SmallGovCon Week In Review: October 17-21, 2016

It is KU’s homecoming weekend here in Lawrence.  I’m planning to catch KU’s homecoming parade with the family tonight, and then cheer KU onto football victory tomorrow against Oklahoma State (ok, that last part may be wishful thinking).

Of course, before we all head out to enjoy an autumn weekend, it’s time to get caught up on the latest in federal government contracting news.  In this week’s SmallGovCon Week In Review, a former State Department employee will spend four years in prison for helping steer contracts to his son’s company, the IRS awards contracts to contractors owing back taxes, one commentator sounds a well-worn (and in my view, essentially incorrect) alarm about bid protests, and much more.

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GAO: “Brand Name Only” Restrictions Must Be Justified

Competition is the touchstone of federal contracting. Except in limited circumstances, agencies are required to procure goods and services through full and open competition. In this regard, an agency’s decision to limit competition to only brand name items must be adequately justified.

GAO recently affirmed this principle in Phoenix Environmental Design, Inc., B-413373 (Oct. 14, 2016), when it sustained a protest challenging the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management’s decision to restrict its solicitation for herbicides on a brand name basis.

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Thank You, Philadelphia!

I am back in Lawrence after a great trip to Philadelphia, where I spoke at the  11th Annual Veterans Business Training and Outreach Conference.  My presentation focused on recent legal changes important to SDVOSBs and VOSBs, including major changes to the SDVOSB joint venture requirements and the new “all small” mentor-protege program.

Many thanks to Clyde Stoltzfus and his team at the Southeast Pennsylvania PTAC for organizing this great event and inviting me to speak.  And of course, a big “thank you” as well to everyone who attended the presentation, asked great questions, and followed up after the event.

Next on my travel agenda, I’ll be at the National Veterans Small Business Engagement in Minneapolis from November 1-3.  I will present four Learning Sessions at the NVSBE, and will spend my “spare” time manning the Koprince Law LLC booth on the tradeshow floor.  If you’ll be attending the 2016 NVSBE, I look forward to seeing you there!

SBA Revises 8(a) JV Regulation–But Confusion Remains

Stating that populated joint ventures have now been eliminated, the SBA has revised its 8(a) joint venture regulations to reflect that change.

In a technical correction published today in the Federal Register, the SBA flatly states that an earlier major rulemaking eliminated populated joint venture, and tweaks the profit-sharing piece of its 8(a) joint venture regulation to remove an outdated reference to populated joint ventures.  But even following this technical correction, there are three important points of potential confusion that remain (at least in my mind) regarding the SBA’s new joint venture regulations.

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SmallGovCon Week In Review: October 10-14, 2016

It’s mid-October, and my Chicago Cubs are still playing.  After a thrilling comeback win over the Giants, the Cubs will take on the Los Angeles Dodgers starting tomorrow in the National League Championship Series.  Will this be the year that the Cubs break the Billy Goat Curse and allow their fans to think about The Simpsons instead of the 2003 playoffs when they hear the word “Bartman”?

Time will tell.  But as the baseball playoffs move forward, I’m keeping my eyes on government contracting news–and there’s plenty of it this week.  In the latest SmallGovCon Week In Review,  a large trade group has filed a lawsuit to block the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces final rule, GSA updates its Dun & Bradstreet contract, Guy Timberlake addresses the potential effects of the 2017 NDAA, and much more.

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150 Bid Protests And Counting: My “Federal Drive With Tom Temin” Interview

In August, I wrote about a highly unusual case in which a company–which had filed 150 protests in the current fiscal year–was suspended from filing GAO bid protests for one year. I recently spoke with Tom Temin on his radio show Federal Drive to talk about GAO’s  decision.

If you missed the live conversation, you can click here to listen to the recorded audio from Federal News Radio. And be sure to tune in to Federal Drive with Tom Temin, which airs from 6-10 a.m EST on 1500 AM in the Washington, DC region and online everywhere.

Cost Realism: Using Offeror’s Actual Rates Was Unobjectionable

In conducting a cost realism evaluation, an agency was entitled to use an offeror’s historic approved indirect rates and current incumbent direct labor rates to upwardly adjust the offeror’s evaluated cost, in a case where the offeror’s proposed rates were significantly lower.

The GAO recently held that an agency did not err by adjusting a protester’s rates to better align with the protester’s historic indirect rates and current direct rates, where the agency was unable to determine that the protester’s significantly lower proposed rates were realistic.

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