VA Withdraws Proposed Veteran-Owned Small Business Rules

On September 1, 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) withdrew its proposed revised rules which are codified at 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 74. This regulation covers “Veterans’ Small Business Regulations” which are administered by the VA’s Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE). The reason given for withdrawing the proposed rule was “(b)ecause of the adverse comments received during the comment period…” Of particular concern are the “disconnects” between the Small Business Administration’s regulations and the CVE requirements to include the impact on current small business contract holders who grow large during the period of performance. We are hoping that VA and the SBA can craft rules which are fair and consistent with each other. We will keep you informed. The Federal Register Notice can be found at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-09-01/pdf/2017-18543.pdf

2017 National Veterans Small Business Engagement

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) will be hosting its 2017 National Veterans Small Business Engagement (NVSBE) from December 5–7, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri at the America’s Center. This is a great opportunity to meet other Veteran Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs) including Service Disabled VOSBs as well as other businesses and to learn about VA procurement opportunities.

“NVSBE directly connects VOSBs with (Procurement Decision Makers) PDMs from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), other federal agencies, state government, as well as Commercial Firms with procurement needs—and provides learning sessions to improve the capabilities of small businesses to successfully compete for procurement opportunities.

NVSBE also enables VA PDMs to engage with a large number of VOSBs in a short period of time, facilitating market research in support of meeting VA socioeconomic goals.”

You may sign up at https://nvsbe.com/

Ferlise and Associates will be attending and would be happy to discuss the services that we offer with you.  Please let us know if you would like to schedule a meeting out in St. Louis.

When things don’t go your way…

If you are familiar with Government contracting, at some point you have probably encountered disappointment in losing an award when you thought you should have won. Or, maybe you read a Request for Proposals (RFP) with terms that just seemed unfair.

There are two basic categories of protests: Pre-award protests which must be filed before the close of the solicitation (or the opening of a bid) and Post-award protests which must be filed by an “interested party” within certain time limits depending on the type of bid requested and the forum selected. Note that an “interested party” is not necessarily what it sounds like. The Federal Acquisition Regulations define an interested party as “An Interested party for the purpose of filing a protest means an actual or prospective offeror whose direct economic interest would be affected by the award of a contract or by the failure to award a contract.” This definition has been further narrowed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Courts as “the next in line.” In other words, if there is no chance you could be awarded a contract even with the protest issue resolved, you are not an interested party.

There are many other things to consider before filing a protest to include: WHEN to file (as mentioned above), WHERE to file (as there are advantages/disadvantages in filing at the Agency level, at GAO, or in the US Court of Federal Claims), HOW to file (format, redactions, requests for documents and a protective order, etc.), and, most importantly, WHAT arguments to make. In addition, if you are protesting the small business size or socioeconomic status of a business, those protests are filed with the Small Business Administration which has its own administrative rules.

If you need help with deciding whether or not to protest, we can help. Our staff of former Government contract lawyers have, collectively, hundreds of years’ worth of experience both prosecuting and defending protests and can provide invaluable advice on all aspects involved in making this crucial business decision.

Business Growth and Divestiture

F&A can provide timely advice to companies that are out-growing their small business size or larger firms who wish to sell part or all of their business, or who are looking to diversify by acquiring companies.  Our experience can aid you in reviewing potential target companies to buy or can help you market your business for sale.  Frequently, the divesting of part or all of a business involves the transfer of Government contracts to the buyer.  As former Government acquisition lawyers, we have been involved in the novation of hundreds of contracts resulting in superior expertise in the Government’s role in, and rules for, novating contracts to help ensure that this complicated process runs smoothly.

We can also help companies with “size” issues.  The mixed blessing of a small company outgrowing its size brings unique challenges.  We can provide advice on everything from challenging a NAICS code decision encouraging the Government to select a more favorable NAICS code, to helping you draft newly required documents that will be necessary as a “no longer small” business like a Small Business Subcontracting Plan.  We can also help with the creation of Joint Ventures (JVs) to take advantage of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) new “all small” Mentor-Protégé Program which permits a large business Mentor to create a JV with its small business Protégé to pursue small business set-asides.  We can help draft those Mentor-Protégé and JV Agreements to ensure the SBA’s requirements are met.

Our informed and responsive attention to your questions on all issues related to Government contracting is not only our most important priority, it’s our ONLY priority.

 

SBA All Small Mentor-Protégé Program and Joint Ventures

We have published several articles here over the past year regarding the SBA’s “All Small” Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP). Since that time, the MPP has been shown to be incredibly popular – particularly because of the feature that permits a Large Business Mentor and Small Business Protégé to form a Joint Venture without their employees (or revenue) being aggregated and running afoul of the SBA’s rules of affiliation. However, there are a number of hazards that can affect smooth sailing over SBA’s seas. Regardless of the size or status of either the potential Mentor or Protégé, we can help you navigate those waters to reach your destination. Please contact us to discuss ways in which we can be of service.

