House committee approves bills to increase agencies’ small biz goals and more

March 10, 2014 by

The House Small Business Committee has marked up and approved a six-pack of contracting reform bills, including legislation that would raise the current agency goals for steering work to small businesses.

The package approved Wednesday would particularly affect the construction industry, women, and disabled veterans. It includes a plan to raise agencies’ small-business prime contracting goal from 23 percent to 25 percent and establish a 40 percent goal for small-business subcontractors.

“Greater small business involvement in federal contracting benefits companies and taxpayers alike,” said panel Chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo., who sponsored the bill outlining the new contracting goals. “Small firms are innovative, and increased competition often leads to savings for the taxpayers.”

A second Grave bill would “improve transparency and accountability” by discouraging bundling of contracts to give an advantage to large companies over small businesses. Bills sponsored by Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., would restrict the government’s use of reverse auctions in awarding construction contracts and increase construction companies’ access to surety bonds for use in federal procurement work.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/03/committee-approves-bill-increase-agencies-small-biz-contracting-goals/80023 

Feds should provide more education and easily available information for SDVOSBs, Rand says

February 18, 2014 by

Federal agencies should provide more education and make contracting information more easily available to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses to help agencies meet the governmentwide 3 percent contracting goal, a Rand report says.

Additional education for SDVOSBs could include more advanced information and training about the Federal Acquisition Regulation and the federal bidding process, as well about the roles and responsibilities of contracting staff, the report says.

Agencies should remove barriers imposed on SDVOSBs by making information easily available to those small businesses and improving communication between the government and SDVOSBs, the report says.

That includes offering information about current incumbents’ performance to help SDVOSBs evaluate their chances of winning a bid, Rand says.  The government should also provide contracting resources for reviewing prime contractors’ execution of their bid and subcontracting plans, conduct those reviews and publish the results.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/feds-should-provide-more-education-and-easily-available-information-sdvosbs/2014-02-10 

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 

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

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.

3-day course covers all federal small business programs

September 11, 2013 by

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech is offering a three-day course delving into the intricacies of the government’s Small Business Programs, including efforts to improve small business participation in prime contracting and subcontracting.   The course will be held Oct. 29-31, 2013 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.

The Contracting Academy is committed to supporting the latest Department of Defense (DoD) directive aimed at achieving higher levels of small business participation in DoD contracting.

On February 10, 2012 Ashton B. Carter, the 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.

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.

MnDOT to pay $300,000 contractor settlement

August 30, 2013 by

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) will pay $300,000 to C.S. McCrossan Construction Inc. as part of a settlement in a suit the Maple Grove-based contractor filed after the agency rejected its low bid for work on a portion of the St. Croix bridge project.

McCrossan had submitted a bid nearly $6 million lower than the one that was awarded, but MnDOT gave the job to another firm because McCrossan hadn’t shown it would comply with minority and women hiring rules under the federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. In an order signed Monday by state Chief Appeals Court Judge Matthew Johnson, McCrossan agreed to end its suit claiming the bid was improperly rejected.

MnDOT awarded a $58.1 million bid for the contract to partners Ames Construction Inc. and Lunda Construction Co. to complete approach work on the bridge. McCrossan’s proposal of $52.3 million was lowest and also got the best technical score under a MnDOT rating system.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.startribune.com/local/east/220292081.html

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.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/new-sba-rule-mandates-notification-if-contractors-dont-use-small-business-s/2013-07-19

 

‘Good faith efforts’ — effective enforcement or a convenient excuse?

July 10, 2013 by

[Note: The following article is taken from a blog operated by Bryan Cave's Airport Concessions Law blog.  The article was originally published on July 5, 2013.  A link to the blog appears at the end of this excerpt.]

Over the years, I have often heard complaints within the airport industry about the Good Faith Efforts (“GFE”) standard contained in the federal regulations governing Disadvantaged Business Enterprises. The complaints generally decry the use of GFE and consider the GFE requirements more form than substance, a convenient excuse for non-compliance. Although there may be some merits to the complaint, the effectiveness of the GFE standard hinges upon the manner in which recipient applies the standard to a bidder’s efforts to meet the goal.

The GFE requirements for GFE on a federally assisted contract that contain contract goals is governed by 49 CFR Part §26.53. Section 26.53 provides that when a DBE goal is established, the recipient can award the contract only to a bidder or offeror that has made a GFE to achieve the contract goal. The GFE Guidance is contained in Appendix A to Part 26 and outlines the factors or efforts that should be considered in making the determination. It is important to note that the list of factors contained in Appendix A is not intended to be exhaustive and other factors may be considered in making the GFE determination.

The GFE guidance articulates a clear standard that requires that the bidder’s efforts to meet the goal must be reasonable and necessary steps to meet the goal. The scope, intensity and appropriateness of the bidder’s efforts should be evaluated in order to determine if the efforts would reasonably lead the bidder to obtaining sufficient DBE participation. Mere pro forma efforts are not good faith efforts to meet the goal. The guidance also cautions the recipients not to reject bona fide GFE by a bidder or offeror to meet the goal. In short, the determination of a bidder or offeror’s good faith efforts is a judgment call and the recipient must make a reasoned and balanced decision in making the GFE determination.

Keep reading this article at: http://bryancaveairportconcessionslaw.com/good-faith-efforts-fact-or-fiction/ 

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.