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Advocacy Update: SBA Microloan Program Goes To Markup

Posted By WIPP Advocacy Team, Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Updated on March 11, 2020 at 1 PM EDT

 

Today, only 16% of conventional loans and 4.4% of commercial loan dollars go to women-owned businesses. One of WIPP’s Policy Priorities, to “Increase access to capital for women-owned businesses,” continues to gain traction through legislation modernizing the SBA Microloan Program. 

The House Committee on Small Business (HSBC) held a markup March 11 where both SBA Microloan Program modernization bills, H.R. 6079 and H.R. 6078, passed the Committee unanimously without amendments.Chair Nydia Velázquez acknowledged WIPP for its support. Next stop will be vote by the full House.

 March 7, 2019 HSBC Hearing

As I reminder, the SBA Microloan Program assists entrepreneurs in obtaining loans under $50,000. SBA provides funds to nonprofit intermediary lenders. Intermediaries, in turn, provide microloans to small businesses. At 48.7%, women are the greatest consumers of these microloans.

In March 2019, at a HSBC hearing on Modernization of the Microloan Program, Michelle Richards, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council, testified on behalf of WIPP. She called attention to the 1/55th rule as the number one pain point for microlenders and advocated for its elimination in any modernization of the program. 

The 1/55th rule, which was implemented as part of the pilot program in 1991. Current law requires that for the first half of each fiscal year the lesser of $800,000 (or 1/55th of available loan funds) is made available to loan intermediaries in every state, restricting the availability of capital for small businesses in larger states and underutilization of available funds by smaller states.

On the Senate side, our Advocacy Team worked closely on this issue with Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) last April, who introduced the Microloan Program Enhancement Act (S. 996). The bill adopts two of WIPP’s key recommendations on improvements that should be made to the Microloan Program. Read more

 

 

Tags:  Advocacy  microloan  SBA 

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Appropriations Season: The Process Behind Funding the Government

Posted By WIPP Advocacy Team, Monday, March 9, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, March 10, 2020

It’s that time again - groups of all different interests are preparing to flock to the Hill to get in their appropriations requests. Spring is always the kick-off point for the appropriations and budget process to begin for the following fiscal year and it is time to get the ball rolling. 

In February of each year, the President submits a budget request to Congress. It is important to note that the President’s budget is not a binding document and should be thought of as more of a “wish list” than an actual budget. The agencies (which, as a reminder, are headed by a person of the President’s choosing), release their budget requests; the individual House and Senate committees release their views and estimates of what programs within their jurisdictions should be allocated; and, in March, the House and Senate Budget Committees draft budget resolutions, a final product of which is due on April 15. 

The House and Senate generally pass separate budget bills, which set the top-level spending number for the next fiscal year. One thing you might not realize about the budget is that it does not have to go to the President for approval and it is not a law – the budget is the guide that appropriators use in setting appropriations for individual agencies and programs. 

Last year, Congress put into place a two-year budget plan, which governs this year’s budget numbers as well.

During the time that the Budget Committees are beginning their work, the Appropriations Committees, as well as individual Member offices, are accepting requests from groups and constituents to be included in the process. 

This year, WIPP submitted 2021 Appropriations Requests advocating for funding for critical SBA programs that are beneficial for women entrepreneurs, like the Microloan Program and Women’s Business Centers. Our efforts have proven successful the last few years, and we have seen increases in funding for nearly all programs we advocated for.

Read the 2021 WIPP Appropriations Request Letters to the House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Committee on Appropriations:

After requests have been submitted, the House drafts its appropriations bills, usually in May or June. There are 12 of these bills that set individual spending levels for individual agencies. They are accompanied by “directives,” that include specific instructions to agencies. The individual bills must be passed out of the Appropriations Subcommittee under which it falls (e.g., the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government has jurisdiction over SBA), the full Appropriations Committee, and the full House. The bills can see a number of amendments before they are passed.


