Blog

Posts Tagged small business

Civilian Agency Micro Purchase Threshold Increased to $10,000

Share

The FY2018 NDAA increases Micro Purchase threshold to $10,000 (from $3,000).  Total Simplified Acquisitions Purchase (SAP) threshold is now $250,000 (from $150,000)

This can be a gamechanger for small businesses trying to get a “foot in the door” with federal agencies; the government customers now have a mechanism to pave the way for a streamlined, simplified way to award contracts.  Micropurchases are small business set-asides by default.

Read the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council memorandum to agencies – Appendix 2 outlines which FAR clauses are affected by the change.

A great summary and explanation by Matthew Moriarty at SmallGovCon Law

Note: the FAR has not been updated yet, so agencies have to use a “class deviation” to avail themselves of the newly adjusted ceilings.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Are your NIGP Codes valid? (Commonwealth of Virginia Vendors)

Share

Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD) reviewed the list of certified and pending Small, Women, and/or Minority (SWAM)  companies. They issued a letter to businesses who had an invalid NIGP code (one ending with 000) – the number ending in ‘triple zero’ is a category and not an actual code.  Any invalid code(s)/description(s) will be deleted from your profile by February 23rd.

To locate proper NIGP Codes for your company, click here.

EXISTING SWAM Certified Companies: The letter includes instructions on updating your NIGP Codes.

APPLICATIONS PENDING Companies:  Do NOT to change the NIGP codes in the electronic application at this point.  Doing so will reset the submitted date of their application and result in the  60-business-day waiting period to be reset.  To correct the codes, fill out the SWAM notice of change form and send to SBSD, and the agency will update the codes.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Should You Bother with a Capabilities Statement?

Share

Spend enough time at matchmaking events, industry days, networking events and conferences in the #GovCon world, and one could amass quite a collection of Capabilities Statements.  If one were into collecting them.  Which I am:

The capabilities (or capability) statement is your business’s resume; as such, it needs to combine the technical skillset you’re offering with an attractive format that would cause a neutral third party to pick it up and glance at it.  There are plenty of resources (APTAC, HHS, SAP&DC) who will tell you what to put in it.  ISI Federal lays it out in a graphical format. FDIC has a whole slide deck.  I’d like to take you through a slightly different analysis:

“Who [or what] is it for?”

  1. Fitting in. I have seen more than one Small Business professional, representing government and prime contractors, ask for a capabilities statement right at the start of a conversation at a matchmaking event.  If you don’t have that, it looks like the dog ate your homework.  Not the first impression you were going for
  2. Benefits and Features. A quick glance at a well-constructed capabilities statement will give your reader an understanding of how your services or products will help them solve a problem in their organization. As such, it should highlight the results of your work, defining what you do with enough specificity to enable an informed buyer to be impressed.  If you can’t think of any way to impress or stand out, you probably shouldn’t be competing in the first place.
  3. Category box-checker. All the socio-economic and small business statuses and certification need to be there for easy reference. As well as your location, contact info, vendor (SAM / CAGE) numbers, NAICS codes, and any contract numbers that your customer may care about.  Sometimes capabilities statements are a component of market research – help your customers make the case of a set-aside (without repeatedly bashing them over the head with your status).
  4. Conversation re-starter. It’s on you to follow up to any great meeting to grow a relationship and turn a spark of interest into a true business lead. As such, a solid capabilities statement could be a good follow-up email attachment, for reference & recollection.  An electronic document, properly labeled and formatted, also makes it easier for your customer to store it and refer to it as necessary.

Is your one-pager ready for prime time?  Make sure you’re not guilty of any egregious “Don’ts“. Keep your customer paramount in your mind when you’re writing and designing: will she want to pick it up? Read it? share it?  Do you even know who your customer is? If not, do your homework first.

And if you would like some help, contact your local PTAP / PTAC. We’ve got our red pens at the ready.

 

Posted in: Resources

Leave a Comment (0) →

Small Business Size Standards and NAICS Codes update

Share

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) updated its Table of Small Business Size Standards adopting the Office of Management and Budget’s 2017 revision of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) effective October 1, 2017. The revised NAICS Codes and their corresponding size standards will be available in SAM for use in entity registrations starting October 7, 2017. The updated table of size standards is available now on SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/size.

