On September 9, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14042, Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors. The order creates requirements for federal agencies to add a new Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clause in many federal solicitations and contracts (and other contract-like instruments) which, in turn, requires many federal contractors and subcontractors to comply … Continue reading Did You Know? Federal Contract COVID Vaccination Requirements
If you are a small business, nonprofit organization of any size, or a U.S. agricultural business with 500 or fewer employees that has suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can apply for the SBA’s COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). This loan provides economic relief to small businesses and nonprofit organizations that are … Continue reading COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan
Did you know that the Rock Island Arsenal (RIA), which is an actual island situated between Iowa and Illinois on the Mississippi River, houses more than one major Army command and over 60 tenant organizations, both public and private entities? The five major Army organizations on the island each have different and unique buying needs: … Continue reading Did You Know? Rock Island Arsenal Overview
Federal agencies have an annual goal to award at least 5% of spend on prime contracts to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) and, for contracts which include small business subcontracting plans, the WOSB subcontracting goal is also 5%. To help meet these goals, agencies will sometimes set-aside or even sole-source opportunities to WOSBs and Economically Disadvantaged … Continue reading DID YOU KNOW?… Federal Certification for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs)
NAICS is old news for a news email, as the system has been around for 23 years. But this topic comes up often with clients, so I thought it would be a nice refresher to emphasize the importance of NAICS and their ongoing relevancy.
NAICS – Also known as North American Industrial Classification Codes, these codes are used in federal procurements and in small business size standards. The North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS (pronounced “Nakes”), was developed under the direction and guidance of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as the standard for use by federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the collection, tabulation, presentation, and analysis of statistical data describing the U.S. economy.
Besides helping you with your government vendor registrations and figuring out tricky interpretations of contract clauses or requirements, PTAC counselors also can help small businesses during the bidding process! But how?
The Iowa Department of Transportation offers a program specific to small business contractors where small businesses compete against each other and not against large contractors. This program, separate from the DBE Certification, is called the Small Business Development Contracts Program. To be eligible for this, a small business must become a Certified Small Business Contractor (CSBC) by meeting the requirements through the Iowa DOT’s Civil Rights Bureau. (Note: There is no ethnic or gender limitation for this program.)
To become a CSBC, and to bid on the small business contracts, follow the steps below:
Although many of us are optimistic 2021 will be better than the year we just went through, the world will continue to struggle with both the short- and long-term impacts of the COVID pandemic. In addition to trying to keep ourselves and others physically and mentally healthy during these trying times, there also are concerns about the health of our economy – including volatility in the pricing and availability of labor and materials. Economic swings may impact not only the way government agencies contract for products and services, but also the amount of risk contractors are willing to accept on these contracts.
Here are a few options for you to consider:
Many of us are extremely grateful to put 2020 behind us and begin focusing on a more promising 2021. Our PTAC team is no different. We understand the challenges that many businesses have faced this past year and are working hard to support you virtually. I want to take this opportunity to remind you of the ways we can assist your business with pursuing government contracts:
Government policy says that a portion of each federal spending dollar should be used to help small businesses. Federal agencies put this into practice by requiring that large prime contractors submit a plan along with their proposals demonstrating how they will utilize small businesses in the performance of each federal contract. Historically, these plans were … Continue reading Did You Know?… Threshold Changes for Small Business Sub Plans
Businesses often hear about how lucrative it is to get a “GSA Schedule” with the federal government. Here are a few tips to know if a GSA Schedule is right for you and your business, and if so, the next steps you can take.
Did you know that as the client, you play a very important role in helping your counselor set up an effective BidMatch profile? The BidMatch system is a tool that PTAC counselors offer to their clients to help identify bid or proposal opportunities.
As with most things in life, feedback is important to the process.
Federal agencies buy a wide variety of products and services, but they’re required to try to purchase through specific sources before ordering from the open market.
For this month’s “Did You Know?” article, we’ll take a closer look at one of these mandatory sources: The AbilityOne Program. We’ll learn more about AbilityOne, including what products and services it makes available to agencies, what ways businesses can support its mission, and how businesses can benefit from the program.
Have you considered doing business or expanding your current business with the local government?
Municipalities (aka city governments) are often overlooked by companies considering government contracting. But many times, this is where the opportunity lies for contractors that target a specific geographic area, such as state, city, and county parameters.
