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8(a) Application Mistakes to Avoid

In the following webinar, we explore common mistakes that companies should avoid when preparing their 8(a) applications. We’ve included a transcript of the webinar introduction, followed by the video for anyone looking to take a deeper dive into 8(a) application errors.

Thank you, Jennifer and thank you all for joining us. My name is Chris Shiplett. I am a lawyer and the founder of Randolph Law. We specialize in federal contract law, including in three broad areas: socioeconomic disadvantaged small business programs that the SBA runs such as 8(a), HUBZone, WOSB, and Veteran-owned small business, as well as disputes with the federal government. This time of year, most disputes are bid protests, but we also do contract disputes and just your day-to-day legal needs for government contractors.

Today, I’m going to talk specifically about how to avoid pitfalls in the 8(a) application process. Very briefly, let’s talk about what the 8(a) process is. Now, I’m assuming in this presentation that you have a basic familiarity with what the 8(a) program is, so I’m really just going to hit the highlights that are relevant to avoiding the pitfalls in applying for that program.

The 8(a) program is very important and can be, after you have been accepted into the program, a very lucrative program for minority-owned small businesses. Most importantly, the application process is a creature of regulation. The entire program is a creature of regulation and so the entire process and the key to avoiding the pitfalls that can come up in that process is understanding what the regulations require and what the regulations allow.

When you download or take this presentation home, copy this next part where it says the regulations can be found at 13 CFR Part 124. As you or your company are beginning to prepare an 8(a) application, read those regulations which is something that I will say several times throughout this webinar. Read those regulations.

Let me give you a little bit of an example of some of the pitfalls you might run into. This is not an exhaustive example, but these particular pitfalls, I think, really tell the story of how to avoid pitfalls in general because each of these is tied to a regulatory component.

One pitfalls might be that your company hasn’t been in existence for two years. That is a regulatory requirement. It’s not a past performance requirement or anything like that. It’s simply that the entity in which the application is being submitted must have been formed more than two years before the 8(a) application.

Click below to watch the 8(a) pitfall presentation in full and learn about several more common mistakes that can derail 8(a) applications and contact us directly if you are in need of support for your 8(a) application. 

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Bid Protests: Your 5 Item Go, No Go Checklist Webinar

Randolph Law’s Chris Shiplett was excited to present the following bid protest webinar for Jennifer Schaus’ federal contracting audience. Below, we’ve provided a transcript of the introduction along with the full video for anyone who is currently struggling to decide whether or not to go ahead with a bid protest. As always, please feel free to contact us with your specific bid protest questions, as these situations are always unique (and of course, time-sensitive as well).

Good afternoon everyone and welcome. Thank you for joining our webinar for what over the next few months is a very topical subject: bid protests.

A little about myself – I’m the founder of Randolph Law, a small law firm that specializes in government contracts law and other law for government contractors, regulations, teaming agreements, and things like that. Prior to going to law school and actually, during law school at night, I worked as a database administrator for a series of small government contractors on contracts for the Army and the Marine Corps, so I’m familiar with not just the high-level legal stuff but the day-to-day stuff that you guys in the government contract world go through…

I think what I’d really like to dive right into is our topic for today, which is bid protests… We’re here in the second, third week of August, and as you all know, we’re getting to the end of the federal fiscal year. Contracts are starting to fly out the doors left and right. Maybe we have a couple, maybe three more weeks before we really get going with contracts, but the ramp up to the end of the fiscal year is upon us and contracts flying out the door left and right means bid protests coming back in left and right.

What I’m here to talk to you about today is a five-item list. These are not necessarily the only important items that you need to think of, but really five things to think about as you are trying to decide whether to protest a decision if your company has not been awarded a contract or your company has been eliminated from consideration from a contract.

Part of the usefulness of having this type of checklist is really to simplify what I would call a wave of incredibly complex information which you get if you were to call me and say we had a notice of award that someone else received the contract. You’re going to be inundated with just a wave of incredibly complex information, all of which will bear on your ultimate decision of “should I protest?”