For more information please contact your Virginia PTAP counselors.

Posted in: Resources

Leave a Comment (0) →

Ode to the NAICS Code

Share

A fundamental building block of your company’s government contracting existence. The NAICS codes define you, quite literally, by associating your offerings with a certain segment of the universe of products and services sold in North America.    Then why are they so difficult to get right?

First, let’s define the problem.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, NAICS, or “North American Industrial Classification System”, is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy. NAICS was developed under the auspices of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and adopted in 1997 to replace the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. It was developed jointly by the U.S. Economic Classification Policy Committee (ECPC)Statistics Canada, and Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia  to allow for a high level of comparability in business statistics among the North American countries.

As of February 2016, there are 1045 active NAICS codes.  536 of them refer to services (from banking to industrial launderers to fur-bearing animal production), 509 refer to wholesalers and manufacturers (from music stores to dental labs to fasteners/buttons/needles).

And there must be one out there that perfectly describes you, and if you find it, everything is smooth sailing…

Not so fast.

Federal contractors need to look at NAICS Codes, much like they need to look at everything else they’re doing in pursuit of business: from their customer’s viewpoint.

So here are some best practices for figuring out what your NAICS codes should be.

Step I: Easy Stuff

  1. The Obvious ones. Go to naics.com, type in a keyword or two for what you do, and a couple will pop up. There might be even several that are close enough or fall within the range of your products and services. Write them all down. You don’t have to pick a “primary” one yet.
  1. Follow the Leader. What NAICS are your teaming partners and competitors using? Look at their websites, business cards, capabilities statements – the numbers aren’t a secret code. They’re a common denominator for associating similar products/services. If your direct competitors are using them, you might want to.
  1. Procurement History. I happen to love award analysis and historical data – it’s the best prediction of future behavior in government entities, because they tend to follow similar processes when doing the same work.  So if you look at usaspending.gov and www.fpds.gov and even www.fbo.gov, you’ll find that the NAICS codes associated with most of the work they’re going to be procuring are NAICS codes they’ll use again and again.  Much of the time, the NAICS codes will be the same as you found in steps 1 and 2.  So why bother?

 

Step II: Secret Squirrel  Methodology [The logic behind seemingly illogical coding]

When you searched procurement history, you probably came across NAICS Codes that did not make sense. I have found “frozen foods” purchases coded as IT services. I recently even ran across a Piano purchase that was coded as an armored vehicle (Contract # VA24416F6918 if you want to see for yourself).  There are 2 things you need to think about: why does that happen, and what do you need to do about it.

First, Why, oh why, do NAICS codes used by my customers make no sense to me?

  1. Government is buying something to Meet Their Mission. Like I said earlier, put yourself in your customer’s shoes – they are not buying landscaping or cloud software because they want that particular product. They’re buying it because it is part of their mission – and the agencies’ budgets are allocated into big buckets to be spent on missions. It’s much easier to budget, track, award, and maintain contracts in those same buckets, therefore the NAICS Code will often reflect the customer’s end goal, not the

    means they are using to meet it.  If you are building a data center to support a mission to Mars, it might be coded as a data center – but it’s a lot easier for your customer to track the expenditures and justify to Congress an expense that is aligned with a mission vs. just a purchase for the back office.

  2. Mistakes Were Made. Government entities have procurement cycles, when something expires, they buy it again.  If the NAICS Code powers change the code and you missed it, you might be buying something under an expired code without realizing it.  Or maybe you transposed a digit and typed 12 where you meant to type 21. And now you have a whole new NAICS code and that’s how pianos get turned into tanks.
  3. “Small” Business affinity. NAICS Codes aren’t uniform, they have many different standards for determining whether an entity is small. While they vary across individual codes, the two major delineations are:
    1. For services, the standard is the average of the last 3 years annual revenues
    2. For products / manufacturers / wholesalers, it’s the number of employees

Let’s say there’s a $20 million dollar business that has been doing great work and when the contract comes up for recompete, the government customer wants the company to be included in the competition – have a chance to win the work.  Would the government ever put that procurement, if it’s a small business set-aside, under a NAICS code where the small business threshold is $6M? No, because that would preclude them from competing altogether.

