New SBA rule mandates notification if contractors don’t use small business subcontractors

July 22, 2013 by

A new rule set to go into effect Aug. 15, 2013 directs prime contractors to notify  contracting officers if they don’t use small business subcontractors that were  integral to producing a bid proposal.

In the Small Business Administration’s discussion of the final  rule, the agency says a prime contractor must represent that it will  make a good faith effort to utilize the small business subcontractors used in  preparing its bid or proposal.

The rule, authority for which comes from the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010,  spells out three conditions of small business involvement in a prime contract  bid, any one of which trigger the notification requirement: the prime  specifically references a small business in a bid or proposal; the small  business has entered into a written agreement with the prime to perform specific  work as a subcontractor under the contract should the prime win; or the small  business drafted portions of the proposal or submitted pricing or technical  information that appears in the bid or proposal.

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GSA launches ‘reverse auction’ platform, encourages small business competition

July 15, 2013 by

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced on July 9, 2013 the launch of a government-managed reverse auction platform—— available through the National Information Technology Commodity Program (NITCP) of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS).  GSA expects the platform to deliver increased savings for federal agencies on the most commonly purchased office products, equipment and services, while also making it easier for small businesses to compete for the government’s business.

In a reverse auction, sellers compete to win business from agencies; prices will typically decrease as the competitive auction progresses.  GSA’s new reverse auction platform reduces federal agencies’ acquisition processing time and costs, drives prices and costs down, improves transparency and collection of data, and allows for small business set-asides.   “Using a government-run reverse auctions tool is a fantastic innovation for GSA’s customers, and we expect that it will drive even more savings and speed into the acquisition process,” said FAS Commissioner Thomas A. Sharpe, Jr.  “This approach to government procurement can be used with a good portion of GSA’s Multiple Award Schedules as an efficient and cost-effective process for purchasing commonly used products and simple services.  Reverse auctions can drive down prices paid, reduce the total cost of acquisitions, and save time and precious acquisition resources for both government and industry.”

Federal agencies now may use the GSA platform to conduct reverse auctions through select GSA’s Multiple Award Schedules and established select blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) for commodities like office supplies, laptops, tablets and monitors, as well as for simple services like warranty, training and installation.  Additionally, the platform will allow federal customers to set aside auctions for small business, increasing opportunities for small and disadvantaged companies to bid easily for government business.

“GSA is doing a lot of exciting and positive things to improve acquisition efficiencies and drive competition, but the new reverse auction platform hits the ball out of the park,” said U.S. Department of the Navy strategic program manager Jamey Halke.  Navy is the first agency to use the platform and is already engaged in a partnership with GSA to add the Navy’s BPAs to the platform.

Historically, GSA’s customers have saved as much as 17 percent through use of reverse auctions.  With GSA offering front-loaded discounted pricing as a starting point through its BPAs, the reverse auction approach will provide additional savings to the government.

Reverse auctions also provide greater transparency into prices paid which improves the government’s ability to negotiate with vendors to receive best pricing possible.  The reverse auction platform also captures line-item data by agency bureau, which will aid agencies in performing prices paid analysis and provide insights into purchasing behavior for strategic sourcing opportunities.

Learn more about the Reverse Auction platform and benefits at http:\\


New rule implements ‘presumption of loss’ over small business misrepresentation

July 12, 2013 by

A new rule goes into effect Aug. 27, 2013 implementing a “presumption of loss” of the entire dollar value of any contract given to small businesses that  misrepresent their status.

The rule makes the basis of damages for a civil lawsuit equal to the value of the full  contract.

The government will consider any misrepresentation to be intentional after a  business registers itself as small in any federal database or submits a bid for  a contract as a small business.

The rule, which implements provisions from the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act, does limit liability in cases of unintentional error, technical  malfunction, “or other similar situations.” The Small Business Administration  found 200 firms that misrepresented their size in 2010.

