Government Contractor News for February 21, 2018

Contractors Face Significant Security Threats

CyberSecurity firm BitSight reported recently that government contracting firms face significant security threats that could put the nation’s security at risk. 5.6% of aerospace and defense contractors surveyed and 4.3% of technology contractors reported at least one breach since 2016. Healthcare contractors suffered the most, with 8% reporting issues since 2016. The survey raised other concerns as well, including the fact that many contractors depend on the same set of Cloud service providers and an outage among those providers could severely impact most, if not all, federal agencies. Click here to read more about the survey and how contractors can protect themselves from these dangers. 

 

VA Bid Protest Sustained Due to Ambiguities in the Solicitation

We talk a lot about bid protests and also avoiding costly ambiguities when working with an RFP. Recently, the GAO ruled in favor of a contractor who questioned the solicitation for office furniture being labeled as a SDVOSB set-aside after the contracting officer eliminated the required subcontracting-related VAAR 852.219-10 from the solicitation. Read all the details of the case here

 

Stability and Opportunity for Contractors in the 2019 Budget

Trey Hodgkins, Senior VP for the Public Sector at the Information Technology Alliance for Public Sector, says contractors have reason to feel positive about the President’s 2019 budget. Listen here to see why Hodgkins says the 2019 budget will bring stability and opportunity for federal contractors. 

 

Whether you need help evaluating the potential of a bid protest or want to increase your opportunities as a contractor by getting on the GSA Schedule, Randolph Law can help. Contact us today to take advantage of our experience in the federal contracting industry. 

 

 

 

GSA News & Commentary for Federal Contractors

GSA Expands Contractor Availability on One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services Small Business (OASIS SB)

Agencies now have 31 new ways to buy professional services, with a major addition to the small business side of OASIS. Available professional services include consulting, logistical, engineering, management, financial, and scientific services all under one contract. Read more about the new additions here. 

Increasing Transparency in the GSA Schedule Procurement Process

Recently confirmed GSA Schedule Administrator Emily Murphy has made it her goal to increase transparency in the federal procurement process, particularly by shining light on some of the “members-only” contracts that exist behind the GSA Schedule wall. Murphy counts transparency and increased competition as her top priorities as Administrator, and she is now waiting for recommendations from the Office of Governmentwide Policy, the Office of General Counsel, and the Federal Acquisition Service. Click here to read more about her objectives.

Are You Ready to Get on the GSA Schedule?

Our recent white paper offers a GSA Schedule Checklist for companies that are eager to secure their own position on the GSA Schedule. Download your copy here and take steps to prepare your organization to take advantage of the GSA Schedule’s contract vehicles.

 

Are you looking for a legal partner to support your federal contracting efforts? Contact Randolph Law today to learn more about the legal services that we offer for federal contractors. 

Dealing with a Government Shutdown & Other Contracting News for January 24th

The weekend’s government shutdown resolved on Monday, and federal employees returned to work. However, more shutdowns are inevitable as a result of intense political divides across the country. In this week’s news round up, we take a look at what federal contractors need to know in light of this week’s shutdown and possible shutdown on February 8th. 

What Do Government Contractors Need to Do During a Shutdown? 

With more government services being delivered by contractors than ever before, companies that are contracted for work with the federal government need to take special care during a shutdown. It’s critical during this time to maintain a positive relationship with your contracting officers and work with them to ensure that your actions during the shutdown meet the requirements of your contract. Click here to see a recommended action plan for federal contractors to follow during a government shutdown. 

 Tips for Using Contract Employees During the Shutdown

While some contract employees qualify as essential personnel, many federal contractors find themselves out of work during a federal shutdown. However, federal contracting firms can use this time for mandatory training or paid time off. Click here to read more about how a government shutdown impacts contractors. 

In Other News:

What are the Goals of the OMB, GSA e-Commerce Portal?

Section 846 of the 2018 Defense Authorization Bill calls for the implementation of an e-commerce marketplace for commercial items. The planning is in the very early stages of development right now, but this initiative could have a big impact on the future of contracting. Read more about the details that were released at the January 9th meeting at the GSA office. 

 

If you need legal advice for coping with the shutdown as a government contractor or navigating government contract regulations, don’t hesitate to email the team at Randolph Law for assistance. 

New Year’s News for Government Contractors

Happy New Year from Randolph Law! We’re looking forward to helping you make 2018 your most successful year yet! 

To start, we’ve put together a quick round up of the latest news for government contractors. 

