, , 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. 

The GSA Schedule is the Place to Be for Government Contractors

To the uninitiated, “getting on the GSA Schedule” sounds like being signed up for a meeting or an event. In actuality, it’s one of the best ways for a federal government contractor to capitalize on existing relationships with the government and earn business from federal agencies.

What is the GSA Schedule?

GSA, the U.S. General Services Administration, manages a set of contracts with companies that have been vetted and approved to provide services to federal agencies. A contractor with this type of contract with GSA is said to “hold a GSA Schedule contract,” or “be on the GSA Schedule.”

To understand the advantages of being on the GSA schedule, you first need to understand how the government handles purchasing.

  1. Agency employees who need work or supplies make a purchasing request to their contracting officers.
  2. Contracting officers must then submit a request for proposals (otherwise known as an RFP) allowing suppliers to submit a proposal to be considered for the job.
  3. Over a period of weeks or (more often) months, proposals are submitted by suppliers and evaluated by the contracting officer, who ultimately awards the contract to the chosen supplier.

In most cases, the RFP process is long and arduous for both government employees and government contractors. Designed to balance the needs of the government with the fairness required to ensure that tax dollars are well-spent, the purchasing process by its nature requires a lot of time and a lot of effort.

The GSA Schedule concept allows agencies to speed up and simplify the procurement process for commercial supplies and services, without sacrificing the requirements of transparency and safeguarding of taxpayer dollars. Contracting officers may pre-evaluate GSA Schedule contractors. They also have the option of posting an opportunity only to GSA Schedule contractors, making the RFP process much faster by removing some of the required vetting needed for suppliers that aren’t on the Schedule. 

What are the Advantages of the GSA Schedule for Government Contractors?

Clearly, being on the GSA Schedule is a tremendous advantage for government contractors. Being on the GSA Schedule offers the following opportunities:

  • Becoming a known entity makes it easier to sell your products or services to the federal government. Having a GSA Schedule contract demonstrates to your potential customers that you have been pre-vetted and approved for contracting with the federal government
  • There is a much shorter time-to-close on GSA Schedule task and delivery orders than in a full and open procurement. GSA Schedule tasks are typically issued two to three weeks after the RFQ is published, while typical contracts can take nine months to a year from RFP issuance to selection and work beginning.
  • Once you hold a a GSA Schedule contract, your are granted access to contracting opportunities that are exclusive to GSA Schedule holders through the GSA eBuy system, and you receive a listing in the GSA Advantage database. This listing significantly raises your visibility because procurement teams will often search this database for potential contractors in order to simplify the acquisition process.

What Do I Need to Know About Being on the GSA Schedule?

Getting on the GSA Schedule is a big advantage for businesses that want to serve the federal government, but it does require some special considerations for businesses.

In order to get on the GSA Schedule, a business must demonstrate certain eligibility criteria. Criteria includes:

  • At least two years in business or information that indicates the organization’s capabilities
  • At least $25,000 in revenue per year
  • And the ability to offer the products and services the Federal Government buys, such as building services, infrastructure, supplies, IT services, and consulting.

Once you demonstrate eligibility and your proposal is accepted and you sign a GSA Schedule contract, you’ll need to make sure that your business is protected while working with the government.

For example, GSA Schedule contractors need to be careful about the prices they set. In order to get on the Schedule, contractors are required to offer the government the same or better prices than they would offer their “most favored customer” under similar terms. What does that mean? It means should you reduce your prices to your most favored customer or customers, you may be required to update your government pricing as well. If you aren’t careful, you may inadvertently end up dropping your price to the point that it’s no longer sustainable for your business. That’s just one reason why it’s so important to plan your GSA Schedule submissions carefully.

 

If you’re ready to take the plunge and get on a GSA Schedule, Randolph Law can help. Our legal consulting services can give you the tools you need to get listed and protect and grow your business in the process. Contact us today to learn more!

December Government Contracting News Round Up

The New Year is nearly upon us, and we’ve put together a brief selection of news and links to help government contractors as they prepare for 2017.

Just the Basics:

What is a Small Business Set-Aside? – The government has various programs designed to help small businesses compete for and win federal contracts. Read more about eligibility for small business set-asides and limitations to take full advantage of these programs.

Sole Source Justification Requirements for 8(a) Contractors – At the end of November, the FAR issued a proposed rule to clarify responsibilities for justifying sole source awards exceeding $22 million through the 8(a) program.

In the News:

Do Government Contractors Need to Worry About Terminations Under the New Administration? – For some peace of mind, read about the regulations governing the termination of federal contracts and the reasons why it won’t be easy for President-elect Trump to terminate contracts without cause.

What Employers Can Expect with Trump in Office – During his campaign, Trump promised fewer regulations for employers and fewer protections for employees, but what can employers really expect once he’s in office? Lexology has some interesting predictions to help business owners prepare for Inauguration Day.

Prepare for New Insider Threat Regulations – With insider threats to security becoming an increasing problem for the US government, the DoD has established new regulations to prevent these attacks. Learn more about how these regulations may put a strain on small business contractors in 2017 and beyond.

 

If you have questions about government contracting regulations and preparing for 2017 as a small business contractor, don’t hesitate to contact Randolph Law today.