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How Contractors Can Tap into the State & Local Market

Posted by Blair on November 6, 2014 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Companies selling technology solutions to the government are facing flat spending, lower margins, new acquisition methods, limited resources, and increasing competition. In 2013, a PulsePollTM from Market Connections, Inc. and Lohfeld Consulting Group revealed almost half of contractors (45 percent) were re-architecting by expanding into adjacent markets in response to government market pressures. To address the continued challenges that surround the market, immixGroup is hosting the Government IT Sales SummitNovember 20, 2014 in McLean, Virginia.

The 2008 recession and sequestration hit state and local governments hard, and much IT acquisition came to a halt. Over the last few years, however, state and local governments have increasingly invested more than the federal government—they spent $95 billion on IT in fiscal year 2014, with steady year-over-year growth expected. Contractors understand this is a good market—the PulsePoll showed that contractors are looking to it for expansion with 48 percent pursuing it in 2013 versus 29 percent in 2012.

Guran Green, immixGroup VP of Corporate Development, is conducting a session at the summit on how contractors can tap into the state and local market. FedPulse had the opportunity to speak with him about some of the trends in state and local procurement and what contractors can start doing now to reach these customers.

To continue reading, click below:

http://fedpulse.com/2014/10/qa-guran-green-immixgroup-vp-corporate-development-discusses-contractors-can-tap-state-local-market/ 

Can a Cyber Attack Wreak Havoc on Your Business?

Posted by Abraham Xiong on October 26, 2014 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Do You Need to Be Ready for Cyber Attacks as a Government Contractor?

You’ve heard it on the news….

  • JPMorgan Chase Hacking Affects 76 Million Households
  • Home Depot's Payment Systems Hacked, 60 Million Shoppers Affected
  • UPS Joins List of Hacked Companies
  • Target Missed Warnings in Epic Hack of Credit Card Data

Many of these major brands are obvious targets to cyber attackers. So, when a breach occurs the news goes national and we all hear about it.

What you may not have heard is this…

  • USIS to Lose Federal Contracts After Cyber Attack

Recently, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) terminated a contract with US Investigation Services (USIS), the major security clearance contractor that was targeted by cyber attackers. The computer network breach compromised the personal files of more than 25,000 government workers, which led to the eventual termination of the contract. USIS will lose over $2.5 billion for the Background Investigation Fieldwork contract and $288 million for the Background Investigation Support Services contract. This is a major blow to their business and USIS has furloughed over 1000 of its employees.


In light of this example, the answer to the question, “Can a cyber attack wreak havoc on your business?” is YES! You need to be ready for cyber attacks as a government contractor. What happened to USIS is a reality to all government contractors. Now, the government is giving you more of a reason to be prepared. New regulations have recently been passed and others are being considered which will directly affect you as a government contractor. The Pentagon and Homeland Security are leading the charge in enacting regulations that impacts contractors.


The rule states that within 72 hours of discovering any compromise of unclassified controlled technical information in a company system, your company must disclose which contracts are affected, the location of the leak and a description of the data compromised to the extent they are known at the time.


So, if you’re a federal contractor with contracts with the DOD or Homeland Security, you’ll be among the first of companies required to start meeting the new regulation. Other agencies and even potential government-wide policies will follow to require all contractors to be in compliance.


What does this mean to you as a business owner? Well, many things must be considered, but I’ll touch upon a few here. First and foremost you have to consider the cost of protecting your company’s data when you’re pricing out your projects in your proposals. You have to take into account what cyber security technologies are available and which ones will best meet your client’s need. You have to source out affordable and robust solutions to guard your data. You may have to hire new staff to meet these regulations.

 

At the end of all this, I believe that as a government contractor, by being the first to plan and implement a cyber security strategy, you will have a competitive edge over other companies. You’ll better safeguard your own interests in your measure to safeguard your client’s needs.

 


Feds Buy Back USASpending Website After Contractor Bankruptcy

Posted by Blair on October 22, 2014 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The government procured its own spending transparency website and the primary data system behind it on the same day last month the contract to manage the systems was set to expire, new documents show.

The move frees up previously contested federal contracting data, which will facilitate increased competition for future contracts, according to outside observers and the General Services Administration.

