Posts tagged "Government contracting"
Apr 9, 2015

PETALUMA, Calif., April 8, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As a member of the House Small Business Committee, Congresswoman Janice Hahn from California's 44th District has proposed an amendment that would request a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation into the diversion of billions of dollars in federal small business contracts unfairly awarded to Fortune 500 companies.
Congresswoman Hahn's decision to request the new GAO investigation was based on research by the American Small Business League (ASBL). Hahn expressed concern about the government's claim that 23% of all federal contracts were actually being awarded to small businesses when that number included billions of dollars to Fortune 500 firms such as Apple, Chevron, Disney, Verizon and Bank of America.
The last GAO investigation into the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants was in 2002 and was prompted by information provided by ASBL President and founder Lloyd Chapman. That investigation found over 5,300 large businesses were receiving federal small business contracts. Chapman was invited to testify before the House Small Business Committee after the results of the GAO investigation were released. Read full article.

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Jan 9, 2017
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Jul 24, 2014

conference is free and open to business leaders
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Congressman Bill Posey will host a Federal Contracting Conference at Florida Tech’s Denius Student Center in Melbourne August 4 - 5.
 
The event is a chance for government contractors to have one-on-one meetings with procurement representatives from Atlanta and Central Florida to explore new contracting opportunities. Read Full Article.
 

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Nov 18, 2013

As government contracting continues to become more competitive in response to shrinking budgets for federal contracts, more disappointed offerors are pursuing bid protests to protect their interests. After climbing rapidly through the mid-2000s, federal government spending on contracts reached a high of almost $541 billion in Fiscal Year ("FY") 2008. Since then, spending has dropped to $517.1 billion in FY 2012 and continued to decline in FY 2013. As contractors fight to maintain their piece of the federal procurement budget, it is increasingly important for these contractors to understand their options for challenging agency procurement decisions through bid protests.
 
1. Interested Party/Standing
To file a bid protest, a protestor must demonstrate that it has standing as an interested party, meaning the protestor must be an actual or prospective offeror whose direct economic interest would be affected by the award of a contract or by the failure to award a contract. Thus, while a protester challenging the terms of a solicitation must be an actual or prospective offeror, a protestor challenging an agency's selection decision must also demonstrate that it would be next in line for an award but for the agency error or that it would regain the opportunity to compete if its protest was sustained.
 
2. Forum Selection
A contractor challenging a federal procurement may generally choose to file a bid protest before the agency administering the procurement, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (COFC). Agency-level protests typically offer the least expensive and quickest option for a disappointed offeror, followed by GAO protests, and then COFC protests. For agency-level protests, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requires agencies to use best efforts to resolve a protest within 35 days after the protest is filed, although some agencies have implemented their own rules requiring shorter timeframes for resolution. The FAR similarly imposes a strict deadline for resolving protests filed before GAO; however, GAO has up to 100 days after the initial protest filing to issue a decision. By contrast, there are no time constraints on COFC's authority to resolve bid protests.
Further, because none of these forums hold appellate jurisdiction over the others, a protestor who is unsatisfied with the result of a protest may re-file the protest in a different forum, with limited exceptions. For example, a protestor disappointed with the outcome of a GAO protest may be able to file a COFC protest, but a protestor that starts at the COFC cannot later file a GAO protest based on the same issue. Thus, contractors may want to start with an agency-level or GAO protest before going to the COFC.
Although agency-level protests may be relatively quick and inexpensive, they also have significant disadvantages compared to GAO and COFC protests. For example, agency-level protestors have no right to discovery. By contrast, GAO and COFC protests require limited discovery, which means agencies must produce an agency report or administrative record containing all documents relevant to the protest. Further, in some cases, a COFC protest may allow for additional discovery (e.g., depositions).
Another important distinction between agencies, GAO, and the COFC is the difference in remedies available to a disappointed bidder. While agencies and GAO have limited authority and only can issue recommendations, the COFChas the power to enforce its judgments. Although this distinction has the potential to significantly impact forum selection, as a practical matter agencies generally follow GAO's recommendations.
 
