Contracting facts and fictions

July 2, 2014 by

Many debates on the issues in government acquisition rely on assumed “facts” that may or may not be based on reality.

However, examining the latest actual, comprehensive, uniform, and unbiased information directly provided by contracting officers (from the Federal Procurement Data System) sheds light on some discrepancies.

For example, despite the budget drama of the past two years, inflation-adjusted figures reveal that contract awards remain over 20 percent higher in 2013 than back in 2003. For the contracting profession, this news is encouraging, especially considering the wind-down of the longest war in American history and indicative of the continued increase in government contracting in providing essential citizen services.

Similarly, while awards have dropped within the General Services Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State, other agencies—such as the Department of Education, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Veterans Affairs—have seen increases, as have contracts awarded to small businesses.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140603/BLG06/306030013/Contracting-facts-fictions 

Federal government again falls short of its small business goals

July 1, 2014 by

The federal government is falling short of its goals for awarding contracts to small businesses in some industries where it spends the most money, according to the Small Business Administration.

The government has an overall goal of giving 23 percent of its contracting dollars to small businesses. It has routinely missed that goal in recent years.

An analysis of federal spending by the SBA’s Office of Advocacy shows small businesses got less than 12 percent of contracting dollars spent at manufacturers during the 2012 fiscal year. The government spent nearly $200 billion on manufacturing contracts, the most in a single industry.

One problem is not the number of contracts going to small businesses, but the amount of those contracts, the analysis says. And in industries like manufacturing, a high amount of contract dollars go to a small number of companies — for example, defense contractors like Lockheed Martin Corp. or Boeing Co. that each get billions of dollars annually.

One concern continually raised by lawmakers is that some large companies with federal contracts don’t live up to agreements to give subcontracts to small businesses.

Small businesses, meanwhile, got 22.5 percent of the $141 billion spent at companies providing professional, scientific and technical services. They received 21.3 percent of the $43 billion spent at companies providing administrative and support, waste management and restoration services.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.inc.com/associated-press/small-businesses-contracts-fall-short.html 

SBA conducting step-by-step 8(a) certification workshop on July 17

June 30, 2014 by

The Atlanta District Office of the Small Business Administration (SBA) is conducting a workshop on July 17, 2014 in Atlanta to assist small businesses understand how to become 8(a) certified.

The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program is a part of the federal government’s effort to promote equal business access for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals including Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, subcontinent Asian Americans, and in in some cases women business owners. Companies with an 8(a) Certification can benefit from the wide-range of services offered including government contracting opportunities, access to capital, management and technical assistance, and much more.

The workshop will be held at the U.S. Small Business Administration, 233 Peachtree Street, Suite 1900, Peachtree Center – Harris Tower, Atlanta, GA, 30303.

The workshop will be held from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm.

You must pre-register in order to attend.   Register here: http://events.sba.gov/EventManagement/EventRegistration.aspx?id=02602672-c156-e311-9914-02bfa56e2a24

 

When it comes to winning contracts, small businesses need to think strategically

June 19, 2014 by

Ask any small-business chief executive competing in the federal market, and he or she will tell you that finding a niche within the competitive spectrum has become increasingly difficult.

 Some small businesses find themselves competing against larger businesses that have ventured into smaller contracts. With the Small Business Administration’s changes to business size standards in 2012, some small businesses also find themselves competing against much larger — but now small, by definition — businesses for set-asides.

Despite these challenges, the current government contracting environment encourages small-business participation. More than $51 billion in 2013 contract obligations went to small business via set-aside contracts, and although the total dollar figure is declining, the percentage of total obligations is increasing.

Small-business contracting continues to be a priority for contracting offices, which are under increasing scrutiny regarding small-business utilization. These offices have the burden of proof and must justify not using a set-aside for certain requirements. The Obama administration and Congress are also helping shape the path with policies that address small-business competition.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/when-it-comes-to-winning-contracts-small-businesses-need-to-think-strategically/2014/06/06/64bc1b7e-ea6b-11e3-b98c-72cef4a00499_story.html

Course is essential to understanding small business contracting rules

June 18, 2014 by

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech is repeating its three-day course that delves into the intricacies of the federal government’s Small Business Programs.  The course focuses on the government agencies’ efforts to improve small business participation in both prime contracting and subcontracting.

Because of its relevance and popularity, the course is now scheduled to be held:

  • July 8 – 10, 2014
  • October 7 – 9, 2014

These classes will be held in the world-class Global Learning Center on Georgia Tech’s campus in midtown Atlanta.  Registration details may be found by clicking here.

Academy identifier - gold & black w-white bkgrndKnown 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 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, as well as large and small business concerns.

A review of DAU’s prerequisite course, CON 260A, is included in the Contracting Academy’s course.

Small business participation in federal contracting is a high-profile issue.  For example, a recent Dept. of Defense (DoD) 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 DoD and other agency directives aimed at achieving higher levels of small business participation in federal contracting.

Uncle Sam's DollarsAll leaders who manage budgets and allocate funds for contracts and contracting officers are collectively responsible for achieving the government’s 23 percent small business goal.  To ensure that this collective responsibility is met, many federal agencies’ senior executives are evaluated and held accountable for small business participation in contracting.  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 — as well as large businesses who are required to establish small business subcontract participation plans.

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.

GAO rejects protest of GSA’s massive office supply contract

June 13, 2014 by

The Government Accountability Office (GAO)  denied the protests of the GSA’s Office Supplies 3 (OS3) strategic sourcing contract, leaving the protesters dismayed and in shock.