There are so many changes going on in our daily lives and things are moving at such a rapid pace, it’s hard to keep up with all of the information.
In case you missed it, here is a synopsis of the recent government contracting-related changes.
There is no getting around it – the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and far-reaching effect on all of us.
The way we interact and do business has been forced to change with very little notice. One of our mantras at CIRAS is “working at the speed of the customer” because we truly do care about everyone we serve. To accommodate our unexpected new environment, we “re-calibrated” as quickly as possible to best meet the evolving needs of our clients.
Last year, the SBA advised it had some changes in the works for the Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and the Economically-Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) certification programs. The full scope of those changes are scheduled to be announced June 30, but they will not go into effect until 30 days after that announcement. So keep an eye out for actual certification changes towards the very end of July 2020.
May 27, 2020
At CIRAS, our mission is to Enhance the performance of industry through applied research, education, and technical assistance. During times of crisis, we do everything we can to continue serving Iowa industry while ensuring the health and safety of our team and your team.
In order to serve you while minimizing risk to our team and Iowa industry, we are operating with some changes to our services:
It’s time to begin thinking about spring floods and the emergency management responses that go with them. How can your company participate in these relief efforts? While many procurements are done by the local agencies affected by the disaster through their existing contracts, there is often a need for additional support. Here are various ways you can position your company for opportunities during a disaster.
A few months ago, a contractor with a history of selling to the government shared with me an interaction they had with a county employee. The conversation went something like this:
Contractor: “We’d like to have an opportunity to be considered for the next contract and be contacted the next time you go out for bids.”
County: “We’re not required to compete our orders, and we have a local provider we’re happy with.”
The response surprised the contractor. When the contractor met with me later, they asked me: Aren’t counties required to compete their orders like they do at the state and federal levels?
For many people, opening a new calendar also means creating a new set of goals. This is the time of year when many of us resolve that we’re going to accomplish a few things that we know we need to do, such as lose weight, get healthier, and/or clean the basement.
At work, this clean-basement desire may translate into an effort to get more organized or learn about an area you don’t fully understand. We’d like to suggest that you make 2020 the year you get better informed about the world of government contracting. Are you ready to resolve that this is the year you’ll grow your company’s business with the government? If so, then the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) is here to help.
Gift giving is often a standard business practice during this holiday season. However, you should beware if you are giving a gift to a public agency. Most states, as well as the federal government, have rules governing this practice.
Let’s explore the law that applies to our state, which is called the Iowa Gift Law.
Subcontracting opportunities can be a lucrative avenue in the government sector, which allows businesses to participate in government contracting without dealing directly with the government.
Why subcontracting? The federal contracts that are awarded to prime contractors often come with subcontracting plans containing goals for doing a percentage of the work with small businesses.
Surety bonds help small businesses win construction, supply, and service contracts by providing the customer with a guarantee the work will be completed. Many contracts require surety bonds, which are offered by surety companies. Becoming bondable is like applying for bank credit. The requirements include a review of the technical and managerial ability, financial statements, and credit resources of the small business. Small businesses often struggle to meet some (or all) of the minimum qualifications.
Did you know there is a program to help small businesses get started with bonding or increase their current bonding capacity?
FedBizOpps currently is the federal government’s website (www.fbo.gov) for posting all procurement opportunities with a value of more than $25,000.
By the end of next year, it will disappear. The system, along with several other government acquisition systems managed by the General Services Administration, are gradually being rolled into one new site.
If you’ve done any work in with the federal government (either as a vendor or grantee) you most likely have been required to register for a proprietary DUNS number through Dun & Bradstreet. The DUNS number, which was created in 1962, has been the official verification number for entities to register with the Federal Government since 1998 (once it was codified by the Federal Acquisition Regulation, aka FAR).
Summer is ending, which means parents everywhere are beginning to shop for Back To School. Have you ever considered what may be on the school’s shopping list?
No, this isn’t an article about spring water or hot tubs! “SPA” stands for “Simplified Purchase Agreement,” a method of purchasing set up by the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and available to use by various federal agencies for their printing needs. As an alternative to relying on the GPO for soliciting their opportunities, agencies typically find SPA procedures to be more relaxing (see what I did there?).
