SmallGovCon Welcomes Stephan Skepnek

I am very pleased to announce that Stephan Skepnek has joined our team of attorney-authors here at SmallGovCon.  Stephan is an associate attorney with Koprince Law LLC, where his practice focuses on federal government contracts law.

Before joining our team, Stephan practiced civil litigation and administrative law with the Kansas Corporation Commission.  Check out Stephan’s full biography to learn more about our newest author, and don’t miss his first SmallGovCon post on the GAO’s tricky timeliness rules.

Let’s Replace SBA Small Business Goaling Grades with Participation Trophies

For Fiscal Year 2017, SBA’s small business goaling scorecard awarded 21 agencies grades of “A+” or “A” for their small business contracting and subcontracting.  Two agencies received a “B” and a single, lonely agency brought up the rear with a “C.”  Not one agency received a grade below “C,” even agencies that missed most of their small business goals.

It was a “record breaking” performance, to hear SBA tell it.  But these inflated grades do a disservice to the public and government alike.  So long as almost everyone is going to get a top grade anyway, I say we just replace next year’s SBA goaling grades with agency participation trophies.

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Hack Response: Notarized Letters Now Required for SAM.gov

Because of a recent cyber attack on the System for Award Management, the Federal Service Desk is requiring new contractors to submit a signed notarized letter in order to be registered. Later this month, existing registrants seeking to update or renew profiles will have to do the same.

This move comes after the General Services Administration acknowledged on March 22 that the inspector general is looking into a hack of the SAM.gov database, in which the hackers changed the banking information for “a limited number” of contractors.

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Thank you, Boise!

Last week I had the fantastic opportunity to travel to Boise to speak at the Idaho Small Business Contracting Symposium.  My talk focused on recent updates in the law relating to contracting with the Federal government. It was a broad topic I hope was valuable to all who attended.

The symposium provided a wonderful opportunity to meet some clients face-to-face after having established a relationship over email and the phone and also to make some great new contacts. Huge thanks to Gary Moore and Lee Velton and the Idaho PTAC for organizing and inviting Koprince Law LLC to speak. Thanks to all who stopped by the table (and if you asked me where to get a copy of the Joint Ventures handbook, here’s a handy dandy link.)

Next stop: Kansas SBDC Cybersecurity Forum in Manhattan, Kan., April 25, where I’ll be on the Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, Recover panel. The event is sponsored by the Washburn Kansas Small Business Development Center. Registration is open. Hope to see you there.

Civilian Agencies May Increase Simplified Acquisition and Micro-Purchase Thresholds

Civilian agencies may issue class deviations to quickly implement provisions of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act increasing the micro-purchase threshold to $10,000 and the simplified acquisition threshold to $250,000.

In a memorandum for civilian agencies issued on February 16, the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council says that agencies may elect to adopt interim authority allowing their Contracting Officers to take advantage of these higher thresholds, even as the FAR Council goes through the formal process of codifying those changes.

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Federal Circuit Affirms Sole-Source Justification

Not too many government contracting disputes make it to a federal court of appeals—the level just a step below the U.S. Supreme Court. The most notable recent examples would probably be the Federal Circuit’s decision in Kingdomware Technologies (which, as SmallGovCon readers know, was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court in 2016) and the D.C. Circuit’s decision Rothe Development (which the Supreme Court declined to consider).

But recently, the Federal Circuit issued a decision of note to government contractors. In AgustaWestland North America v. United States, the Court issued guidance on what constitutes a “procurement decision” and upheld the Army’s decision to buy helicopters on a sole-source basis.

Let’s take a look.

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DoD Small Business Contracts Have Dropped 70% Since FY 2011, Acquisition Reform Panel Says

The number of DoD small business contract actions has dropped almost 70 percent since Fiscal Year 2011, even as the total number of small business dollars increased significantly.  This is one of the important new findings from an acquisition reform panel’s initial report.

The Advisory Panel on Streamlining and Codifying Acquisition Regulations–better known as the Section 809 Panel–recently released the first in an anticipated three-volume series of reports on ways to potentially reform and improve DoD acquisitions.  The report, which clocks in at a whopping 642 pages, includes a detailed section on DoD small business acquisitions–and suggests that DoD’s focus on achieving dollar-based small business goals has obscured the fact that far fewer small businesses have been awarded DoD contracts in recent years.

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