GSA updates strategic sourcing tool for office supplies

The General Services Administration in late November published a draft update of its seven-year-old strategic sourcing initiative aimed at reducing the costs of agency office supply purchasing.

The new statement of work titled “Office Supply Third Generation,” or OS3, is “the agency’s latest effort to cut costs and increase efficiencies by buying everyday supplies like pens, paper and printing items from a list of vendors with negotiated low prices,” GSA said in a release. It is expected to save $65 million a year in reduced administrative costs and $90 million through lowered prices, with 76 percent of purchasing contracts going to small businesses. Since 2006, the program has saved agencies $350 million, according to GSA.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2013/12/gsa-updates-strategic-sourcing-tool-office-supplies/74702 

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

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

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: georgia@sba.gov with ACA Seminar Question in the subject line.

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

DoD acquisition heroes during Iraq, Afghanistan? Small biz, universities and DARPA

You didn’t hear much about them during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but DARPA, small businesses, and universities were the people who most impressed retired Gen. Hoss Cartwright when he was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he and the services scrambled to find weapons to give American troops a combat edge.

“DARPA was incredible to our ability to gain advantage. Small businesses and universities were hotbeds of innovation for us,”  Cartwright said during a panel at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on lessons learned from the last dozen years of war. He made no mention of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, or BAE Systems — or any of the other large defense companies.

What made them special? “Their willingness to take risks… made a huge difference and saved countless lives on the battlefield,” Cartwright said. And he said that in Afghanistan and (previously) Iraq, “[the] battlefield is not driven by platforms” — tanks, ships, planes — which take so long to design, build, and deploy.

Another avenue of innovation at the Pentagon sprang from the acquisition processes of Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which has the right to just buy things in small quantities if it really needs them.

Keep reading this article at: http://breakingdefense.com/2013/11/dod-acquisition-heroes-during-iraq-afghanistan-small-biz-and-darpa/

Popular small business course scheduled to be repeated

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 info@contractingacademy.gatech.edu.

Federal contractors’ pain won’t vanish after shutdown ends

The U.S. government shutdown may hurt contractors long after Congress and President Barack Obama find a way to open federal offices and resolve the debt ceiling dispute.

Federal agencies award more than $500 billion a year, or a rough average of $1.4 billion a day, to tens of thousands of contractors. With each day of the partial shutdown, the pipeline gets more clogged by late payments, halted work and canceled solicitations for new contracts. That bottleneck may affect contractors’ fourth-quarter results.

“Even if the government suddenly opens for business, we can’t expect everything to get back to normal right away,” said Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners, a McLean, Virginia-based consulting company. “This is going to be a wave that makes its way through the government’s operational infrastructure probably at least until the end of the calendar year.”

If the shutdown continues through the end of the week, it will be difficult for big contractors to make up for lost revenue before the end of the year, said Michael Lewis, managing director at McLean, Virginia-based Silverline Group LLC, a strategic consulting firm for aerospace and defense.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-09/federal-contractors-pain-won-t-vanish-after-shutdown-end.html.

Janitorial supply and maintenance equipment contract opportunities designated for GSA Schedule-holders

The General Services Administration (GSA) has just announced two contract opportunities for bulk purchases, one for janitorial supplies and the other for maintenance equipment.

If you are a GSA Schedule contractor, these opportunities may be of interest to you.  In order to bid on the janitorial supplies contract, you must be an existing holder of a GSA Schedule contract in categories 51V, 73 or 75.  In order to bid on the maintenance equipment contract, you must hold GSA Schedule 51V.

These new opportunities are part of GSA’s “strategic sourcing initiative” whereby multiple Government agencies agree to pool their contracting needs in certain categories of purchasing.  The two solicitations now open for bid involve products that cost the Government more than $1 billion annually, and GSA estimates that strategic sourcing will reduce the Government’s costs by 10-20 percent.

The departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force have committed to use GSA’s strategic sourcing solution for janitorial and sanitation supplies, as did the Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Treasury and Energy departments, and others.  Many of those departments also committed to the other solution GSA announced — the one for maintenance, repair and operations supplies.

GSA will issue blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) to multiple contractors under both of these solicitations.  Under BPAs, agencies can repeatedly buy the same supplies or services from a contractor without having to redo the procurement process each time.

For both the janitorial and maintenance solicitations, GSA says it is reserving a majority of the awards for small businesses and service-disabled-veteran-owned small businesses.

You can find the solicitations posted as follows:

* RFQ for janitorial and sanitation – https://interact.gsa.gov/node/62442

* RFQ for maintenance, repair and operations – https://interact.gsa.gov/blog/request-quote-rfq-issued-fssi-mro

Right now, the deadline for responses to these solicitations is Nov. 12, 2013, although you should always check the web sites listed above for any changes.

