Thursday, March 13, 2008

Procurement Rules and Small-Business Set-Asides

A newly proposed rule from the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council attempts to clarify for contracting officers procurement rules regarding small-businesses set-asides by stating:
  • There is no order of precedence among the 8(a), Historically Underutilized Business Zone or service-disabled veteran-owned small-business programs.

  • Contracting officers first must consider directing any small-business set-aside for a contract worth more than $100,000 to an 8(a), HUBZone or veteran-owned small business before for allowing all small businesses to bid.
  • Contracting officers must reserve acquisitions between $3,000 and $100,000 for small businesses unless the officer determines that two or more businesses will not competitively vie for the job. Even though the acquisition is set aside for small businesses, officers can award it to HUBZone, 8(a) or veteran-owned small businesses.

  • Contracting officers should consider their agency’s progress in meeting federal small-business goals when deciding which program to use for a contract.
Full Article Here: Officials try to clarify acquisition rules

GSA in hot water for Alliant contract award criteria application.

"A federal judge has ordered the General Services Administration to stop all work on the $50 billion Alliant contract, ruling that the agency failed to consistently apply its award criteria when assessing the bids of the 62 vendors."

Read the full text here: Court stops work on $50 billion Alliant contract

Friday, March 7, 2008

No such thing as a free lunch.

It turns out that small-business grants and interest-free loans for female and minority new business owners are right up there with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny; all lovably fun and widespread stories known by many with absolutely no truth behind them. (I am truly sorry if I just burst several bubbles at once for you.) The SBA and other Small Business Development Centers provide technical assistance, loan information, and standard loans, but unfortunately, few hand out no-strings-attached cash to help business owners get started.

Read the full article here: Busting the 'Free Money' Myth

Don't give up hope, however, because once you get your business up and running, then you can use your small-business designations to qualify for various contracts that are specific set-asides. For example, GSA just recently issued the 21-Gun Salute initiative to help service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) by increasing the amount of agency contracting dollars going to these businesses. GSA has failed to reach the goal of 3% of contracting dollars to SDVOSBs in both 2006 and 2007 and is now pushing to achieve those numbers this year. (For more information on this initiative, read the full article here: GSA launches new initiative to help veterans.) As there are government goals in place for each type of small business designation, there are plenty of ways to into contracting, starting by monitoring FedBizOpps or getting in touch with the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization at the agencies with which you wish to work.

Many commercial companies also need to work with small businesses to fulfill subcontracting goals, so there are also plenty of opportunities to be found to help small business owners succeed outside of working directly with government agencies.