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Tag: SBA

How to find the perfect partner – in government contracting

The government contracting arena is not only tough to navigate but also highly competitive. Many businesses turn to business partnerships to better align their products and services to meet the requirements of the government. While there are many forms of business partnerships, the most common are subcontracting, joint ventures, and contractor team arrangements.

Subcontracting is the most popular form of partnership in government contracting. Generally, a prime contractor (possibly with an established government presence) looks for a small business entity to assist with a government contract. This type of partnership works particularly well for a small business trying to “break” into government contracting. Govconwire December 20, 2021

Another form of partnership is a joint venture. This is when a small business especially those under the Small Business Administration’s mentor-protege program form a partnership to execute specific tasks within a government contract. Small businesses will integrate their specific skills to perform under contract guidelines. (ibid)

The third type of partnership is the contractor team arrangement (CTS). This is when two or more businesses, all with GSA Schedule contracts, come together to work on very specific government contracts. (ibid)

There are several ways to meet prospective partners. There are government contracting events, sponsored by businesses and on occasion, the government. Government websites, also publish various subcontracting opportunities, such as eLibrary, SubNet, the SBA Directory of Federal Government Prime Contractors with a Subcontracting Plan, and the Department of Defense’s Subcontracting Opportunity Directory. (ibid)

Being prepared when pitching a potential business partner is the most effective way to learn whether or not the partnership will work for both parties. Knowledge of your potential partner is key, company background, products and services offered, benefits to both parties, and a product demonstration all help to determine if the businesses are the right fit to work together. (ibid)

It can be hard to know if two companies are right for each other. One way to determine a good fit is to work on a project together before heading into the government arena. Look at their performance under pressure. Did they handle expectations well? Did the pressure cause hiccups in performance? Did communication take place or were there bottlenecks? These are just a few questions to be answered when determining whether a business relationship will be positive as well as productive. (ibid)

Finally, is there a commitment from both parties? Like any lasting, strong relationship, there must be dedication on both sides to make the partnership work.

Struggling to get your first government contract? Looking for a business to partner with? Give us a call.

contractor team arrangement | Government contracting | GSA Schedule Contract | Mentor Protege Program | prime contractor | SBA | small business | subcontractor

The 8(a) Business Development Program – the resource you didn’t know you needed

GSA shows its commitment to small businesses through the many resources made available to them. One beneficial resource which the Small Business Administration (SBA) has put into place is the 8(a) Business Development program. (GSA BLOG September 15, 2021)

The 8(a) Business Development program provides a fair and equitable opportunity for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities. The government does this by limiting competition for specific contracts to businesses that participate in the 8(A) Business Development program. (ibid)

Disadvantaged businesses the 8(a) program can take advantage of the following:

  • Competition for sole-source and set-aside contracts
  • Retention of a Business Opportunity Specialist to help navigate the federal contracting arena
  • Joint ventures with well-established businesses through the SBA’s Mentor-Protege Program
  • Management and technical support, business training, marketing assistance, and counseling (ibid)

Eligibility requirements for 8(a) status:

  • Meet small business size standards
  • No previous participation in an 8(a) program
  • The small business must be at least 51% owned/controlled by U.S. citizens who are economically and socially disadvantaged
  • Personal net worth must be $750K or less
  • Exhibit good character and the ability to perform on contracts (ibid)

All prospects for the 8(a) Business Development program must be certified in order to participate.

Questions concerning your 8(a) small disadvantaged business status or how to go about being certified? Give us a call.

 

 

Small Business? Better be able to prove it

The Small Business Administration has contracting assistance programs, in place, to help small businesses by limiting competition for certain government contracts. Additionally, they work to ensure at least 23 percent of all federal contracting dollars goes to small businesses. (JD Supra August 13, 2021)

The current SBA programs are:

  • The small business set-aside program
  • 8(a) Business Development (8(a)) Program)
  • Service-Disabled Business (WOSB) Program
  • Historically-Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) Program (ibid)

It has come to light that some of these programs have had issues certifying and monitoring participants of the programs. Recently, two inspectors general audited the HUBZone and SDVOSB programs. The audits showed 15 of 39 firms receiving HUBZone certification and a HUBZone contract. Of the 15, three were improperly certified to participate in the program. The SBA had not made an eligibility determination for four others participating in the program. (ibid)

The Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Inspector General (DoD-OIG) recently issued a report that turned up concerns with how DoD confirms eligibility for SDVOSB contract awards. In the report, 29 SDVOSB contractors were audited. 16 contractors at issue received 27 contracts, together with values at $827.8 million. Those 16 contractors “did not have a service-disabled veteran as the owner and the highest-ranking officer of the company or whose publically available information and contract documentation did not support that the contractor met the requirements for SDVOSB status.” (ibid)

Since the issues have come out, both criminal and civil enforcement has increased. There have been four federal indictments or guilty pleas from business owners who misrepresented their status as a small business, women-owned business, service-disabled veteran-owned business, or minority-owned business. These are all clear-cut cases of misrepresentation and fraud. Recently, a construction company obtained $250 million in government contracts set aside for SDVOSBs. The owner of the company put a disabled veteran as the apparent owner of the construction company to qualify the company as an SDVOSB. The true owner turned out to be a non-service-disabled business partner who controlled both the financial and operational control of the company. This type of fraud is known as a “rent a vet” scheme. (ibid)

The government may use the False Claims Act (FCA) (31 U.S.C 3729-3733) to root out contractors who violate small business compliance laws. The FCA has a whistleblower aspect allowing for whistleblowers to obtain a percentage of the government’s recovery from a successful resolution of the matter. The FCA is a civil enforcement statute that does not require specific intent to defraud. The reach of the FCA is broad and not to be taken lightly. (ibid)

In 2020, there were 8 key settlements, rulings, and filings regarding various small business fraud scheme allegations and five settlements in 2021 already. Just last month a Virginia-based consulting group and the president of the company agreed to pay a $4.8 settlement regarding FCA allegations. The recent civil enforcement should be a flashing light of warning to small business government contractors that inspectors general and the DOJ are actively pursuing contractors who know their actions are in violation of small business contracting rules. (ibid)

To stay compliant and reduce risk, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • Establish a company culture of compliance, with every employee understanding the rules
  • Work with subject matter experts to stay informed
  • Continuously verify the company eligibility in the program
  • Assess the eligibility of subcontractors or affiliates
  • Perform comprehensive and thorough compliance risk assessments (ibid)

Following the guidelines will allow small businesses to spend their resources on participating in government contracts and not on criminal/civil violations.

Trying to determine if you meet the guidelines? Give us a call.

 

 

 

$355M for Women Owned Small Businesses

Over the past 20 years, the government has aimed to award at least 5 percent of contracts to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs). In FY2020, WOSBs received $561.7 million in contracts. However, GSA has only set aside $354.9 million for WOSB contracts in FY2021. (ExecutiveGov, March 4, 2021)

According to GSA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, 10.47 percent of the total FY2020 contracting obligations for women-owned vendors were prime awards. To lend a hand to these vendors, GSA provides support through training resources and Forecast of Contracting Opportunities. These tools and other activities earned GSA a grade of A+ from the Small Business Administration in FY2019 for their work to support small businesses. (ibid)

Are you a Small or Woman-Owned Small Business looking to prime or sub on an upcoming procurement? Give us a call.

FY 2021 SubK Reporting Deadline Extended

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is extending the period for subcontract reporting for fiscal year 2021. The extension allows Federal Contractors (FCs) extra time to correct any issues experienced during the pandemic as well as Federal Agencies (FAs) extra time to review the reports. This will be the final Subcontract Reporting extension. The timeframe for FCs to revise rejected reports is not extended and remains unchanged. (Small Business Administration Notification March 5, 2021)

Extensions provided by the SBA include:

  • 15 days for FC’s report submission due dates and for  the FA’s review periods for the FY 2021 ISRs and SSRs
  • 45 days after the end of the reporting period for FCs to submit their ISR and SSR and 45 days after contract completion if applicable
  • 75 days from the reports’ ending dates for FAs to acknowledge receipt or reject the initial reports
  • 30 days after receipt of a rejection notice, per FAR § 52.219-9(l), for FCs to revise rejected reports
  • 30 days after submittal for FAs to review revised reports

The subcontract report extensions are effective immediately. This pdf contains the formal notice SBA provided for the extension notification. (ibid)

Have questions concerning your ISR or SSR or a rejected report notice? Give us a call.