercial marketplace — where everyone is fending for themselves.”
–by Olga Khazan, The Washington Post, Published: February 22, 2012 and updated: Thursday, February 23, 8:00 AM at http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/report-billions-in-federal-small-business-contracts-go-to-large-firms/2012/02/22/gIQA0EV4TR_story.html.
March 1, 2012 by cs
Contractor relationships with federal auditors and contracting officers
deteriorated somewhat during the past year as government agencies scaled back
programs in an effort to reduce the budget deficit, according to a recent
A separate study released Thursday found that large companies were securing a
high percentage of federal contracts set aside for small businesses. In the 17th Annual Government Contractor Industry Survey released Monday by Grant Thornton LLP, contractor relationships with auditors were rated
either fair or poor by 19 percent of surveyed companies, up from 11 percent the
previous year. Relationships with contracting officers were rated fair or poor
by 10 percent of respondents, double the previous year’s total.
Only 22 percent of respondents said the government resolved contract disputes
efficiently, a drop from previous surveys.
Revenue from government contracts during the past year grew for 50 percent of
the companies, was flat for 21 percent and declined for 29 percent, the survey
found. “The fact that the highest percentage of companies experienced revenue
growth continues a long-term trend reported in previous surveys, indicating that
government contractors are far less vulnerable than commercial companies to
recessions or slow growth in the overall economy,” Grant Thornton analysts
“However, the 29 percent of companies experiencing revenue reductions is the
highest percentage reported in several surveys, indicating that government
efforts to reduce deficits are adversely impacting government contractor
The survey went out to an unspecified number of companies, in 24 states, that
depend primarily on federal contracts; most of them are for-profit and
two-thirds provide services to the Defense Department. Forty-six percent are
The survey also found that profits improved slightly from the previous year.
The biggest cost factor within these firms was executive compensation, and
survey analysts said they disagreed with the methods the Defense Contract Audit
Agency uses in determining whether to allow such costs.
“While government contracting has never been a model of efficiency, it is our
view that the decline in efficiency and business relationships during the past
few years can be traced directly to changes in DCAA policy adopted after
[Government Accountability Office] reports were issued in July 2008 and
September 2009,” they wrote.
“Unfortunately, the GAO criticized the DCAA for having a management and
agency culture that focused on a production-oriented mission, emphasizing the
need for timeliness in supporting the needs of contracting officers in the
procurement process,” the survey said.
Regarding the average time for contractors to collect accounts receivable
from the government, results showed the period was less than 30 days for 21
percent of survey participants, while 60 percent reported receivables were
collected within 30 to 60 days. The remaining 19 percent reported waiting more
than 60 days.
The average win rate on proposals submitted in a competitive environment was
On the topic of revenue by type of contract, the companies said, on average,
45 percent of revenue was from cost-reimbursable contracts and 35 percent was
from time-and-materials contracts. The remaining 20 percent was from firm
When asked how often they were required to perform out-of-scope work without
a contract modification, 81 percent said frequently or occasionally. Only 16
percent said they refused such requests.
A separate contracting study by the Petaluma, Calif.-based American Small Business
League found that of the top 100 companies receiving federal small business
contracts, 72 were large companies that “significantly exceed” the Small
Business Administration’s small business size standards; only 24 were
“legitimate small business,” the league said.
The large companies — among them Lockheed Martin Corp., Rolls-Royce, Boeing
Co., General Dynamics and Blue Cross Blue Shield — accounted for $16 billion of
the $21 billion total for the top 100, the study found.
February 23, 2012 by cs
As the Small Business Administration redefines exactly how big a small business can be, it faces mixed reactions from lawmakers and small business groups.
SBA published its new guidelines in the Federal Register on Feb. 10, with the rules scheduled to go into effect March 12. The comprehensive review in size standards, the first SBA has undertaken since the early 1980s, determined that larger businesses in 34 industries and three sub-industries in the professional, scientific and technical services sector could be considered small businesses.
Under the new rules, more weight is placed on business structural characteristics, including average firm size, the degree of competition and federal government contracting trends, in order to cast a broader net over businesses eligible for government programs. SBA estimates that as many as 8,350 additional firms will become eligible for its programs as a result.
The National Federation of Independent Business, a lobbying organization that represents about 350,000 small businesses across the country, defines anything that is not publicly held as a “small business” for purposes of membership. NFIB spokeswoman Jean Card, however, emphasized that more than 70 percent of the group’s members have 10 employees or fewer, and 97 percent have 50 or fewer.
Card noted that defining small business is no easy task. “I don’t envy them,” she told Government Executive, but added she was “not real clear on why the definition changed.”
Small businesses, Card said, are looking for more government help with issues like tax regulation and health care policy.
The National Small Business Association, a nonprofit membership organization, will be talking with its members next week regarding the advantages and disadvantages of SBA’s move. NSBA limits its membership to businesses with fewer than 500 employees and does not distinguish by industry or revenue.
