The Navy is looking to end Small Business subcontractor baiting

The Department of the Navy (DoN) has exceeded all of its small business goals for fiscal year 2021, spending more than $17 billion with small business prime contractors. The Navy is, however, wrestling with small business subcontractors getting their fair share. (Federal News Network October 21, 2021)

An updated effort to enforce small business contracting plans is in the works, according to Jimmy Smith, the director of the Office of Small Business Programs for the Department of the Navy. (ibid)

According to Smith, “the Navy executed a Navy audit, service audit on subcontracting on our 10 major buying commands. The Naval Sea Systems Command was the first of those 10 audits. The audit has concluded. We’ve already seen the results of that and now we’re sharing that information across the entire enterprise to go off and correct problems. We don’t think we’re going to learn anything more from going over the same information in the other audits, so now is the time to get into corrective actions and the steps that we need in order to execute solutions to problems instead of continuing to admire problems.” (ibid)

The first audit has provided some changes to be made Navy-wide, according to Smith. “First is reporting back to our industry partners. We have to make that something that’s pretty standard, maybe use a machine learning technology to help contracting officers identify problems that are in contractor performance assessment reporting (CPARs) when it comes to how well our industry partners are doing meeting their own subcontract and goals, that they can communicate it to us. We would love to have a system that flashed bright red lights when an industry partner wasn’t living up to the plan in the document that they provide to us about the health of their effort. Right now, it’s all hand-over-hand reading to see if you find that someone is off and then go do the analysis. I think we have to come up with a mechanism that brings the importance level of subcontract and compliance up to a higher level to raise it to the attention that it’s deserved.” (ibid)

Government agencies and prime contractors, need to hold up their side of the bargain and be held accountable. In 2018, the Inspector General for the Defense Department found it to be a challenge for five contracting commands to monitor prime contractors’ compliance with individual subcontracting plans. He told the House Small Business Committee the individual contractors who held subcontracting plans, did not meet their small business subcontracting goals. (ibid)

The Federal Acquisition Regulations Council issued a final rule in August. The rule requires large businesses to make “good faith efforts” to meet subcontracting goals. A few examples of actions that are a failure to make a good-faith effort can be found in the SBA’s guidance list. (ibid)

The final rule spells out what encompasses not making a “good faith effort”. The rule includes turning in subcontracting plan reports late, not designating an employee to monitor the subcontracting plan, and not completing market research. (ibid)

Smith said the Navy has met all of its small business goals for the past four years. He added, the Navy’s goals are not just the numbers, but providing the correct capability to the warfighter at the best value. (ibid)

Smith noted that the Navy is finding small businesses that meet their needs by an extended outreach effort. The move to virtual events has also extended their outreach. Virtual events are more cost-effective and reach more people. Smith plans to continue to do some live events, however, webinars will complement these and hopefully reach even more small business contractors. (ibid)

Questions about your small business subcontract plan? Give us a call.

 

 

15% Goal for Small Disadvantaged Businesses

When it comes to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) the Biden administration is making good on its promises. The administration issued an executive order rescinding the Trump administration policies that weakened the diversity, equity, and inclusion training programs at agencies and federal contractors. In addition, the Office of Management and Budget issued a request for information (RFI) searching for DE&I solutions to enhance a number of government activities. (Government Executive May 19, 2021)

This particular RFI appears to be a crowd-sourcing application for policy solutions. It shows that the current administration is very serious about DE&I and their willingness to accept changes and an openness to new and different ways of viewing the inner workings of the government. (ibid)

It appears the administration is looking for better ways to leverage the government’s spending capability. To make sure all receive their fair share and to help close the income, wage, and opportunity gaps. The administration has initiated a 15% goal for federal contract dollars to go to small disadvantaged businesses. Although this looks like a great opportunity it is actually quite hard to measure how many dollars actually funnel through prime contractors to their subs. Figuring out how to measure the dollar flow would be a good start, then putting the 15% goal into effect. Progress is measurable at that point. (ibid)

So where are we today? Can the administration succeed with its DE&I goals? The question becomes, “how do we know?” Steps are clearly headed in the right direction, however, a commitment and a baseline are needed to end up where we want to be.

Are you a small disadvantaged business looking into GSA? Give us a call.

 

CMMC not for COTS

A recent modification to DoD’s website spells out a small but very specific change about the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC): it’s not applicable to DoD suppliers that only provide commercial-off-the-shelf products. (FedScoop, May 5, 2020)

Originally, DoD and CMMC administrators explained that all contractors and subcontractors must be certified under  CMMC by a third-party assessor. However, a few weeks ago, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment changed the official website. The revised FAQ section states: “Companies that solely produce Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) products do not require a CMMC certification.” (ibid)

CMMC is in place to certify contractors have the cybersecurity practices in place to work with controlled unclassified information, the actual products themselves. (ibid)

Wondering if CMMC applies to the products and or services you provide? Give us a call.

HHS Did What?

The Department of Health and Human Services Program Support Center (PSC) has decided to end assisted acquisition services. Some agencies under the PSC umbrella include: the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Special counsel, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Defense Department (DoD).  (DoD accounts for roughly $1 billion of the $1.4 billion total contract amount under the PSC.) (Federal News Network, July 22, 2019)

It appears HHS stopped offering assisted acquisition services in mid June, just as agencies are preparing for fourth quarter acquisitions. This likely includes the $150 million multiple-award contract PSC was about to award for EPA along with a number of “in-process” contracts for DoD. Additionally, any award for the prior four years must be moved to other agencies or absorbed by the “home” agency by September 20, 2020. (ibid)

So why exactly did HHS decide to stop its assisted acquisition services? In a memo to the civilian agency customers, they said they do not have the internal controls, policies, or procedures necessary. DoD customers received a comparable memo. (ibid)

Why now? Possibly due to the manner in which PSC has handled classified information for DoD and other agencies’ procurements through the self-certification process. The self-certification process is achieved through the DD-254 form. However, a recent audit found that PSC does not actually perform classified work. (ibid)

Unfortunately, this abrupt change is putting a burden on many agencies. Since the decision was made and will affect the fourth-quarter spending, agencies must now scramble to get other assisted acquisition service provider help. The decision also affects vendors, who spend time and money to bid on solicitations that must restart. And the question remains: will vendors lose work from existing contract awards that they bid on and won?

Roughly one-third of all federal spending occurs in the fourth quarter, with one-quarter of the spending in September. Administrators plan to meet with member companies, DoD ,and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to arrive at  a game plan going forward. (Federal News Network, July 22, 2019)

Will this affect a bid you are working on or a recent contract award? If so, give us a call.

Shutdown is Long, Still Going Strong

Is there an end in sight? Will the Dems and Trump come to an agreement soon? Will you get paid? Will you receive back pay for the time the government doors are shut? These are the questions government workers, contractors, and subcontractors are asking.

Here’s what we know:

• Private companies that serve civilian agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the EPA have been told to stop work on specific contracts. (No word as to what happens next.) (Washington Post January 6, 2019)

• The government is offering guidance to contractors on an agency-by-agency basis and contractors are starting to receive “stop work order” notices from those agencies that no longer have funds. (Department of Defense and intelligence agencies are, for the most part, unaffected.) (ibid)

• FEMA has posted a “blanket” stop work order. This likely will not affect deep pockets of larger companies working on FEMA contracts, but will undoubtedly negatively impact smaller businesses. Government workers will get back pay, government contractors will not. (Washington Post, January 6, 2019)

As feared, the smaller the business the greater the impact.

Have questions about your contracts with the government and what you should be doing? Give us a call at 301-913-5000.