Civilian Agencies: Showing You the $$$

Fiscal year 2020 was actually good for something — Civilian agency spending. Civilian agencies spent a record $228 billion in fiscal 2020, up 17 percent from fiscal 2019. The increase can be directly attributed to the Coronavirus pandemic. (Government Executive, October 8, 2020)

According to this report, published by Bloomberg Government, Health and Human Services (HHS), Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Energy drove the increased spending. Small businesses saw a 26 percent increase, or $59.4 million spent. The Department of Defense numbers, due to security purposes, see a 90 day lag in reporting; we likely won’t see those totals before the end of the calendar year.

Here’s a quick look at the spending breakdown:

  • Health and Human Services accounted for $41.2 billion or 44  percent of the overall $33.5 billion. The bulk of the spending came from vaccines, research, ventilators, and efforts related to the pandemic.
  • Veterans Affairs came in at $33.1 billion in fiscal 2020. The spending is likely attributed to community care.
  • The Department of Energy spent upwards of $35 billion on two nuclear research labs. Of note is the fact that each lab houses “supercomputers” performing coronavirus research.
  • Small Business Administration spending went from $177 million in fiscal 2019 to over $1.5 billion in fiscal 2020. Part of this is due to an RER Solutions Inc. contract being approved for a $500 million increase without competitive bidding, as disaster recovery loan applications inundated the SBA. (ibid)

Other transaction authority contracts, which are allowed a great deal of flexibility outside of the traditional procurement limitations, are increasing year after year as well. We expect to see this continue well into the future. (ibid)

Questions about the “other transaction authority contracts” and how to take advantage of their flexibility? Give us a call.

Just the Facts FAS, Please

Earlier this week, a GSA watchdog discovered erroneous reporting of small business contracts by the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). (Government Executive September 17, 2020)

The General Service Administration (GSA) inspector general (IG) recently provided a report that focused on the data entered into the Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation, which is managed by GSA. The Small Business Administration (SBA) uses the system data provided to determine if the federal government is achieving its annual goal of awarding 23 percent of contracts to small businesses. An IG review of FAS procurements from fiscal 2016 and 2017 and shows that small business procurements have been grossly overstated.

“We found that FAS’s reporting of small business procurements contained significant inaccuracies. We identified $89 million in procurements erroneously recorded as small business in the Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation. Additionally, FAS’ small business procurement reporting does not identify the extent of the work performed by large businesses. We found approximately $120 million of small business procurements in which large businesses performed a portion of the work.” (ibid)

After interviewing small business contractors and GSA officials as well as analyzing agency contracting data, the IG determined many of the issues to be out of GSA’s control. For instance, the IG found that classification codes  often “pre-populate” for task orders; due to the nature of the software, officers cannot override the system to update the task order codes. In addition, no mandate exists for FAS or small businesses to report how much of the work completed on a contract is subcontracted to large businesses. This leads to inaccuracies when assessing FAS’s small business procurements. Many believe the inaccuracies will never be fully fixed due to the competing policy issues and marketplace anomalies. (ibid)

The IG recommended the following:

  • Fix the limitations of the contracting system to enable accurate reporting
  • SBA and the commissioner discuss how subcontracting and reseller agreements are reported

How does this affect your contract or an upcoming proposal? Give us a call.

SubK Silver Lining

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is extending the time for contractors to file Individual Subcontracting Reports (ISR) by 30 days and Summary Subcontracting Reports (SSR) by 60 days. (Small Business Administration Extension Notice, August 27, 2020)

SBA reasoned that, due to the pandemic and social distancing requirements in a number of states including the District of Columbia, many records remain unattainable. Without proper records, contractors are not able to meet reporting requirements.  New deadlines for ISRs is 30 November 2020 and for SSRs is 30 December 2020. SBA is also extending the deadline to 30 November for vendors who have recently completed contracts or will complete contracts before 30 September. No financial or liability consequences will be imposed on contractors for taking advantage of the updated deadlines.

The extension notice is being sent to those on the SBPAC list as well as all government and business personnel with a valid email in eSRS. (ibid)

Not sure if the extension notice applies to you? Give us a call.

GSA, Pandemic Style

GSA is moving quickly to enact several initiatives while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because the current state of emergency necessitates the Federal Acquisition Service to purchase medical supplies and other equipment at a fast clip, Contracting Officers have no choice but to react with a fair amount of speed and flexibility. (Federal News Network, May 1, 2020)

This includes:

  • changing policies for prompt payment and onboarding/offboarding of contractors
  • construction of the new e-commerce marketplace platform, which was paused during the first few weeks of the pandemic, is now moving forward, albeit at a much slower pace
  • monitoring other initiatives possibly impacting by the pandemic, such as Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS)
  • continuing corrective actions on Alliant 2 revised proposals
  • expanding the small business innovation research (SBIR) program, part three

Some government markets, like travel, have declined; however cleaning products and enhanced screening services have increased exponentially. (ibid)

Any questions about getting your product or service in front of government buyers? Give us a call.

PPP Payback?

Last week, the Small Business Administration (SBA) launched a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program. PPP allows banks to “forgive” government-guaranteed loans to small businesses struggling due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, government guidance on necessary documentation/calculations to ensure forgiveness is sorely lacking.

Many small business owners expect their loans to ultimately be forgiven “but it is not that simple,” according to Paul Merski, of the Independent Community Bankers of America. He advises that everyone keep “their information and paperwork in order.”(Reuters, May 1, 2020)

The PPP regulation states the following:

  • Borrowers must spend 75 percent of the loan on payroll costs like salaries, tips, leave, severance pay, and health insurance, within the first two months.
  • Borrowers must spend the remaining 25 percent on other “running” costs, such as utilities and rent.

All money spent on non-qualifying expenses must be repaid within two years at a one percent annual interest rate. (ibid)

Confusion and uncertainty surround the re-payment or forgiveness process itself. Who certifies that borrowers actually meet the 75 percent threshold and using borrowed funds as required? Will SBA will issue standard guidelines for forgiveness? Small business owners need to know which documents to maintain and records to keep. EZGSA, like all of you, await some clarity on next steps.

Are you unclear on your Small Business loan payback? We will let you know as soon as we do. In the mean time, feel free to give us a call.