So what do you do? Stay calm and do research.  When you are searching for opportunities and past awards, use a variety of search cirteria – keywords, agencies, vendors, not just NAICS, because if that’s the only criteria – it will be both too broad, and at the same time, too limiting as you are likely to miss good opportunities.

Posted in: Resources

Leave a Comment (0) →

Before You Start… (and how to make the best use of your PTAP)

Share

Virginia PTAP (and our nationwide colleagues) are happy to welcome you to government contracting. We will do our best to help you succeed at selling to state, local, and federal agencies.

Some businesses, however, aren’t ready for government contracting, and your meeting with a PTAP counselor, or your attendance at a class can be frustrating, overwhelming, and (let’s be honest), disappointing.

So let’s get this secret out of the bag: PTAP is not intended to help you start a business. That’s outside our mission, that’s something our grant funder (Department of Defense) specifically frowns upon, and that’s the kind of assistance we recommend you seek from our resource partners, such as the Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers, and SCORE.

In fact, before you meet with a PTAP counselor or attend even our introductory “Basic Training” class, we recommend that your company obtains:

Legal Requirements (for any business)

  1. State entity registration if your business is anything other than a sole proprietorship (LLC, Corp, LLP….)
  2. Federal Tax ID Number (TIN / EIN) from the IRS
  3. Business license from your state / locality (in Virginia, it’s called a BPOL)
  4. Business Plan

PTAP Counselors won’t usually ask to look at your documentation, unless they’re helping you submit a certification that requires above-mentioned paperwork.  However, in order to start registering as a vendor to any government entity, businesses must meet certain basic requirements.  If you are sure that you are going to pursue government work, get these out of the way.  And as far as the Business Plan – again, while we don’t require written proof that you created one for your business, we do want to ascertain that you are serious, that you have considered the pros and cons and financials and business structure and have a plan.  We will absolutely help you refine it, give you a reality check, and assist with a proof of concept; but if you’re not serious about your business, there really isn’t much we can do to overcome that.

Government Contracting Specific Pre-Requisites

  1. Identify your NAICS and PSC Codes (Federal)
  2. Identify your NIGP Codes (State / local)
  3. Obtain a DUNS Number
  4. Register in SAM = obtain a CAGE Code.

This is a bit more of a chicken-and-egg category.  Yes, we can help you figure out all of these codes and numbers and what you should select.  However, the best advice at the outset is that you try to identify the codes that apply to your business. Attempt to get a DUNS number. See if you can register in SAM.  If you get those steps out of the way without a snag, then your meeting with your counselor can cover more in-depth, “next step” material.  And if you do have questions or run into technical difficulties, that’s absolutely an area where a counselor’s perspective will be invaluable.  (Hint: make sure the physical address for your Tax ID, DUNS, and SAM is *identical* down to the letter and abbreviation).

You and your counselor should review your registrations during your session, and we will have some insight into additional / related / adjacent codes to consider.  You’ll hear tips and tricks in classes.  We’ll explain the purpose and utilization of all of these by your target customers. And we’ll give you next steps, like competitive and customer analysis, DSBS profile creation (and much more!) — built on the foundation of the basics you have completed.  There’s a lot more to government contracting, so the sooner we get these “pre-requisites” out of the way, the sooner we can do some real work.

emilysquotes-com-order-foundation-wisdom-intelligent-edmund-burke

Posted in: Resources

Leave a Comment (0) →

No, you can’t just “Apply” to the Mentor Protege Program

Share

The long-anticipated, much applauded, expanded SBA All Small Mentor Protege Program is here.

So what?  What does it mean to your small business?   How do you take advantage of it?

Well, let’s talk about the mechanics.

Mentor Protégé Program (MPP) is an agreement between typically a large business (mentor) and a smaller business (protégé) whereby the mentor provides:

  • Management and Technical Assistance
  • Financial Assistance
  • Contracting Assistance
  • Trade Education
  • Business Development Assistance
  • General and/or Administrative Assistance

(source: SBA)

to the protégé, essentially investing resources into the company’s growth and infrastructure.  It’s not a direct government-to-small-biz program: there’s no application that small businesses fill out to ‘get in’ – but there is a checklist.  It’s an agreement between two businesses that is regulated and approved by either the SBA (for civilian agencies) or the DOD. (note, the DOD Mentor Protege Program was NOT affected by the new SBA rule – they have their own).

