First-ever ‘state of the region’ address planned Feb. 2nd by SBA regional director

Cassius F. Butts, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s southeast region, plans to deliver an inaugural “State of the Region” address on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. at the Georgia Tech Research Institute auditorium located at 250 – 14th Street, NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30318.

The public is invited but advance registration is required not later than noon Friday, Jan. 30th.  Register here: http://events.sba.gov/eventmanagement/EventRegistration.aspx?id=a7cd8351-179c-e411-87bc-02bfa56e2a24.

During this address, regional administrator Butts will highlight the achievements and success of the SBA and its resource partners over the past year, and will highlight the innovations planned by the SBA.

Welcoming remarks are scheduled to be delivered by the president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, G.P. “Bud” Peterson.

Interested parties also can stream this presentation live by using this link at the time of the event: http://live.media.gatech.edu/ei2

 

Small companies to take on bigger contracts under SBA proposed rule

A new rule proposed by the Small Business Administration could help small companies team up to go after larger government contracts.

“Projects in the federal procurement arena have gotten larger, more complex, and it’s become more difficult for individual small businesses to pursue these types of projects,” John Shoraka, associate administrator of government contracting and business at SBA, said on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin Tuesday.

SBA issued the proposed rule on Dec. 29, nearly a year after Congress passed the fiscal 2013 Defense Authorization bill changing certain provisions in the Small Business Act.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/522/3784191/Small-companies-to-take-on-bigger-contracts-under-SBA-proposed-rule

Small businesses gain ground in contracting — here’s why

At the end of the year, Federal News Radio’s “Off the Shelf” explored “What’s it like in the GWAC world?” Featuring Rob Coen, acting director of NIH’s GWAC program, and Joyce Woytek, NASA’s SEWP program manager, the interview covered the current and future state of GWACs.

As they shared the increased success of small businesses, three approaches stood out: more stringent requirements for vetting small businesses up front; inclusion of all five socio-economic categories in the contracts; and the use of on-ramps. At Deltek we are seeing – or expect to see – these approaches incorporated as part of several highly anticipated programs to be solicited this year.

Increased Vetting

Asked what’s driving the success of small business awards on his programs, Mr. Coen explained that spending more time upfront vetting small businesses – which must meet more stringent requirements – has resulted in increased comfort for government buyers. In turn, they have seen more high-dollar value/complex procurements for set-asides.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/blog/2015/01/16/small-business-success/21859669/

About the author: Jennifer Sakole is the principal analyst for Federal Information Solutions at Deltek.

Small business contracting opportunities continue to expand

New and exciting small business contracting opportunities are out there – if you know where to look.

Under Federal Acquisition Subpart 19.5 (Set-Asides for Small Businesses), government purchases with an anticipated dollar value exceeding $3,000 (but not over $150,000) are automatically reserved for performance by qualifying small businesses.  For procurements over $150,000, the contract must be set-aside for exclusive small business performance when there is a reasonable expectation that offers will be received from at least two reasonable small business concerns at a fair market price.

Among these regulations is a little known stipulation that the set-aside requirements apply “only in the United States or its outlying areas.”  The extent of this limitation was recently put to the test in connection with a procurement involving both foreign and domestic chartering services that was set-aside for small business performance by the Department of the Navy, Military Sealift Command (MSC).

Keep reading this article at: http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?articleid=365930

GTPAC-hosted Jan. 22 event to aid Georgia small businesses

On Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) will play host to six federal agencies holding an industry day forum directed at small businesses in Georgia.  NOTE: As of Jan. 16, 2015, this event is booked to capacity, and no further registrations are being accepted.

NCMA logoThe event is being sponsored by the Atlanta chapter of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) and the regional office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

The event, billed as “Building Partnerships and Collaborating for Success, a Small Business Industry Day and Matchmaking Event,” is open to all businesses in the region who wish to learn more about doing business with  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the General Services Administration (GSA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

In addition to federal agencies, representatives of major prime contractors also are expected to be present, including Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, ICF International, RTI International, WYLE, Westat, Deloitte, and DB Consulting Group, Inc.

Businesses interested in participating in this event must preregister at: http://gtpac.ecenterdirect.com/ConferenceDetail.action?ID=7954.

More than 200 vendors are expected to attend.  Matchmaking events will be scheduled by vendors based on NAICS code requirements of government agencies and prime contractors. Details for the matchmaking aspect of the event will be promulgated separately to confirmed registrants.

All vendors participating in this event are expected to have the following completed prior to attending:  SAM and DSBS registration, business cards, an elevator speech, and a capability statement. See web link above for more information.

What you need to know about changes to the National Defense Authorization Act

President Obama recently signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2015, which provides new provisions that impact women-owned businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also proposed to amend regulations implementing provisions of the NDAA Act that will impact small business contractors.

Bottom line: If you’re a women-owned small business or a small business doing business with the government, the NDAA includes a number of provisions that impact you.