It’s unclear if the purchase became necessary to keep the site running or if the opportunity arose as a result of Global Computer Enterprises, Inc.’s financial instability, which led to a bankruptcy filing last month.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/big-data/2014/10/feds-buy-back-usaspending-website-after-contractor-bankruptcy/96251/

 

SBA Data Show Large Firms Are Nabbing Contracts Reserved for Small Businesses

Posted by Blair on October 15, 2014 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Federal procurement data show that large companies, including leading defense contractors, last year received millions of dollars in contracts intended for small and disadvantaged businesses. The data was obtained last week by the American Small Business League, which fought a multi-year court battle to obtain the information from the Small Business Administration.

The group, based in Petaluma, Calif., and run by software entrepreneur Lloyd Chapman, has been a thorn in the side of SBA for years. It accuses the agency of catering to large companies that misrepresent themselves as small businesses to win government contracts.

Last week the league obtained from SBA an Excel file containing nearly 107,000 entries of vendors that received $83 billion in small business contracts in fiscal 2013. While SBA annually releases analytical information about small business contracting, it took a lawsuit from the league to force the agency to release its list of vendors who receive small business contracts.

The agency sought to protect its list from disclosure on the grounds that it is compiled from data it culls from a General Services Administration database. U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel found that reasoning flawed and in a 2008 ruling ordered the information released. This is the first year SBA has provided the information without a court battle, Chapman said. 

Keep reading this article: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/10/sba-data-show-large-firms-are-nabbing-contracts-reserved-small-businesses/95699/

IG finds faults in training of contracting officer???s representatives in GSA???s Federal Acquisition Service

Posted by Blair on October 10, 2014 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

A federal certification program, which establishes general training, experience, development and best practices for contracting officer’s representatives, isn’t being applied consistently, potentially leaving them without the necessary skills, abilities and competencies to do their jobs, a recent audit found.

 

Additionally, the General Services Administration’s inspector general said in the Sept. 29 report that a system designed to oversee the workload and certification status of contracting officer’s representative’s, or CORs, is only accessible to a few managers and supervisors. This means some CORs could possibly conduct unsanctioned work, opening the government up to potential legal problems.

 

Contracting officers authorize CORs to perform specific technical and administrative duties on contracts or orders. These CORs ensure that federal contractors meet their performance requirements and typically identify if a contractor or program is underperforming.

 

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/gsa-ig-finds-faults-contracting-officers-representatives-training-program/2014-10-01

 

My car got hit, what happened next completely caught me off guard

Posted by Abraham Xiong on August 7, 2014 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

My car got hit, what happened next completely caught me off guard


We live in a cynical world. Oftentimes, I’ve been that cynical person who doesn’t always believe in the good of humanity. Especially in business, I’m so wired to question people and not give them my trust immediately. Well, recently, my pessimistic view about people was put to the test…

 

Let me tell you about my recent trip to Washington DC. I was going to fly to DC from Atlanta, but decided to take my friend Randy with me and drive. It was going to be great hang time and a chance to catch up a little since we’ve been so busy with life and work. I volunteered my Toyota Hybrid which offered 41 miles to the gallon. Sure enough, we made the trip to DC and had a series of successful business meetings. In between the meetings, I stopped into a quaint little strip of Georgetown to grab an appetizer at Café Bonaparte. I was feeling adventurous and ordered a plate of escargot. Mmmm…….Mmmmm… It was delicious.

 

When we left the café and headed back to my car, I noticed something odd. At a closer look, sure enough, my car had been side-swiped on the driver side. The front grey bumper was partially pulled out and there were black scuff marks all over. As I looked at the paint damage to the left frame, a sickening feeling started to roll over me. Who hit my car? I thought to myself. Where’s the culprit? The vehicle that had hit my car was nowhere to be found. The cynical person within me started thinking, I knew it, this world is filled with people who just won’t do right. My sickening feeling morphed into frustration. I didn’t quite know what to do next, since I haven’t been in a car accident in over 15 years. Instinctively, my hand reached to my side and grabbed my cell phone. I pulled up the camera app and clicked on it to start taking pictures. I took a picture of the bumper that was partially pulled out with scrapes all over. Another picture of the fog light grill that came off.

 

As I snapped a few more pictures of my damaged car, to my surprise, I saw a little white note on my windshield. It said, “I scraped your car – Please call…” and “I am so sorry for the inconvenience…” She left her name, phone number and the license plate number.


Wow! I don’t believe it. Is this for real! So, I called the number and spoke with Victoria. She apologized to me profusely over the phone. She told me that after she hit my car, she couldn’t find me so she left her information. She also said that she already called her insurance company and a claim number has been assigned. She gave me the insurance information and the adjuster’s name.

