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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. 

Responding to RFPs During the Shutdown & Other Government Contractor Shutdown News

How to Respond to RFPs During the Shutdown

While affected agencies are unlikely to publish new RFPs during the shutdown, government contractors who want to compete for existing opportunities are advised to continue submitting their proposals and questions based on the previously listed schedules. Contracting officers may not be present to receive your submissions, but unless you’ve been informed otherwise, it’s a good idea to stick to the deadlines. Alan Cvotkin of the Professional Services Council advises that proposals or questions submitted via email or web portal will be automatically time stamped, but recommends contractors document their in-person submissions with photos and time stamps. For more recommendations for submitting a proposal during the shutdown, click here.

Impacts of the Government Shutdown on Defense Contractors

The Pentagon is fully funded through the federal fiscal year, so the agency and its contractors have not been affected by the partial shutdown that began on December 22nd. However, some contractors report that the shutdown has caused difficulty with export licenses and other administrative issues. There is also some speculation that an on-going shutdown could have a bigger impact, especially for smaller contracting firms that may not have the funds to ride out a longer shutdown. Click here to read more on this topic.

 

It May Take Time for Contractors to Recover from the Shutdown

While some government contractors have been faced with stop-work orders and others face concerns that funding will expire before the shutdown is resolved, the wider impact may be the inability of affected agencies to solicit or award new contracts or to perform administrative functions for existing contracts. The Aerospace Industries Association recently stated that the longer the shutdown goes on, the more expensive it will be to fix. Read more about additional financial impacts for government contractors here.

 

If you have concerns about a federal contracting issue during the shutdown, Randolph Law is open. Send us a note or give us a call at (703) 652-3039.

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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. 

Preparing for 8(a) Graduation: Webinar Transcript

We recently hosted a webinar to help companies prepare to exit the 8(a) program and continue growing their government contracting businesses. What follows is the beginning of our presentation. To listen in full, see below or click here to watch on YouTube.

My name is Chris Shiplett and I’m an attorney with Randolph Law, and you are here for our webinar Preparing for 8(a) Graduation. We’re excited you’re here. This is a topic we’re very excited about. Let’s get started.

The format is that we’re scheduled for an hour, and I’m going to walk through what we would like to share with you about preparing your 8(a) company for 8(a) graduation. We 100% encourage questions. We love to answer questions and interact with you that way.

A little bit of background on me and my firm: My name is Chris Shiplett and our firm is Randolph Law. We are a boutique government contract law firm. That means that we do anything and everything you can imagine for government contractors. All of the standard stuff you would expect – teaming agreements, bid protests are a big part of our practice, and then advice on small business regulations and set-aside regulations and that type of thing. A large portion of our clients are 8(a), and then we have a fair portion of other small business clients – SDVOSB and WOSB. We also handle 8(a) applications.

I myself have been doing this for about 10 years. My first job was as a temp in a very small 8(a) in Tysons Corner doing contracts administration and then I moved from there to doing a database work as a tech guy working for the Marine Corps and the Army, and I went to law school at night. Now I do the legal side of 8(a) and government contracts.

8(a) graduation is a big moment – a seminal moment – in many 8(a)’s corporate life cycle because it is the moment when your entire identity shifts. You’ve known yourself and your company as an 8(a) for nine years, and all of a sudden the annual renewal and graduation day comes, and you’re no longer an 8(a) company. That can be a dramatic and traumatic moment in the lifecycle of 8(a)s . Many successful 8(a)s don’t make it past graduation. A lot of 8(a)s stumble along post graduation. They really rely on the contacts they developed as an 8(a) and they don’t grow, or occasionally I’ll see companies that just sort of bounce. You get a few contracts and get up above the size standard, and then you come back down below the size standard.

Government contracting is a very difficult field to be successful in.

So how do you avoid it, if you don’t want to close up shop or just kind of mosey along? I think this is a key quote, from me, as of today: The day you receive your 8(a) acceptance letter, you should be preparing to graduate.

View the rest of the webinar below.

Click here to speak with Chris about your own 8(a) graduation preparation or ask questions about our other legal services for government contractors. 

Government Contracting Law News for October 2018

Pentagon Pilot Program Aims to Secure Supply Chain

A top defense contractor reports that the Pentagon has implemented a pilot program to identify the origins of parts that end up being used in military weapons and equipment. Increasing transparency comes amid concerns that parts are currently susceptible to hacking by foreign agents. Read more about the pilot program here.

Detailed Army Acquisitions Regulations Lead to Extended Bid Protests

Even when purchasing mundane items like computers, tablets, and printers, the Army’s extensive acquisition process can lead to bid protests from federal contractors. Click here to listen to Tom Temin of Federal News Radio examine the detailed regulations and how they create bid protest risks for government contractors.

The Growing Market for the Internet of Things (IoT)

Leading firms speculate that the market for devices that can be categorized as part of the Internet of Things is growing at an incredible rate, with 20 billion connected devices anticipated at a global level by 2021. However, less information is available about how IoT products can be sold to the federal government. Click here to read Tim Larkins’ commentary on selling the Internet of Things to the public sector.

 

Are you looking to grow your business as a federal contractor? Contact Randolph Law for a full spectrum of legal services to support your growth.

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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.

 

Government Contracting News for May 4, 2018

The Navy Seeks an Algorithm to Flag Perceived Contracting Threats

After nearly awarding a contract to a company involved in a joint venture with Huawei, a Chinese smartphone manufacturer, the Navy is calling for changes that will flag similar security risks that may be lurking with potential contractors. The goal is to find an institutional algorithm that will identify potential threats without placing an administrative burden on the contracting agency or officers. Read more about this issue and potential solutions here.

Defense-Industrial Base Review Coming Mid-May

Top acquisition officials at the Pentagon say that an in-depth review of the American defense-industrial base will be released around May 15th. The unclassified portion of the report will identify materials for which we rely heavily on China, as well as areas of concern involving Russia. The result will include recommendations for increasing domestic capabilities and working with allies to eliminate dependencies on China or Russia. Click here to follow this story.

Government Accountability Office (GAO) Releases New Bid Protest Guide

A May 1st GAO requirement dictates that bid protests be filed via a new Electronic Protest Docketing System (EPDS). In conjunction with this requirement, the GAO has released a new guide detailing the revised bid protest process. the guide illustrates the requirements for filing via EPDS, exceptions to the rule, and the process for receiving protest decisions through the new system. Click here to view the guide and catch up on the EPDS requirements.

 

Whether you’re facing a potential bid protest and in need of experienced legal support or looking to expand your reach as a government contractor, we’re here to help. Contact us today!