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Tag: Biden Administration

The SBA should focus on small businesses, not fraudulent businesses

Last week the small business community urged lawmakers to shrink administrative burdens complicating entry into the Small. Business Administration’s (SBA’s) 8(a) program.

This is timely as the Biden Administration has set a goal to bolster the share of federal contracts awarded to small disadvantaged businesses from 5% to 15% by 2025. A former SBA official suggests the SBA focus on expanding entry to the program for disadvantaged businesses and not spend time penalizing those who fraudulently attempt to gain entry. This will go a long way to help achieve the goals as set by the administration.

Jackie Robinson-Burnette, CEO of Senior Executive Strategic Solutions and a former SBA senior program executive said SBA should, “shift their focus to include every firm that is eligible'” for the 8(a) program. She mentioned that she served at the SBA, the SBA received over 2,000 applications a year and accepted only 300 participants. The Government Accountability Office believes steps were taken to address fraudulent applications to the 8(a) program. Unfortunately, there remains no official verification procedure. The Government Accountability Office did not take steps to improve oversight of the program, according to report filings.

Robinson-Burnette said, “right now, the focus is making sure they mitigate the risk of firms getting into the program that shouldn’t be in the program – focusing on the fraud – when really that’s 1% or 2% of firms that apply. The other 90-plus percent of firms are struggling to get in … because the SBA is focused on the wrong thing.”

In addition to misplaced focus, Rep. Kweisi Mfune (D-MD) said business owners have reported concerns with the length of the program and that it takes most firms multiple years to receive their first awards. Mfune said, “this hinders the development of program participants and raises the question of whether enterprises are ready for graduation when they exit the program.”

Darryl Hairston, the SBA’s former associate administrator of business development, said he submitted a proposal to redesign the 8(a) program a few years ago. Hairston took into account the complexities small businesses encounter in navigating the federal marketplace during their initial years in operation.

Hairston said, “one of the things that we talked about was that most firms coming into the program, who are truly eligible for the program, had little experience in the federal marketplace. The timeframe is highly dependent upon how successful you are coming into the program and how well you take off with the benefits that are available to you.”

Robinson-Burnette feels adding priority access for SDB mentors will increase successful outcomes. This will occur by shifting some of the SBA’s dependence from their assigned business opportunity and creating additional inroads to work opportunities. Mfume is considering meeting with the SBA administrator to figure out “what can be done in the time we have.”

Are you a small disadvantaged business or a business looking to work with one on an upcoming contract? Give us a call.

The push to buy “Made in America” just got bigger

Last week President Biden announced actions to amplify his “made in America” pledge for federal procurements. These actions came in the form of a pending final rule that builds on the Biden administration’s “Made in America” efforts, announced via executive order in January of 2021. (Federal Computer Week March 8, 2022)

To qualify as “Made in America” for federal procurement, at least 55% of the value of the component parts of a product must be made in the US. The final rule will increase the threshold to 60% in 2022, 65% in 2024, and 75% in 2029, and close any current regulation loopholes. Additionally, it will create more opportunities for small and medium-sized and disadvantaged businesses. (ibid)

The final rule also institutes a foundation for the government “to apply enhanced price preferences to select critical products and components identified in a subsequent rulemaking,” according to a fact-sheet from the White House. “These preferences, once in place, will support the development and expansion of domestic supply chains. They provide a source of stable demand for domestically-produced critical products.” (ibid)

To smooth the transition and assist industry in their preparation for the new domestic content threshold, the final rule will take effect on October 25. This allows time to train the acquisition workforce on the new concepts of the final rule. (ibid)

Currently, there is no ability to verify claims made by contractors regarding the percentage of domestically made content in their products. The Administration plans to institute a reporting requirement validating the percentage of domestically made content in products. Biden pledged this during his announcement, last year. (ibid)

During President Biden’s State of the Union address, he said, “we’ll buy American to make sure everything from the deck of an aircraft carrier to the steel on highway guardrails is made in America from beginning to end.” According to Lonnie Stephenson, international president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Biden administration’s Made in America efforts “support good-paying, union jobs across the country.”

A new Made in America office is being created within the Office of the Management and Budget. Celeste Drake, director of the Made in America Office, recently said, “our strategy is working; businesses are investing in American manufacturing at historic rates.”

Questions about the “Made in America” rule and your current government contract or an upcoming proposal? Give us a call.