3. CICA Automatic Stay
One significant advantage only offered by GAO protests is the availability of an automatic stay of contract award or performance under the Competition in Contracting Act ("CICA"). To obtain a CICA stay, the protestor only needs to file its protest within 10 days of the contract award or within five days of its debriefing. However, the requirement for a CICA stay is not triggered until GAO provides notice of the protest filing to the contracting agency. Further, because GAO has up to a day to provide the required notice, contractors should file protests in advance of the filing deadline when requesting a CICA stay to ensure that GAO has sufficient time to notify the contracting agency.
By contrast, CICA stays are not available in COFC protests. Nonetheless, the COFC may stay contract award or performance through granting injunctive relief, although grants of injunctive relief require the protestor to satisfy a relatively high standard. Further, protestors must not only satisfy a high burden to warrant injunctive relief, but also must post security in an amount deemed appropriate by the court to pay the costs and damages sustained by a party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained.
 
4. Agency Debriefings
Even though competitive procurements require the agency to conduct a debriefing with an offeror following the award decision, the manner and content of debriefings vary greatly. In some procurements, the agency may provide a written debriefing, while in others the agency may provide an in-person or telephonic debriefing. Moreover, some debriefings include detailed analysis, redacted versions of source selection documents, and even an opportunity for the protestor to have the agency respond to specific questions. Other debriefings, are limited to the information required under the FAR´┐Że.g., evaluation of significant weaknesses or deficiencies in the offeror's proposal, overall evaluated cost or price and technical rating, or overall ranking of the offerors. Unfortunately, despite the lack of uniformity and the limited regulations governing the scope of debriefings, an offeror cannot protest the content of its debriefing.
 
5. Pre-Award vs. Post-Award Protests
Regardless of which forum a protestor chooses, protests challenging the terms of a solicitation must be filed prior to the closing date for proposal submissions. After that deadline passes, a protestor only can challenge the terms of a solicitation if those terms contain a latent ambiguity, meaning that the solicitation error was subtle and not capable of being identified until the evaluation. The latent ambiguity exception, however, often can prove a difficult standard to meet. Thus, before the proposal submission deadline, contractors should carefully review solicitations for any unclear or potentially discriminatory terms and consider addressing those terms with the agency and, if necessary, filing a protest. By contrast, post-award protests may challenge a much broader range of issues and follow different timeliness rules.
 
6. Timeliness Rules
Except when based on alleged improprieties in a solicitation, agency-level protests and GAO protests must be filed no later than 10 days after the basis of protest is known or should have been known, whichever is earlier. Agencies however, may consider the merits of a protest filed outside the 10 day requirement for good cause or when the agency determines that a protest raises issues significant to the agency's acquisition system. Further, where the protest challenges a competitive procurement under which a required debriefing is requested, the protestor has until 10 days after the debriefing to file a protest. However, the protest must be filed within five days of the debriefing to secure a suspension of contract performance. Unlike agency-level and GAO protests, the COFC does not require protestors to satisfy strict filing deadlines in most cases, although the COFC has effectively adopted GAO's timeliness rule for protests challenging solicitation improprieties.
 
7. Hearings
Although hearings are regularly held in protests before the COFC, GAO holds hearings in a limited number of protests. Generally, GAO will hold a hearing only to resolve a factual dispute that requires assessing witness credibility or whereGAO determines that a hearing would be more efficient than proceeding on written submissions only. As evidence of how rarely GAO conducts hearings, between FY 2008 and 2012, GAO conducted hearings for only 260 of 10,768 protests filed.
 
8.. Filing Trends
Although the number of GAO protests continues to rise, the rate of increase has tapered off in recent years. In FY 2012, GAO saw 2,475 protests filed, compared to 2,353 in FY 2011, 2,229 in FY 2010, 1,989 in FY 2009, and 1,652 in FY 2008. By contrast, the COFC hears a relatively stable number of protests each year. Between FY 2005 and FY 2010, only 454 protests were filed before the COFC.
 
9. Success Rates
Despite the noted increase in GAO protest filings, the sustain rate has remained relatively stable. In FY 2012, GAO sustained 18.6% of protests, compared to 16% in FY 2011, 19% in FY 2010, 18% in FY 2009, and 21% in FY 2008. Although these figures may seem low, GAO tracks this data only on protests where GAO issues a formal recommendation. As such, GAO's statistics fail to account for protests in which a protestor successfully obtains corrective action from an agency.
 
