Individual Subcontracting Reports (ISRs)

As a reminder, Other Than Small Businesses (OTSB) {also known as large businesses eSRS Home Page(LB)} are required to submit their Individual Subcontract Reports via the Electronic Subcontract Reporting System (eSRS) by 30 April 2015 (prime contractors and applicable large business first tier subcontractors).  Throughout the course of my blog I have posted several articles on the reporting requirements, you can review the following posts for further guidance:

For addition information you can visit the eSRS site for training guides and sample reports.

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Subcontracting With The AbilityOne Program

Ability OneWhile reviewing small business booths at the recent Northern Virginia / DC Society of American Military Engineers Small Business Conference on 25 February I was reminded of the role the AbilityOne Program can play in maintaining a diverse small business subcontracting program.  Procuring goods and services through the program is mutually beneficial to all parties as it provides:

  • Meaningful work to visually impaired and disabled persons. The AbilityOne Program is the single largest employer of blind or severely disabled persons.  The program employs approximately 40,000 individuals through a network of 600 community based non-profit agencies.
  • Competition in subcontracting. Prospective buyers are assured of fair and reasonable prices.
  • Prime contractors can receive credit towards their small business goals for using the AbilityOne Program. The Defense Logistics Agency is continuously looking for innovative ways for prime contractors to engage the AbilityOne Program.  In addition, contractors may also support the AbilityOne Program by purchasing office or cleaning supplies from AbilityOne-authorized commercial distributors.
  • Some Federal agencies give favorable credit to offerors that formally commit to using the AbilityOne Program in their small business subcontracting plans.

The AbilityOne Program offers a variety of services for agencies and contractors to engage, such as:

  • Administrative Contact Centers
  • Contract Management Services
  • Document Management
  • Grounds Maintenance
  • Laundry
  • Secure Document Destruction
  • Secure Mail/Digital Document
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Total Facilities Management

The AbilityOne Product Manufacturing and Development includes:

  • Aircraft, Vehicle, and Electrical Equipment and Supplies
  • Clothing, Textiles, and Individual Equipment (safety vests and equipment)
  • Food Processing, Packaging, and Distribution
  • Medical and Dental Supplies
  • Office Supplies and Furnishings

The AbilityOne Program offers tremendous opportunities for individuals with disabilities, tax payers, and contractors alike.  I hope this short article has shed a little light on a valuable program.  If you would like more information lookup their website, call (800) 999-5963, or email.

Small Business Program Policies and Procedures Manual

Policy ManualIf your firm is a large business federal contractor does it have a small business program policy and procedures manual and an assigned small business liaison officer (SBLO)?

Two of my earlier posts dealt directly with the Establishment a Small Business Program and Small Business Utilization Surveillance and Reporting.  To continue the theme, this post deals directly with the content and benefits of a policy and procedures manual for a federal contractor’s small business program.  One of the central reasons for implementing a policy and procedures manual is to provide your federal contracting team with the guidance, knowledge and resources to lead and manage a successful program.  In addition, it can elevate your firm’s small business program from maintaining baseline compliance to a comprehensive small business program that establishes key performance indicators for those leading and working with your federal contracting team.  This is the first step in pursuit of being awarded the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award For Excellence – the SBA’s award for large prime contractors that have excelled in their utilization of small businesses as suppliers and subcontractors.

The main purpose of this post is to provide a few examples of the content that should be included in your firm’s manual and generate a few thoughts of what you think are relevant.  That said, this post is not a manual on the theory, structure, and format of drafting a policy and procedures manual.  (There are a number of great resources available to address those concerns.)  While many business share similar characteristics, such as business type, location, or market each firm is unique and must tailor the manual to fit its needs.

What should a policy and procedures manual for a small business program office contain?

  1. The CEO’s vision, intent, and policy letter articulating his or her intent. This will allow the team to operate effectively and efficiently with minimal supervision.
  2. The mission statement for the small business program.
  3. An organizational matrix and narrative outlining the small business team and its relationship to the company’s leadership and other departments. This is helpful because you may be asked to provide this during an audit.
  4. Federal subcontracting guidelines and definitions.
  5. A library of references, templates, and tools:
    1. Subcontracting plan templates for the various agencies
    2. Small business Self-certification forms
    3. Small business utilization tracking templates
    4. First tier large business subcontractor guidelines and notification letters
    5. Subcontracting plan review guidelines (to assist with the review of your first tier large business subcontractor subcontracting plans)
  6. A description of your firm’s ongoing small business outreach efforts. For example, what events, conferences, or functions centered on boosting small businesses does your firm participate in regularly.
  7. Guidelines for your firm’s participation in Mentor-Protégé Programs.
  8. Internal and external training programs on small business.