The reason large businesses are incentivized to become mentors is:

  1. Civilian agencies – ‘credit’ program: agencies will give “credit” to mentors when considering for awards.  This can also help mitigate gaps in subcontracting requirements for them. mentors can get credit depending on agreement, if their protégé wins work independently as well (because the implication is that the mentor’s help was instrumental in getting the company ready)
  2. DOD – reimbursement agreements. DOD does credit agreements, but some DOD agencies will give dollars directly to the mentor to invest in the protégé.  The financial benefit is obvious to both – the mentor isn’t spending internal resources helping the protégé, but rather the DOD’s money.

Epilogue: how can we help?  Virginia PTAP’s affiliated organization, the George Mason Mentor Protege Program (Mason MPP) helps mentors execute and manage the agreements. Mason MPP starts with a needs assessment of the proposed team (Note: they not do “matchmaking” or finding a mentor for a business), then they’ll craft an agreement that will pass the government agency’s muster (all MPP agreements have to be approved by a federal agency).  Then Mason MPP will help the mentor deliver the technical assistance on the mentor’s behalf.

Posted in: Resources

Leave a Comment (0) →

Common Federal Procurement Acronyms

Share

Download: Common Federal Procurement Acronyms

ATO – Authority to Operate
B&P – Bid and Proposal
BAA – Broad Agency Announcement
BAFO – Best and Final Offer
BD – Business Development
BDO – Blanket Delivery Order
BOA – Basic Ordering Agreement
BPA – Blanket Purchase Agreement
CA – Cooperative Agreement
CAC – Common Access Card
CAS – Cost Accounting Standards
CDRL – Contract Data Requirements List
CFR – Code of Federal Regulations
CLIN – Contract Line Item Number
CO – Contracting Officer
CONUS – Continental United States
COR – Contracting Officer Representative
COTR – Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative
COTS – Commercial Off-the-Shelf
CPAF – Cost Plus Award Fee
CPFF – Cost Plus Fixed Fee
CPIF – Cost Plus Incentive Fee
CRADA – Co-operative Research & Dev’t Agreement
DFARS – Defense FAR Supplement
DLH – Direct Labor Hour
EDI – Electronic Data Interchange
EDWOSB – Economically Disadv. Women Owned Small Biz
FAR – Federal Acquisition Regulation
FAS – Federal Acquisition Service
FFP – Firm Fixed Price
FOIA – Freedom of Information Act
FOUO – For Official Use Only
GFE – Government Furnished Equipment
GFM – Government Furnished Materials
FFP – Firm Fixed Price
GFP – Government-Furnished Property
GOCO – Government Owned, Contractor Operated
GWAC – Government-wide Acquisition Contract
IDIQ – Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity
IFB – Invitation for Bids
IG – Inspector General
LOE – Level of Effort
LPTA – Lowest Price, Technically Acceptable
MATOC – Multiple Award Task Order Contract
MILSPEC – Military Specification
MOA – Memorandum of Agreement
MOU – Memorandum of Understanding
OCONUS – Outside the Continental US
ODC – Other Direct Costs
OIG – Office of Inspector General
OSDBU – Office of Small & Disadv. Business Utilization
PCO – Procuring Contracting Officer
PEO – Program Executive Officer
PII – Personally Identifiable Information
POAM – Plan of Action and Milestones
RFI – Request for Information
RFP – Request for Proposal
RFQ – Request for Quotation
SAP – Simplified Acquisition Process
SBLO – Small Business Liaison Officer
SBU – Sensitive but Unclassified
SCIF – Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility
SDLC – Software Development Lifecycle
SDVOSB – Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Business
SIC – Standard Industrial Classification Codes
SIN – Special Item Number
SOW – Statement of Work
SSN – Sources Sought Notice
TS – Top Secret
TS/SCI – Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmented Information
T&M – Time and Materials
WOSB – Women Owned Small Business

Posted in: Resources

Leave a Comment (0) →