The Department of Defense is making Small Business their business

The Federal Register recently posted a request for comments which stated, “The participation of dynamic, resilient, and innovative small businesses in the defense industrial base is critical to the United States’ efforts to maintain its technological superiority, military readiness, and warfighting advantage. The department seeks public input on the barriers that small businesses face in working with the department. This input will be used to update the department’s Small Business Strategy led by the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Small Business Programs.” (Nextgov September 15, 2021)

DoD is looking to reinforce President Biden’s executive orders supporting underserved communities while promoting American competition. Some specific areas of exploration are:

  • What regulations or business practices hinder the relationship between small businesses and the government?
  • How do the department’s initiatives (The Mentor-Protege Program, Indian Incentive Program, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, the Rapid Innovation Fund, Small business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer), support or impact small businesses?
  • How do contracting timelines impact small businesses?
  •  Are skilled workforces attainable to “sustain a competitive small business ecosystem?”
  • How the coronavirus pandemic has impacted small businesses in the defense industrial base. (ibid)

At a recent Pennsylvania Showcase on Commerce, Defense Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks said, “over the past decade, small businesses in the defense industrial base shrunk by over 40%. The data shows that if we continue along the same trend, we could lose an additional 15,000 suppliers over the next 10 years.” She noted that the department is committed to making it more straightforward for small businesses to win contracts and referenced the Request for Comments notice in the Federal Register.

President Biden is “committed to nurturing small businesses that have faced historic barriers in rural and urban America, including businesses owned by veterans, women, and people of color-especially Black, Latino and Asian American businesses.” President Biden’s goal is to double the number of federal contracts awarded to small and disadvantaged businesses, in the next few years.

The Department of Defense is looking for input by October 25, 2021, to their Request for Comments. If you have questions about the RFC or are looking to work with the DoD or other government agency, give us a call.

 

 

Getting the government to green

The increasing number of Natural disasters are actually not at all “Natural.” They are costing the global economy more than $390 billion each year. As a response, consumers and corporations are working on ways to lower their carbon footprint. Simultaneously, the government is putting into place, aggressive timelines to curb emissions. The Biden administration announced a 2030 target, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 52 percent. (Washington Technology September 13, 2021)

Because the federal government has such extensive purchasing power, they have the ability to drive holistic sustainable innovations in the private sector. The government can create sustainability standards and include those standards in requests for proposals, thus driving the private sector into more sustainable practices. (ibid)

According to Bloomberg Government, “$682 billion was spent on contracts in fiscal 2020 a record expenditure for the government.” This gives the federal government the ability to incentivize contractors, who want to work with the government. (ibid)

Will sustainability standards become the norm for requests for proposals? It is already in cybersecurity, the NIST 800 standards have set the bar high for device manufacturers. (ibid)

A recent executive order to speed up cybersecurity advancements pushes industry to progress and innovate even faster. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could use this same type of model to impel sustainability. (ibid)

Once the government makes sustainability a priority, the private world will follow suit. We are already seeing a new mentality and with that, progress.

Questions concerning environmental standards and how to exceed them in your next response to an RFP? Give us a call.

 

 

The Price Reduction Clause needs to go

On July 9th, the Biden administration issued the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. Much of the focus of the Order is on fair and open competition. One way to accomplish this is the elimination of the Price Reduction Clause (PRC). The elimination of the PRC will streamline the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) program by removing barriers to entry into the federal marketplace. (Federal News Network July 19, 2021)

Robin Carnahan, General Services Administration Administrator, during her confirmation hearing, said, “I’ve talked to businesses that have tried to get on GSA Schedules… [T]hey’ve told me about how difficult that process is, and I’m interested in learning more about how we can streamline that.” The Price Reduction Clause elimination is a start. (ibid)

One could argue the following points to eliminate PRC:

  • The advancement of technology and the use of new purchasing practices have all but rendered the PRC obsolete.
  • The PRC can keep agencies from purchasing ground-breaking technologies from new vendors.
  • The PRC puts an undue compliance burden on small, medium, and large FSS contractors, costing them millions of dollars each year.
  • Price and value are driven by competition, at the task order level and in real-time. The PRC pre-determines contract-level pricing, often negotiating against presumed requirements from the past.
  • Compliance costs of the PRC can be detrimental to small businesses attempting to address the PRC’s complex compliance requirements.
  • The PRC is the only governmentwide contract term that can restrict contractors working with the government from competing in the commercial marketplace. This hurts jobs and economic growth. (ibid)

The elimination of the PRC will increase competition. Small businesses will more easily compete as price and value will drive task order-level competition. Without PRC’s complex compliance requirements,  small businesses will finally be able to afford to compete.

Looking to provide services to the government but the PRC has been a stumbling block? Give us a call.