Benefits:

  1. The small business team will be able to operate more effectively and efficiently.
  2. Compliance efforts will be reduced.
  3. Streamlined integration with other departments.
  4. Potential gains in small business utilization.
  5. Stronger relationships with the small business community and potential long term strategic small business partners.

Resources:

Summary

There are a number of styles and approaches available to help you develop a policies and procedures manual, but the first step along the journey is to identify what is needed.  The manual should be a living document that can mature as your company refines its processes.  In addition, through the process of drafting the manual you will identify and correct processes and procedures that need improvement.  I have drafted compliance guides for clients which turned out be an enlightening experience.  Particularly during the interview process, clients realize there are weaknesses in their program that can have a negative impact on their small business program.  When you are ready, you can tackle the completion of your firm’s federal contracting policies and procedures manual addressing the full spectrum of contracting matters.

Mid-Year Individual Subcontract Reports

This is a quick reminder for Federal contractors holding a contract that includes a subcontracting plan.  This month the mid-year Individual Subcontract Reports (ISRs) are due for large businesses.  As with previous reports, ISRs are submitted via the Electronic Subcontract Reporting System (eSRS).  You can refer to another article I posted on May 21st 2013, highlighting Small Business Utilization Monitoring and Reporting requirements.

Quick Tips:

  • The ISR reporting period is 1 October 2013 – 31 March 2014 and the project team (or group responsible for managing reporting) should have collected and categorized all of the subcontract awards.
  • Collect and organize all of the subcontract award data (business name, award date, and amount) made during the period sorting by business type, OTSB, WOSB, SDVOSB, etc.  This can be accomplished using Excel, Access, some contract / project management databases, or paper and pencil.
  • Ensure the required self-certification forms, 8(a), and HUBZone certifications are collected and reviewed for accuracy.  Self-certifications are acceptable for: Small Businesses, Small Disadvantaged Businesses, Woman Owned Small Businesses, Veteran Owned Small Businesses, and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses.
  • Ensure the correct subcontracting plan goals are entered into the ISR being submitted.
  • Enter the required data in the eSRS ISR reporting tool.  There are several useful step by step guides with detailed instructions (http://www.esrs.gov/).  Of note the ISR tool will calculate the participation rate percentages for you, although I prefer to calculate the small business (SB) participation rates prior to beginning the process.
  • If required, enter an appropriate remark explaining why goals have not been met.  Regardless if the goals are or are not being met, the team buying out the subcontracts should keep detailed notes on the bidding for each bid package.  This is very valuable information to use for remarks in the ISR in addition to any future contract work in the same region.
  • Even if a contractor did not have any subcontracting activity during the reporting period they are still required to submit a report.  See eSRS FAQs for details.

Summary:

  • Don’t procrastinate starting the reporting process and make sure time is left to review the data for accuracy and completeness.
  • If you have delegated the responsibility for data entry of the ISR, make sure you review the material before it is submitted.  Any errors will find their way back to you.
  • Mid-year Summary Subcontract Reports are not required any longer for DoD.

 

Government Agency Small Business / Mentor Protégé Programs (MPP)

The first two posts in this three part series discussed small business mentoring and development programs available through private industry and several professional associations in the construction industry.  The focus of this post as the finale is to provide an overview of mentoring programs available through government agencies.  Most government agencies have a Mentor-Protégé program that encourages agreements between large and small business prime contractors and eligible small business protégés.  Mentor-Protégé Programs are designed to motivate and encourage firms to assist small businesses with business development.  Also, many of the agency MPP websites include links to:

  • The necessary documents for applying
  • An overview of the application process
  • Benefits to the mentor and protégé
  • Lists of existing mentors, portages, and/or current program agreements

Please refer to the list at the end of acronyms and terms.

Small Business Administration 8(a) MPP

SBA Image

The 8(a) Business Development (BD) MPP is designed to enable successful firms to provide various forms of business development assistance. The goal of the 8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé Program is to enhance the capability of 8(a) Program Participants to be competitive and achieve entrepreneurial success.

Protégé Requirements

Mentor Qualifications

Must be an 8(a) BD program member and in good standing. Must possess favorable financial health, including profitability for two years.
Must not have received an 8(a) contract previously. Must possess good character.
Must meet certain size restrictions (see the SBA’s website for details). Must not appear on the federal list of debarred or suspended contractors.
Must be able to impart value to the protégé through practical experience gained through the 8(a) program.

