Pentagon’s sole-source contracts continue to dwindle, says GAO

The Defense Department is doing its part to curb the number of sole-source contracts awarded without competition and is properly justifying—in most instances—their use to help develop small, disadvantaged businesses, an audit found.

The Government Accountability Office’s Sept. 9 report to the House and Senate Armed Services committees evaluated sole-source contracts worth more than $20 million under the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program and found that the Pentagon in fiscal 2013 continued a “significant decrease” in such contracts. It awarded five in 2013, each worth $20 million, compared with 27 contracts valued at $2 billion in 2009.

All five of the recent contracts were justified as being “in the best interest of the government,” though three of them failed to fully meet Federal Acquisition Regulation requirements that relevant officials sign off on them in a timely manner.

Fifty-five sole-source contracts were awarded under the 8(a) program over the past four years, the report found, led by the Army with 37, the Navy with 13, the Air Force with two, and three elsewhere in the department.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2014/09/pentagons-sole-source-contracts-continue-dwindle-says-gao/93899/

Denied bid protests don’t guarantee smooth sailing for GSA’s office supply contract

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently denied bid protests for the Office Supplies 3 (OS3) strategic sourcing contract, but that doesn’t mean its clearing sailing for the General Services Administration (GSA).

The GAO found the GSA met requirements to evaluate the economic impact the strategic sourcing contract has on small businesses, even though the Small Business Administration recently said GSA failed to do so.

“GSA conducted market research and considered alternatives to the procurement approach set forth in the solicitation,” the June 9 decision says.

The GSA says that means OS3 will move forward.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/denied-bid-protests-dont-guarantee-smooth-sailing-os3/2014-06-11

Differing DoD and SBA rules on protecting SBIR technical data causing confusion

The intellectual property rights of small business are subject to risk from differing Defense Department and Small Business Administration rules governing Small Business Innovation Research contracts, say DoD auditors.

Policies governing how long the technical data developed by small businesses under the SBIR program differ between the Small Business Administration SBIR Policy Directive and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement.

Federal agencies that spend more than $100 million annually on external research must allocate during the current fiscal year at least 2.8 percent of that budget to SBIR contracts.

The SBA directive governing SBIR says the technical data protection period starts when the last deliverable under the contract is delivered by a small business awardee. That period can be extended if the SBIR data is protected and referenced under a subsequent SBIR contract, even if the rights expired.

The DFARS rule says project completion determines the protection period. DFARS doesn’t whether the protection period can be extended or renewed.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/differing-dod-and-sba-rules-protecting-sbir-technical-data-causing-confusio/2014-03-31

The DoD Inspector General’s report can be downloaded at: http://www.dodig.mil/pubs/documents/DODIG-2014-049.pdf

 

Government on pace to meet small-business contracting goal — but will the bar get higher?

It appears the federal government has fulfilled its annual contracting promise to small businesses for the first time in seven years — and perhaps just in the nick of time, as lawmakers are looking to raise the bar going forward.

Government data available online currently show that federal agencies spent $83.2 billion at small companies last fiscal year, representing slightly more than 23 percent of the $355 billion in prime federal contracts officials consider viable for small firms. If so, it will mark the first time since 2006 that the government has met its statutory goal of spending at least 23 percent of all federal contracting dollars at small businesses.

More than a quarter of the contracts were awarded by the Defense Department, while the SBA, Federal Communications Commission and Interior Department each spent most of their contracting dollars at small businesses, according to the federal government’s online small business dashboard, which tracks government spending by agency.

SBA officials, who compile the data, declined to comment on the current numbers, saying they could change and the agency will issue an official tally later this year.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/government-on-pace-to-meet-small-business-contracting-goal–but-will-the-bar-get-higher/2014/02/26/d3ba6e98-9ef5-11e3-9ba6-800d1192d08b_story.html

Also see: Small business contracting numbers inflated by errors and exclusions, data show – http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/small-business-contracting-numbers-inflated-by-errors-and-exclusions-data-show/2013/07/28/7fa2a4fc-f2f6-11e2-8505-bf6f231e77b4_story.html 

President to nominate SBA chief

The White House has confirmed that President Obama will formally announce the nomination of Maria Contreras-Sweet as Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) at an upcoming public event in Washington.