 

In my cynical nature, I still wasn’t sure… so I called the Georgetown police just to make sure that if things did not work out, at least I have a police report. When the officer got there, he surmised the situation and I told him about the little white note and that I had spoken to the lady who hit me. He said, “Well, you don’t need a police report then. You have a note, a claim number and the adjuster’s information. She’s an angel.” He smiled at me and said, “If it will help you to feel better, take my card just in case.” I looked at the officer’s card with his name and badge number on it and decided that this will serve as my backup plan, just in case Victoria dispute the claim later.

 

I left DC the next morning and headed back to Atlanta. When I got back in town, I called the insurance adjuster and he sent me to a collision center down the road from my home. A few days later, my car was fix and it looked brand new, as if nothing had happened.

 

Now that I’ve had a few days to reflect on this, it wasn’t my car that was damaged, it was me, my heart. I had stopped believing that there are good people out there. I had become too cynical because I’ve been hurt too often. My car didn’t need the fixing, it was me who needed my bumper to be taken down so that my inner self can be exposed. It was me who had been bruised and scraped. I needed to see how cynical I am. It was me who needed the fixing.

 



 


So, as an entrepreneur and business coach, I’m reminded that to win people and build trust, it starts with me giving prospective partners or potential clients my trust from the very beginning. Trust begets trust. Cynicism begets doubt. I’m thankful to Victoria for reminding me about the good in humanity and for exposing the scraped up heart that I have. I’m a little better today because of my encounter with you.

Hiring Procedures Compliance: A Necessary Evil

Posted by Abraham Xiong on January 29, 2013 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

By: Diana Younts, Managing Partner First Advantage Consulting Firm, LLC

 

For most companies, hiring procedures cause issues, not only big ones with the US DOL, but also internal problems. First, most financial violations that the US Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) finds are in hiring. How does a company avoid these problems? The best way is training and checks to ensure everyone knows to be consistent with policies and procedures. But let’s back up a bit. Make sure that your company Policies and Procedures are updated, and reviewed regularly. I make it a point to review all my clients’ policies and procedures first. Why? To make sure that they are current with new regulations and to make sure that they apply to today’s culture and environment. And most importantly, I review them to be sure that they do not cause any potential discrimination. All levels of management need to be guided by the same company policies and procedures.

 

I have provided some good tips for hiring that your company can benefit from:

 

· If the industry permits, have ALL applications on line.

 

· Only accept applications when there is actually a position available. Companies make the mistake of accepting applications regardless of an open position. This can cause big issues for your company should you ever have an audit from the OFCCP.

 

· Have solid position requirements that are specific and detailed that apply to the need. Do not use canned job postings or requirements.

 

· Ask a professional such as Vicki Lauter with Strategic Human Insights to help out. Her goal is to provide the perfect, personalized job benchmark for your position need. This will include the specific attributes, workplace motivators and behaviors your job requires. Your goal should be to have few applicants and tight minimum qualifications listed. Remember the US DOL OFCCP mission is to find fault with business. No matter what they say, they justify their existence by giving out violations. They can’t praise companies for not discriminating because that would put them out of business!

 

· Applicant Tracking Systems are very important. If you aren’t using one, search out the best one for your industry and company by interviewing different vendors and don’t making a rush decision. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask other businesses what vendors they use and ask for feedback. Try to minimize “unknowns” in tracking race and gender of applicants. This is an easy violation for OFCCP to give and I gave it quite often during my tenure with the OFCCP. Do not give them any opportunity to find fault with your company or you. During an audit your reputation is also at stake. Make sure you are using disposition codes that actually identify why the candidate was eliminated from consideration.

 

While all this is a lot of paper and computer work and time having to annotate and explain, in the end the data will be fresh. When/if an audit comes around; it is much harder to remember what happened with a candidate months ago and why they were eliminated. Up front paperwork can save you a lot of stress and work later on and very possibly save your company a lot of money. Not only do you need to be alert to the US DOL with all these explanations, annotations and justifications that they require, remember the EEOC is also relentless in their pursuit of finding fault.

 

On a final note: Human Resource Professionals have the most difficult job in any organization. They have to make sure that all policies and procedures are in place and they have to listen to upper management while informing them of any people issues. They also ensure middle management and supervisors are trained and understand the need for all the procedures regarding people. And finally , they have to deal with so many governmental regulations and requirements from EBSA, OFCCP, Wage and Hour, FMLA, FLSA, OSHA, to name a few. There is not a more daunting and demanding position in any establishment. So if you are a manager, work with your human resource professionals, they have a big job to do keeping you and the company out of hot water!