Meanwhile, in the Senate, the process is identical; however, under the Constitution, all budget and appropriations measures must originate in the House as all revenue-generating measures must begin there. Once both chambers have each completed their appropriations bills, they must reconcile the differences between the two in what is referred to as Conference. If everything is running on schedule, the Conference should take place in September, right before the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

But, as you likely know, everything is not usually running on schedule. More often than not, Congress passes at least one, if not more, continuing resolution (CR), which extends funding at the levels from the previous fiscal year. Passing a CR prevents the government from shutting down while Congressional leaders come to an agreement on the 12 spending bills. Frequently, the bills end up being passed as a package, referred to as an “omnibus,” around the end of the calendar year, sometimes later. 

By that time, it’s time for the whole process to start all over again. The WIPP Advocacy Team will talk through our 2021 Appropriations Requests during the monthly Policy Update webinar on Wednesday, March 11. For questions or comments, reach out to advocacy@wipp.org.

 

 

Tags:  Advocacy  Appropriations  budget 

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WIPP Advocacy Roundup - February 2020

Posted By WIPP Advocacy Team, Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, February 25, 2020

WIPP-Supported Women’s History Museum Bill Passed the House

 

The Smithsonian Women's History Museum Act (H.R. 1980) passed the House and is now headed to the Senate. The bill establishes a council that will make recommendations to the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Museum on the planning, design, and construction of the museum. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY); Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA); Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). Read WIPP’s March 2018 letter of support for the bill


Meeting with New SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza


Team WIPP Meets Administrator CarranzaOn Wednesday, February 19, WIPP President & CEO Candace Waterman and WIPP Chief Advocate Ann Sullivan met with new SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza. The Administrator knows WIPP’s work from her previous position at the Deputy SBA Administrator under the President George W. Bush’s administration. It was great to see an old friend and update her on our policy priorities. We were happy to hear that women entrepreneurs are a priority of Administrator Carranza. 

Participating in GSA’s Small Business Roundtable with the Federal Acquisition Service

 

Candace Waterman, Ann Sullivan and WIPP Advocacy Team member Elizabeth Sullivan were invited to participate in a roundtable held on Wednesday, February 19 at GSA with the Administrator Emily Murphy to discuss small business participation in Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) and new cybersecurity requirements. WIPP raised the issue of WOSB participation in GWACs and urged Administrator Murphy to consider including WOSBs in any new GWACs.  


WIPP Speaks on Behalf of Women Entrepreneurs at 2020 Small Business Forum Meeting

 

In January, WIPP attended the 2020 Small Business Forum Meeting to discuss the challenges of using the section § 199A deduction. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 included the new Internal Revenue Code § 199A to bring some parity for pass-through entities (S-Corps, LLCs, partnerships).

 

 WIPP advocated for the 20% deduction now afforded to pass-through entities during the 2017 tax reform and spoke at the roundtable, calling for the deduction to be extended to all pass-through entities, not just those in specific industries. 


Five-Year Lookback Not Yet Allowed in SAM

 

WIPP-advocated for the Small Business Extension Act, a change allowing WOSBs to utilize a five-year revenue average for the purposes of size determination, which went into effect in January 2020. However, this change has not yet been reflected in the System for Award Management (SAM). WOSBs have found that when renewing their size status in SAM.gov, the only option is to input a three-year average.

 

 We advise WOSBs seeking to re-certify size status under the new five-year rule to work with legal counsel to document their size until SAM is updated and asking for the ability to change to a five-year revenue average when SAM is updated. 

Tags:  Advocacy  GSA  legislation  regulatory  SBA  taxes 

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Four Steps Congress Should Take to Help WOSBs in the FY2021 NDAA

Posted By Elizabeth Sullivan, WIPP Advocacy Team, Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, February 4, 2020

If you participate in the monthly WIPP Policy Update webinars, you will likely hear us reference the National Defense Authorization Act, or more lovingly known as the “NDAA.” As it remains one of the last “must pass” bills – due to the Constitutional requirement that Congress provides for a common defense – each year presents an opportunity to advocate for changes that will benefit women-owned businesses. So, here is what we think should be included this year: 

Elizabeth Sullivan
  1. Expand investment in women- and minority-owned companies.
    Currently, women-owned businesses receive around 2.8% of all venture dollars. Due to WIPP’s championship of this issue, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced the Women and Minority Equity Investment Act of 2019 (S. 1981), which would allow women-owned contracting firms to take investment by women-owned equity firms and still meet the “51% unconditionally owned and controlled” standard set by SBA to participate in the WOSB/EDWOSB program. Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL) introduced an identical bill in the House (H.R. 3633). The same barriers apply to minority-owned businesses. These bills allow minority-owned federal contracting firms to take investment by minority-owned equity firms.