Highlights of the proposed revisions to the NDAA include:

  1. Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Program:  Section 825 of the NDAA authorizes federal agencies to award sole-source contracts to women-owned small businesses eligible for SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Program, providing parity in the federal contracting marketplace to other small business categories.  For more on the proposed rules, see SBA’s recent press release.
  2. Subcontracting:  Section 1651 changes the way that performance is calculated on small and socioeconomic set-aside contracts, and authorizes similarly situated subcontractors to count towards the performance requirements. 
  3. Joint Ventures:  Section 1651 makes the performance requirements consistent, regardless of whether or not a small business chooses to joint venture or perform in a prime or subcontractor relationship.
  4. Non-Manufacturer Rule:  Section 1651 changes SBA’s non-manufacturer rule and affiliation rules, including the elimination of waiver requests for procurements below the Simplified Acquisition Threshold (SAT) of $150,000.  The non-manufacturer rule allows a small business to offer a product, that it did not manufacture, under a small business set-aside if SBA has offered a waiver.  SBA defines affiliation as the ability to control. When the ability to control exists, even if it is not exercised, affiliation exists.

For updates on these proposed changes, visit the SBA’s website at www.sba.gov.

SBA proposed rule would let small businesses join together for single contract

The Small Business Administration issued a proposed rule that would let two or more small businesses join together to bid on single small business contracts, a Dec. 29, 2014 Federal Register notice says.

The proposed rule comes as part of an update in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act that changed some provisions in the Small Business Act.

“SBA proposes to remove the restriction on the type of contract for which small businesses may joint venture without being affiliated for size determination purposes,” the proposed rule says.

SBA says it’s proposing the change because it would encourage more small business joint venturing and would help agencies meet goals for small business participation in federal contracting.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/sba-proposed-rule-would-let-small-businesses-join-together-single-contract/2015-01-08

Businesses, Pentagon agree this program doesn’t work — Congress saved it anyway

Over the past quarter century, the Defense Department has been testing a contracting program that was intended to help small businesses obtain a larger share of federal work. However, Pentagon officials and small business leaders say the initiative has not only failed to help small contractors, it’s actually hurt them.

In other words, neither those running the program nor those it was supposedly intended to help believe the program works. Thus, many expected the experiment to come to an end when its most recent congressional approval expires on Wednesday.

But that’s not happening.

In what critics are calling another victory for Washington’s massive contracting darlings at the expense of small businesses, Congress has approved legislation extending the contracting initiative, called the Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program (CSPTP), for another three years. It’s the eighth time the program has been revived.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/businesses-pentagon-agree-this-program-doesnt-work-congress-saved-it-anyway/2014/12/30/80d72aa0-9066-11e4-ba53-a477d66580ed_story.html

SBA announces new HUBZone designations effective Jan. 1, 2015

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced changes to the geographic HUBZone designations, effective January 1, 2015.

The SBA says the changes reflect several new data sources. These data sources include:

  • American Community Survey 2009-2013 five year estimates,
  • 2013 OMB metropolitan area delineations, and
  • 2015 lists of Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts, released by HUD in October 2014.

The changes reflect:

  • eight newly qualified counties,
  • 47 counties that have been re-designated until January 2018,
  • 1,479 newly qualified census tracts, and
  • 1,319 census tracts that have been re-designated until January 2018.

All current HUBZone designated areas can be found by downloading this document: HUBZone Designations – effective 01.01.2015

Please note that these new changes have not been incorporated into SBA’s interactive HUBZone map yet.  SBA says it will make another announcement about revisions to the map when it is updated.

For more information about the HUBZone program, please see: https://www.sba.gov/content/understanding-hubzone-program

Construction company to pay $2.15 million, admits abuse of DC’s certified business enterprise program

Forrester Construction Company has agreed to pay $2.15 million to the United States and implement internal reforms to resolve a criminal investigation into alleged fraud committed by the company in connection with the use of Certified Business Enterprises (CBEs) in the procurement of more than $145 million in District of Columbia government contracts. The internal reforms will be subject to independent review and reporting.

As part of the resolution, Forrester Construction admitted that it improperly entered into written letter agreements and “Action of Management Committee” memoranda with the CBE participants to joint ventures that were not disclosed to the District of Columbia during the contract procurement process. As a result, the company admitted, both Forrester Construction and the CBE partners failed to follow the required CBE rules and regulations.

The announcement concludes a two-year investigation into Forrester Construction, a firm based in Rockville, Md., as well as its CBE partners on the joint venture projects.

Under the terms of a non-prosecution agreement reached with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, Forrester Construction agreed to pay $2.15 million to the United States and accepted and acknowledged responsibility for its improper conduct, as described in a Statement of Facts. The company also agreed to undertake various remedial measures to ensure compliance with the requirements of the District of Columbia’s CBE program (or any such equivalent on federal government projects) and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program, insofar as the company undertakes projects involving CBEs or 8(a) companies in the future.

Both the District of Columbia’s CBE program and SBA’s 8(a) program are meant to help small, disadvantaged businesses access government procurement markets.

The remedial measures include the hiring or designation of a CBE and 8(a) Compliance Officer, as well as an Ethics Officer; the implementation of a comprehensive training program for all company personnel regarding compliance with the CBE and 8(a) programs; maintaining an effective compliance and ethics program, and continuing cooperation with law enforcement. Significantly, individual employees directly associated with the inappropriate conduct are no longer employed by the company.

