New military spending deal includes help for small business contractors

December 27, 2013 by

In unusually speedy fashion, Congress this week approved both a new federal budget and a military spending bill, both of which provide a sense of clarity to small business owners, particularly those who sell goods and services to the federal government.

But there’s also a little something extra for small business contractors in the latter deal, called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes military spending for the coming year and was approved by the Senate late Thursday. In fact, there are two little somethings.

The 2014 version of the legislation, which President Obama is expected to sign in the coming days, included two amendments born earlier this year in the House Small Business Committee, both of which are meant to help small firms in the procurement arena.

The first changes the way prime contractors are allowed to tally up the amount of subcontracting dollars they pass along to small businesses. Currently, the federal government can take into account every small business that works on a given project, even if they are a subcontractor to another subcontractor, when calculating the amount of federal awards that went to small companies in a given year.

Second, the bill includes a rule meant to clarify some confusion over rules concerning the amount of work small prime contractors are allowed to subcontract to large firms.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/new-military-spending-deal-includes-help-for-small-business-contractors/2013/12/20/fe0270d2-6990-11e3-ae56-22de072140a2_story.html 

2014 calendar of free government training seminars announced

December 17, 2013 by

Seminars on government contracting topics are being scheduled at locations throughout the state of Georgia in 2014.   These training seminars are free of charge and are sponsored by the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC).

The complete list of GTPAC seminars can be found at: http://gtpac.ecenterdirect.com/Conferences.action

Below are highlights of upcoming topics to be covered:

  • Need a solid introduction — or a refresher – to government contract fundamentals?   Then plan to attend our 3-hour “Introduction to Government Contracting.”  This is GTPAC’s most popular training class — and most frequently offered!  You’ll receive an update on all the basics, plus learn how to sign-up for GTPAC’s free services.   In addition, GTPAC offers a 1-hour orientation on this same topic called “Fundamentals of Working with the Government.”
  • Unsure if you are properly registered in the federal government’s vendor database?   Our webinar entitled “Fundamentals of Navigating SAM and Working with the Government” is the event for you.  You’ll learn all about the System for Award Management (SAM) and how it’s used to identify prospective contractors.
  • Want to learn about preferences given to women and other groups such as veterans in federal contracting?  Consider attending our seminars such as “Women-Owned Small Business Programs” and “Small Business Certification Programs.”  Both of these workshops provide solid orientations to all the federal contracting preference programs, including how to qualify.
  • Don’t know how to find or approach small business specialists?  “Working with Small Business Specialists” is the class for you.  We explain the role Small Business Specialists play within government agencies, how to find them, how to present your credentials, and what to expect.
  • Interested in contracting opportunities at the state and local government levels?   Then “Marketing to State and Local Governments” is the workshop you should attend.  You’ll learn about how to find contracting jobs right in your neighborhood, how to get registered as a vendor, and how to pursue local government contract work.
  • Curious about what resources are available to you on the Internet?  Our workshop entitled “Using Your Computer to Win Government Contracts” will teach you all about the free resources and information available on the web that will help you identify government contracting opportunities, conduct market research about upcoming government buying needs, submit bids on-line, communicate with governments, and get paid.
  • Need help preparing a bid or proposal?   GTPAC offers multiple workshops on “Preparing a Successful Bid or Proposal” where we cover downloading a solicitation, initial preparation steps, analyzing the evaluation criteria, building a bid or proposal, following submittal instructions, and obtaining a debriefing.
  • Trying to figure-out whether a GSA Schedule is right for you?   Our “Understanding the GSA Schedule Process” is your ticket to learning whether there is a GSA Schedule that matches your business and, if so, the fundamentals of how to submit a proposal.
  • What about all the other things you need to know?  GTPAC has regularly scheduled seminars on topics like: “Selling to the Military,”  ”Wide Area Work Flow,”   “How to Create a Great Elevator Speech,”   “What is a Capabilities Statement and Why You Should Have One,” and much more.

Be sure to visit http://gtpac.ecenterdirect.com/Conferences.action today for a complete list of classes, locations, dates and other details.

GAO says agencies need to comply with Congressional requirements for bundled contracts

December 17, 2013 by

Federal agencies sometimes can achieve savings by consolidating requirements from separate, smaller contracts into fewer, larger contracts.  However, consolidation may negatively impact small businesses.  Generally, when consolidation makes a contract unsuitable for small businesses, the contract is considered bundled, which is a subset of consolidation. Agencies must justify their actions for both consolidated and bundled requirements.

In a new report issued by the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO), it’s noted that the Department of Defense (DoD) and the General Services Administration (GSA) — which accounted for more than 80 percent of the consolidated contracts reported by all federal agencies in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 — do not know the full extent to which they are awarding consolidated contracts.  This is the result of contracts being misreported in the federal procurement data system (FPDS).

GAO reviewed 157 contracts — more than half of all DOD and GSA contracts that were reported as consolidated — and found that 34 percent of the DoD contracts and all of the GSA contracts in fact were not consolidated. GAO also identified four DoD contracts with consolidated requirements that were not reported as such.

GAO’s study found that DoD generally justified contracts with consolidated requirements in accordance with existing regulations, but DOD and GSA have not yet implemented 2010 changes in the law.   Eighty-two percent of the 100 DoD contracts confirmed as consolidated followed existing regulations pertaining to conducting market research, identifying alternatives, and justifying decisions. Most of the contracts that did not comply were justified, but the determinations were not made by an official at a level senior enough to meet defense regulation requirements.

The study also found that the Small Business Administration (SBA) does not collect complete information on bundled contracts and has not reported to Congressional committees as required by federal law.

To read the full GAO report, please visit: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-36

GSA updates strategic sourcing tool for office supplies

December 6, 2013 by

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

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.

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

November 15, 2013 by

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

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.

Federal contractors’ pain won’t vanish after shutdown ends

October 18, 2013 by

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

October 17, 2013 by

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 vog.asgnull@yelnats.nnaoj and Steve Nieswiadomy at vog.asgnull@ymodaiwsein.evets.  For questions regarding the maintenance equipment RFQ or attachments, please contact Glenda Lambert at vog.asgnull@trebmal.adnelg and Shaun Hankton at vog.asgnull@notknah.nuahs.