 

Diana Younts retired from the US DOL OFCCP with 27 years with the Federal Government. She is now a Managing Partner with First Advantage Consulting Firm, LLC which is an Affirmative Action Solutions Company. Her commitment is to protect her clients from OFCCP scrutiny and avoiding Financial Violations.  http://www.firstadvantageconsultingfirm.com

Women Vendors Get Less Than Price of Drone From U.S. Set-Asides

Posted by Abraham Xiong on July 3, 2012 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)
By Danielle Ivory on June 21, 2012

A new federal program to help small contractors owned by women is drawing criticism from lawmakers and business advocates who say it has provided too little assistance to too few firms.

 

After an 11-year delay, the first contracts were awarded under the program in April 2011, according to federal procurement data compiled by Bloomberg. By the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, agencies had doled out $21.1 million in set- asides, less than the cost of one Reaper drone. The contracts equal about 0.1 percent of the amount Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) (LMT), the No. 1 government contractor, won in federal awards last year in the April-September time period.

 

“To put it bluntly, $21 million is nothing,” said Ann Sullivan, head of government relations for Women Impacting Public Policy Inc., a Washington-based nonprofit organization that promotes female-owned businesses.

 

The amount may reflect the program’s slow start, rules that cap the contracts, and stiffer competition over a shrinking pool of revenue for small businesses, Sullivan said.

 

Congress in 2000 ordered the Small Business Administration to create the program, which is similar to those that reserve work for some minority-owned firms.

 

‘Not Working’

Sullivan, also the president of Madison Services Group Inc., a government relations firm in Washington, said she worked with Congress, the SBA and the White House to help create the set-aside program for women.

 

“We worked for 11 years to try and get this thing in place,” Sullivan said. “Is the program working? Well, looking at those numbers, the answer is no, it’s not working.”

 

Tiffani Clements, an SBA spokeswoman, said the agency was unable to comment on the fiscal 2011 data because it hasn’t yet released its small-business contract report on government goals.

 

Under the initiative, the $21.1 million went to about 150 small businesses last year, or an average of $140,000 per contractor. Only three companies earned more than $1 million in the set-aside contracts.

 

The government has a target of awarding 23 percent of prime, or direct, contracts to small firms, a goal it has missed every year for the past decade.

 

Difficult Market

It’s difficult to start a new small-business category that essentially competes with the others for limited awards, Angela Styles, a former head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said in an interview.

 

“There are a lot of interest groups in the mix for that 23 percent,” said Styles, now a partner at Crowell & Moring LLP, citing the many different minority groups seeking money. “It’s such a hard market to break into, and it’s hard to stay in it.”

 

Rita Leitensdorfer knows this firsthand. In 2006, she took over her father’s audiovisual firm, St. Louis-based Communitronics Corp. She owns 100 percent of the business and about 75 percent of her revenue comes from federal contracts, she said.

 

She won a $7,222 set-aside under the new program from the U.S. Army in August. She said she hasn’t noticed many other opportunities for women-owned businesses.

 

Leitensdorfer said that, like participants in other set- aside programs, she has to “jump through hoops” though she hasn’t received many benefits.

 

“We just want a fair shake as contractors,” she said in an interview.

 

Contract Spending

The government awarded $310 billion in contracts during the last two quarters of fiscal 2011, the same period when agencies began reserving set-asides for women-owned small businesses.

 

Under the 8(a) set-aside program, which targets small firms owned by socially or economically disadvantaged individuals, agencies awarded $11.9 billion in the same period. Under the service-disabled veteran-owned set-aside initiative, the government awarded $3.38 billion.

 

Each program is different. For the effort geared toward women, contracts are limited to no more than $4 million for services and $6.5 million for manufacturing.



GSA to close some contracts to new vendors

Posted by Abraham Xiong on June 9, 2012 at 8:30 PM Comments comments (0)

By Matthew Weigelt 

A senior General Services Administration official told policy-makers June 7 that the agency will identify "oversaturated" Multiple Award Schedules markets as means to help agencies find contractors and save GSA’s resources.

 

“The MAS program is perpetually open to qualified new offers, and, while vibrant markets exist in some of the Schedules, we have reached the point of saturation in others,” Steve Kempf, commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, said in written testimony to the House Small Business Committee.