Additionally, the company agreed to undertake community service intended to develop improvements in the CBE and 8(a) programs going forward. Forrester Construction agreed to offer workshops, either individually or in collaboration with an industry trade association, aimed at providing training with respect to the rules and regulations of the CBE and 8(a) programs, among other topics relating to the construction industry.

This case is the latest example of law enforcement efforts to protect the integrity of CBE programs. Michael A. Brown, a former member of the Council of the District of Columbia, pled guilty in 2013 to a federal bribery charge stemming from an undercover investigation in which he accepted $55,000 from FBI agents posing as employees of a company that purportedly wanted CBE approval and contracting opportunities. Brown is serving a 39-month prison term.

“By changing the terms of joint ventures with small disadvantaged businesses and not reporting them to the D.C. government, Forrester Construction circumvented the foundation of the CBE program and used their proceeds to increase their own bottom line,” said Assistant Director in Charge McCabe.

“These joint ventures principally served the interests of Forrester Construction Company to make money and to obtain contracting opportunities otherwise unavailable to them,” said SBA Inspector General Gustafson. “Joint ventures involving SBA program participants should be structured and executed to give the small business an opportunity to gain experience and technical knowledge and to further develop their business. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for its leadership in reaching this agreement.”

According to the Statement of Facts agreed to by the company, between 2008 and 2009, Forrester Construction formed multiple joint ventures with CBEs for the purpose of bidding on construction contracts in the District of Columbia.

Three joint ventures formed by Forrester Construction and one of the CBEs, EEC of D.C., Inc., were awarded construction contracts from the District of Columbia. These contracts, including change order amounts, totaled approximately $64 million for construction of a new headquarters building for the Department of Employment Services; approximately $5.4 million for construction of a Senior Wellness Center in Ward 1, and approximately $56 million for the renovation and modernization of the existing Anacostia Senior High School building.

Forrester Construction also formed joint ventures with another CBE, and those joint ventures were also awarded construction contracts from the District of Columbia, which were, over a period of approximately three years, in an aggregated amount in excess of $20 million.

In each of these various projects, the joint venture formed by Forrester Construction and the respective CBE partner received the maximum amount of contracting preferences for which the CBE partner was eligible, which provided Forrester Construction and the respective CBE partner with a competitive advantage during the bidding process.

As part of its joint venture submissions to the District of Columbia Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), Forrester Construction and its respective CBE partner represented that the CBE partner would be the majority partner and maintain a 51% interest in the joint venture, entitling the CBE partner to 51% of the net operating profits of the joint venture. Each joint venture agreement also established a “Management Committee,” consisting of two representatives from the CBE partner and one representative from Forrester Construction, which provided the CBE partner with majority control of the joint venture.

After each joint venture for the projects was submitted to, and certified by, the DSLBD, however, Forrester Construction and the respective CBE partner signed a memorandum entitled “Action of Management Committee” or signed a letter agreement, which related to the operations of each joint venture. The memoranda and/or letter agreements effectively increased Forrester Construction’s control over the day-to-day operations of the projects and reduced the CBE partner’s share of the profits or losses in the projects—notwithstanding the requirements of the joint venture agreements and the CBE rules and regulations. Forrester Construction and the CBE partner did not disclose these “Action of Management Committee” memoranda or the letter agreements to the District of Columbia government during the procurement process.

The “Action of Management Committee” memoranda also revised the respective scope of work and services that Forrester Construction and the CBE partner would provide to certain of the projects. In each instance, the “Action of Management Committee” memorandum applicable to the particular project identified a small scope of work for the CBE partner to complete and provided that Forrester Construction would provide all remaining general conditions, subcontract work, and all other work required to fulfill the requirements of the project.

For example, with respect to the Anacostia Senior High School joint venture, the applicable “Action of Management Committee” memorandum provided that the scope of work for the CBE equated to approximately $2.75 million, while the scope of work for Forrester Construction equated to approximately $46 million. The “Action of Management Committee” memoranda also established a pre-determined profit for the joint venture that specifically excluded any profits earned or losses sustained by either Forrester Construction or the CBE partner for their respective scope of work. Moreover, Forrester Construction and the CBE partner agreed that only the pre-determined profit, exclusive of each partner’s individual “scope of work,” would be split in the proportions agreed to in the joint venture agreement (i.e., 51% for the CBE partner and 49% for Forrester Construction). All other profits or losses generated through an individual scope of work would belong to the respective entity.

All of the work was performed under the various contracts. However, as a result of the letter agreements and “Action of Management Committee” memoranda, the CBE participant for each of the projects did not maintain majority control of the projects and did not receive 51% of the profits or losses associated with the projects, as required by the joint venture agreements and in accordance with the CBE rules and regulations.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office; the Criminal Investigation Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia; the District of Columbia’s Office of the Inspector General, and the SBA Office of Inspector General.

Source: http://www.fbi.gov/washingtondc/press-releases/2014/forrester-construction-company-agrees-to-pay-2.15-million-admits-abuse-of-certified-business-enterprise-program