The other thing, too, is that protests are not a zero-sum game. The end result is not a winner and a loser, which increases the complexity of the information you’re being asked to digest when you’re faced with the decision to protest or not.

So I’ve put together this five-item checklist, five high-level things to guide you in your decision. Watch the rest of this webinar below or click here to view it on YouTube.

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Federal Contractor News for December 2018

Oracle’s JEDI Protest Ends with More Protests on the Horizon

The Government Accountability Office denied a bid protest from Oracle America, Inc. which argued that the winner-take-all structure of the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract restricted competition. While the single-award nature of the contract is currently unique, the GAO determined that it does follow procurement regulations. That said, more bid protests are anticipated post-award in spring 2019. Read more about the Oracle protest and GAO decision now.

 

Proposed Rule Change to Reduce Burden on Small Business Government Contractors

The Department of Defense, General Services Administration, and NASA have proposed a Federal Acquisitions Regulation rule change to standardize subcontracting limitations and adopt the Small Business Administration’s 2013 National Defense Authorization Act’s limits on how much of a contract could be spent on a subcontractor. This rule change is designed to make it easier for small business federal contractors to track and manage subcontractor arrangements, giving them the flexibility to comply with the rules in more than one way. To learn more about the proposed change and its implications, click here.

 

Data Breach Reporting Regulations to Change

The General Services Administration has proposed new data breach disclosure requirements for government contractors in a recent regulatory roadmap. Among other things, the proposed rule will mandate that the hiring agency have access to any breached contractor systems. Contractors can expect the rule to be published in February with an open comment period ending in April. Read more about what this change could mean for your organization here.

 

Whether you’re anticipating FAR changes, considering a bid protest, or working to comply with existing small business regulations, Randolph Law can help. Click here to contact our team for the legal support you need when working with the federal government. 

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Fiscal Year End News for 2018

GSA Schedules Modernization Slated for 2019

According to an interview with Alan Thomas, the commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, changes are coming in 2019 based on feedback from customers and vendors. These changes include:

  • The elimination of minimum purchase thresholds
  • Provisions allowing agencies to combine products and services under one buy
  • Collaboration between the GSA and Veterans’ Affairs (which currently operates its own schedules)
  • The launch of a pilot program to promote transparency

Click here to read more details from Thomas’ interview with Federal News Radio.

Stop Work If a Stop-Work Order Comes, Says Professional Services Council

Although congress has been making progress getting appropriations approved, a government shutdown is still possible after October 1st. If that happens, the Professionals Services Council says companies receiving a stop-work order in the event of a shutdown must stop work and enforce the order with vendors and subcontractors. Read more shutdown tips for government contractors here.

Senators Attempt to Discourage Year-End Spending Spree

A bipartisan group of Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee members have sent letters to 13 federal agencies discouraging spending at the close of the fiscal year. In 2017, agencies spent $11 billion in the final week of the year, and according to a recent report, eight top-spending agencies have at least 40% of their budgets remaining. Read more about how the end of fiscal year 2018 could see the biggest spending spree yet.

 

Do you have questions about closing out the fiscal year or protesting a bid at the end of FY2018? Contact us today for experienced representation. 

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Federal Contract Hiring & More News for July 2018

Federal Employment is Shrinking While Contracting Firms are Hiring

Federal employment has decreased by about 7,000 jobs over the past year as civilian agencies have been drawn down under the Trump administration. At the same time, government contractors are on a hiring spree, particularly in Northern Virginia where defense and intelligence contracts abound. Some contractors report that the only thing preventing them from hiring even more is the backlog on security clearances; approximately 700,000 people are currently awaiting clearance. Click here to read more about the increase in federal contract hiring here in Northern Virginia.

A First Look at the Restructured Pentagon Tech and Acquisitions Offices

In a July 13 memo, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan approved changes to the structure the Pentagon uses to buy and develop weapons systems. With two offices – one focused on Research & Engineering and the other Acquisition & Sustainment – the Department of Defense aims to focus on buying that will support emerging technologies. Check out DefenseNews.com for details on the reorganization, including charts that illustrate the organizational structure of each office.

