The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech provided four hours of intensive instruction to a group of 90 counselors on the topic of “Teaching Your Clients How To Obtain a Small Business Certification.”
The workshop, held in Washington, DC on Nov. 10th, was conducted as a part of the semi-annual national training conference held by the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC). Members of APTAC work for procurement technical assistance centers (PTACs) across the country. PTACs provide assistance to businesses — primarily small businesses — who wish to compete for government contracts.
Guest instructor and small business expert Steven J. Koprince conducted the workshop on behalf of the Academy. He is the founder and former managing partner of Koprince Law LLC. Earlier this year, he retired from active practice of law, but he continues to be involved in government contracting as a teacher and writer. Koprince has served as an instructor for The Academy on previous engagements with APTAC and with the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA).
The Academy’s program manager Alexis Kirksey provided an orientation to the workshop’s training resources. Each attendee received a 100-page instruction manual on four different types of small business certifications, including fact sheets on each program, and a flash drive containing customizable PowerPoint presentations and dozens of other resource materials which PTAC counselors may use to counsel and train their clients.
The workshop’s objectives were:
- Learning the eligibility requirements for each small business category.
- Gaining insights into the preparation process for making a certification application.
- Identifying each of the steps of the application process.
- Learning how a small business can leverage certification in the federal marketplace.
The workshop provided an explanation of small business size standards, and then launched into a detailed examination of the 8(a) Business Development Program; the HUBZone Program; the Veteran-Owned and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Programs; and the Woman-Owned and Economically-Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business Programs.
Workshop participants learned about important concepts applied by the federal government in the certification process such as unconditional ownership and direct ownership. In order to be eligible for certification, the owners must be in charge of such activities as strategic policy-setting, day-to-day management, and overall administrative responsibility for business operations.
The significance of what is known as “affiliation” was also a topic of the workshop. Affiliation exists when one business controls or has the power to control another, or when a third party controls or has the power to control both businesses. Control may arise through ownership, management, or other relationships. If another business controls a certification applicant’s business, this may be a disqualifier for small business certification.
Attendees also learned about all of the documentation requirements associated with each type of small business certification. In addition, the workshop addressed what is called the “presumption-of-loss” rule, which provides that if a business misrepresents its small business size or status, there is a presumption of loss to the government equal to the entire value of any contract or subcontract received as a result of the misrepresentation.
Multiple paths exist for submitting certification applications. Workshop participants learned about self-certification within the System for Award Management, certification through the Small Business Administration’s on-line portals, and certification through the Veterans Administration.
The workshop concluded with advice PTAC counselors can give to their clients about following-up on their certification applications and how to leverage their small business certifications once granted. Tips included the need to research both federal spending and contract forecasts, the importance of responding to Requests for Information, and the roles played by Procurement Center Representatives, Small Business Officers, and Small Business Liaison Officers. Also discussed was the use of certification branding, teaming and joint venturing, how to keep certifications updated, and participation in outreach events.
The Academy is available to conduct this and other customized training workshops on any topic associated with government contracting. Contact us by email at info@ContractingAcademy.gatech.edu for further information.