10. Potential Changes to GAO's Handling of Protest
Despite the drastic increase in protest filings, GAO continues to maintain a manual docketing system. However, GAO's FY 2014 budget request asked Congress to provide GAO the authority to collect a filing fee for protests so that it could fund development, implementation, and maintenance of an electronic docketing system. In response to GAO's request, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate appropriations bills have included language that would authorize GAO to collect the fee, although neither bill specifies the amount of the fee. Reference Article.

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Oct 1, 2012

While their views varied to some degree, federal agency officials and advocacy groups GAO contacted identified a number of challenges that small, minority-owned businesses may face in pursuing federal government contracts. For example, officials and advocacy groups pointed to a lack of performance history and knowledge of the federal contracting process as significant barriers. Officials from advocacy groups cited additional challenges, such as difficulty gaining access to contracting officials and decreased contracting opportunities resulting from contract bundling—the consolidation of two or more contracts previously performed under smaller contracts, into a single contract. Officials from agencies that accounted for 70 percent of federal contracting with small, minority-owned businesses—(the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, and the General Services Administration) told GAO that they conducted outreach to help small, minority-owned businesses with these challenges. Their outreach efforts include one-on-one interviews between contracting office staff and businesses seeking federal contracts. Linguistic and cultural barriers were identified as a challenge on a limited basis.
Federal agencies GAO contacted collected and reported some information on the contracting assistance provided to small disadvantaged businesses—including those that are minority-owned. Two agencies GAO reviewed collected and reported data by minority group. The Minority Business Development Agency in the Department of Commerce—created to foster the growth of minority-owned businesses of all sizes—reported that its business centers helped these businesses obtain 1,108 financings and contracts worth over $3.9 billion in fiscal year 2011. For the same fiscal year, the Small Business Administration (SBA) reported that more than 90 percent of its primary business development program participants were minority-owned businesses. Federal agencies that GAO contacted said that the goals SBA negotiated with federal agencies for contracting with various socioeconomic categories, including small disadvantaged businesses, provided some information on efforts to assist minority-owned businesses. In fiscal year 2011, agencies GAO contacted met their prime contracting goal and three out of four agencies met their subcontracting goals. GAO generally found limited data on participants in agency outreach efforts because the agencies are not required to, and therefore generally do not, collect data on the minority group or socioeconomic category of businesses that participate in outreach events for federal contracting opportunities. Read the full study.

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Feb 27, 2012

During the past year, revenue from government contracts has grown for 50% of survey participants, while 21% experienced no significant change and 29% experienced reductions in revenue. The fact that the highest percentage of companies experienced revenue growth continues a long-term trend reported in previous surveys, indicating that government contractors are far less vulnerable than commercial companies to recessions or slow growth in the overall economy. However, the 29% of companies experiencing revenue reductions is the highest percentage reported in several surveys, indicating that government efforts to reduce deficits are adversely impacting government contractor revenue. Read Full Report.

 

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Oct 26, 2011

Out go all the U.S. troops by year’s end, President Obama said Friday about Iraq. And in go the contractors, along with some familiar contracting problems, say other government officials and independent experts.

As the United States pulls out its remaining 50,000 or so troops after a decade of conflict costing around $1 trillion, many of the soldiers’ non-fighting functions will be pursued by a force of State Department-funded government contractors expected to near 15,000.

That preliminary estimate, now being circulated by the administration among lawmakers on Capitol Hill, would represent an overwhelming share of the official remaining U.S. presence in the unsettled country. But even after wide publicity about past contracting abuses and waste, new scandals may trail behind this persistent deployment, according to a commission created by Congress to study the missteps so far.

“After a decade of war, the government remains unable to ensure that taxpayers and warfighters are getting good value for contract dollars spent,” Dov S. Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller and a member of the congressionally-created Commission on Wartime Contracting, told the Senate Armed Services committee a day before Obama’s announcement.

In an August report, prepared after a three-year study of contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the commission estimated that between $30 billion and $60 billion has been lost to waste and fraud so far in those conflicts, representing 15 to 30 percent of all that Washington has spent on contractor-provided security, civil reconstruction, training, and other nation-building work. Read Full Article

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Feb 3, 2010

Businesses electing to get into the government market are abundant, but most stop at the initial briefing when the business owner or manager finds out that the cash register does not automatically fill up after the initial registration processes.

The government market rewards are plentiful if you have the desire AND the patience to navigate through the various entry points and are diligent with your marketing efforts. Whether you are a product provider or service provider, there are key elements necessary in order to be successful in the government market.

