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New Year's Resolutions from WIPP's Advocacy Team

Posted By Elizabeth Sullivan, WIPP Advocacy Team, Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2020

It has been two weeks since New Year's Day and you’re not alone if you have broken most or all of your New Year's resolutions. While we put our personal resolutions aside, when it comes to advocacy, our team has made some we are committed to keeping.

Elizabeth Sullivan
  1. Untangle the web of new federal cybersecurity requirements for WOSBs.

  2. Urge the Senate to pass the SBA Reauthorization bill

  3. Celebrate and build upon our FY2020 NDAA wins.

  4. Support Congressional women

Untangle the web of new federal cybersecurity requirements for WOSBs

2020 is shaping up to be the year of securing the federal supply chain. This may sound dry or mundane, but recent changes truly impact every federal contractor of every size. While we did a deeper dive last year, let me provide some context. Our work does not stop when a bill becomes a law. In fact, the devil is in the details, so providing input during the regulatory process is just as important as the passage of the law (read a refresher on the regulatory process). In addition, remember that a proposed or new regulation is called a “rule.” Major agency actions – all regulatory – require our attention. 

 

  • Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) – The final version of this requirement should be published later this month. The CMMC is expected to designate maturity levels ranging from “Basic Cybersecurity Hygiene” to “Advanced.”  While contractors will be required to be certified by an accrediting body, it has not yet been determined. This body is expected to enter into an MOU with the DoD sometime this month. The government has indicated that contractors will be reimbursed for the certification fee through their pricing on contracts to the federal government. However, the current cost remains unclear. CMMC will eventually be required for anyone doing business with DoD – the certification levels will begin to be included in RFIs starting in June and RFPs sometime in the fall. One important point made by Katie Arrington, DoD’s Chief Information Security Officer for Acquisition and Sustainment, was to never post your CMMC level certification on your website, as hackers will then know the types of security you are employing and target accordingly. Although there are still some factors to be determined, this certification is moving full steam ahead – and compliance strategies will be an important exercise for every federal contractor in 2020.
  • Section 889: Prohibition on Certain Telecommunications and Video Surveillance Services or Equipment – Commonly referred to as “Section 889,” this rule seems like it would have nothing to do with small businesses or most contractors, however, it does. It broadly prohibits federal agencies from using telecommunications or surveillance equipment or services from six Chinese companies or their subsidiaries. WIPP Chief Advocate Ann Sullivan took a closer look at the rule. In step two of implementation, a rule is expected to go into effect sometime this year that prohibits any government contractor from using any components or services from these companies. If you are renewing your SAM profile, you will notice a new question asking if you provide covered telecommunications equipment or services in the performance of any contract or subcontract. This action impacts the entire supply chain, covering all contracts. 

Additionally, WIPP members have aired their frustrations for years on the government’s security clearance processes, both in civilian agencies and at DoD. This “chicken and egg” issue continues to hamper WOSBs and other small contractors from reaching their full potential. We hear you and are working to create policy solutions on these issues.

 

Urge the Senate to pass the SBA Reauthorization bill

WIPP has been working closely with the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship to make necessary changes to programs benefiting entrepreneurs through the Small Business Administration (SBA). The Chairman’s draft contains 15 changes that, if passed, will be game-changers for women business owners. This includes positive sole source changes for federal contractors and increasing the ability for WOSBs to access capital.

 

Unfortunately, the Committee postponed action on a comprehensive reauthorization bill after failing to agree on proposed regulatory changes contained in the draft legislation. Despite this setback, you should still contact your Senators, urging action. We even have a letter you can easily download and send. This bill has enormous implications for small and midsize businesses around the country – we’ll be keeping up the drumbeat. One detail to know about this effort is that while it is a new year, it is not a new Congress. The 116th Congress is in its second session, which means that bills introduced in 2019 are still active in 2020.

 

Celebrate and build upon our FY2020 NDAA wins

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a must-pass bill by Congress – authorizing all of the DoD programs on an annual basis. The 2020 NDAA, passed in December 2019, contained three WIPP supported provisions that positively impact WOSBs.

  • The first is the prompt payment for small business prime contractors and subsequently their subcontractors. WIPP has supported permanently establishing an accelerated payment date since the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directive expired in 2017, and this provision establishes a goal of 15 days after proper invoice.
  • The second is uncovering small business participation on multiple award contracts that are designated as best-in-class vehicles. As the spend through these vehicles increases, it is critical to have data on WOSB participation. Therefore, the provision requires the SBA to report the dollar amount of contracts awarded to small businesses.
  • WIPP’s third win was to strengthen accountability for subcontractors. The provision implements a new dispute process allowing small subcontractors to bring nonpayment issues to the agency’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), as well as strengthen the agency’s ability to collect and review data regarding prime contractors' achievement of their subcontracting plans.

Support Congressional women

As we all know, this is a Presidential election year. However, the entire House of Representatives and a third of the seats in the Senate are also up for grabs. Electing women to Congress is important, no matter your party affiliation. Currently, 127 women serve in the U.S. Congress – 26 in the Senate and 101 in the House. The women in the Senate have long been a model for avoiding legislative gridlock. They are often the negotiators who are willing to reach across the aisle to find common ground on major pieces of legislation. Women Members are also the cosponsors on legislation important to women entrepreneurs. For example, our bill to increase investment in women-owned federal contractors, The Women and Minority Equity Investment Act of 2019, is championed in the Senate by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) with Chair Marco Rubio (R-FL) and in the House by Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL). 

 

It is also important to note that the Senate just confirmed a new Administrator to the Small Business Administration, current U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza. We are thrilled to work with her again, as she was formerly an SBA Deputy Administrator and championed issues important to women-owned businesses during her tenure.

 

No doubt, other policy priorities will arise as the year moves forward. Although there are many political pressures that threaten to derail our efforts, we remain committed to the bipartisan mission of empowering women entrepreneurs. Let’s get to work.

 

Tags:  Advocacy  cybersecurity  leadership  SBA  women-owned 

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