See CFR 124.520 “What are the rules governing SBA’s Mentor/Protégé program?” for additional information.

Department of Defense (DOD)

DoD MP Image

The DoD MPP assists small businesses (protégés) to successfully compete for prime contract and subcontract awards by partnering with large companies (mentors) under individual, project-based agreements.  There are two types of agreements under the DoD program: Direct Reimbursement and Credit (refer to the website for additional information.

Protégé Requirements

Mentor Qualifications

A qualifying organization employing the severely disabled. The Mentor firm must be currently performing under at least one active approved subcontracting plan negotiated with DoD or another Federal agency pursuant to FAR 19.702.
WOSB Eligible for the award of Federal contracts.
HUBZone New Mentor Applications must be approved and may be submitted to and approved by the OSBP of the cognizant Military Service or Defense Agency (if concurrently submitting a reimbursable Agreement) or to the DoD OSBP office prior to the submission of an Agreement.
SDB
SDVOSB
A businesses that are owned and controlled by an Indian tribe or a Native Hawaiian organization.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA MPP Image

The purpose of the VA MPP is to provide developmental assistance to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses that will enhance their capabilities to perform as prime contractors and subcontractors on VA procurements.  If you are interested in applying, the VA program only accepts applications during specified open enrollment periods; refer to the website periodically for updates and announcements.

Protégé Requirements

Mentor Qualifications

Limited to protégés that provide goods or services the VA procures. May be small or large business and either a prime or subcontractor.
Protégés must be verified by CVE as a VOSB or SDVOSB and maintain their status. Must be able to provide appropriate developmental assistance.
VOSB or SDVOSB Financial capacity to provide development assistance to the protégé.
Limited to one VA mentor at a time.

 

General Services Administration (GSA)

GSAlogo

GSA’s MPP is designed to encourage and motivate GSA prime contractors to assist small businesses and enhance their capability of performing successfully on GSA contracts and subcontracts. The goal is to increase the overall number of small businesses receiving GSA prime contract and subcontract awards, resulting from mentorship and refined business practices.

Protégé Requirements

Mentor Qualifications

To be eligible for selection as a protégé, your small business can qualify by simply being a small business (SB, SDB, WOSB, HUBZone, VOSB, SDVOSB). Must be a prime contractor on a GSA Schedule or GSA contracting vehicle, such as a BPA, IDIQ, or GWAC.  If your business is large, that vehicle must include an approved subcontracting plan as required by FAR 19.7
Your business must meet the definition of a small business concern outlined at FAR 19.001. Per this regulation, it is the Small Business Administration that establishes small business size standards on an industry-by-industry basis. As a mentor, you must be able to guarantee that you can provide developmental assistance to enhance the capabilities of protégés to perform as

  • Contractors,
  • Subcontractors, and /or
  • Suppliers
A small business prime contractor is NOT required to have an approved subcontracting plan in place to qualify as a mentor.

Department of State

DoS Image

The DoS MPP is designed to motivate and encourage large business prime contractor firms to provide mutually beneficial developmental assistance to SBs, VOSBs, SDVOSBs, HUBZone small businesses, SDBs, and WOSBs.  The program is formulated to foster the establishment of successful long-term business relationships between State Department, large prime contractors and small business subcontractors thereby improving the performance of both.  The program is intended to strengthen subcontracting opportunities and accomplishments at the State Department.

Protégé Requirements

Mentor Qualifications

Small in the NAICS code for the services or supplies to be provided by the protégé to the mentor Capable of providing appropriate developmental assistance to enhance the capabilities of protégés to perform as contractors and/or subcontractors.
An SB, HUBZone, SDB, WOSB, VOSB, or SDVOSB as those terms are defined in FAR 2.101 May be either a large or small business
Protégés may have multiple mentors. Protégés participating in mentor-protégé programs in addition to DoS’s program should maintain a system for preparing separate reports of mentoring activity for each agency’s program. Will be encouraged to enter into arrangements with protégés and firms with whom they have established business relationships
Mentors may have multiple protégés. However, the DoS reserves the right to limit the total number of protégés participating under each mentor firm for the Mentor Protégé Program

Other Agency Programs

Agency

Link

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) http://goo.gl/56E8mK
Department of Energy http://goo.gl/QuPqMX
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) http://goo.gl/HQBxMf
Department of Treasury http://goo.gl/BvPwl4
Federal Aviation Administration http://goo.gl/mzAChH
NASA http://goo.gl/3Fnncx
USAID http://goo.gl/Tdy6zm