“We have a few general concerns with it lumping together businesses that have different interests and concerns — for example, the lumping together of architecture and engineering firms,” NSBA spokeswoman Molly Brogan said of the new classification system.
Some congressional lawmakers unhappy with SBA are seeking to implement new legislation that would require the government to see small businesses in a different light.
“If the size standards are adjusted then we don’t need to change the definition, but we do need complementary incentives for advanced [and] growing small businesses,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., co-author of the Small Business Protection Act, which was introduced in the House on Feb. 8.
The bill, also co-authored by Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., seeks to redefine the size standard for each small business category so that it remains within each group’s North American Industry Classification System code, according to a Feb. 8 press release from Walsh’s office.
As part of President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget proposal, SBA received a 30-percent boost in federal funding from fiscal 2011 actual discretionary expenditures.
– by Andrew Lapin - Government Executive – February 15, 2012 – http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2012/02/sba-redefinition-small-business-draws-mixed-reactions/41215/.
February 23, 2012 by cs
The OSDBU (Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization) Procurement Conference is a national conference fostering business partnerships between the Federal Government, its prime contractors, and small, minority, service-disabled veteran-owned, veteran-owned, HUBZone, and women-owned businesses. Now in its 22nd year, the OSDBU Directors Conference has become the premier event for small business throughout the United States.
This year the event is scheduled on Apr. 19, 2012, and the location is the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.
This unique one-day event annually attracts more than 3,000 people including:
- Over 500 government attendees representing 50 Federal, State and local agencies
- Prime Contractors with teaming and mentor-protégé opportunities
- Hundreds of small businesses, minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses, 8a businesses and HUB-Zone businesses
Participating firms will have the benefit of marketing their products and services to procurement representatives and small business specialists from federal agencies. Companies may choose to set up an exhibit table to showcase their capabilities or simply come as an attendee. The conference also includes educational conference sessions, procurement matchmaking, and a dynamic exhibitor showcase.
For more information or to register see; http://www.fbcinc.com/e/osdbu/default.aspx.
Design, construction and engineering opportunities are topics for Mar. 20-21 Army Corps small business conference
February 22, 2012 by cs
The South Atlantic Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to conduct their 2012 Annual Regional Small Business & Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Conference, in Atlanta on March 20-21, 2012.
The primary purpose of the Conference is to discuss contracting opportunities with the Corps of Engineers, specifically within the South Atlantic Division (SAD). The region encompasses all or part of the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South and North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
This outreach event will provide a venue for SAD to discuss its mission, goals, and contracting opportunities with the small and large business communities. As part of this event, SAD will host a roundtable discussion with the SDVOSB community on the 21st. The roundtable is designed to further discuss the importance of doing business with SDVOSBs community, and to providing a better understand of the acquisition process in today’s environment. Discussions will also clarify procedures needed to increase contracting opportunities within SAD.
As this is a free event, space is limited and all applicants must register in order to gain access to the conference center. For complete details on the conference, please click here.
To register for the conference, please click on the link below and follow the instructions to successfully complete the online registration form:
Advance registration is required.
February 20, 2012 by cs
Federal agencies soon will have a larger pool to draw from for their small-business procurement programs.
The Small Business Administration increased the size standard for technology companies as well as for 33 other industries under a final rule published Feb. 10 in the Federal Register.
The move means about 8,350 additional companies are now eligible to compete for federal contracts as a small business.
The final rule will increase 37 of the revenue-based size standards in 34 industries and three sub-industries in the “Professional, Scientific and Technical Services” sector. It will also increase one size standard in the “Other Services” sector.
Size standards are used to determine eligibility for federal small-business assistance programs. SBA measures “size” for most industries by receipts and number of employees. It defines receipts as the total income plus cost of goods sold.
The higher revenue limits cover the professional, technical and scientific sectors and will take effect on March 12.
Technology firms offering computer programming, maintenance and design services, for example, can now earn $25.5 million, up from $25 million.
The Management, Scientific and Technical Consulting Services sector received an increase from $7 million to $14 million. Public commenters in this sector, who supported the increase, highlighted that the higher size standard will help small businesses to develop to be able to compete against large businesses for federal contracting opportunities.
“Over the years, SBA has received comments that its size standards have not kept up with the changes in the economy, in particular, that they do not reflect changes in the federal contracting marketplace and industry structure,” the final rule noted.
“SBA recognizes that changes in industry structure and the federal marketplace since the last overall review have rendered existing size standards for some industries no longer supportable by current data,” it adds. Size standards were last comprehensively reviewed in the early 1980s.
With more than 8,000 newly defined small firms under the revised size standards, there may be some additional administrative costs to the federal government associated with additional bidders for federal small-business procurement opportunities and more companies seeking SBA guaranteed lending programs or eligibility for enrollment in the Central Contractor Registration’s Dynamic Small Business Search database, the Federal Register said.
Click here to find a summary of size standard changes.
About the Author: Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology. This article was published on Feb. 10, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/02/10/sba-increases-size-limits.aspx?s=wtdaily_140212.