PURPOSE OF THE PETITION:

To create a Public Law that establishes the Small Business Administration Advisory Committee on Small Business Affairs to serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Congress, the President and other US Policy Makers.

If you are interested in being part of this once in a lifetime effort, please email your firms name in support to: bizevangelist@vsbaonline.com. The actual online petition will be published to the Voice of Small Business in America | http://linkd.in/OneVoice  NLT April 15, 2014.

BACKGROUND:

I have been actively advocating for small business government contractors for more than a decade now and am convinced that we are a fragmented lot by a design that we neither created nor signed up for.

It should come as no surprise that there are 10’s maybe 100’s of small business government contractor advocacy organizations all across the nation. While each of these organizations pursues its own agenda on individual issues, none is ever able to reach critical mass at a meta-level and none has the ability to represent the consensus of what the small business government contractor community wants. Indeed, by virtue of the very model which makes the not-for-profit, membership organization possible; ‘divide and conquer’ becomes an institutionalized profit generating tool for large corporations to exploit at will. In capitalism, as in any competitive venue, the few can always conquer the many when the many operate in a chaotic manner.

The net result of our fragmented approach to date is the perpetuation of the following:

Large businesses are receiving small business procurement awards and agencies are receiving credit for these awards; misleading data has created the false impression that agencies are meeting their small business subcontracting goals; agencies know there are problems with the data reported by large contractors but do not take adequate corrective action; agencies award noncompetitive 8(a) contracts to ANC firms and these firms in turn subcontract with large companies; many Smalls are grown in a “farm system fashion” by larger businesses and win contracts while no longer meeting small business size standards – with no penalty; on multiple award contracts, task orders intended for the smallest contractors are issued to larger, agency incumbent contractors… then, there is bundling and consolidation…

All the while, the SBA’s oversight has fallen short including not adhering to a legislative and regulatory requirement to ascertain whether Smalls, are likely to suffer, a substantial unfair competitive disadvantage within an industry; but focusing rather on the hawking of debt in the form of loans on Smalls as if somehow economic infusion can counterbalance a lack of legislative will and institutionalized bias. In sum, right now, our collective Voice is faint and waning, and without stronger oversight, there is potential for continued abuse and unintended consequences to our collective detriment.

SOLUTION

Therefore, I propose that we petition the Congress and the White House to create a Public Law that establishes the Small Business Administration Advisory Committee on Small Business Affairs to serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Congress, the President and other US Policy Makers.

This Advisory Committee will be fashioned in the same manner as the one formed for Veterans in Public Law 106–50, SEC. 203.The Committee shall be composed of 15 members, of whom eight shall be small business concerns (within the meaning of the term under section 3 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 632)); and seven shall be representatives of small business organizations across the country.

We are now 15,000+ strong, let’s make it count.

One Voice… R. Sutherland

Although we have been trying to support those in our membership who had the misfortune of not being awarded contracts due to regulatory deadlines for their recourse; this in no form or manner should detract from our congratulating those firms that were awarded.

Although several are still in the process of demonstrating financial capacity, we are quite confident that all should be able to do so. Now, as discretion is still our most potent weapon while we forge forward in the full & open tract – we offer sincere congratulations for your accomplishment and look forward our future successes together.

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http://teaming-exchange.com/

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“ [FACT] 29 contractors won seats on GSA Alliant because of the filing of bid protests!”

GSA OASIS Small Business awards were announced today on FedBizOps @ https://www.fbo.gov/notices/46fc6e79adf8ac198bf4656cc0efe913

If you WERE NOT awarded and don’t agree with the decision of the GSA OASIS contracting officer or agency regarding the awarded contracts to Small Business, regulations provide you with ways to make your voice heard – most commonly, with an award protest.

Since a successful protest allows your company to get back in front of the procuring agency and be re-considered for award, protests are clearly an important business capture consideration on such procurements. Assisting our membership with this prospective option is a large part of our current pre & post-award protest strategy at the GAO.

To file a protest, you must be an “interested party.”  This means that you must have direct economic interest in and would potentially be affected by the contract award or by the failure to award a contract. If your protest were sustained, you could be in line for an award.

Protesters can challenge anything from the acceptance or rejection of a contract award or proposed award of a contract to defective solicitations. Some examples of bid defects are restrictive specifications, omission of required revisions, or ambiguous evaluation factors. You can even request a contract’s termination if you allege that it was awarded based on improprieties.

Government contracting regulations require that you use your best efforts to resolve matters with a contracting agency before you file a protest. Open conversations are encouraged between you and the agency’s contracting officers; this helps promote a fair and diligent resolution of matters.

If things can’t be resolved through open conversation and you submit an award protest to GSA, you can expect an informal and procedurally simple resolution to the protest that may involve another agency’s personnel, third-party neutrals or alternative dispute techniques.