Acronyms and Terms

CVE – Center for Veterans Enterprise

FAR – Federal Acquisition Regulations

HUBZone – HUBZone Small Business

MPP – Mentor-Protégé Program

NAICS – North American Industry Classification System

OSBP – Office of Small Business Programs

PTAC – Procurement Technical Assistance Center

SDB – Small Disadvantaged Business

SDVOSB – Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business

VOSB – Veteran Owned Small Business

WOSB – Women Owned Small Business

Construction Professional Association Small Business Programs

In the last post regarding small business resources I discussed programs offered by general contractors designed to boost small business participation and provide developmental assistance in kind.  This post focuses on programs offered through professional associations targeted at small business utilization and development.  In the construction field one of the most well-known advocates of small business is the Society of American Military Engineers, however this post will cover programs offered through associations as well.  As a reminder, this not an endorsement of one program over another, but it is meant to serve as an awareness tool for small business owners so they are better informed of available resources.  The summaries provided are adapted from the respective associations’ websites, contact the associations below if you would like more information.  Information presented is limited to information readily available on the organizations’ websites.

Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractor’s National Association (SMACNA)SMACNA Logo

SMACNA website outlines several multi-day programs that would be beneficial to all businesses, but small or emerging businesses might benefit the most.

  • Succession Planning – This program touches on the key elements of succession planning and transferring ownership to the next generation such as ownership transfer, defining goals and objectives, leadership development, business valuation, and contingency planning.
  • SMACNA Business Management University – The management program is designed specifically for future managers and owners of SMACNA member companies. The program offers opportunities and training on networking, financial management, strategic planning, negotiation, bonding, and leadership.
  • SMACNA Financial Boot Camp – This program develops the skills and ability of individuals without a financial background, not currently working in finance, or new to contracting with a better understanding of a firm’s financial situation to improve decisions making.

American Subcontractor AssociationASA_Logo

The ASA does not list a specific program targeted at small businesses, but there is an upcoming program featured to occur during the next conference in New Orleans given by a family business owner designed to share challenges and strategies to advance family businesses.

Associated Builders & Contractors, IncABC_Logo

ABC doesn’t list a specific small business program, but several features of membership might be beneficial to some small businesses.  Such as the Accredited Quality Contractors program and the Strategic Partnership Program.  As described by ABC the AQC program honors construction firms which have documented their commitment in five key areas of corporate responsibility: quality, safety, training, community relations, and employee benefits.  The SPP offers select companies the unique opportunity to forge special relationships with ABC members.  (Refer to the AQC hyperlink above for more details)

Washington Building Congress

WBC has a designated Small Business Committee with a charter to expand WBC’s visibility and opportunity to small business and make WBC membership and governance more diverse.  The committee also has specific events focused on networking opportunities for small business to meet and interact with other large business members of WBC.  WBC has a strong membership program making the events well attended.  The committee also conducts periodic training sessions for their small business members.

Society of American Military EngineersSAME_Logo

SAME established a Small Business Council with a detailed charter that outlines the mission and execution of the SBC’s role as an advocate for small businesses.  The national committee and the posts SBC carry out a number of activities and events to advance small businesses, but I will outline a couple.  The biggest event of the year is the annual Small Business Conference held in various locations around the country.  The 2014 conference is scheduled for 8-10 December in Kansas City, MO.  Local posts often host small business events designed to offer education and networking opportunities targeted at small businesses.  The local events are great venues for small or emerging firms to connect with large businesses to learn about subcontracting opportunities in their specific region.

2014 NDAA Allows Prime Contractors to Count Lower Tier Small Businesses

For a quick break in the current series, I want to briefly talk about an upcoming change in small business subcontracting resulting from the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  On 26 December 2013 President Obama signed the NDAA into law.  While there is much discussion on funding levels for the Department of Defense (DoD) and its programs, there are other features of the NDAA of interest to DoD OSBP Image 2federal small business interest groups.  Specifically, prime contractors will be able to count lower tier small business contractors towards the prime contractor’s small business subcontracting goals.  Based on what is known today, it should be noted the new policy allowing primes to count lower tier small business subcontractors won’t eliminate the prime contractor’s responsibility to make a good-faith effort to meet negotiated 1st tier subcontracting requirements.

