WIPP Policy Briefing Week of December 1
Monday, December 8, 2014
Policy Briefing Week of Dec. 1, 2014
Women’s Contracting Program Gains Parity Through Defense Bill
Passed last week in the House and pending in the Senate, the final version of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contained a big win for WIPP and women entrepreneurs. Sole source authority, a critical tool to increase awards of federal contracts to women-owned businesses, was one of few amendments to be included to the $577 billion measure.
Much like the 8(a), HUBZone and service-disabled veteran (SDVOSB) programs, the provision will allow contracts of up to $4 million ($6.5 for manufacturing contracts) to be directly awarded to companies through the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program. A contracting officer will be able to award contracts through the WOSB program, if he or she “does not have a reasonable expectation that two or more [women-owned] business will submit offers,” and it can be awarded at “fair and reasonable price.”
In addition to adding sole source authority, the bill modifies the WOSB program in two ways. It requires WOSBs to be certified by either a federal agency, the SBA, state governments, or 3rd party certifiers approved by SBA. The legislation does not make clear how this impacts WOSBs currently registered in the program. In addition, the law accelerates the process by which SBA identifies which industries are eligible to participate in the program.
Other small business contracting program’s have this authority, and it should bring more WOSBs to the federal market. WIPP’s Chief Advocate, Ann Sullivan, authored a commentary on how it happened and what it means.
113th Congress Races to the Finish Line
Optimistic staffers see this week, as the final days of the 113th Congress. For that to happen, there are a few items left on this Congress’ to-do list (additional details in other articles):
- Fund the government’s Fiscal Year 2015: A deal appears to be emerging that would fund most of the government through 2015 (below). To do: introduce legislation, pass both House and Senate, sign by President.
- Renew some expired tax breaks: Grander changes failed, but a deal to extend some important individual and business tax credits/deductions has already passed the House. To do: pass the Senate, sign by President.
- NDAA -Defense authorization: The annual “must-pass” bill was passed by the House following months of negotiations. To do: pass the Senate, sign by President.
Although last minute objections have popped up, it looks likely that Congress will pass this legislation making for a long holiday and the end of the 113th Congress. The President has indicated he will sign the bills.
Money Matters: Putting the Final Touches on FY2015 Funding
After furious, round-the-clock negotiations, Congressional appropriators are readying a more than one trillion dollar spending bill for FY2015 government funding. The bill, also known as the “cromnibus,” would fund nearly all government programs through the end of September 2015 except for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS, which has been charged with implementing President Obama’s immigration action, would only be funded for a few months, likely February or March. This will allow Congressional Republicans to revisit funding for DHS immigration agencies to pressure the President once the new Congress convenes next year. Still in the process of being written, expectations remain high that the Congress will pass the bill by the December 11 deadline, with votes expected by Wednesday. Please check WIPP’s website for updates throughout this week.
Expiring Tax Credits Poised for One Year Extension
Leaders on both sides of the aisle want to address “tax extenders” – the 50+ business and individual tax credits and deductions that expired at the end of 2014. The House of Representatives took the first step, and passed H.R. 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014. The bill would extend for one year nearly all of the expired tax cuts, allowing businesses and individuals to claim them for tax year 2014. Key extensions for business owners:
- Bonus Depreciation (accelerating depreciation deduction for certain capital investments)
- Increased Sec. 179 Expensing (keeping limits at $500,000/$2,000,000, and including special rules for software purchases)
- Research (R&D) tax credit
- Employer provided transit/parking benefits
- New Markets tax credit (invest in businesses in low income areas)
You can find a more comprehensive list and section-by-section summary here. If successful, the legislation would make the tax credits available for 2014, but not for 2015 – leaving business owners, tax preparers, and individuals to face uncertainty again next year.