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Tag: Federal Register

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.

 

 

Self-Assess No More

Cybersecurity for  Department of Defense (DoD) contractors is an ongoing issue. Now, DoD is issuing an interim rule to implement an Assessment Methodology and Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification framework. This will assess contractor implementation of cybersecurity requirements and enhance the protection of unclassified information within the DoD supply chain. (Federal Register, DFARS Case 2019-D041 Action: Interim Rule)

The current self-attestation of NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-171 is not working due to a lack of DoD verification. Until the implementation of the interim rule, DoD did not have a mandate to verify contractor basic safeguarding or security requirements prior to contract award.  This regulation changes that. The interim rule adds a process for contractors to  implement cybersecurity requirements. This is to be accomplished while the DoD’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) and the procedures with the Accreditation Body (AB) are solidified. (Meritalk, September 28, 2020)

Questions about how the new rule will affect your contract or upcoming bid and what you can expect? Give us a call.

Dun(s) Dun Dun Dun … No More

After almost 60 years of utilizing a DUNs number, every organization doing business with the government will receive a new identification number. Beginning in December 2020, the number and the process to acquire the Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) will change. The new identifier will be generated through SAM.gov; however, DUNS numbers will be retained for historical purposes and Dunn & Bradstreet open data limitations remain in effect in perpetuity.

GSA is moving to a new, non-proprietary identifier, a 12 character alpha-numeric value, will be assigned by the System for Award Management. The Federal Register announced the new (UEI), including the identifier standards. Additional updates to the UEI can be found here: gsa.gov/entityid. (GSA.gov Unique Entity Identifier Update, September 9, 2019)

As you can imagine, many questions surround the upcoming change, and GSA’s recent online meeting answered some of them. Those that missed the meeting or want to listen again can find the presentation at beta.SAM.gov  and selecting the UEI video link. All questions submitted and answers provided are also available on this downloadable pdf.

The transition phase began in July of 2019, but DUNS will continue as the official identifier until December 2020. During the transition, all existing entity registrations will automatically be assigned a new UEI which will be displayed in SAM.gov and no one will be required to re-enter this data. (ibid)

Thinking this small change can lead to a lot of confusion? Have some questions that didn’t get asked or answered during the GSA public meeting? Give us a call.

Self Certification — No More ;-(

The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act mandated that the Small Business Administration (SBA) discontinue self-certification of women-owned and other small businesses. In 2020, SBA plans to finalize a self-certification rule that closes a loophole allowing participants in the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program to self-certify. (Federal News Network, June 2019)

Approximately one-quarter of all federal contracts are held by small businesses, which over the past six years has helped federal agencies to  exceed  SBA’s governmentwide small business contracting goal. This year’s spending of more than $120 billion on small business contracts surpasses last year’s spending by nearly $15 billion.

The Government Accountability Office reported in March that almost 40 percent of WOSB-certified businesses were ineligible. Meanwhile, SBA’s Office of Inspector General June 2018 audit found 89 percent of sole-source (50 out of 56 contracts) did not meet all program criteria. Basically, there is currently no way to know if the contracts, listed in the chart below, were actually eligible for the sole-source awards. (ibid)

Rob Wong, SBA’s associate administrator of the Office of Government promotes a formal certification to  give the program some much-needed integrity. Wong said, “simply put, the wrong companies were receiving our contracts, we want to make sure that, if a company receives a contract through these programs, they’re actually eligible to receive it.” (ibid)

SBA has subsequently published a proposed rule in the Federal Register eliminating self-certification and providing a free online certification application to WOSB. Comments on the proposed rule are being accepted until July 15. In Wong’s opinion, it is high time to streamline the vetting process for the many other set-aside programs, all of which have different sets of eligibility criteria. Wong feels that going to three formal certifications for 8(a), Historically Underutilized Business Zones, women-owned, and service-disabled veterans will unify the processes. The rule with set-aside screening is expected to take a year for the changes to take effect. (ibid)

Do you have questions about the new certification process and how it may affect your current contract or an upcoming opportunity? Give us a call at 301-913-5000.