 

So officials are instituting the Demand Based Model, which will allow the agency to align its resources with areas of greatest need.

 

Under its new model, officials will review the major part of each Schedule and decide whether there’s room for potential innovation and program growth. If there is, officials will keep it open for new vendors to join. Oversaturated areas will closed to new companies for a year.

 

Read whole article here: http://fcw.com/articles/2012/06/07/gsa-schedules-demand-based-model.aspx

SAM.gov to replace CCR, ORCA, FBO and 6 other systems

Posted by Abraham Xiong on May 31, 2012 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

SAM.gov implementation

SAM will reduce the burden on those seeking to do business with the government. Vendors will be able to log into one system to manage their entity information in one record, with one expiration date, through one streamlined business process. Federal agencies will be able to look in one place for entity pre-award information. Everyone will have fewer passwords to remember and see the benefits of data reuse as information is entered into SAM once and reused throughout the system.

The General Services Administration (GSA) is moving the implementation date of the System for Award Management (SAM) from May 29, 2012 to the end of July 2012. The additional sixty days will allow federal agencies to continue preparing their staff, give agencies and commercial system providers even more time to test their data transfer connections, and will ensure SAM contains the critical, documented capabilities users need from the system.

This first phase of SAM will include the capabilities of Central Contractor Registration (CCR)/Federal Agency Registration (FedReg), Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA), and the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS). In preparation for the launch, GSA conducted extensive testing internally and in coordination with federal agencies using the data from these systems in their own contracting, grants, finance, and other departments. The testing was very valuable and will focus the efforts of the next sixty days.

SAM will reduce the burden on those seeking to do business with the government. Vendors will be able to log into one system to manage their entity information in one record, with one expiration date, through one streamlined business process. Federal agencies will be able to look in one place for entity pre-award information. Everyone will have fewer passwords to remember and see the benefits of data reuse as information is entered into SAM once and reused throughout the system.

SAM.gov will create a central entry point to these databases:

CCR.gov, ORCA, FBO.gov, PPIRS, eSRS, WDO, FPDS.gov, EPLS.gov, CFDA

www.SAM.gov

SBA issues proposed rules for small-biz participation in multiple-award contracts (MAC)

Posted by Abraham Xiong on May 31, 2012 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Article by Jack Moore

The Small Business Administration has published proposed regulations in the Federal Register, clarifying how agencies should include small-business contractors in multiple-award contracts.

MACs have proliferated across government in recent years, but small contractors contend they are frequently left out of the process. The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 sought to rectify that by allowing agency contracting officers to set aside parts of a multiple-award schedule for small-business contractors.

 

The 2010 law tasked the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the head of the SBA with developing regulations for awarding small-business contracts in connection with MACs.

 

The new rules spell out three areas where small business can be included in MACs:

 

  • Partial set-asides — Setting aside parts of a multiple-award schedule for small-business contractors
  • Contract reserves — Reserving awards for small businesses under MACs
  • Order set-asides — Setting aside certain orders for small businesses

The rules state that agencies must "give meaningful consideration" to the above options, and contracting officers must provide an explanation if they decide not to use any of them when awarding multiple-award contracts.

Read full article: http://tinyurl.com/multipleawards


JOBS Act: Raising Capital is About to Become Easier.

Posted by Abraham Xiong on March 24, 2012 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (1)

Great news for small businesses.  Raising capital is about to get a lot more easier as the new JOBS Act Bill is being consider into law.

Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) was passed this week by the Senate, which fundamentally alters the securities laws for small businesses. One of the major benefit of the Bill will remove restrictions on capital raising that many of the detractors of the Act believe are important for investor protection.

Another significant component of the JOBS Act permits "crowd funding," the ability to raise capital in small amounts from many people usually via the Internet to finance a start up.  

Other components of the Act:

  • Eliminates the ban on public solicitation of investors by companies seeking financing in a private offering;
  • Raises the offering ceiling for so called "Regulation A Offerings" from $5 million to $50 million;
  • Raises the threshold for required registration as a public company from 500 to 2,000 shareholders (1,500 of whom must be "accredited investors" under the Regulation D standard);
  • Raises the threshold for required registration as a public company for community banks from 500 to 2,000
  • Creates a new category of securities issuer called an "emerging growth company," defined as companies with annual gross revenues of less than $1 billion.; and
  • Provides for a "securities on-ramp" to phase in costly SEC reporting and compliance requirements such as internal controls audits, Say-On-Pay votes, etc over a five-year period for "emerging growth companies".

