There are more than 170 million pieces of debris in space. This debris has accumulated over years and years of launching hundreds of satellites into orbit; the same satellites that allow us to rely on GPS, Instagram all our travel photos, or even make this blog available to the masses. While there is almost a 0% chance any of this space debris will land in your front yard, or on your shoulder, it still poses a significant risk to other satellites in various orbits around earth.
To stem the growth of space debris, the Federal Communications Commission recently released a proposed rule, 84 FR 4742, that significantly changes how satellite launches are both planned and tracked. Unfortunately, these changes will likely drive up costs of accessing space, making small business participation even more challenging than it already is.
The Buy American Act includes a number of waivers and exceptions. The Section 809 panel, for one, has called for expanding these exceptions, at least for the DOD. A recent GAO report examines how agencies apply the existing waivers and exceptions to the Buy American Act.
GAO’s general opinion is that agencies should improve their Buy American Act data reporting and enhance training on its waivers and for procument personnel. The report also provides some interesting details about the scope of the Buy American Act, and how agencies implement it.
The third volume of the Panel’s recommendations, stretching over 500 pages, includes a recommendation that DOD be granted additional flexibility to spend its appropriated dollars from Congress. As the Panel puts it, Congress should “[p]rovide increased flexibility to the time periods within which contract obligations are permitted to occur.”
Another one of their ideas is to eliminate certain domestic purchasing preferences by having Congress create exceptions for DOD purchases and create a public interest exception for the Berry Amendment. The panel’s concern is that the purchasing restrictions can result in higher prices, reduced volume, or delivery delays.
If a contracting officer determines that a small business offeror is not qualified to perform under a solicitation, that usually means the offeror’s proposal will be rejected. In some instances, however, the offeror gets a second chance through the SBA’s Certificate of Competency (“COC”) program.
Here are five things you should know about the COC program.
In late 2018, the SBA opined that the Runway Extension Act wasn’t applicable because the SBA had not yet updated its regulations. Following industry pushback, the SBA’s position seems to have evolved. During a panel discussion at this year’s National 8(a) Conference, the SBA said that the Runway Extension Act applies to every agency that might adopt its own size standards . . . just not the SBA itself.
This new justification is a bit of a head-scratcher. And I still don’t think the SBA has it right.
The Section 809 Panel has recommended that Congress eliminate most small business set-asides for DoD acquisitions. The Panel would replace the longstanding set-aside system with a meager five percent small business price preference.
For small government contractors, this recommendation is the policy equivalent of a five-alarm fire. Small contractors may need to fight hard to save the set-aside system.