    This legislation is groundbreaking on both sides of the equation. It opens up a path for investment in women-owned businesses who are government contractors, as well as strengthens women investors. Women in investment firms tell us that this change in the law would strengthen their ability to secure greater equity positions within their companies and women-owned companies looking for investment will be incentivized to seek out women-owned investment firms. The same holds true for minority investments under this legislation.

  2. Increase the share of contracts awarded to small businesses


    WIPP fought and won sole source authority for the WOSB program in 2015—gaining parity with other federal contracting programs. While the fight has changed in 2019, the drumbeat is the same: parity. Currently, the sole source dollar limits for WOSBs are $4 million and $6.5 million (manufacturing) over the life of the contract. While this might sound like a lot of money, in the $550 billion federal marketplace, $4 million over 5 years is small potatoes. We have also heard from WOSBs that even though agencies are interested in awarding sole source contracts to them, these dollar limits are too small.

    A shift in government buying calls for a shift in rules for sole source contracts. As government buying continues to trend toward buying through large vehicles and moving away from direct contracts, the ability for small companies to win sole source awards is more crucial than ever. Increasing the award amounts for sole source contracts is extremely beneficial to the small business contracting community, however, it is equally as important to streamline and simplify rules for awarding these contracts. It is not uncommon to hear from small contractors that are told over and over again by the federal workforce the same thing – awarding a sole source contract is too confusing and/or time consuming. 

    WIPP supported H.R. 190, which passed the House and gives all small businesses including WOSBs greater opportunities through sole source contracting. This bill raises the dollar amounts for sole source contracts to $4 million and $7 million to be awarded each year, instead of over the life of the contract. A proposal in the Senate would also raise these thresholds to $8 and $10 million each year. 

    With respect to simplification, WOSBs, HUBZones and SDVOSBs require that a contracting officer must justify through market research that not two or more offers at a reasonable price are expected. The contracting community has interpreted this as “you are the only company in the world that performs this work,” leading to exceedingly few sole source awards. While the missions of these programs are all different, one thing is crystal clear – putting these contracting programs on equal footing with respect to this rule would ease the burden for the federal government and the businesses trying to meet its agencies missions. 

  3. Give small businesses more runway.
    You may be thinking you have heard this one before. That’s because a significant WIPP-supported legislative victory was achieved in 2018, giving small firms more “runway” to transition out of the small business set aside program and into full and open competition. The law allows businesses to average revenues over 5 years rather than the previous three years for purposes of determining size standards. In fact, the law finally went into effect earlier this month. Despite the expanded time this gives many small contractors, there are some that are still left in the lurch – businesses whose work falls under employee-based NAICS

    These companies face the same challenges – bumping out of their size standards and struggling to compete with billion-dollar companies in the full and open marketplace. Therefore, increasing the length of determination for industries measured based on annual average employees would give small companies a little more runway to succeed when they become midsize companies. Using a five-year standard for all industries this would create parity for small businesses in every industry and promote sustainable growth of small businesses.
  4. Share best practices for contracting with small businesses.

    WOSBs continue to find that agencies are reluctant to use small business programs. Recognizing this challenge, WIPP worked with the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to introduce The Promoting Rigorous and Innovative Cost Efficiencies for Federal Procurement and Acquisitions (PRICE) Act of 2019 (S. 3038), which addresses agency utilization of small businesses in the federal marketplace.

    Introduced by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), this bipartisan bill requires the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to convene the existing Chief Acquisition Officers Council (CAOC) to identify and disseminate best practices in non-defense small business contracting in the federal government. The PRICE Act would positively impact the way in which this valuable information is gathered and shared across the federal government, as well as provide increased opportunities for small businesses by educating the acquisition workforce on best practices for using small business programs. 


As we promote these changes, look for action alerts and other ways to engage from our team. Since it is an election year, there will be limited opportunity to advance this legislation – all the more reason why the NDAA is so important. These four changes would go a long way to help the government meet its 5% goal of contract awards to women-owned companies.