The government contracting journey can be very challenging. Companies have to do their homework and not rest on the notion that, if they are registered on SAM or state/local agencies, they will be “discovered” by government customers. The registration system is a useful tool for a government agency to conduct market research, bid notifications, etc. But this is NOT a game of, “They’re supposed to buy from us because we’re a set-aside, a TSB, etc.”
The North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS (pronounced “Nakes”), was developed under the direction and guidance of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It’s the standard way that federal statistical agencies classify business establishments for the collection, tabulation, presentation, and analysis of statistical data describing the U.S. economy.
CIRAS government contracting specialists have earned praised from their peers for having a tremendous impact both on the Iowa economy and on the communities where they live.
It may be hard to believe by looking outside, but Spring is nearing. And with Spring’s arrival, we often see record snowfalls become record floods. It never hurts to position yourself to be able to react and respond accordingly. While several agencies assist the public in disaster response and recovery efforts, they cannot do it without help from Iowa businesses.
If not, you might be missing important contracting opportunities. Many state and local organizations use purchasing consortia to obtain goods and services.
A purchasing consortium – also referred to as cooperative purchasing, or a “GPO” (Group Purchasing Organization) – is a mechanism by which multiple organizations with similar purchasing needs band together to better leverage their buying power and achieve more favorable terms and pricing from vendors. Such consortia also reduce the workload for their members by eliminating duplication of effort in issuing solicitations and managing contracts for the same good/service.
Over the weekend, the partial government shutdown passed into record-setting territory in terms of length. The CIRAS PTAC staff knows that this likely is causing some elevated blood pressure among clients which existing government contracts, and we’d like to do what we can to help.
So how worried should you be?
Whether you’re new to government contracting or an old pro, you can never underestimate the benefits of good old-fashioned research. Here’s a few tips on how to best approach your research strategy to find and win the right government contracts.
It’s hard to believe that 2018 is rapidly coming to a close. In a few weeks, we will be celebrating the New Year!
Do you ever take time to reflect on your successes and failures? I encourage you, during this month, to think back to goals you set for 2018. Did you achieve them? Did you fall short? What lessons have you learned?
Justin Niceswanger has joined CIRAS as a government contracting specialist with the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). He will be based out of a CIRAS office in Clive and will serve business owners who are located inside the city of Des Moines.
For 33 years, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) have helped expand the number of small businesses that successfully compete for and win federal, state, and local government contracts. This month, PTACs from around the country are coming together for one special day to celebrate the success of the tens of thousands of small businesses who have benefitted from training and technical assistance delivered by their local PTACs.
There are many things affecting your business that you can’t control. Did you know that your personal attitude is something you can control? Your attitude affects the way you approach people and circumstances in business. Choosing to approach potential customers positively, confidently, enthusiastically, and with a helpful attitude – even when you’re tired, stressed, or frustrated – may help improve your sales and grow your business.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is forecasting a 35% chance of above-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic for the 2018 hurricane season (June 1 – November 30). The disastrous 2017 hurricane season had companies scrambling to position themselves for a piece of the “recovery” pie.
Samantha Ferm has joined CIRAS as a government contracting specialist with the Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP). She will be based out of Iowa City and will serve the southeast portion of the state.
Have you ever thought of selling your goods and services to an Iowa public school system? A lot of money is spent in education, and districts take their spending responsibilities very seriously. There are 367 school districts throughout Iowa. Selling to a school district may be a potential opportunity for your company, but first you need to know your customer.
One key market for selling your products/services involves local governments – the host of towns, cities, and counties located throughout Iowa.
Normally, the first step in doing business with local governments is to contact the municipal clerk, the county auditor, or the city Procurement Office/county Purchasing Department. This can be accomplished by personally visiting their offices to learn about their bid opportunities. If that’s not practical, you can research their websites for notices and submit your bid online/email. Or, you can simply email your company capability statement to each government’s Point of Contact (POC).
At most meetings, conferences, and networking events people are asked to introduce themselves and talk about their company. This is their time to shine – it’s like free advising! But because they are uncomfortable or have trouble explaining what they do or sell, they miss a perfect opportunity to position themselves for success. The answer to this is to have a prepared elevator speech.
A quick, easy way to create your elevator speech is to review your capability statement, drawing ideas from your core capabilities and differentiators. Or you could perform the following steps: