Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Tag: SBA

GSA and the Small Business Administration are teaming up!

GSA is partnering with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to increase 8(a) contracting opportunities. The partnership makes it virtually effortless for GSA customers to use the MAS program to access various solutions from 8(a) contractors. (BUY.GSA.GOV l Interact November 18, 2022)

Once the implementation is complete the PA provides these benefits:

  • Increased opportunities for 8(a) contractors, allowing these contractors competition in a safe set-aside environment.
  • Accessibility to 8(a) contractors and various socioeconomic contractors, thus allowing for a vast range of products and services.
  • Increased ordering flexibility under the MAS Program.
  • Streamlined acquisition processes, thus incentivizing agencies to use 8(a) solutions.
  • GSA and SBA standardized processes for reaching an agreement on acquisition strategies. (ibid)

GSA is looking at a spring 2023 implementation of the Partnership Agreement. (ibid)

Are you an 8(a) contractor or have questions concerning your 8(a) contractor status? Give us a call.

A Technology “Schedule” in the making

The Small Business Research program is in place for companies to use to develop state-of-the-art technologies. GSA is working to build a contract, much like the GSA Schedule platform, to give agencies access to these technologies. The idea is to shorten the time between a prototype of a new technology and the time it takes to get it to government users. (Washington Technology October 28, 2022)

Federal users lose out on many technologies because they never advance to phase two of the program. According to Jim Ghiloni, acting innovation sector director and IDIQ labs group manager at the General Services Administration (GSA), phase three becomes a challenge because it requires agencies to fund further development work to take advantage of new technology. Ghiloni recently said GSA is working on a government-wide contract vehicle that gives agencies access to these emerging technologies. (ibid)

Ghiloni is working on the business case to present to GSA while market research is ongoing. A draft solicitation is expected in the spring of 2023. Ghiloni plans for the vehicle to be in place by the fall of 2023. (ibid)

The plan is for the contract to look a lot like the GSA Schedule program. Here’s how it would work:

  • Companies finish phase two of an SBIR contract with technology ready to sell
  • Submit a proposal to get a spot on the vehicle
  • Market technology to government agencies (ibid)

All SBIR contracts have three phases. The first phase is developing proof of concept. The second phase is ongoing research and development to prove the technology is commercially viable. Phases one and two of an SBIR contract are funded by the SBIR program. For a company to move to phase three, an agency buyer is needed to commercially develop the technology. To date, this has been difficult because there has not been a mechanism for agencies to use to fund the third phase. (ibid)

Ghiloni hopes to make it easy for agencies to start taking advantage of emerging technologies while at the same time, drawing new entrants to the government marketplace. (ibid)

Is your small business developing an emerging or new technology? Give us a call.

Primes are on the line

On August 22, 2022, the Small Business Administration (SBA) will start providing small businesses with additional ways to show past performance ratings. Past performance ratings are necessary to compete for prime federal contracts. (FEDSCOOP July 25, 2022)

The SBA published a new final rule in the Federal Register that gives small businesses two additional methods to prove qualifying past performance. The first is a joint venture where the small business was part of the joint venture, performing contract work. The second is the subcontracting plan performed by a first-tier subcontractor, under a prime contract. (ibid)

The rule executes Section 868 of the National Defense Authorization Act of fiscal 2021. The goal is to make it easier for small business subcontractors to secure past performance ratings needed to compete for prime contracts. It allows subcontractors to request ratings from contracting officers and prime contractors they have worked with in the past. (ibid)

“SBA believes that, by implementing this rule, the government will be able to attract new small business prime contractors. This will enhance competition in government contracting and provide agencies with increased access to innovative products and services,” according to the SBA. (ibid)

The rule removes the timeline requirement on past performance ratings. The rule allows agencies to use their discretion and gives subcontractors a minimum of 30 calendar days after a performance period’s completion to request ratings from prime contractors. This will keep subcontractors from having to wait until their contract work is complete to request ratings. (ibid)

The requirement to respond to subcontractors’ requests is included in primes’ subcontracting plans, a failure to comply may lead to contract termination, withholding of award fees, lower past performance ratings for subcontracting, liquidated damages, and possibly debarment for “willful or repeated” cases. (ibid)

The SBA has added to the final ruling that subcontractors should notify the contracting officer in the event that the prime contractor fails to submit the requested rating within the rule’s prescribed timeframe. All past performance evaluation factors should align with those of the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS). (ibid)

The SBA is adding to the final rule that the prime contractor shall use the five-scale rating system – Exceptional, Very Good, Satisfactory, Marginal, and Unsatisfactory. (ibid)

Are you a small business trying to obtain past performance ratings? Give us a call.

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.

There’s more to a Small Business Affiliation than meets the eye

Small business contracting has been gaining momentum through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) “all small” mentor-protege program. This program allows a large business to form a joint venture with a small business to compete for set-aside contracts. The SBA has several ways to determine if a company is actually small. And just because you meet the size standard for a procurement does not necessarily mean you are eligible for an award. (Federal News Network January 14, 2022)

Every procurement has a size standard assigned. Size standards set the largest size that a business (including its subsidiaries and affiliates) may be. Therefore, it is crucial to note whether the small business has any affiliates. Size standards are based on the number of employees or average annual receipts of a company. An affiliate’s number of employees and annual receipts are included in business size determination. (ibid)

Many award protests arise when offerors allege the winning company is ineligible, based on size. A protestor will argue that a company is not a small business due to its affiliation with a large company. The affiliation thereby exceeds the size standard. Should the SBA find that a bidding company exceeds the size standard due to an affiliation, the result can be the loss of a contract. (ibid)

Affiliation is when one company controls another company, or a third party controls both businesses. It doesn’t matter if the control is exercised. It only matters that it exists. (ibid)

Common ownership can give rise to affiliation. Common ownership happens when an owner of a firm holds an ownership interest in one or more other firms. This gets complicated if a company is owned by multiple shareholders. (ibid)

Affiliation can occur due to the relationship between the firms themselves, such as an affiliation based on the ostensible subcontractor rule. This rule provides that a prime contractor and subcontractor are affiliated if the subcontractor is performing the primary requirements of a contract and the prime contractor is reliant upon the subcontractor. If the SBA dins an affiliation under the ostensible contractor rule, it is limited to the procurement in question. Both companies may be eligible for award of other small business contracts. (ibid)

The rules around affiliation are subtle and often complicated. Many times a company finds out about an affiliation only after a protest is filed. An unfavorable size determination will result in the loss of a contract. This can affect a vendor’s ability to compete for future set-aside contracts. If this happens, a firm must be recertified as small. It is the same if a protested frim is a protege in a mentor-protege joint venture. The protege must be recertified. (ibid)

Affiliations are preventable. All agreements should include representations concerning the prime contractor’s small business status. All parties should be knowledgeable of the circumstances that may result in affiliation. (ibid)

Do you have affiliation questions? Give us a call.