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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Thank You, 8(a)s!

I am back in Lawrence after a wonderful three days at the National 8(a) Association 2018 Small Business Conference in Nashville.  I was part of a great panel on Wednesday on the SBA’s All Small Mentor-Protege Program, and spent a lot of time on the trade show floor talking about government contracts with 8(a)s, government leaders, and large businesses.

A big “thank you” to Ron Perry, Paula Arevalo, and the rest of the National 8(a) Association for inviting me to participate in this fantastic event.  Thank you, also, to everyone who attended my panel or stopped by the Koprince Law LLC booth to say hello.  It was great to see so many familiar faces and make many new connections.

I’ll be sticking close to home in February, but head to sunny Florida in early March for the APTAC Spring Conference.  PTAC counselors, I look forward to seeing you there!

Small Business GAO Bid Protests Are Less Successful, RAND Study Says

GAO bid protests filed by small businesses are (statistically speaking) less likely to succeed than protests filed by large contractors, according to the RAND Corporation’s recent bid protest study.

The disparity isn’t the result of discrimination against small businesses, but rather a product of other factors: primarily, the motivation to protest, the understanding of the protest system, and access to legal counsel.  RAND raises an important point, but offers no fair and easy solution.  Perhaps, given that protests overall are “exceedingly uncommon,” a solution isn’t needed–but it’s wise to think about whether there are ways to help small businesses become better educated about bid protests.

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