Army’s $34.5B RS3 contract draws first post award protest from Proteus Technologies

The Army’s $34.5B RS3 contract drew its first post award protest.  Proteus Technologies LLC filed a protest to the GAO on May 26th, with a decision due on 9/5/2017.  By way of background Proteus Technologies was one of three firms that recently merged to form Polaris.  The other two firms were EOIR Technologies (“EOIR”) of Fredericksburg, VA and Intelligent Software Solutions (“ISS”), of Colorado Springs, CO.

Updated Department of Defense Instruction

Assuming that, if you are reading this post, you are (or wish to be) doing business with the Department of Defense (DoD), you might not be aware that DoD updated its Instruction (DoDI) 5000.02 which covers the Operation of the Defense Acquisition System back in February. This LINK will get you to the 188 page “red lined” document which describes the acquisition process from initial capabilities (what DoD needs or wants), through funding , and the various acquisition models, e.g., “hardware intensive,” or “incrementally deployed software intensive programs.”

This is a good resource for those who need the current DoD guidance, and while it is specifically designed for DoD components, there is much that you might find useful as you pursue federal Government opportunities in general. Please contact us if we can help you navigate the federal acquisition and post-acquisition waters.

F&A to attend AUSA Global Force Symposium

Vic Ferlise, Mike Ferlise and Frank Faraci will be attending AUSA’s Global Force Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Alabama.

The 2017 AUSA Global Force Symposium & Exposition is a three-day event that will include presentations from the United States Army Materiel Command, the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology).

This symposium will explore the capabilities outlined in the Army Operating Concept and how the force transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation for Force 2025 and beyond.

For more information please click the link below:

AUSA Global Force

F&A attending Government Contracts Year-in-Review

Mike Ferlise and Vince Buonocore will be attending the upcoming Thomson Reuters “Government Contracts Year-in-Review” conference in Washing, DC from February 14th through the 16th.  This event will provide high-level, expert briefings on the past year’s legal developments affecting government contracts.

R.I.P. LPTA

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 has imposed significant restrictions on, and preconditions for the use of, the Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) Basis for Award. LPTA has been increasingly employed by organizations within the Department of Defense (DoD) in a wide array of acquisitions based upon the relative speed with which such acquisitions can be completed and the minimal protest risk attributable to that approach regardless of the appropriateness or applicability of the LPTA Basis for Award to the objectives and structure of those acquisitions. This change, which must be implemented in the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) within the next four months, should substantially limit DoD’s reliance upon LPTA, and instead require DoD to more frequently employ the Best Value Trade-Off Basis for Award.

SEC 813 – Use of lowest price technically acceptable source selection process.

(a) Statement of policy.—It shall be the policy of the Department of Defense to avoid using lowest price technically acceptable source selection criteria in circumstances that would deny the Department the benefits of cost and technical tradeoffs in the source selection process.

(b) Revision of defense federal acquisition regulation supplement.—Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall revise the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement to require that, for solicitations issued on or after the date that is 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, lowest price technically acceptable source selection criteria are used only in situations in which—

(1) the Department of Defense is able to comprehensively and clearly describe the minimum requirements expressed in terms of performance objectives, measures, and standards that will be used to determine acceptability of offers;

(2) the Department of Defense would realize no, or minimal, value from a contract proposal exceeding the minimum technical or performance requirements set forth in the request for proposal;

(3) the proposed technical approaches will require no, or minimal, subjective judgment by the source selection authority as to the desirability of one offeror’s proposal versus a competing proposal;

(4) the source selection authority has a high degree of confidence that a review of technical proposals of offerors other than the lowest bidder would not result in the identification of factors that could provide value or benefit to the Department;

(5) the contracting officer has included a justification for the use of a lowest price technically acceptable evaluation methodology in the contract file; and

(6) the Department of Defense has determined that the lowest price reflects full life-cycle costs, including for operations and support.

(c) Avoidance of use of lowest price technically acceptable source selection criteria in certain procurements.—To the maximum extent practicable, the use of lowest price technically acceptable source selection criteria shall be avoided in the case of a procurement that is predominately for the acquisition of—

(1) information technology services, cybersecurity services, systems engineering and technical assistance services, advanced electronic testing, audit or audit readiness services, or other knowledge-based professional services;

(2) personal protective equipment; or

(3) knowledge-based training or logistics services in contingency operations or other operations outside the United States, including in Afghanistan or Iraq.

(d) Reporting.—Not later than December 1, 2017, and annually thereafter for three years, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report on the number of instances in which lowest price technically acceptable source selection criteria is used for a contract exceeding $10,000,000, including an explanation of how the situations listed in subsection (b) were considered in making a determination to use lowest price technically acceptable source selection criteria.