House Proposes Broader Application of “VA Rule of Two” to Close Kingdomware Loophole

On June 6, 2017, a bipartisan pair of lawmakers introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 2781, known as the Ensuring Veteran Enterprise Participation in Strategic Sourcing Act (“Bill”), which, if passed, would have a significant impact on how the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) administers the Veterans First Contracting Program (“Vets First”) and specifically—the “Rule of Two.” As a brief background, the “Rule of Two” requires the VA to set aside procurements for veteran-owned small businesses . . . Read More

Avoiding Common Subcontracting Pitfalls

Companies often team together to bid on government procurements in order to boost their chances of being awarded contracts and, if awarded the contracts, to provide greater support to the government than they may be able to provide on their own. While these partnerships usually begin with the best of intentions, far too often they lead to costly and disruptive disputes between the parties.  The most common types of teaming agreement and subcontracting disputes involve one of the following issues: . . . Read More

Court of Federal Claims Holds That VA Rule of Two Trumps AbilityOne Program

A recent decision from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (“Court”) confirms the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (“VA”) mandate to perform a Rule of Two analysis on all procurements, including before utilizing the AbilityOne Program. In  PDS Consultants, Inc. v. United States, Case No. 16-1063C (Fed. Cl. May 30, 2017) , PDS Consultants challenged whether the VA must conduct analyze whether at least two veteran-owned small businesses (“VOSB”) are capable of performing the work at issue (also known as the “VA Rule of Two”) before procuring goods and services through the AbilityOne Program, . . . Read More

House Bill Would Limit Credit for Small Businesses Falling into Multiple Socioeconomic Categories

A recent bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives seeks to amend the Small Business Act to limit the way agencies take credit for contracting with small businesses that fall into several socioeconomic categories. H.R. 2362, known as the Assuring Contracting Equity Act of 2017, was introduced on May 4, 2017 and would, if passed, add a provision titled “Limitation on Number of Categories for which a Small Business May Qualify.” This provision would prevent a Federal agency from . . . Read More

What’s that Cybersecurity FAR Clause Doing In My Contract?

Many contractors we talk to believe that cybersecurity requirements are exclusively a concern of contractors working with DoD or with highly-classified, top secret projects. While perhaps true to some degree in the past, that belief is now outdated. In recent years, the federal government has steadily expanded the reach of cybersecurity requirements imposed on contractors and contracts of all shapes and sizes, and that trend is expected to continue.  As an example, one year ago this month the government implemented . . . Read More

DOT’s DBE Program Helps Promote Growth

The U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (“DBE”) Program provides opportunities for small businesses, owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations, to participate on federally-assisted highway, transit, and aviation projects.  In addition to setting a goal that at least 10% of such contracts go to certified DBEs, the DBE Program provides related opportunities to assist DBEs with business development. Large businesses and non-DBE eligible contractors seeking to do work on DOT-funded . . . Read More

New CVE Guidance on Joint Ventures and Mentor-Protégé Relationships

Earlier this month, the VA’s Center for Verification and Evaluation (“CVE”) published a new VA Verification Assistance Brief, Understanding Joint Venture and Mentor-Protégé Agreement Eligibility (“Assistance Brief”). The Assistance Brief explains the criteria that make a joint venture (“JV”) eligible for verification and inclusion in the VA VetBiz Vendor Information Pages (“VIP”) database, which is helpful given that the VA’s regulations, specifically 38 C.F.R. Part 74, say very little in terms of how a JV can be verified by CVE . . . Read More

Navigating Your DBE Certification

The Department of Transportation’s (“DOT”) Disadvantage Business Enterprise (“DBE”) program is not as well-known as the Small Business Administration’s (“SBA”) 8(a) and other small business programs, but it offers an excellent opportunity for eligible small businesses to expand their reach into state and local markets. The DOT requires that state and local agencies that receive DOT funding spend at least 10 percent of funds for certain projects on contracts with certified DBEs, which include woman- and minority-owned businesses. The DOT . . . Read More

The Firm Fixed Myth

In November of last year, I prepared a blog article about a specific clause that started appearing in firm-fixed-price contracts with various agencies which allowed them to reduce the price paid to the contractor based upon any absence, regardless of how short or the reason for the absence. Since that time, we have been assisting more and more clients in situations where the government is demanding discounts or refunds on firm-fixed-price contracts. Given this fact I believe it would be . . . Read More

GAO Finds NIH Failed to Refer SDVOSB Offeror’s Capability to SBA

In a recently published  GAO decision , GAO sustained a SDVOSB’s protest of its exclusion from the competitive range by NIH under the CIO-SP3 SB GWAC procurement.  The CIO-SP3 SB RFP required an evaluation of proposals in two phases. NIH evaluated offerors in Phase 1 under four “Go/No-Go” requirements, including factor 2, management approach, subfactor 1, domain-specific capability in a health-related mission. NIH found the protester’s proposal unacceptable under this factor/subfactor because the protester’s proposal was “not sufficient to demonstrate inherent capabilities . . . Read More