 Supporters believe that the Act will increase more small business activities and create more jobs. This is based on the fact that young companies accounted for all net job growth between 1980 and 2005 — and that 92 percent of job creation came after an IPO.

The JOBS Act was passed in the House by a wide, bipartisan margin (390 to 23) on March 8th, and by the Senate by a narrower, but bipartisan margin (73 to 26) today. Because the Senate adopted the House version with a slight amendment, the bill will be sent back to the House to be reconciled.

The President has hinted that he will not have any hesitation in signing this Bill into Law should it make it to his desk. 

Are contractors at risk of a flame out?

Posted by Abraham Xiong on March 8, 2012 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

By Nick Wakeman

Retired Vice Adm. Lewis Crenshaw Jr. is a former Navy aviator so you have to forgive his aviation analogy, but in presenting accounting firm Grant Thornton’s annual contractor survey he made a convincing case that many companies in the market are dangerously close to stalling out.

 

On the surface, some of the numbers look good: 50 percent of the respondents said revenues were up. But that is down from last year’s survey that showed 55 percent reported growth.

 

Also troubling, is that 29 percent reported a decrease in revenue, compared to 22 percent last year.

 

Companies also reported profit margins in keeping with previous surveys, but the profits aren’t coming from revenue growth, Crenshaw said, but from controlling costs.

 

The aviation analogy for Crenshaw, now the national practice leader for Grant Thornton’s aerospace and defense market sector, is that you can only slow your airplane down for so long before it stalls and then you crash and burn.

Bill strips contractor reviews from past-performance evaluations

Posted by Abraham Xiong on March 8, 2012 at 7:35 AM Comments comments (0)

About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week.

This article was published on Mar. 1, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/03/01/no-review-past-performance-evaluation.aspx?s=wtdaily_020312.


Companies would lose the opportunity to respond to performance reviews written by government officials under a new contracting bill. The reviews often play a major role in winning future contracts.

The Comprehensive Contingency Contracting Reform Act (S. 2139), which was introduced Feb. 29, would revise language in the Federal Acquisition Regulation that gives companies 30 days to comment, provide additional information or rebut a contracting official’s assessment of their work. The same FAR provision requires agencies to provide companies with a copy of the work performance evaluation.

Trey Hodgkins, senior vice president for national security and procurement policy at TechAmerica, said this proposed FAR revision is huge change in procurement. It eliminates the ability for contractors point out mistakes or offer their perspective on circumstances when agency officials view them differently.

“This provision may lead to a bad situation or bad feelings, at least,” Hodgkins said.

A customer agency may be unhappy because it didn’t get what it wanted, although the contractor may have been bound by the firm-fixed price contract that the agency awarded. The result might be a lackluster performance review.

“That’s not unheard of,” Hodgkins said.

Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) introduced the contracting reform bill, which is based on recommendations from the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. McCaskill and Webb created the independent commission in 2007, and the commission issued a final report in 2011.

Among its other provisions, the bill would expand what goes into the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System, a database of contractors’ past performance and other related information. It would have agencies include information on any of a contractor’s parent or subsidiary entities.

The legislation would elevate oversight responsibilities for procurement officials and enhance management structures for the agencies handling contingency contracting. McCaskill and Webb want procurement training added to education curricula for both professional military and contingency operations. The training would deal with defining requirements and the strategic impacts of contracts on the mission.

The legislation would require justifications for sole-source contracts to handle compelling demands.

The bill has been referred to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for further review.

The Wartime Contracting Commission spent three years investigating contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In its final report to Congress, the panel estimated that the United States had lost as much as $60 billion through contract waste and fraud in those countries. The commission also identified major failures in contingency contracting planning, execution and oversight.

It concluded that such waste will increase if officials don’t toughen accountability as U.S. operations wind down, support for programs declines, and major reconstruction projects become unsustainable.

McCaskill, who introduced legislation with Webb to create the commission, has been focused on procurement and contracting reform. She’s chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Contracting Oversight Subcommittee and also chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee.

“When Jim and I got here, nobody was paying attention to the billions of taxpayer dollars being wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan,” McCaskill said in a statement. “But with the roadmap provided by the commission report, we can change the way our government contracts during wartime, and make sure these failures are never repeated.”


Government Agencies to Increase Small Business Set-Asides

Posted by Abraham Xiong on November 17, 2011 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

 

Government Agencies to Increase Small Business Set-Asides

On November 2nd, officials released an interim rule based on the FAR revisions. The rule took effect the same day.

