October 14, 2011 by cs
February 16, 2011 by cs
How would you like to have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a buyer in charge of purchasing for the State of Georgia?
How about the chance to meet with someone in charge of contracting from the University System of Georgia?
In addition, would you like to have the chance to describe your business capabilities to contracting representatives representing the City of Albany, the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, the Georgia Dept. of Corrections, the City of Albany, the Marine Corps Command, the IRS, the General Services Administration, and the federal departments of Commerce, Interior, and Juvenile Justice?
Well, you can have a chance to meet with all of these people by attending the “Albany Small Business Program Speed Partnering” event on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm at the Albany Civic Center.
The event is free, but pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Simply click here to register and then hit the “Sign Up” button.
Along with 15-minute one-on-one meetings with buyers and contracting officials, attendees will have a chance to attend briefings on each of these topics:
- Business Communications, Elevator Pitches and Capability Statements
- Reading and Responding to Bid Solicitations
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Government Contracting
- Government Market Research
- SBA’s New Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) Certification Program
The featured luncheon speaker for this very special day is Ms. Pat Hanes, Regional Director of the Atlanta National Enterprise Center with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. She will be talking about what it takes to successfully sell within both the government and commercial sectors.
February 15, 2011 by cs
Ever heard of “speed dating” where couples are matched for short periods of time to see if the chemistry is right?
Well, through a unique event on February 22, the same principle is being applied – except it involves matches between local businesses, government agncies, and prime contractors.
If you want the opportunity to meet with buyers from local, state and federal agencies, you can’t afford to miss this event!
On Tuesday, February 22nd, the Albany Civic Center is the place to put your best marketing techniques to work. You’ll get a chance to meet with — and present your capabilities to — decision-makers and buyers from representatives of local, state, and federal government agencies, including the City of Albany, the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, the University System of Georgia, the state’s Dept. of Administrative Services, the Georgia Dept. of Corrections, the Albany Marine Corps Logistics Command, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, the General Services Administration, and the Dept. of Juvenile Justice — and more!
Lunch will be provided, and featured speakers also will present on topics including Business Communications, Bid Preparations, Conducting Market Research, and the Do’s and Don’ts of Government Contracting.
This event also will provide special instruction for Albany-area small businesses interested in doing business with the City of Albany.
Coffee and informal networking begins at 8:00 am. The day’s program begins at 9:00 am and runs until 3:00 pm.
This event is completely free, so register now! Simply click here to register and then hit the “Sign Up” button.
October 1, 2010 by cs
The small business contracting parity debate is finally over.
On Monday, President Obama signed legislation that re-establishes equality among each of the small business subcategories that competes for government contracts.
The 2010 Small Business Jobs Act, which also provides tax cuts for undersized firms and creates programs to support private sector lending, makes a technical revision to the 1953 Small Business Act by replacing the word “shall” in the Historically Underutilized Business Zone statute with the word “may.”
The old language in the Small Business Act stated that a procurement officer shall award contracts based on limited competition to HUBZone small businesses. But, the statutes creating the service-disabled veteran-owned small business program and the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program used the word “may” when referring to set-aside contracts.
The Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims determined the difference unambiguously established a preference for HUBZone firms.
The Small Business Administration lobbied lawmakers for months to support legislation that would place contractors in the 8(a) and service-disabled veteran-owned small business programs — and the pending women-owned small businesses program — on equal footing with HUBZone companies. HUBZone companies are located in economically depressed neighborhoods.
“This clarification will help federal agencies meet each of the government’s small business contracting goals,” said SBA spokeswoman Hayley Matz.
The agency now will work with the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to “put in place, as expeditiously as possible, provisions implementing parity among all of SBA’s contracting and business development programs,” Matz said.
But, some small businesses are worried the new legislation could spell the end of the HUBZone program. “This is going to seal the fate of the HUBZone program,” said Jim Slagle, executive vice president for sales and marketing at Mission Critical Solutions, a Tampa, Fla. HUBZone firm that first challenged the parity statute in court. “They are not going to prioritize HUBZone firms. I don’t know that we will survive this.”
The federal government has not met its goal of awarding 3 percent of all contract dollars to HUBZone small businesses, while it generally exceeds its 5 percent goal for small disadvantaged businesses — a category that includes the 8(a) program.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and ranking member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, sponsored the parity language in the Small Business Jobs Act. Snowe, however, did not vote for the overall legislation because of its cost and questions surrounding the structure of several lending programs.
The jobs act also:
- Directs SBA to establish a mentor-protégé program to assist small businesses owned by women, service-disabled veterans and those operating in HUBZones. The initiative would be modeled after the 8(a) mentor-protégé program.
- Requires OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy to establish a governmentwide policy for contract bundling — a process in which several small contracts are consolidated and awarded to one firm, often out of the reach of small businesses. Prior to bundling a contract, procurement officials would be required to conduct market research and to have a senior acquisition official sign off on the decision. The rationale for bundling then would be publicly disclosed.
- Instructs OFPP to develop guidance that would allow agencies to set aside orders placed against multiple-award contracts exclusively for small businesses. The policy would apply to indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity contracts and task and delivery-order awards.
- Establishes a pilot program for collaboration and joint ventures involving small business contractors. Under the five-year program, $5 million in federal grants will be awarded to eligible small business teams seeking to compete for larger procurement contracts.
- Mandates small businesses recertify their size status annually. The law also establishes a governmentwide policy for prosecuting companies that fraudulently disclose themselves to be a small business.