Unclear Details Surround Other Transaction Authority (OTA) Agreements

According to the Pentagon’s public affairs department, the Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded more than $21 billion in OTA agreements over the past three years. However, the Federal Procurement Data System shows only $4.2 billion during those same three years leading to concerns about waste, fraud, and abuse. OTA awards are not bound by the Federal Acquisitions Regulations and are designed to support speed and innovation, raising concerns from the Project for Government Oversight. Read more about OTAs and the issues surrounding them here.

 

Randolph Law is here to help your business succeed in the booming contracting market of Northern Virginia. Contact us today for your legal support needs. 

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Seaport-NxG, SAM.gov Fixes, and Contractor Security – Federal Contracting News for June 28, 2018

System for Award Management (SAM.gov) Fixes Planned for June 29th

Hundreds of federal contractors are hopeful that promised fixes to the SAM.gov website will roll out at the end of June, 2018. These changes will give contractors a new way to log in, update information, renew entries, and enter initial data. Most importantly, the fixes will alleviate the three-month requirement to submit notarized documents in order to make changes or apply for an account. Listen to more on this story on FederalNewsRadio.com.

Contractor Security to Become a Key Component in Department of Defense Buying Decisions

The Pentagon is looking to add another aspect of consideration to defense contractors after a Chinese hacking incident involving sensitive data on submarine warfare. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Kari Bingen says agencies must consider security, as well as cost, schedule, and performance, when evaluating potential contractors. Going forward, the Pentagon intends to implement measures that will favor contractors who can demonstrate compliance with enhanced industrial security requirements. Read more about these changes here.

What to Expect from the Next Generation Seaport-e

Seaport-e has been controversial among government contractors since its inception in 2001. The Navy is currently revamping the contract as Seaport-NxG and increasing its competitive opportunities for contractors, with changes including direct awards, removal of zone restrictions, increased efficiency, flexible contract types, and more. Click here to read a full breakdown of the differences between Seaport-e and Seaport-NxG and prepare for the roll-out.

 

Whether you need support for Seaport-NxG proposals, security regulations, or other aspect of government contracting, Randolph Law is here for you. Contact us today with your questions.

 

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IDIQ Concerns, IP Issues, and JEDI Controversy – Government Contractor News for May 2018

GAO Questions Pentagon’s Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contracts

A watchdog agency recently reported that 40% of the Pentagon’s contracts were IDIQ and 75% of those were awarded to a single contractor, raising concerns about the agency suppressing competition. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the matter states, “Nearly all of the contracts we reviewed contained provisions that, while not explicitly limiting competition, may have the potential, under certain circumstances, to reduce the number of contractors who are eligible to compete for the orders.” Read more about the potential for IDIQ contract concerns here.

Air Force Challenged By Software Intellectual Property Issues

Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper cites software and intellectual property as challenging areas for the organization, and Air Force Sustainment Commander Lt. Gen. Lee Levy is calling for a change in the way the Air Force acquires intellectual property. Protracted legal battles over IP ownership detract from the mission and cause distraction for both the military and its industrial partners. Click here to read more about how the Air Force would like to improve the software acquisition and development process.

Contractors Gearing Up to Protest Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Award

The Defense Department’s $10 billion cloud program, JEDI, drew criticism from contractors after announcing in April that it will be a single-award contract. Contractors began preparing for a bid protest even before the May 15th release of the final RFP, and it’s anticipated that this huge award will be the subject of much controversy for some time to come. Read more about JEDI and the related, potential bid protests here.

 

Whether you’re involved in the JEDI cloud solicitation or another bid protest, Randolph Law is here for you. Contact us for help weighing the pros and cons of any bid protest. 

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Spring News for Government Contractors

Using Transaction Contracting Models to Increase Customer Focus

Citizens demand a more customer-focused, efficient government. Yet the current procurement cycle takes as long as 3-5 years to support new program initiatives. With technology moving at a much faster pace and customer needs changing continuously, the federal government has acknowledged a need for an alternative to fixed-price, cost-plus government contracts. Transaction-based contracting could be the solution. Read more about how the government is considering low-risk, low-investment opportunities to partner with private sector providers to increase customer satisfaction and keep up with the rapid pace of changing technologies.