If the bid protest or award protest is received prior to the award of a contract, the contract typically will not be awarded pending the outcome of the protest.  There are some exceptions to this rule — for example, if the government is in dire need of the products or services.  If the GSA receives the protest 10 days after the award of the contract, the contract performance will be halted until the protest is resolved.

If you cannot resolve your protest with the contracting agency, you can file the protest with the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO).

We can help you, however, the first thing you need to do is devise a debrief strategy. Please contact Karen ASAP to schedule a telecom to discuss your specific circumstances as soon as possible at admin@boston-warwick.com.

Boston Warwick Law | http://www.boston-warwick.com/

Saturday, January 04, 2014

REF: B-408936 | Aljucar, Anvil-Incus & Co. @ www.gao.gov

We are in the process of filing a Request for Reconsideration with the GAO, but believe it will ultimately be necessary to file in the Court of Federal Claims (CoFC) – for which we are currently preparing. The risks of Joint Venturing is controlled by the free-market and by virtue of sound Operating Agreements, not by the government picking winners and losers… although it may be at their discretion, there is nothing reasonable about the GSA’s position and we believe the CoFC will indeed find that it does not pass the logical scrutiny test.

Besides subcontracting, Joint Venturing is the only way in which small and mid-tier firms can compete with Bigs in a free-market capacity – so we must press on.

The current GAO ruling seems contrary to certain executive guidance back to 2009 from the White House and OMB over standards to be considered in increasing competitiveness, in particular Public Law 111-240 (also known as the JOBS Act), SEC. 1312, which requires that all solicitations for multiple award contracts above an agency’s “substantial bundling threshold” (currently $5.5M for GSA, see FAR 7.104(d)(2)) include a provision “soliciting bids from any responsible source, including responsible small business concerns and teams or joint ventures of small business concerns.”

Neither I nor the attorneys we’ve engaged see that those standards were expressly applied by the agency or GAO in determining the adequacy of the market research cited. The ruling also seems to be directed to a non sequitur in regard to the proper scope of traditional competitiveness inquiry that the allowable “discretion” ought not cover. Nevertheless, we plan to vigorously pursue this matter on behalf of ourselves and those too big to be small and too small to be big.

Upon our filing with the Court of Federal Claims, the entire library of filings by both us and the government will be published to the Teaming X-change | www.teaming-exchange.com for public review once we receive the ruling on the request for reconsideration.

The post will include the actual business case and interviews conducted by GSA with agency personnel, Large and Small business owners. We are confident that the record made public will show that GSA, and particularly the GSA OASIS Deputy Director Todd Richards, fabricated the results in order insure that Bigs have a clear runway on the Unrestricted version without interference from Smalls or Mid-tiers.

One Voice…

R. Sutherland

www.teaming-exchange.com

 “We are dedicated to our customer’s satisfaction. We have a genuine interest in learning about the customer’s goals and a commitment of time in considering their particular and unique needs/challenges when developing a solution rather than applying unaltered boilerplate solutions.” – R. Sutherland

FUNDAMENTALS

For 2014, we are taking the next step in our evolution beyond GSA OASIS.

Using a shared services back-office model to scale marketing, finance, administration, operations, and human resources; the Teaming X-change leverages the disparate past performance and collective capacity of its members to competitively pursue opportunities that are both Small Business set-aside as well as Full & Open at the federal procurement level.

Our primary goal is to create new and lucrative revenue streams together through cross promotion of expertise, increased geographic foot-print, creation of new and innovative products and services to grow our member businesses strategically. Our members have deep capability and past performance in the following diverse and complementary disciplines and business sectors:

  • Accounting
  • Architect
  • Construction
  • Editing
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Graphic Design
  • Information Technology
  • Legal
  • Marketing
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Program Management
  • Quality Management
  • Staffing
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Transportation
  • Travel Management
  • Waste Management

The X-change portfolio management team has many years of experience in crafting collaborative strategies to help teams of business owners, at various sizes and scales, achieve their goals through innovative joint ventures. And, although governance normally follows equity, we do not require that our members contribute assets to teaming and venture vehicles to give up control of those assets. In all ventures structured through the X-change, shared governance is the prevalent element. Furthermore, the X-change is structured with the flexibility to allow joint venture member firms to participate in projects and contract opportunities according to their individual capability and availability.

For more details on our expanded model, and to create or insure that your current company profile is up-to-date, please visit and login at www.teaming-exchange.com

R. Sutherland, Founder

“Remember, upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all” – Alexander the Great

After a very restful Thanksgiving and football binge (did you catch the Alabama / Auburn game?) – right now, I must say that I am having a ball, as Head of Practice for Boston Warwick / Anvil-Incus & Co. and founder of the Voice of Small Business in America; it is good to be the boss.