The parity controversy was sparked in May 2009 when Mission Critical Solutions, which had lost out on an Army IT contract to an 8(a) minority-owned small business, filed a protest with GAO. The company argued, and GAO agreed, that HUBZone firms were legally at the top of the small business pecking order and the government should have given Mission Critical Solutions the first crack at the contract.
The ruling sparked a fury of activity, with the Office of Management and Budget and Justice Department issuing rare contradictory memos instructing agencies to disregard GAO’s nonbinding decision because it could “significantly limit the discretion” of contracting officers.
In a separate case, the Court of Federal Claims, a body whose rulings are binding, later decided in favor of Mission Critical Solutions. Justice has appealed that decision, although it is unclear how the new legislation will affect that case.
GAO since has ruled in favor of two HUBZone firms that filed similar contract protests. And in August the Court of Federal Claims issued its second ruling on the matter, arguing the Air Force first should have considered DGR Associates Inc., a HUBZone firm, before awarding a contract at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska to an 8(a) small business.
– By Robert Brodsky – GovExec.com – September 27, 2010
September 3, 2010 by cs
Federal agencies are failing to maximize opportunities to make contracts competitive, often because of poor management or because officials have grown comfortable with incumbent contractors, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
The watchdog reviewed trends in noncompetitive contracts during the past several years and discovered a number of questionable business practices by contracting officials and program managers. GAO found 44 percent of all federal contracts in fiscal 2009 either were not placed up for competition or attracted only one bid.
The report (GAO-10-833), which the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee requested, highlighted contracts that appeared to be written with such narrowly defined requirements that only one company could reasonably compete. In other instances, program offices pressed for follow-on contracts to be awarded without competition to the existing company because it would be more expeditious since the offices already had formed a relationship with the firm.
“A Navy program official stated that, when one contractor has been performing a requirement for many years, it is easier to go back to the contractor personnel who understand the requirement rather than taking the time to find a new vendor,” the report said.
From fiscal 2005 to fiscal 2009, the reported obligations for noncompetitive contracts declined from 36 percent of total procurement spending to 31 percent, investigators found. But contracts in which only one offer was received remained steady at around 13 percent.
The report cited a host of reasons for contracts with only one bid. Often, companies are scared off by a competent incumbent contractor considered an overwhelming favorite to continue with the work, the watchdog said. Other times, solicitations might appear to favor one company, the report noted. In addition, some vendors that might have competed for work are forming teams to submit one offer, industry officials told GAO.
“Given the nation’s fiscal constraints, it is not acceptable to keep an incumbent contractor in place without competition simply because the contractor is doing a good job, or to resist legitimate suggestions that competition be imposed even though it may take longer,” the report said.
GAO recommended the Obama administration assess the reasons contracts are receiving only one offer. Daniel Gordon, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget, has argued that one bid is not enough to constitute competition and that the practice limits agencies’ ability to consider qualified alternatives.
Recent OFPP guidance requires agencies to begin separating data collected on these contracts and to code them as “noncompetitive procurements using competitive procedures.” Gordon concurred with GAO’s recommendation.
But, it might be difficult to get sound data on contract competition. GAO randomly selected a sample of 107 contracts and orders that were coded as noncompetitive or receiving one bid, and reviewed the contract files. Eighteen percent of the contracts were coded incorrectly — as either not competed when they had been, or as competed with one offer received when they had not been competed at all, the report said.
In fiscal 2009, the Navy and the Air Force had some of the worst competition rates, with about 45 percent of contracts not competitive, GAO said. The Energy Department and Office of Personnel Management had among the lowest rates of noncompetition, at 7 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
The most common explanation for failing to conduct any competition was that “only one reasonable source” was available to perform the work, according to the GAO sample. In some cases, such as an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement contract for communications equipment and supplies, one contractor essentially owns the market.
In other instances, particularly with Defense Department weapons programs, the government is hamstrung by a lack of access to proprietary technical data, according to the watchdog. Companies’ expertise, experience and reluctance to sell technical data for a reasonable price generally preclude the possibility of competition, the report said.
Several contracting officials blamed the lack of competition on receiving short notice from program offices for acquisitions. With little time to conduct market research or properly define requirements — elements of a robust acquisition process — contracting officials often turn back to the incumbent, investigators said.
The second most frequently cited exception to competition was the authority to award sole-source contracts to firms in Small Business Administration’s 8(a) business development program. Through the program, agencies are encouraged to award participating 8(a) firms noncompetitive contracts worth less than $3.5 million when procuring services, or less than $5.5 million for manufacturing.
– by Robert Brodsky – GovExec.com – August 26, 2010
September 2, 2010 by cs
Government contracting opportunities can become more accessible through 8(a) certification.
The “8(a) Business Development Program” is a program of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to ensure equal business access for socially and economically disadvantaged business people, including American citizens who are Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian Pacific or Subcontinent Asian, and in some cases women.
Companies which qualify for 8(a) status must go through a formal application and certification process administered by the SBA. This process is detailed and multi-faceted. Fortunately, the SBA and its Small Business Development Centers, offer training and assistance with the 8(a) process.
Prior to applying for 8(a) status, businesses are urged to take an on-line training and self-evaluation course, which is accessible via the following link: 8(a) Business Development Suitability Tool.
Following the on-line self-evaluation, company representratives should consider attening “8(a) BD Certification Step by Step,” a training class offered by Georgia State University’s Small Business Development Center. The next time this class is offered is on Sept. 23, 2010 in Atlanta. Pre-registration is required and may be accomplished at: http://web.sba.gov/calendar/public/index.cfm?rc=0405.
To view the complete calendar of upcoming SBA events, visit http://www.sba.gov/localresources/district/ga/eventscalender/index.html.