Businesses Claiming to be “Native American”

 

Recently federal, state and local authorities are investigating and increasing scrutiny over minority contracting programs as a Times Investigation found that companies received more than 300 million in government contract based on claims by firms having Native American owners. The certification process was often spotty, with officials accepting flimsy documentation of Native American heritage. They even accepted unverified accounts that the contractors suffered discrimination because of their ethnicity. Additionally, many state/local officials told the Times that it did not need a proof of tribal enrollment when certifying Native American businesses as minority-owned.

Government responses have been slow going but increasing with states like California stripping minority status from a number of companies. In addition, “city officials in St. Louis said they have decertified five firms that received contracts set aside for minority-owned businesses. State contracting officials in Oklahoma and Kansas said they have removed the minority certification from two companies or intend to do so. As of this week, the two firms were still listed as certified in Kansas’ minority contractor database.” Also, the US Department of Transportation sent an official memo to check all companies classified as Native American owned the memo mentioned that a 2014 rule change required contractor claiming to be Native American must belong to a government recognized tribe. The memo stated that “It has come to the department’s attention that some certified DBE firms may have relied on the owner(s)’ membership in Indian tribes that are not federally or state-recognized,” the memo states. “It is important to the integrity of the DBE Program that only firms meeting all eligibility standards of the regulation, including social disadvantage, are allowed to take part in the program.” This new scrutiny marks a new phase of government intervention in the world of small businesses. However, this intervention is necessary to curb the unfair and fraudulent actions being taken by certain companies. Hopefully in the future companies that actually identify as one will be able to have a fair chance in obtaining a bid and those that try to use this shady tactic would receive the proper punishment.

Author: Larry Pan

Source Link: https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-09-17/minority-contractors-native-american-review

Federal Government Contracts: A Million-Dollar Business!

 

Overview

The main concern for any small or medium-sized company is to find and retain customers. Many of them consider the federal government as their client, while others feel it is only a game of big companies. It is definitely not! Government approximately gives one-third of its total contracts to the small businesses. Even if the numbers seem low but it’s still worth millions!

 

How small business companies can get into this industry?

There are several steps to follow before entering into this industry:

  • Update your business plan: It is important and can be considered as the first major step before getting into this industry to updating the business plan. This includes defining the business type, identifying the goals that your company can or may serve, qualifying and organizing the resources your company have and finally marketing your company. This can be considered as a resume of your company.
  • NAICS code: It is necessary to identify the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. This serves the purpose of what type of products or services your company provides and help you target agencies accordingly.
  • SBA Size Standard Tool: Using SBA Size Standard Tool to determine if your business qualifies for small business.
  • Sign up for business identification.
  • Register your company in Central Contractor Registry (CCR) in the System for Award Management (SAM)
  • Submit Online Representation and Certification Application (ORCA) through SAM.
  • Get a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code which is automatically created when you apply for CCR.
  • Start getting familiar with Federal Acquisition Register (FAR).
  • Use websites like fbo.org (which will be transferred to beta.sam.gov by the end of 2019), fedconnect.net, iq.GovWin.com, etc. These are the websites where all the contracts posted by the government are visible and will help in getting business.

 

What are the benefits of making federal government agencies as a customer?

  • US federal government agencies buy more products or services than any other customer in the world. They roughly spend about $500 billion every year buying from companies of all the sizes and small companies have approximately one-third of this amount for them.
  • Any sized small business companies can sell goods or provide service to federal agencies. There are no such criteria for that. Even a single-person company can win a contract, obviously only if it satisfies all the requirements.
  • The federal government makes sure to pay these small business companies on time. Usually, they take not more than 15 days after submitting the invoices by the companies.

 

Technologies helpful for this industry

  • Websites: Different websites like fbo.gov, id.GovWin.com, beta.sam.gov (active from early 2020), etc. These are the platforms where one can find all the contracts released by the government.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool: This can be considered as the heart of this business. It is used to track every single opportunity the company has targeted. Making regular updates, recording every note or communication with a federal agency can be added to this CRM tool. There are several tools available in the market like Zoho CRM, HubSpot CRM, Salesforce, etc.

 

Conclusion

Companies have to keep in mind that this whole industry is a relationship-based market. Decision-makers do want to know from whom they are buying, why the services or products you provide are better or different from others and of course if you are budget-friendly. Delivering your services as needed and products on time always help you build strong and more profitable relationships and may increase your chances of winning more contracts.

 

Author: Prasanna Patil

Sources

https://www.business.com/articles/government-procurement-tips/

https://corporate.findlaw.com/law-library/federal-government-contract-overview.html

https://www.usa.gov/government-contracting-for-beginners

GSA’s decision to replace FBO with SAM.GOV in November 2019

In the past, GSA has managed 10 different federal acquisition sites. On November 8,  2019 they will release a new service, bea.SAM.gov (SAM). The new site, created by GSA’s IEA (Integrated Award Environment), will combine services from all 10 different acquisition sites including FBO, thereby retiring FBO from use. FBO, or Federal Business Opportunities, is a site used to provide information and updates about federal government awards. Although GSA hasn’t publicly stated that there have been any problems with the site, users have reported having difficulties navigating FBO.

 

SAM and FBO will have a lot of services in common, however SAM’s services are expected to be more refined. For example, Sam.gov will include a watchlist, a search agent and archival features, however the names of such features will be changed. What is referred to as a watchlist on FBO, will be referred to as a “follow” on SAM, so instead of contracting opportunities being put on a watchlist they will be followed. Search agents will be referred to as “saved search” and archived will be referred to as “inactive”. There will also be changes in the names of some federal roles. GSA has promised their new system will be more user friendly with features such as easy to use search filters, involving numbers, keywords and locations, to aid in finding opportunities. The new site will also have easy to use shortcuts such as the ability to save searches. The site has been created with hopes of facilitating the process of acquiring information about awards.

 

It is not completely known why GSA has decided to eliminate FBO, however speculators attribute the decision to bad user reviews. The federal news network has even described the site as, “hard to navigate, slow and complicated”, which is apparently known to all buyers and sellers that use the site. The new site will make life easier for government agencies and government contracting companies alike.

 

Author: Alison Cottingham

 

Sources:

https://www.gsa.gov/cdnstatic/FBO_Is_Transitioning_to_Beta_Factsheet_%281%29.pdf

https://www.fedscoop.com/eis-agency-scope-reviews/

https://www.nextgov.com/it-modernization/2019/08/fedbizopps-will-be-gone-end-year/159172/

https://www.meritalk.com/articles/fedbizopps-walked-so-beta-sam-gov-could-run/