What could be better than having the honor of working through the first leg of the crisis (this all picks back up in Jan. 2014 folks…) with such a great group of people? I have no delusions and fully recognize that I am only as good as the people I associate with, so I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge our strategic legal and financial partners who have truly stepped up in the last couple of months.

When the government shutdown became imminent, I issued a call for more law firms, attorneys, accountant and financial analysts to come together for the purpose of providing subsidized support for many client VSBA members during the crisis. Many of these members required risk planning and strategic advice regarding the economic effects of the shutdown on both their current contract portfolio and go-forward sales pipelines as well as financial liquidity.

Our folks stepped up without hesitation.

What we’ve always know, but has been revalidated by these struggles for survival, is that although most GovCon contractors are small hard working businesses; we know what we need to do, but don’t always have the time and money to do it. Our strategic partners helped provide economies of scale at this time of need, the power of a group who share a common interest; and I am forever grateful. Come what may after the first of the year, we have a formula that works.

Finally, as we prepare to go into calendar year 2014, my challenge to you all is “Speak Up!” Get involved and stay involved. Start a meaningful discussion thread in our group about an issue you are passionate about, champion an issue locally that helps the small businesses closest to you, and above all, let Congress know you have a pulse! Stick your neck out and get of your comfort zone.

You will be pleasantly surprised at how many of your brethren share your convictions, and the rewards to you personally and your small business will most certainly follow.

R. Sutherland | www.boston-warwick.com | www.anvil-incus.com

September 14, 2013

While we prepare our case moving forward, I cannot personally answer all of your inquiries. However, on the subject topic I will respond for public record.

***

Although our case, win or lose, may help firms who do no get selected in their post award protest arguments; that is not our intent. This is an act of public service to help Smalls and Mid-caps grow and compete in federal contracting on equal footing with Bigs in the only manner successful to date; through Joint Ventures.

While subcontracting to Bigs should be applauded, we all know that all subcontracting goals are inconsequential. That is, they are not mandatory. Essentially, these goals are as toothless as the word “may” in legislation in comparison to the word “must”; remember the “Parity” fight? Furthermore, we all know that Subcontractor past performance has a lesser exchange rate than Prime contractor past performance… apparently GSA agrees with this position, because subcontractor past performance is not weighted at all for OASIS.

Now, recently the GSA has gone on record stating:

“GSA has maintained the position that, while it welcomes proposals from Joint Ventures, those entities must demonstrate a successful track record of working together to supply the complex, integrated professional services that are the heart of the OASIS program.   This position effectively treats Joint Ventures equally with all other Offerors with regards to relevant experience, which GSA considers fair to all parties.”

Well folks, just because GSA says it doesn’t make it so…

In his business case (the real one none of you received), GSA Deputy Director, Todd Richards stated, and I quote:

“Integrations [former name for OASIS] will be structured to comply with CTAs as defined in FAR Subpart 9.6 as prime/subcontractor arrangements. It is not expected that joint ventures will be allowed as there are numerous issues surrounding liability associated with non-performance.” See A1 – GSA INTERNAL APPROVED BUSINESS CASE at 25.

He admitted as much during Oral Hearings, so who’s trying to fool whom here? It’s all media-spin folks – using our tax $$$$ to boot.

Additionally, GSA has also gone on record stating:

“OASIS is intended for large dollar volume, complex service acquisitions.”

But, exactly what “complex services” is the agency looking to procure? The Agency is not procuring services for itself, and based on its own records it only has Four (4) agencies that signed up as first-adopters. In fact, at neither the time of the solicitation release, nor response receipt from industry, will the Agency know exactly what the definition of “complex services” is or “will be” under OASIS – nor does it know exactly what it wishes to purchase.

NOWHERE IN THE ENTIRE OASIS SOLICITATION IS THE TERM “COMPLEX SERVICES” MENTIONED OR DEFINED.

Its all “smoke & mirrors”… the definition of “complex services” in the form of a requirement will not (and cannot) be known by the Agency at the time of the solicitation competition. Rather, the requirements for complex services will be exactly known at the level of task-order competition; … and each definition will be unique in comparison to any requirement before or after it. 

Lastly, you may recall that the GSA made the same argument about “high-dollar” task-orders almost 10-years ago with Alliant. But, in the final analysis, it has been proven that rather than the $44.3M lauded by the GSA media-spin machine, the actual avg. task-order awarded in the [Unrestricted] track was only $15.1M in comparison with $13.4M for Smalls; a difference of only $1.7M. Just another boogeyman to scare Smalls away from the table.

So again I ask, who’s trying to fool whom here? Just because GSA says it doesn’t make it so…

One Voice…

R. Sutherland

www.gsa-oasis.info

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