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Federal government again falls short of small business contracting goals

July 3, 2013 by

The federal government made progress but again fell short of its small business contracting goals last year, according to government data released Tuesday.

Just 22.25 percent of federal contracting dollars, or $89.9 billion, went to small businesses in fiscal 2012, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). That’s higher than last year’s 21.65 percent but still shy of the goal of 23 percent set by Congress. It is the 12th consecutive year officials have missed the target.

The government also fell short of its goal for women-owned businesses and firms in economically disadvantaged areas.

The Obama administration has made it a priority to funnel more of the billions the government spends every year on contracts to small businesses, but it has struggled to move the needle significantly. The problem has been exacerbated by federal spending cuts related to the sequester, which economists say tend to hit small firms the hardest.

Who are the top federal contractors?

June 28, 2013 by

Each year, Washington Technology magazine ranks the top 100 federal contractors based on sales of IT, systems integration, communications, engineering and other high-tech products and services.  They analyze and profile these firms by factors such as industry sector, those who are newcomers, those who are publicly traded or privately held, small business status, participation in Defense Department and civilian agency contracts, and many other factors.   To access this list click here:

Washington Technology also ranks the 50 fastest growing small businesses in the government contracting market, based on their compound annual growth rate from 2007 through 2011.  You can view the “Fast 50″ list at:

The fastest growing 8(a) firms are ranked at:

IRS misses document deadline with Small Business panel

June 20, 2013 by

The Internal Revenue Service failed to give the House Small Business  Committee requested documents on how the agency treats smaller companies by the  requested date of June 17, the committee said Tuesday.

Danny Werfel, the acting head of the IRS, told Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the  chairman of the Small Business panel, that the agency would try to get the  documents to the committee within another 15 days.

Graves had asked the IRS last month what percentage of small businesses  received audits from the agency, and for information on why the IRS might come  to notice small businesses.

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Government agencies offer advice on avoiding contracting mistakes

June 13, 2013 by

[Editor's Note: The Raleigh, NC News Observer's "Shop Talk" reporter Virginia Bridges attended Marketplace, a local workshop and networking opportunity to help small businesses identify government contracting opportunities, and asked representatives from various agencies about common mistakes small-business owners make when seeking government contracts.  Below is a list of tips offered.]

•  “One of the major components is small-business owners fail to actually understand what the city really needs,” said Luther Williams, Raleigh’s Business Assistance Program manager. “I think this could be solved if individuals would just look at the request that the city has out there and do a little research on the city’s request to determine if their product is compatible with the city’s needs.”

•  “They haven’t made the internal decision as to whether or not they really want to do business with the federal government,” said Bruce Osborne, a customer service director with U.S. General Services Administration. “Seventy-five percent of them have not asked themselves that question and afforded the opportunity to debate it with their organization.”

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Pentagon’s top contracting official: Sequestration’s cuts could continue into FY14, disproportionately affecting small businesses

June 5, 2013 by

Sequestration spending cuts could continue into 2014, and the impact of the deep cuts will fall disproportionately on small business, the Pentagon’s top acquisition official told a Navy industry forum on Monday of this week (June 3, 2013).

“It’s a reasonable possibility that we will go into 2014 with sequestration still underway,” said Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. “A lot of things we planned on doing we won’t be able to do.”

Last month, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Defense Department employees he could not guarantee that the budget situation would ease next year.

Kendall’s comments to the 2013 Navy Opportunity Forum in Arlington, Va., come three months into a budget sequester that is taking $41 billion out of the Pentagon budget this fiscal year, leading to cuts across the military in everything from operations and deployments to training and readiness. Furloughs are set to begin in July for about 85 percent of the Defense Department’s 767,000 civilian employees.

In the sequestration environment, Kendall said, the department needs to be more proactive in taking care of the small businesses that contract with the military.

“The cuts we are going to experience potentially will fall on small businesses,” more than on large military contractors, he said, adding that cuts in research and development worry him as well. “Potential adversaries are modernizing at a rate which makes me nervous,” he told the group, which included representatives of companies that produce advanced technologies funded by Navy programs.

Kendall said the department is about to conclude its strategic choices and management review, which Hagel ordered to provide department leaders with options given the current budget environment as well as the prospect of future spending cuts.

“What would we have to do at the department if we had to take $50 billion a year out over the long term? That would be pretty devastating,” Kendall said, mentioning one such scenario being considered by the review.

Posted by the American Forces Press Service at

GSA will pay $3M to more than 1,000 contractors kicked out of schedules program

May 20, 2013 by

The General Services Administration collectively owes more than one thousand  contractors more than $3 million because the agency failed to pay off vendors  after kicking them out of the schedules program. The finding came as the result  of an investigation by the House Small Business Committee.

The agency failed to pay some terminated contractors a $2,500 guarantee it  makes to all vendors that join the schedules program.

“The General Services Administration has owned up to their mistake and will  distribute payment this year,” said Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.).

If schedule holders don’t make at least $25,000 worth of schedule sales in the  first two years and $25,000 annually thereafter, GSA may cancel the contracts.

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14 Tips for Attending a Government Expo or Trade Show

May 14, 2013 by

Federal, state and local government agencies frequently host trade shows or expos to publicize their contract opportunities and attract new vendors.   Wonder whether you should attend a government-sponsored business expo?  What should you expect if you go?  How should you prepare?  Are you disappointed in the last trade show you attended?

These are the kinds of questions often posed by clients of the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC).  Fundamentally, businesses want to know how they can gain a competitive advantage by attending an event sponsored by a government agency.  The answer lies as much in preparation and follow-up as it does in actual attendance.

GTPAC Counselors believe these kinds of events are what you make them.   If you go to just listen, you may come away disappointed.  If, on the other hand, you go to make something happen, you can come away with some good contacts,valuable insights, and solid business leads.

Here are a few tips …

  1. Establish some objectives for yourself – what do you hope to accomplish by attending?  State this in concrete, quantifiable terms.
  2. Think about the specific kinds of opportunities you want to go after and be prepared to explain how you represent the solution to the government’s contracting objectives.
  3. Identify who is going to be in attendance and research in advance as much as you can about who will be there and those persons you want to meet.  Think about why they are going to the show and what they want to accomplish there – align yourself with their objectives.
  4. Familiarize yourself with all details of the show so that you can envision how you are going to use the structure of the show to accomplish your objectives.
  5. Be prepared with marketing materials, including business cards, brochures and/or product/service fact sheets, product samples/portfolio, and a detailed capabilities statement.  (Don’t have a capabilities statement?  See our article on this subject here.)  Tailor at least one of your handouts to the expo or show itself.
  6. Be prepared to talk about pricing.  You may not need to, but be prepared just in case someone asks.
  7. Begin to envision how your competitors at the show can be potential partners as a result of the show.
  8. Develop and be prepared to deliver a 30-second “elevator speech” which explains in layman’s terms exactly what you are an expert at doing.  Don’t be shy to explain what’s special about your company and why your products/services are the best.  (If you need help constructing an elevator speech, see our article at
  9. Remember that buyers don’t have time to waste.  Buyers want specific information, and buyers want to know what’s special about you (that’s your competitive advantage).
  10. Preparation is essential.  It’s better not to go than to go unprepared – you never have a second chance to make a good first impression.
  11. Dress to impress.  And wear comfortable shoes!
  12. At the show, listen to how your competitors are selling themselves and learn as much about their marketing as possible.  Also learn from their mistakes.
  13. Understand that follow-up after the show is critical.  Gather all the business cards you collected, write follow-up notes or emails – promptly.   Set-up follow-up meetings/conference calls, if possible and appropriate.  Send more marketing materials.
  14. Write yourself a report on lessons-learned.  Review this report before planning to participate in another event.

Your GTPAC Counselor will be glad to elaborate on this topic and provide you with additional advice.  You can find our contact information right here.

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