Small Business Jobs Act of 2016
Monday, September 19, 2016
Senate seeks to pass a comprehensive small business bill including WIPP Priorities
The Senate Small Business Committee has asked the full Senate to pass the Small Business Jobs Act of 2016, which combines fifteen bills previously passed by the Committee. The Committee is hoping the Senate will pass the mega-bill before Congress takes a break to campaign for the November elections. The legislation includes entrepreneur assistance through reauthorization of the SCORE and the Women’s Business Center Programs, and improvements to Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). The bill also provides additional small support to small businesses on energy efficiency, broadband, cyber security, and intellectual property. For access to capital, the bill contains additional oversight of SBA lending programs, creation of an SBA lender database, and microloan program modernization. The legislation provides additional support for veteran and National Guard Reservists, in addition to improvements to the HUBZone program.
The legislation also includes a number of small business contracting changes. For small prime contractors, the legislation clarifies when it is appropriate for an agency to use Reverse Auctions — an eBay-like buying process where an agency posts a product or service to an online portal and businesses bid down to lower the price. While the tool can help the government reach the lowest price, inappropriate use of the tool has hurt small businesses. This legislation prohibits the use of reverse auctions when there is no competition, requires any third-party service to follow the contracting officer rulebook (also known as the FAR), and bans the use of reverse auctions for construction services and equipment used to protect individuals from bodily harm.
The legislation also addresses subcontracting challenges by strengthening the roles of Procurement Center Representatives (PCR) and Commercial Market Representatives (CMR) – SBA’s contracting boots on the ground. Their expanded roles will ensure that large prime contractors submit subcontracting plans that provide maximum opportunity to utilize small subcontractors. The legislation also includes a mechanism for large prime contractors to provide first tier subcontractors government past performance credit on subcontracts greater than $250,000.