Questions about either of these solicitations are due not later than Oct. 22, 2013. For questions regarding the janitorial/sanitation RFQ or attachments, contact JoAnn Stanley at joann.stanley@gsa.gov and Steve Nieswiadomy at steve.nieswiadomy@gsa.gov.  For questions regarding the maintenance equipment RFQ or attachments, please contact Glenda Lambert at glenda.lambert@gsa.gov and Shaun Hankton at shaun.hankton@gsa.gov.

‘10,000 Small Businesses’ program now offered nationwide

Goldman Sachs has announced that its 10,000 Small Businesses initiative will now be offered to small businesses nationally, enabling small business owners from across the country to participate in the program. Small business owners in all 50 states can now apply to 10,000 Small Businesses, and accepted small business owners will receive intensive training and advice from business experts and peers at Babson College in Massachusetts.  To date, the program had been open to businesses in 15 markets across the United States.

10,000 Small Businesses offers qualified business owners:

  • The opportunity to create a customized growth plan that includes financial management, people management, negotiations and marketing.
  • One-on-one business counseling and a network of support from other small business owners as well as leaders in the business world.

The national program will be delivered through two, four-day sessions held at Babson College, the leading entrepreneurial school in the country for the last 17 years according to U.S. News and World Report, and 8 hours of coursework and interactive sessions per week delivered online for a total of 10 weeks. The costs will be covered by 10,000 Small Businesses.

“When you give small businesses owners the tools they need to grow their businesses, they create jobs and strengthen both the local and national economy,” said Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. “We are pleased to be able to expand the reach of this program to help small businesses grow in every community in the country.”

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is a $500 million program that aims to unlock the growth and job-creation potential of 10,000 small businesses across the United States through greater access to business education, financial capital and business support services. The program is based on the broadly held view of leading experts that greater access to this combination of education, capital and support services best addresses barriers to growth for small businesses.  10,000 Small Businesses is guided by an Advisory Council co-chaired by Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein, Warren Buffett, and Dr. Michael Porter of Harvard Business School. The National Urban League, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Babson College are also represented on the Advisory Council, among other groups.

“Babson is proud to extend the innovative entrepreneurship curriculum we designed for 10,000 Small Businesses to small businesses across the country,” said Babson President Kerry Healey. “The model we have created brings together Babson’s unique methodology, our experience working around the world with people growing businesses and our knowledge of how best to deliver effective blended learning programs. This educational experience is tailor-made for small businesses seeking to grow and create much needed jobs.”

The program is designed for small business owners with limited resources who have a business poised for growth. Business owners interested in applying must demonstrate a commitment to growing their business and creating jobs in their community. Businesses must be in operation for at least two years, have revenues of at least $150,000 in the most recent fiscal year and have a minimum of four employees.

Across the United States, initial results have seen that just six months after graduation approximately 63% of participants reported an increase in revenues, 47% have reported creating net new jobs and 76% are doing business with each other. The program also has a 99% completion rate.

Identification and selection of qualified businesses is led by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC).

“The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program provides the training, tools, and relationships to help local entrepreneurs and their businesses grow and create a self-reinforcing cycle of economic opportunity,” said Michael E. Porter, founder of ICIC and Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at Harvard Business School.

The program currently offers education and capital in nine sites including Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City. Business owners based in, or near, one of these cities may be referred to the local program. Capital is also provided by local nonprofit lenders to businesses in six additional sites: Kentucky, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

Applications to participate in 10,000 Small Businesses at Babson College are due October 18, 2013 and can be found at http://www.10ksbapply.com/.

Federal rule mandates small business updates, imposes monetary penalties

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.

 

New guidebook reveals how government and industry select small businesses

There’s a brand new resource available to you — free of charge — courtesy of the national community of procurement technical assistance centers (PTACs).

Braddock’s The Winning Edge: How Government and Corporate Buyers Select a Small Business Supplier – 2014 Edition is a practical guide designed for small to medium sized businesses that provides important insights into the decision-making process within the government and large corporations, with an emphasis on the evaluation and selection stages.

Topics include:

  • Overview of the government procurement process
  • How government procurement officers evaluate a small business supplier
  • How small businesses can identify and win subcontracting opportunities
  • Characteristics that corporate buyers are really looking for in a small business supplier
  • Next step resources

A special electronic edition of Braddock’s The Winning Edge is available at no charge to PTAC clients thanks to the generous support of Microsoft Corporation.  Download your free copy today by clicking right here.

We hope you find this resource useful.   As always, we at the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) stand ready to answer any questions you may have and help you take the next steps in your government contracting pursuits.