First you need to plan your strategy. Decide whether you are going to go through the process with your internal resources or hire an experienced team to help you get introduced to key players, buying agencies and prime contracting partners. Most companies experience serious growing pains if there is not a clear understanding of the landscape before getting started.

Ask yourself some key questions. Does the government buy what I sell? How often? Who are my competitors? What value-added services do I bring to the table? What does my company do differently to set me apart? Once you can clearly answer these initial questions, you are ready for next steps. Here are some examples of what government contracting officers are looking for.

1) Quick delivery
2) Quality –strong technical capabilities
3) Customer Service – good past performance
4) Company reputation

Next, define your position for your product or service. Remember the US Government market is 25% OF THE GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT AND HAS OVER 20 MILLION EMPLOYEES. You need to know WHO in government are your significant buyers and influencers, and specifically target these people. Incremental growth is recommended and it is sane and doable. Spending money on prospecting new agencies before your foundation is laid is risky at best.

Develop relationships. Like in any business, people do business with people and companies they know and trust. Government business is no exception. Establish and maximize the value of relationships. Remember the “R” word. Understanding that federal employees take pride in their work is key when formulating new RELATIONSHIPS. Knowing and understanding simple things like “on-time, on-budget” makes your client – your government customer- a star. If you can deliver, they will remember.

Proactive marketing – Intelligent and proactive marketing makes the difference. Identifying the prospects, creating the opportunities, developing the relationships and developing the right niche for your company based on customer feedback will allow you to win major government market share.
There is no one pathway for doing business with the government. It requires dedication, patience, due diligence and thoroughness of work performed.

Ready to get started? Here is a summary of helpful hints for small businesses looking for government contract opportunities.

1. Do your homework and check out the competition competition.
2. Get ready. Make sure you have all the registrations complete such as a federal tax ID # and DUNS number.
3. Get the necessary classifications. Are you a veteran-owned, women-owned, small, and/or disadvantaged company? If so, it pays to get classified as such in order to take advantage of set-aside contracts.
4. Build a Central Contracting Registration (CCR) profile
5. Consider subcontracting and teaming. Identify large firms that hold contracts and determine how your product or service would be a value addition to their offerings to the government. Subcontracting is an excellent way to gain exposure to the government market. New help? Click here to get started
6. Attend small-business conferences
7. Visit a local Small Business Administration (SBA) office.

Still got that itch to enter the government niche? GovPartners, LLC is a minority, woman-owned firm that works with small businesses to help streamline the government process. Our cradle-to-grave approach includes government registrations, opening doors to prime contractors, researching government opportunities, proposal writing and submission and business development efforts. If the above efforts are overwhelming for your existing resources to handle, GovPartners will expand your current team to develop and execute a comprehensive government business development plan specifically tailored for your company. Contact us today for a successful tomorrow.

Arthur: Sabrina Ford, GovPartners
 

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Nov 17, 2009

In a survey of government contractors, Deltek Inc. has found some faults in the conventional wisdom about today’s market.

The survey covered questions about growth, business strategies, policy issues and operational issues facing contractors in the government market.

Nearly 250 people completed the 60-question survey, which will be presented at Deltek’s Clarity ’09 conference in Tysons Corner, Va., to be held Nov. 17.

5 Myths Busted

Myth 1: The government contractor growth rates are decreasing.
Reality: The sector is still growing, with larger firms in the survey are experiencing better growth rates than expected, on the order of 10 percent.

Myth 2 : The merger and acquisition market is active and vibrant.
Realtiy: More than 85 percent of large firms surveyed did not indicate any definite M&A plans for 2010.

Myth 3 : Project management is a mature discipline among large firms.
Realtiy : The discipline is less mature than one would think. Only 11 percent of large companies thought that their project management was very mature, and the larger the company, the more likely they were to report a lower level of confidence in their project status confidence.

Myth 4 : Big firms do things faster and more efficiently.
Reality: The industry average invoicing cycle of a large firm is 12.6 days, while the cycle of a smaller firm is four times shorter.

Myth 5 : In this new age, the Defense Contract Audit Agency has adopted a more confrontational stance with contractors.
Reality: Surprisingly, the survey found that not to be the case, with more than 83 percent of contractors that were recently audited saying that the relationship was “good” or “excellent”. The vast majority said it was actually improving.  Read full article washingtontechnology.com/articles/2009/11/16/5-myths-busted.aspx

 

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