House-Passed 2022 NDAA Raises Small Business Goal to 25% and Increases SDVOSB, HUBZone, SDB and WOSB Goals

The version of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act passed by the House of Representatives on September 23 would increase the government’s small business prime contracting goal from 23% to 25%.

The House-passed version of the 2022 NDAA would also increase the prime contracting goals for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, HUBZone small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses, and women-owned small businesses.

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Does the SBA’s Rosy Spin on Goaling Achievement Hurt Small Businesses?

“Overpopulation crisis solved!” That’s the sort of headline I expect the SBA’s press team would write the day after a global thermonuclear war.

Obviously, I’m exaggerating a wee bit to make my point, but the SBA’s press release on FY 2020 small business goaling achievement follows a pattern I’ve seen across several Presidential administrations and SBA Administrators: when it comes to reporting on the small business goals, the SBA fervently emphasizes the good news while almost entirely ignoring the bad.

If you look past the headlines and examine the raw data, there is plenty of bad news to be found in the FY 2020 goaling report. So is the SBA doing a disservice to small businesses by pretending this bad news doesn’t exist?

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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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Victory! SDVOSBs Win In Kingdomware Supreme Court Decision

SDVOSBs and VOSBs are big winners today, as the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the VA’s “rule of two” is mandatory, and applies to all VA procurements–including GSA Schedule orders.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States, No. 14-916 (2016) means that the VA will be required to truly put “Veterans First” in all of its procurement actions–which is what Kingdomware, and many veterans’ advocates, have fought for all along.

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Justice Scalia’s Passing & The Kingdomware Case

As the nation pauses to remember Justice Antonin Scalia, SDVOSBs and VOSBs are already asking: what does Justice Scalia’s passing mean for Kingdomware v. United States, which is currently scheduled for oral argument on February 22?

Good question.  Here’s what I know now, plus a little speculation to boot.

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Kingdomware Shocker: VA Abandons Goal-Setting Argument

In a stunning development in the Kingdomware SDVOSB/VOSB Supreme Court case, the Government has abandoned the argument that the statutory preference for veteran-owned companies applies only if the VA has not met its SDVOSB or VOSB contracting goals.

Although this argument was hotly debated, it was successful both at the Court of Federal Claims and again at the Federal Circuit.  But now, just weeks away from oral arguments, the Government’s Supreme Court brief jettisons the Government’s own previously successful argument in favor of an entirely different rationale for refusing to honor the statutory SDVOSB and VOSB preferences.

The last-minute, wholesale substitution of arguments doesn’t say much for the Government’s confidence in its case. And on the merits, the Government’s new argument is no better than the one it has abruptly abandoned.

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VA Doesn’t Issue SDVOSB Set-Aside, Protest Sustained

The VA’s decision not to issue a SDVOSB set-aside was improper because the VA adopted an unreasonably narrow approach to determining whether two or more SDVOSBs were likely to submit proposals.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the VA’s narrow market research did not support its set-aside determination.  And in so holding, the GAO reaffirmed its position that the VA must put “veterans first” in federal procurements.

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