 

 

Tags:  Advocacy  Congress  legislation  regulatory 

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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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Advocacy Update: Legislation Introduced to Encourage Agencies to Use Small Businesses

Posted By Advocacy Team, Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The WIPP-supported bill, The Promoting Rigorous and Innovative Cost Efficiencies for Federal Procurement and Acquisitions (PRICE) Act of 2019 (S. 3038)was introduced this week, which addresses agency utilization of small businesses in the federal marketplace. We are thrilled to see this bill introduced by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) and will continue to advocate for its passage. 

 

Read WIPP’s combined letter of support for the bill.


As many small businesses find that agencies continue to be reluctant to use small business programs, this bipartisan bill addresses this prevailing issue by requiring the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to convene the existing Chief Acquisition Officers Council (CAOC) to identify and disseminate best practices in non-defense small business contracting in the federal government. The CAOC would also be required to solicit public input and engage with governmental and nongovernmental experts.

The PRICE Act will positively impact the way in which this valuable information is gathered and shared with the public and across the federal government, as well as provide increased opportunities for small businesses by educating the acquisition workforce on best practices for using small business programs.

 

 

Tags:  Advocacy  federal contracting  Federal Procurement  Federal Procurement Opportunities  legislation 

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Let There Be Peace On Earth

Posted By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate, Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, December 3, 2019

With the holiday season in full swing, 2019 comes to a close and our advocacy wraps up for the year. Looking back on the year, our policy accomplishments have been at record levels.

AnnSullivan

An unprecedented five WIPP members testified before Congress. WIPP championed legislation that tackles a problem plaguing women-owned businesses—the ability to get equity financing without losing their ability to do federal government work. The Women and Minority Equity Investment Act of 2019 (S. 1981), included in a comprehensive reauthorization of SBA’s programs authorized by the Senate Small Business Committee, also empowers women investors by requiring any equity to come from a majority women-owned equity firm. That is just one of 15 legislative changes in the reauthorization bill supported by WIPP. The House has also passed a number of bills important to WIPP—the major one being H.R. 190 which raises sole source thresholds for women-owned, veteran, and HUBZone companies. 


Capitol Hill is not the only place that requires advocacy. Federal agencies that promulgate regulations are equally as important to our businesses. This year WIPP submitted its views on the DOD’s new cyber security requirement; the FAR Council’s Section 889 rule, which will affect the whole federal supply chain; and the procurement practice known as LPTA (lowest price technically acceptable), which has been a thorn in the side of small businesses. 


Our efforts were reinforced by the members of WIPP that participated in our Hill meeting during WIPP’s National Business Leadership conference in June. WIPP Members spoke directly to the legislative team that was in the process of drafting the reauthorization bill and made a difference. In addition, our members join the monthly policy webinars and the newly formed policy committees which assist us successfully representing women business owners. WIPP’s Board of Directors and Leadership Advisory Council are our eyes and ears on the ground, bringing issues to our attention.


Despite all of these successes, there is an undeniable tension here in Washington and we are not immune to it. It has never been harder to be bipartisan and even the simplest requests become complicated by politics far beyond the subject matter at hand. Putting that frustration aside, we continue to believe that our democracy is the greatest in the world and the men and women who are elected to represent their districts and states come with the purpose of making the world a better place. Although we cannot control the news cycle nor the partisan wrangling that confronts us every day, we push forward knowing that the WIPP mission is worth fighting for. 


My wish for this holiday season is a song written in 1955 which asks for peace on earth. As the words so wisely state – it begins with each one of us. 


Let peace begin with me

Let this be the moment now.

With ev'ry step I take

Let this be my solemn vow

To take each moment and live

Each moment in peace eternally

Let there be peace on earth

And let it begin with me 

 

Songwriters: Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller 


Tags:  Advocacy 

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Wide-Reaching FAR Rule Touches Every Government Contractor

Posted By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate, Tuesday, November 19, 2019

In the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress directed federal agencies to stop using products and services from six Chinese companies in Section 889 of the bill. Those companies include: Huawei, ZTE Corporation, Hytera Communications Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, and Dahua Technology Company. 