DARPA Makes $850M Services Contract Available for Bids

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has opened a 5-year, $850M contract for bidding. Bids on the Technical and Analytical Support Services Contract are due on February 8th. The scope includes technical, financial, administrative, legislative, legal and other services to support DARPA’s national security mission. Click here to see the full RFP

RAND Study Says Bid Protests Do Not Delay the DoD Procurement Process

While many in government are looking for ways to minimize and eliminate bid protests, a RAND Corp. study, commissioned by the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), found that bid protests are not undertaken frivolously. Protest activity has been increasing but remains an issue for a mere 0.3% of Department of Defense contracts. Click here to read more details from the study.

Section 809 Panel Seeks to Collect the Worst Acquisition Regulations

More than 2/3 of all Federal Acquisitions Regulations have not been updated since they were created, leaving hundreds of outdated or irrelevant compliance issues on the books for government contractors. The congressionally-mandated Section 809 Panel has been tasked with identifying and eliminating outdated provisions to streamline the acquisition process and alleviate the administrative burden posed by these regulations. Find out how to submit your least-favorite regulations to the panel’s “50 Worst!” campaign here.

 

Whether you’re struggling with regulatory compliance issues or evaluating the potential of a bid protest, Randolph Law is here to help. Contact us today with your government contracting questions. 

 

 

December GovCon News Roundup

The Year Ahead in the GovCon Sphere

Jim McCarthy and a panel of GovCon industry experts recently speculated on anticipated changes for 2018. Click here to read the highlights from their discussion, including speculation on the NDAA, commercial acquisitions, and what the marketplace looks like for new firms looking to break into government contracting in the new year. 

DoD Vendor Base Shrinks by 20%

Between 2011 and 2015, the Department of Defense vendor base shrunk by 20% during a period of hard caps on military spending. Read the executive summary of findings in the Center for Strategic and International Studies report, Measuring the Impact of Sequestration and the Defense Drawdown on the Industrial Base, 2011-2015. The Aerospace Industries Association is preparing to work with the Departments of Defense, State, and Commerce to help the Secretary of Defense make a case for “restoring the manufacturing and defense industrial base.”

Contractors Next to Target Sexual Harassers?

As Congress makes moves to expose and eliminate sexual harassment with new laws and regulations, government contractors may be next. Listen to Larry Allen of Federal News Radio discuss how contractors may begin targeting sexual harassers as the government takes measures to address and prevent inappropriate behavior.  

 

Do you have concerns about the year ahead or other GovCon news? Contact Randolph Law with all your legal and regulatory questions. 

Government Contracting News & Notes for December 1st

2017 Bid Protest Annual Report

The GAO recently published its 2017 Bid Protest Annual Report to Congress.There were 2,433 protests last year, down 7% as compared to FY2016, with a 17% sustain rate. According to the report, the most common reasons for sustaining a bid protest were:

  1. Unreasonable technical evaluation
  2. Unreasonable past performance evaluation
  3. Unreasonable cost or price evaluation
  4. Inadequate documentation of the record
  5. Flawed selection decision

Justice Gorsuch Talks Government Contract Ambiguities

While some courts defer to administrative agencies when contract ambiguities arise, others apply general contracting principles to decisions regarding these conflicts. Justice Neil Gorsuch recently gave his position, siding with the Federal Circuit courts that defer to contracting principles rather than administrative agencies. The Supreme Court is expected to bring added insight to the conversation soon, making the process for resolving contract ambiguities clearer for government contractors and agencies alike.

 

Can Controversial Opinions Keep Your Firm from Winning a Government Contract?

In other words, can a contracting officer decide to eliminate a bid because a prominent figure in the company has expressed a controversial opinion on social media or in another public forum? The First Amendment would have you believe otherwise, but there are some situations in which a contractor’s public opinion could prevent him from performing appropriately on the job. For example, a bidder who has publicly expressed anti-immigration sentiments may be considered ineligible if bidding on a contract for English as a Second Language classes. That said, even if there doesn’t appear to be a conflict of interest, contracting officers can come up with any number of legitimate reasons why your firm was passed over – so why give them ammunition? Click here to read more on this topic and see why government contractors are urged to stay neutral on social media.

 

Do you need help with a bid protest or another aspect of working with the federal government? Contact us today for experienced legal assistance. 

 

 

 

 

 

Important News & Notes for Government Contractors

New 8(a) Application Process Begins November 15th

Perhaps the most exciting news this month is that the SBA’s streamlined 8(a) Business Development Program application process launches on November 15th. Firms that want to learn more about applying for 8(a) certification can click here to learn more about the new process and procedures for submitting their applications. Starting on November 15th, any applications not completed in the old system before October 15th will need to be restarted under the new system at Certify.SBA.gov.

“Hoop Jumping” to End for WOSBs?