More Updates on Section 846 Implementation

In the past, we’ve posted about Section 846 of the National Defense Authorization Act, requiring the development of an e-commerce platform for federal defense procurement. This week, the General Services Administration (GSA) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) leaders hosted a forum entitled, “The $50 Billion e-Commerce Question: Section 846 Implementation Plan – Next Steps,” to review the legal, policy, and compliance issues raised by the implementation plan released in March. Click here to read a recap of the forum and learn more about the next steps.

Postaward Debriefing Changes for 2018

Shay Assad, Director of Defense Pricing/Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy for the Department of Defense (DoD), has implemented enhanced postaward debriefing rights as required by Section 818 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY18. DoD contracting officers are now required to accept additional questions from unsuccessful bidders as long as those questions are submitted within two days post-debriefing. The debriefing will be considered “open” until the agency has responded in writing. Read more about how these changes can help unsuccessful offerors in the debriefing process.

 

Whether you need assistance with a debriefing, bid protest, or other aspect of government contracting, we’re here for you. Contact us with your legal questions today.

March 22nd News & Notes for Government Contractors

Department of Defense (DoD) Shrinks $950 Billion Other Transaction Authority (OTA) Deal

The DoD’s original award for streamlined cloud solutions went to REAN but was subject to public scrutiny and a GAO bid protest. As a result, the deal has been scaled back to $65 million and the scope of the project narrowed significantly. Read more about this turn of events here.

Labor Department Maintains Compliance Despite Obama-Era Rollbacks

Although the Trump administration repealed many Obama-era regulations, the Labor Department has continued to enforce compliance, according to Larry Allen of Allen Federal Business Partners. Click here to listen to him discuss this issue with Tom Temin on Federal News Radio.

Progress Continues for GSA and OMB Commercial e-Commerce Portal

The General Services Administration (GSA) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have issued a joint implementation plan for the 2018 National Defense Administration Act which requires the development of an e-commerce portal for the procurement of commercial goods. Moving on to Phase 2 of the implementation plan, the GSA and OMB will conduct market research while looking for an initial rollout at the end of FY19. Read more about how the portal is designed to increase opportunities and transparency for federal contractors.

 

2018 has already been an interesting year for government contractors, with both opportunities and challenges on the horizon. As always, feel free to contact us for legal support as you do business with the federal government.

All About Acquisitions: Our March News Round-Up

Congress’ Acquisition Reforms Get High Marks from Military Services

With three years invested in military acquisitions reforms, the House Armed Services Committee has begun receiving feedback on how those reforms are faring in practice. So far, service acquisition chiefs report that things are going in the right direction, but more work remains to be done. 2019 is considered a good time to refine the reforms and declutter duplicate or conflicting legislation. Read more about what the DoD has to say about acquisition reforms here.

What Does a Split Pentagon Acquisitions System Mean for Government Contractors?

The Pentagon has split its acquisition, technology and logistics office into two branches, one dedicated to research and engineering (R&E) for new technologies and another to acquisition and sustainment (A&S) of existing capabilities. A&S Head Ellen Lord says not much will change over the next three months as the Pentagon works out a prototype for the future. Click here to learn more about the restructuring and when this may have an impact on industrial defense partners.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Says Acquisitions Innovation is Essential

As technological changes occur more rapidly and the Modernizing Government Technology Act goes into effect, agencies are looking to speed up award time and find more efficient and effective ways to handle acquisitions. OMB associate administrator for federal procurement policy Matthew Blum says now is the perfect time for agencies to think about improvements to their acquisition plans. Read about how agencies want to change the acquisitions process here.

 

2018 is shaping up to be a year of reform and innovation, making it a time of both challenges and opportunities for government contractors. As always, we are here to support your legal needs when working with the government. Don’t hesitate to contact us now or in the future.