 

Small businesses should be excited about the new regulation which will allow more set-aside opportunities for the 99.7% of businesses in the USA. Last year, only 22% of all Federal contracting dollars were awarded to small businesses. This new rule will encourage agencies to take more actions to award contracts to small businesses.

 

According to the new interim rule, agencies are required to set-aside task and delivery orders for small businesses. It obligates procurement officials to consider utilizing more small businesses through the expansive world of multiple-award contracts such as GWAC, BPA, IDIQ, etc.

 

Since the 1990’s the Office of Federal Procurement Policy has pushed those types of vehicles in an effort to bulk buy and lower prices. These efforts have squeezed the smaller businesses out of government contracting opportunities. Our hope is that the new rule with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) will open access for small businesses toward task and delivery-order contracts, such as government wide acquisition contracts (GWAC), blanket purchase agreements (BPA), GSA Schedules and even agency-wide contracts.

 

The revisions recently added to the FAR will authorize agencies to set aside one or more contracts for small business on a multiple-award contract, including any of the socio-economic programs, such as the SDVOSB, WOSB, 8a, and HUBzone small business programs.

 


HUBZone Expiration & Redesignated Changes Coming Oct 1st. 2011

Posted by Abraham Xiong on September 21, 2011 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO HUBZONE COMPANIES

Important, statutorily mandated changes will occur beginning October 1, 2011 that may affect your small business’ eligibility for the HUBZone program. SBA is committed to helping all current HUBZone firms during this transition. If you need additional assistance after reading the questions and answers below, please call the HUBZone help desk at (202) 205-8885, or email at [email protected]

How might your firm be impacted by the expiration of redesignated HUBZones on October 1, 2011?

Your firm might be impacted if your principal office is located in, or your employees reside in, an expiring redesignated area. Your HUBZone small business is on the list of HUBZone certified concerns and as such we want to remind you that major changes take effect on October 1, 2011 that may affect your firm’s eligibility. Specifically, certain redesignated HUBZones are due to expire on the date on which the Census Bureau publicly releases the first results from the 2010 decennial census. These areas are expiring, effective October 1, 2011. The redesignated HUBZones that are expiring are those that were provided an extended “grandfathering" period by Congress in 2004 until the date the Census Bureau releases the first results of the 2010 census.

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FBO - Contracting Tip #7

Posted by Ambalal Patel on May 26, 2011 at 2:57 PM Comments comments (0)


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What is Federal Business Opportunity (FBO)?

It is an online (internet) medium via which information of Federal Business Opportunities including recovery opportunities and awards information are made available to Buyers, Engineers, Agencies,Vendors, and all the citizens who pursue to do business with federal government.  

Should you register as a Buyer or a Vendor?

Your role is defined by how you use FBO.  There are two primary types of FBO users who register for role-based FBO accounts.  The first are government contracting officers at Federal agencies who are looking to buy goods and services on behalf of their agency.  They are known as Buyers.  The second are commercial vendors looking to sell goods and services to the government.  They are known as Vendors.  Click to learn more!

What are ProcurementClassification Codes?

Procurements areclassified by Federal Supply Codes/Product Services Codes from 1 - 99.  E.g. 22 – Railway equipment, 39  – Material Handling equipment etc.

What is a "sources sought" notice? And how to find them?

The Sources Sought notice is a synopsis posted by a government agency that states they are seeking possible sources for a project.  It is not a solicitation for work, nor is it a request for proposal.  Reference the FAR, Subpart 7.3 and OMB Circular A-76.  To find, use type "sources sought" to search on home page of FBO.

 

ORCA - Contracting Tip #6

Posted by Ambalal Patel on May 19, 2011 at 11:12 AM Comments comments (0)


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What is ORCA?

ORCA is a web-based system that collects vendor representations and certifications ("reps and certs") of business information and stores that information in a common database.  ORCA’s primary purpose is to capture categories and business information of small businesses.

 Why was ORCA created?

Prior to ORCA, vendors were required to submit Reps and Certs for each individual large purchase contract award.  Now, using ORCA, a contractor can enter their Reps and Certs information once for use on all Federal contracts.  This site not only benefits the contractor by allowing them to maintain an accurate and complete record but also the Contracting Officer as they can view every record, including archives, with the click of a mouse.  Submitting these "reps and certs"is a requirement in most government issued solicitations.  

Where do I register?

ORCA is an on-line system that is located on the Internet. The ORCA site can be found by going to https://www.bpn.gov and clicking on “Online Reps and Certs Application” on the left side of the screen.  Two items are needed prior to registration: (1) An active record in CCR, (2) An MPIN from that active CCR record.

What is the difference between CCR and ORCA and why must I register in both systems?

Central Contractor Registration (https://www.bpn.gov/ccr/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">CCR) is the primary vendor database for the U.S. Federal Government. Since October 1, 2003, it is federally mandated that any business wishing to do business with the federal government under a FAR-based contract must be registered in CCR before being awarded a contract.  In addition, vendors must maintain their CCR records annually.

 

Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA) replaces most of the paper based Representations and Certifications (Reps and Certs) in Section K of solicitations with an Internet application. FAR 52.204-8 mandates the use of ORCA on or after January 1, 2005.

 

CCR and ORCA are complementary systems.  ORCA reuses data pulled from CCR and pre-populates many of the required Representations and Certifications. Then, the vendor completes the remaining Reps and Certs with the understanding that with each solicitation they are certifying to current, accurate and complete information.

What is ORCAXML?

ORCAXML is a Web Services Interface that allows authorized users to obtain ORCA data via XML. The primary focus of ORCAXML is to allow our customers to do areal-time user-customized request for information on a single or a small set of ORCA records for each transaction, and return that information back to the user in only a couple of seconds.

How do I accessORCAXML?

Access to ORCAXML will be limited to qualified Government sponsored systems. Users will be required to submit an online request at https://orca.bpn.gov/miscl/orcaxmlReg.aspx.

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CCR Part 2 - Contracting Tip #5

Posted by Ambalal Patel on May 13, 2011 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

What is MPIN? Where to locate MPIN?

A Marketing Partner ID Number (MPIN) is a personal code that allows you to access other government applications such as the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS) and the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA).

The MPIN acts as your password in these other systems, and you should guard it as such.

The MPIN is amandatory data element created by the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) registrant and must have nine characters containing at least one letter (upperor lower case) and one number.  No spaces or special characters are permitted.

 

To view your company's MPIN:

1. Go to the CCR Homepage: www.ccr.gov. (updated: www.Sam.gov)

2. Enter your user ID and password, and then click the "Log In"button.

3. Select "View" across from the DUNS number you are looking for.

4. Scroll to the bottom of the Points of Contact to view your MPIN.

If you change your MPIN, be aware that it may take 24-48 hours for other government systems to recognize your new MPIN.  

Know your SIC, PSC and PSG Codes:

SIC:A Standard Industrial Classification Code.   These are no longer being collected or displayed in CCR.

PSC: Federal Supply Class Code (PSC) is an optional, four-character, numeric code used to describe the products your business sells.  CLICK HERE to download PSC codes!

PSG: Federal Supply Group (PSG) is an optional, four-character, alpha-numeric code that describes the services your business offers, no spaces. 

SEARCH by PSC or PSG HERE

Information of EIN, TIN and TPIN:

What if you do not know your Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN)?

The integrity of the data in the CCR is very important.  IRS is responsible for Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN) information; therefore, they will validate Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN) and Taxpayer Names.

Verify the original notice you received from the IRS assigning you your Employee Identification Number (EIN), and your most recent federal tax return for the business.  If Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN) is your Social Security Number (SSN), compare name and number with the information on your actual social security card.

TradingPartner Identification Numbers (TPINs):

Effective December 21, 2009, Trading Partner Identification Numbers (TPINs) are no longer used. The TPIN has been replaced by a user ID and password.  Existing users of CCR were sent email notifications informing them of this change and were provided instructions on how to create a new user profile.

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DUNS NUMBER - Contracting Tip #1

Posted by Ambalal Patel on May 6, 2011 at 12:32 PM Comments comments (0)

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What is a DUNS Number? 

Created in 1962, the Data Universal Numbering System or D-U-N-S® Number is D&B's copyrighted, proprietary means of identifying business entities on a location-specific basis.

 

Why should you know about it?

The D-U-N-S® Number is widely used by both commercial and federal entities and was adopted as the standard business identifier for federal electronic commerce in October 1994.

 

How do you request a DUNS Number?

D-U-N-S Number assignment is free for all businesses required to register with the US Federal government for contracts or grants.

Click here to request your D-U-N-S Number via the Web. If one does not exist for your business location, it can be created within 1 business day. Click here to request your D-U-N-S Number by phone (for U.S., Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands Only).

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