Contreras-Sweet founded Pro­América Bank, a Latino-owned community bank in Los Angeles, in 2006.  Before that, she was the president and co-founder of Fortius Holdings, a private-equity and venture fund specializing in providing California’s small businesses with access to capital.  During her career, she also was secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, served on the board of California Blue Cross, and was employed in state government.

Karen Mills, the former SBA chief, left that post in August 2013, and the position has been vacant ever since.

Many agencies unaware of fees incurred from reverse auctions, says GAO official

The use of reverse auctions by agencies is on the rise, but the Government Accountability Office is concerned that many agencies simply aren’t aware of the fees they’re paying to use auction tools, said Michelle Mackin, GAO’s director of acquisition and sourcing management.

For example, FedBid, a Vienna, Va.-based company that offers the most popular tool, charges a fee of 3 percent of the winning contract, not to exceed $10,000, Mackin said Dec. 11 during a joint hearing of the House Small Business subcommittee on contracting and workforce, and the Committee on Veterans Affairs subcommittee on oversight and investigations.

“We were, frankly, a bit surprised to learn that agencies didn’t know how much they were paying FedBid in fees. They didn’t know how much duplicative fees–for lack of a better word–they were paying when they were using a schedule contract, for example, for a reverse auction,” said Mackin.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/many-agencies-unaware-fees-incurred-reverse-auctions-says-gao-official/2013-12-12

DoD and GSA overstated use of consolidated contracts, GAO says

The Defense Department and General Services Administration overstated their use of consolidated contracts because they weren’t properly reported to the Federal Procurement Data System, a Nov. 26 Government Accountability report says.

In a consolidated contract consolidation, an agency combines two or more contract requirements that were previously under separate contracts.

GAO reviewed 157 contracts reported as consolidated and found that 34 percent of DoD and all of GSA contracts weren’t actually consolidated.

The Small Business administration is required to track information on consolidated contracts, but SBA has not submitted an annual report to Congress since fiscal year 2010, the report says.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/dod-and-gsa-overstated-use-consolidated-contracts-gao-says/2013-11-27

The GAO report can be downloaded at: http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659254.pdf 

 

Small business course, offered in October, relevant for government and industry leaders

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.

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.

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 info@ContractingAcademy.gatech.edu.

Beginning Aug. 15, prime contractors required to notify COs of failure to meet subcontracting goals

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

Agencies report slight progress in meeting small business contracting goals

In its annual scorecard on small business procurement, the Small Business Administration on Tuesday announced “real progress” toward delivering 23 percent of all federal contracting dollars to small businesses, with 22.25 percent going to small firms in fiscal 2012, compared with 21.65 percent in 2011.

“As a result of a governmentwide focus on increasing small business contracting opportunities, during the first term of the Obama administration, $376.2 billion in contracting dollars went to small businesses,” SBA Associate Administrator for Government Contracting and Business Development John Shoraka wrote in a blog post. “This is a $48.1 billion increase over the four preceding years even as we have reduced contracting spending overall.”

SBA is required to update Congress on progress on boosting small business as identified by chief financial officers of the 24 largest departments.

“Federal contracting with small businesses remains a win-win,” Shoraka said. “Small businesses get the revenue they need to grow their revenues and create jobs. Meanwhile, the federal government gets the chance to work with some of the most responsive, innovative and nimble companies in the U.S. — often with a direct line to their CEO.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2013/07/agencies-report-slight-progress-meeting-small-business-contracting-goals/65987/?oref=govexec_today_nl

Download SBA report here: download