In issuing their decision Monday, GAO’s lawyers found the General Services Administration (GSA) did indeed meet the requirements under the Small Business Jobs Act to evaluate the economic impact of OS3 on small businesses.

GAO’s decision comes despite the fact that the Small Business Administration in April ruled that GSA’s analysis was faulty. SBA found GSA’s analysis didn’t fully consider the negative impact OS3 could have on small firms.

But GAO stated the Small Business Jobs Act doesn’t require agencies to develop a “more detailed” or “quantified cost-benefit analysis” and therefore GSA’s determination met the letter of the law.

“GSA conducted market research and considered alternatives to the procurement approach set forth in the solicitation,” GAO’s Susan Poling, GAO’s general counsel, said in the opinion. “Further, the agency prepared a consolidation analysis which recognized that there was a potential for a reduction in sales for small business contractors who did not receive awards under the OS3 solicitation. The agency concluded, however, that the benefits to be gained through OS3 outweigh the potential negative impact to small business concerns. We find that GSA’s analysis addressed the relevant requirements of the SB Jobs Act, and therefore find no basis to sustain the protest.”

GAO addressed SBA’s ruling in the protest decision. Lawyers say SBA’s procurement center representative’s disagreement with GSA’s analysis wasn’t a basis for GAO to conclude the evaluation was unreasonable.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/index.php?nid=851&sid=3638981

How one Navy contractor navigated Washington’s choppy waters

June 12, 2014 by

Raymond Lopez Jr. spent three decades in the Navy, starting out as a seaman apprentice and retiring with the rank of commander. When Lopez and his wife Carol started Engineering Services Network, a defense services company, in 1997, they built their business on Navy contracts, growing from a small start-up into a $38 million-a-year enterprise. Lopez felt like he had never really retired from the Navy.

But when the clouds of budget cuts gathered in Washington a few years ago, he realized it was time to move out of his comfort zone. The Crystal City company decided to diversify its business — a hot button word in defense contracting circles.

Back in 2004, ESN had worked on a $551,000 Air Force contract. Seven years later, when Lopez was looking to expand outside of Navy work, the connections established on that job helped the company win a crucial five-year, $38 million IT services contract with the Air Force.

The experience cemented Lopez’s decision to enter information technology. More than half of ESN’s business is still generated from providing engineering, operations and technical support services for the Navy, but federal IT jobs — managing tasks in cybersecurity and software development — now account for nearly 30 percent of its revenue. The company has worked with the Air Force, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/how-one-navy-contractor-navigated-washingtons-choppy-waters/2014/05/30/4cc6d0e6-e5c9-11e3-a86b-362fd5443d19_story.html

4 sectors where most federal procurement is happening, and why that’s bad for small businesses

June 10, 2014 by

The vast majority of federal procurement is happening in four sectors — only one of which meets its goals for divvying contract dollars to small businesses.

According to a report from the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration, more than 80 percent of federal procurement was concentrated in these categories in fiscal 2012:

  • Manufacturing, with nearly $200 billion.
  • Professional, scientific and technical services, with about $141 billion.
  • Administration and support, waste management and remediation, with about $43 billion.
  • Construction, with about $35.44 billion.

But within that massive chunk of contract spending, how much is making its way to small business?  For three of the four categories, not enough to meet the federal goal of 23 percent, according to the report.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2014/06/4-sectors-where-mostfederal-procurement-is.html

JETS annual conference to be held in Savannah June 24-26

June 10, 2014 by

The South Atlantic/South Central/Carolina’s Joint Engineer Training Symposium (JETS)  is holding a three-day event in Savannah on June 24-26, 2014.

The 2014 JETS is different than previous JETS events in that it provides increased opportunities for attendees to meet and network with other attendees, including representatives of large prime contractors and government agencies.  

The southeast  Corps of Engineers’ District Commanders will brief their FY-15 and Beyond contracting programs.  Other federal (FLETC), state (Georgia Department of Transportation), and local agencies (Georgia Ports Authority) will also brief their programs.

Here is the schedule of events:

The detailed agenda, registration, and other information can be found at: http://www.2014jetssasc.org/Agenda.

Construction company sentenced for veteran-owned business fraud

June 9, 2014 by

Max R. Tafoya, 64, the owner of an Albuquerque-area construction company, and his son-in-law, Tyler Cole, 41, of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, were sentenced Thursday on fraud charges related to claims Tafoya’s company was eligible for contracts reserved for businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.

Tafoya was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison to be followed by a year of supervised release, according to federal prosecutors. Cole was sentenced to a 37 months in prison.

Tafoya also was ordered to repay the government $1,350,000. Cole was ruled to be jointly liable for $500,000 of that amount, prosecutors said.

“Today Max Tafoya and Tyler Cole were held accountable for abusing a program that seeks to fulfill our obligation to provide disabled veterans with benefits designed to ease the losses and disadvantages they have incurred as a consequence of disabilities they sustained while serving our country,” said U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez. “This prosecution is part of a nationwide effort to protect service-disabled veterans who own small businesses by tightening controls to prevent fraud and abuse.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/blog/morning-edition/2014/06/construction-company-owner-sentenced-for-fraud.html

Read U.S. Attorney’s statement here: http://www.justice.gov/usao/nm/press-releases/2014/Jun/200%20-%202014-06-05_tafoya_pr.html