According to a recent article on Federal News Radio, an SBA rule change may soon make it easier for certified Women Owned Small Businesses to work with federal agencies. Allowing contracting officers to use SBA’s WOSB repository instead of requiring them to search through an electronic filing cabinet will place WOSBs on par with HUBZone, Service Disabled Veteran, 8(a), and other certified disadvantaged businesses in terms of ease of use. As a result, WOSBs should have an easier time winning federal contracts.

Marijuana Legalization and Federal Contractors

Businesses with more than $100,000 in federal contracts are required to adhere to the Drug Free Workplace Act, but what does this mean for contractors in one of the 20 states (plus Washington D.C.) where marijuana has been legalized? Check out these reminders for companies that must adhere to the Drug Free Workplace Act, and get in touch with us if you have any questions.

 

Our team of attorneys is on hand to help you navigate the sometimes complicated world of government contracting. Contact us today for a consultation. 

Joint Ventures 101: What You Need to Know About Joint Ventures & Government Contracts

Last month, we hosted a “Joint Ventures 101” seminar to educate small businesses about the benefits of forming Joint Ventures in order to compete for federal contracts. I wanted to take a moment to share the same information here in the hope that it will help others who are looking for ways to take advantage of the SBA’s Joint Venture rules and regulations.
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Please click here to read through my presentation, and don’t hesitate to contact Randolph Law for more information!

Avoiding Pitfalls in the 8(a) Application Process

I was recently invited to present a webinar on pitfalls in the 8(a) application process for Jennifer Schaus and her government contracts consulting firm, Jennifer Schaus & Associates.
Here’s the full video:

 

Here’s a link to the powerpoint presentation.

Trimming out everything else, the key take away is to read, re-read, and then read again the SBA requirements for the 8(a) program, you can find them here.
While you are reading them, take notes on every specific item that is required. Here’s a very basic checklist of questions you should ask yourself:

1) Am I a member of one of the defined minority groups? How do I know?

For example, we get inquiries from folks who say “well, my grandmother was native american, does that count?” No, it does not. You must be an enrolled member of a Native American Indian Tribe to be considered Native American Indian. Each tribe has its own criteria for enrollment, and you have to match that criteria.

2) Is my annual income under $250,000?

Look at your taxes. What’s the top line. If you file taxes jointly with your spouse, does he or she contribute in some way to the business, whether working or guaranteeing a loan or name on a lease? If yes, it’s your joint income, if no, it’s yours alone.

3) Is my net worth under $250,000?

Your house doesn’t count, and your equity in the business doesn’t count. Your retirement accounts don’t count, unless you’re over 59 1/2. Everything else counts. Your bank accounts, other businesses, vacation house, car. Everything.

4) Have I been in business over two years?

This is a yes / no. When was your business registered with the state. Count two years past that. While there are waivers available to businesses that have not been in business for two years, they are very difficult to get.

5) Am I ready to collect all the documents necessary?

I’d say the average 8(a) application if printed out would run to about 1,000 pages. Be prepared, you will be asked for everything, and you must provide everything.
These are just some of the things you’ll need to be prepared for. Review the video, read the slides, go to the SBA website. When you’re ready, give us a call and we might be able to help you out.

July 2017 Government Contract Regulations Update

This month, there have been a few large regulatory updates and changes within the government contract world. Below, read up on the progress of the Regulatory Accountability Act’s journey through the House and the death of one of the final Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces provisions.

Regulatory Accountability Act

The bipartisan Regulatory Accountability Act is currently being debated in the House of Representatives. This Act would require agencies to provide members of the public with an opportunity to participate in the rulemaking process and hold a hearing before the adoption of any “high-impact” rule, which could benefit government contractors by giving them a voice in policy decisions. According to the bill, a “High Impact” rule refers to “a rule that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) determines is likely to have an annual cost on the economy of $1 billion or more.” Additionally, the bill would require federal agencies to conduct a cost/benefit analysis prior to implementing any new regulation.

Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Final Rule

Following President Trump’s move to repeal the Fair Pay and Safe Workspaces rule earlier this year, the GSA recently issued a class deviation to prohibit FAR clause 52.222-60, which mandated paycheck transparency for government contractors. The rule, set in place by former President Obama, was the last to be prohibited, following the dismantling of FAR 52.222-57, 52.222-58, 52.222-59 and 52.222-61. However, due to a ruling by a federal judge in late 2016, the clause remained untouched, along with the notice provision for independent contractors . Moving forward, the GSA has ordered contractors to amend solicitations and remove the clause from their current contracts immediately.

Are you currently in the market for legal assistance for your government contracting practice or need assistant navigating recent regulatory changes? Contact us today to discuss your needs!