In early April, the GAO issued a final rule revising the existing bid protest process—the major revisions being the introduction of an Electronic Protest Docketing System (EPDS) and a protest filing fee. When the rule takes effect on May 1, 2018, the new EPDS will launch as the GAO’s electronic filing and document dissemination system for bid protests.
Congress created the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs in 1982 and 1992, respectively. These programs require certain government agencies to set aside a percentage of their extramural budgets so domestic small businesses can engage in research and development (R&D) with a strong potential for technology commercialization. Accordingly, 11 agencies support the SBIR program with five of them also having STTR programs. The Small Business Administration serves as the coordinating agency for the programs.
Small businesses receive multiple benefits by applying for SBIR/STTR awards. The funding is stable, predictable, and not a loan. In addition, the capital is non-dilutive, and the small business retains certain intellectual property rights for their developments. Companies can use their proposals for SBIR/STTR awards as an opportunity to develop a relationship with a university or other research institutions. These programs allow innovative small businesses to offset the cost of R&D while leaving them in control of any developed IP.
In late March, Tennessee Governor Haslam proposed an amended budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018, which included $3 million toward LaunchTennessee Grants—demonstrating that Tennessee’s implementation of a matching program for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs (STTR) survived as more than just a 12-month initiative.
Previous State Funding
Within the last year, Tennessee became the seventeenth state to implement a matching program for SBIR and STTR federal funding. However, there was no guarantee that the program would be funded for a second year. While Tennessee is among national leaders in terms of research funding, Tennessee-based businesses have not been as successful as other states in winning SBIR and STTR awards. This matching program sought to help increase the success rate.
Todd Overman will be presenting at the 31st Annual Government Small Business Conference in Tampa on May 4, 2018. The event, co-hosted by the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at USF and the Florida SBDC at USF, is a unique conference for small business owners to learn how to optimize business opportunities through informative workshops, panel discussions, and a Business Opportunity Expo featuring federal agencies.
Todd’s presentation, “Early Themes for Government Contractors Under the Trump Administration,” will highlight regulatory updates implemented by the Trump Administration that impact government contractors, as well discuss enforcement trends that could impact certain industries. Issues to be covered include domestic preference, small business developments, and cybersecurity enforcement.
On March 12, 2018, President Trump blocked Broadcom, a Singapore-based semiconductor manufacturer, from pursuing the purchase of U.S.-based Qualcomm, a rival chip maker. Broadcom’s offer, reportedly for $117 billion or perhaps even more, would have been one of the largest technology deals in history.
The president’s decision followed a determination by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) that the transaction was likely to pose unacceptable national security risks to the United States. The president apparently made his decision shortly after Broadcom met with Pentagon officials in a final effort to salvage the deal.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is responsible for developing information security standards and guidelines—including minimum requirements for federal information systems. At the end of February, NIST released its Final Draft of Special Publication (SP) 800-171A—Assessing Security Requirements for Controlled Unclassified Information.
First proposed in November 2017, the publication means to provide agencies and contractors with guidance regarding how to conduct assessments under the prominent cybersecurity standard NIST SP 800-171—Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems and Organizations. This standard acts as the foundation for how contractors must protect all forms of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI).
On January 24, 2018, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied a bid protest that in part, focused on the issue of price credit. VT Halter Marine, Inc. (VT) protested the award of a Department of the Army contract—for design and manufacture of maneuver support vessels (MSVs)—to Vigor Works LLC (VW). VT alleged the agency misevaluated the proposals and made an unreasonable source selection decision. The GAO disagreed. This bid protest provides a great example of the importance of understanding up front how the government plans to calculate price credits and how those credits can make your proposal more advantageous to the government.
Teaming Arrangements under the FAR
Under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 9.6, a contractor teaming arrangement is when:
- Two or more companies form a partnership or joint venture to act as a potential prime contractor; or
- A potential prime contractor agrees with one or more other companies to have them act as its subcontractors under a specified government contract or acquisition program.
Both of these arrangements have the potential to help small businesses increase the number of solicitations they can confidently bid on, but both also come with their own set of limitations to consider.
In 2016, Congress instructed the Department of Defense (DoD) to review its procurement regulations by convening a panel of procurement professionals—from both the public and private sectors. This panel became known as the Section 809 Panel (809 Panel). Congress instructed the 809 Panel to recommend amendments or repeals of defense procurement regulations. The 809 Panel’s objective was to help streamline or improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the defense acquisition process while still maintaining an advantage in defense technology. While Congress and the DoD are not required to adopt these recommendations, the report shows an attempt to define the issues in modern federal procurement and improve upon the old system. Continue Reading Section 809 Panel Releases First Volume of Recommendations for the Overhaul of DoD’s Acquisition Process
In mid-January, the General Services Administration (GSA) released their Semiannual Regulation Agenda. Within this agenda, GSA announced plans to update requirements in the General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR)—concerning reporting cyber incidents that potentially affect GSA or its contractors.
The agency will be turning to the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA), along with other cyber regulations, as a model on how to update its policies. These updates would be improvements to the existing cyber incident reporting policy within GSA Order CIO 9297.2—i.e. GSA Information Notification Policy. By integrating these updated policies into the GSAR, contracting officers would be required to include cyber incident reporting requirements within all of their procurement contracts. Continue Reading General Services Administration Announces Plans to Update Cybersecurity Requirements for Contractors