Moving quickly, the FAR Council issued an interim final rule, Prohibition on Certain Telecommunications and Video Surveillance Services or Equipment, which became effective on August 13, 2019, and broadly prohibits federal agencies from using telecommunications or surveillance equipment or services from these six companies.

AnnSullivan

Next year, step two, which prohibits any government contractor from using any components or services from these companies is expected to go into effect. Known as Section 889, this action has the potential of impacting all government contractors, large or small—even micropurchases.  


While no one doubts that these companies pose a threat to the nation’s cybersecurity, any government action that affects 139,730 small entities will have wide reaching effects. That was the theme of my participation on a panel at GSA on Section 889. I joined five other panelists to speak about how Section 889 will affect government contractors, especially small businesses.

 

 Think for a minute about complying with this new requirement. For example, do you know who manufacturers your desk phones? Do you know what brand the surveillance equipment in your building? If you travel internationally, do you know the telecom carrier you use in your office or hotel? Replacement of equipment will surely carry a cost, but figuring out usage of any components or services from these six companies will prove to be difficult.


The new FAR rules will not only impact your employees and your physical facility, it will also extend to your workforce comprised of 1099 contractors. A small business owner shared that this new Section 889 requirement could result in her contractors opting out of federal work because the new requirements will be too tough to comply with.


One of my fellow panelists joked that these new requirements will provide full employment to lawyers and compliance experts for years to come. Small businesses will likely need to hire a compliance specialist as well as a specialist to source equipment to stay in compliance with the new rule. One small business stated that it will cost them $10,000 to conduct an audit and provide governance structure, $10,000 for new equipment, and $10,000 to change all of her contracts and educate her 1099s. An audience participant estimated a cost of $150,000 just for new equipment alone.


My greatest concern is that small businesses will not understand the implications of this new requirement until it smacks them in the face—until they don’t qualify for federal work or a prime contractor demands a certification of compliance.  


So, what can the government do to increase awareness among industry about the potential impact of Section 889? First, the government can use small business offices (OSDBUs) and small business specialists to share information about Section 889. Second, GSA can do informational webinars about the impact of the new rule. Third, the government should involve the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) network. And finally, the government should engage organizations, like WIPP to spread the word about the new Section 889 rule.


Staying on top of acquisition policies, like Section 889, directly affects your bottom line. That’s the beauty of WIPP – we are dedicated to keeping you informed and engaged.


Tags:  advocacy  FAR  federal contracting 

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Regulatory Rigmarole: The Devil Is In The Details

Posted By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate, Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Advocacy comes in all forms. While the WIPP Advocacy Team focuses much of our attention on Congressional action, our work with agencies, especially SBA, is every bit as important. Staying vigilant on all fronts is critical to all businesses, large and small. 


As a WIPP Member, you probably already know more than the average person about regulations that impact small business owners – regardless of whether they are proposed, interim-final, or final rules. But, you probably don’t know exactly what that means or how they get to those stages in the first place. 

AnnSullivan

The Process of Rulemaking

 

The first thing to know is that proposed regulations are known as “rules” and the rulemaking process is lengthier than you might expect. When Congress passes a law, the agency then gets to work to implement it. The final product is a new regulation. To get from the passage of a law to a new regulation involves a number of steps by the agencies.  


An agency’s first step is to develop a draft regulation known as a proposed rule. Then, the agency sends the draft to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review. OIRA is tasked with circulating this regulation among other government agencies, taking into account this feedback. OIRA is a federal office that was created by Congress in 1980. In 1991, an Executive Order directed that the office would formally review all draft proposed and final rules before they were published in the Federal Register.


OIRA makes suggested changes and sends the proposed rule back to the agency. The agency then issues a proposed rule which it publishes on www.regulations.gov for public comment. The comment period is usually open for 60 days, although some only accept comments for 30 days. Comments are not limited to organizations like WIPP – anyone or any entity can provide comments on a proposed rule. 


The agency reviews the public input to revise a final product which typically takes another 60 to 90 days and summarizes its findings and issues a final rule. Done, right? Not quite. The final rule once again goes to OIRA for review – only when this approval process is complete can the new regulation be published as a final rule.


Need more information on the process? Download the SBA’s Office of Advocacy Basic Guideline to Rulemaking and Small Businesses.  


What WIPP Comments On

 

WIPP has commented on a number of important proposed rules on a variety of issues. By commenting on proposed rules, WIPP has the ability to shape the outcome of the regulation. The devil is in the details, so this stage of advocacy is, in many cases, as important as passage of the law. 


In 2019, WIPP submitted comments to SBA on a number of small business contracting rules ranging from the proposed WOSB/EDWOSB certification rule, to the rule implementing the Small Business Runway Extension Act. WIPP also submitted comments to the Department of Defense (DoD) on its proposed Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification—a far-reaching cyber certification, which will affect every federal contractor and subcontractor.


Just last month, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council recently proposed an interim final rule that will amend the FAR to prohibit the federal government from procuring or obtaining, or extending or renewing a contract to procure or obtain, “any equipment, system, or service that uses covered telecommunications equipment or services as a substantial or essential component of any system, or as critical technology as part of any system” in order to combat the national security and intellectual property threats that face the United States. 


WIPP recognized the wide-reaching importance of this rule and jointly submitted comments in response. It is important to note that the interim rule impacts ALL contractors — not just those that offer information and communication technology. Each contractor is responsible for determining whether telecommunications equipment and services will be provided under both new and existing contracts and orders. 


Learn more about FAR Council


Take Action Now


As we noted in our Advocacy Update last month, the FAR Council has issued a proposed rule to avoid using Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) source selection criteria in circumstances that would deny the government the benefits of cost and technical tradeoffs in the source selection process. LPTA has been a long-hated acquisition pricing policy in the small business community. This rule specifically states that LPTA source selection criteria should be avoided for procurements for IT services, cyber security, systems engineering services, and others. 


Submit a comment on this proposed rule by December 2, 2019


Note: One part of the regulatory process to note— when the FAR Council issues a proposed rule it is listed with a “FAR Case” number instead of a “Regulatory Identification Number” (RIN).


It’s tough to keep up with everything as a small business – I know – I am one. That’s why membership in WIPP is critical to your bottom line – we follow and initiate the actions important to women-owned businesses.


Tags:  Advocacy  FAR  regulatory 

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Advocacy Update: FAR Council Rules That Matter To Your Business

Posted By Elizabeth Sullivan, WIPP Advocacy Team, Wednesday, October 16, 2019


This New FAR Council Rule on Covered Telecommunication Equipment Will Impact Your Business, Even Outside of the Tech Industry

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council has proposed an interim final rule that will amend the FAR to prohibit the Federal Government from procuring or obtaining, or extending or renewing a contract to procure or obtain, “any equipment, system, or service that uses covered telecommunications equipment or services as a substantial or essential component of any system, or as critical technology as part of any system” in order to combat the national security and intellectual property threats that face the United States. The definition of “covered telecommunications equipment or services” are components from: Huawei, ZTE Corporation, Hytera Communications Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, and Dahua Technology Company.  


For all businesses, the rule:

  • Prohibits contractors from providing covered telecommunications equipment or services unless the agency confirms that an exception applies or a waiver is granted 
  • Requires every offeror for a contract or order to represent whether or not it will provide covered telecommunications equipment or services as part of its offer and, if so, to furnish additional detail about the covered equipment or services 
  • Mandates that contractors report any covered equipment or services if discovered during the course of contract performance 

WIPP recognized the importance of this rule and the impact it will have on small business federal contractors. Read WIPP’s comments on this rule.
 

Proposed Rule on Lowest Price Technically Acceptable Source Selection Process (LPTA) from FAR Council Discourages Use of Practice Across Government

Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) has been a long hated acquisition pricing policy in the small business community. Seen as a “race to the bottom,” the FAR Council has issued a proposed rule to avoid using Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) source selection criteria in circumstances that would deny the Government the benefits of cost and technical tradeoffs in the source selection process. This rule also states specifically that LPTA source selection criteria should be avoided for procurements for IT services, cyber security, systems engineering services, and others.

 

Think this is a good idea?

 

Comment on this rule by December 2, 2019

 

Tags:  Advocacy  Federal Procurement  policy 

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