The objective of this post is to put this concept in front of prime contractors and 1st tier large business subcontractors to use this lead time to prepare for implementation by the Small Business Administration (SBA).  That said, it will be 18-24 months, or longer, before the change is reflected in the acquisition regulations.  In fact, SBA hasn’t issued many final regulations from the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, despite statutory deadlines set by Congress.  In the meantime large business contractors can take several steps that will prove beneficial regardless of the exact language in the regulations.  In addition to the points raised in my 21 May 2013 post Small Business Utilization Monitoring and Reporting the attributes of a successful small business program are highlighted below:

  1. Ensure the Small Business Liaison Officer post is filled and has a direct report capability to senior leadership in the organization.
  2. Update small business utilization policies and procedures.
  3. Assess the strength and effectiveness of small business outreach program.
  4. Conduct compliance of the prime’s subcontracting program.  The SBA recommends a five year look back.
  5. Conduct initial (as required) and periodic training for employees involved with subcontracting.  The project manager and support staff will require additional assistance to effectively manage the new requirements.
  6. Update small business source lists.
  7. Ensure the proper flowdown of small business subcontracting clauses.
  8. Ensure adequate controls are in place for 1st tier large business subcontracting plan compliance.

Several questions come to mind as we wait for implementation over the next 18-24 months:

  1. Will this impact subcontracting goals for the agencies and primes?
  2. Will the new requirements change the distribution of subcontracting goals within some of the agencies?

In summary, the change probably won’t happen too quickly and there will most likely be more scrutiny placed on prime contractors for enforcement of the requirements at all tiers.  I believe this change will be manageable, but it will be made easier with advance preparation.

Mentoring and Training Resources for Small Business Federal Subcontractors

My next series of posts will review resources available to small business owners competing for work in the federal subcontracting market.  The primary purpose is to highlight lesser known resources and promote those better known with a focus on the construction industry.  The first article of the series will focus on programs and resources offered by prime contractors designed to assist small business subcontractors.

In FY 2013 the government obligated approximately $17 billion for the construction of “Structures and Facilities”.  With relatively high small business subcontracting goals stipulated by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) there are numerous small subcontracting opportunities available.  In FY 2013 the NAVFAC small business subcontracting program achieved $6,096,337,865 in small business subcontracting.

Prime Contractor Resources for Small Businesses

Training Programs

Corporate Training Class

The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACS) are two training resources available to small business, but a number of prime contractors offer robust training programs for subcontractors as well.  Given the focus on small business utilization, local market knowledge and influence of small businesses, and their ability to positively impact local economies it is not surprising some prime contractors work to cultivate the small business community.  A couple of examples of programs offered by prime contractors include contracting colleges or training programs and subcontractor mentoring programs.

The training programs offered are typically scheduled to meet anywhere from once per week to once per month over a span of six weeks to ten months.  Topics covered in the training provide small businesses with the tools and knowledge to improve business operations.  In addition, many of the prime contractors cover information that is helpful in subcontracting with that particular organization such as the pre-qualification process required for bidding.  Typical training topics included:

  • Estimating
  • Bidding
  • Project Management
  • Bonding/Insurance
  • Risk Management
  • LEED / Green construction
  • Labor laws

Mentoring Programs

Mentoring Picture

There is a fair amount of attention, and rightly so, directed towards government mentor-protégé programs established to promote and grow small businesses.  Over the years the various programs have been instrumental helping participants expand and grow, especially SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program.  Many small business are not in a position to enter a government sponsored mentor-protégé program, but need a little mentoring and training to become more effective and efficient.  In response several general contractors have established similar corporate programs designed to mentor and train small business subcontractors.  The programs have a structured training curriculum covering specific business and construction related topics and provide mentoring for field, project management, and corporate staff.  In addition, the mentor programs are typically project specific where the targeted small business(es) are paired with an experienced large business subcontractor and must conform to several requirements stipulated in an open and transparent agreement.  Several examples are included below:

  • Perform a specific and meaningful scope of work
  • Develop a training program designed to strengthen the weak areas
  • Provide a quarterly report of self-performed work
  • Provide a quarterly report of training accomplished
  • Agree to periodic program audits

Next post will cover resources offered by several national professional associations that might be beneficial for small business.  Note the information is not intended to serve as an official endorsement or advertisement for any association or business – it is provided to increase awareness within the Federal contracting community.

Federal Small Business Reporting

tech-ind

Overview

This month Other Than Small Business (OTSB) {also known as a large business (LB)} contractors and subcontractors (those holding a contract or subcontract in excess of $650,000 or $1,500,000 for construction) are required to submit their Individual Subcontract Reports (ISR) and Summary Subcontract Reports (SSR) via the Electronic Subcontract Reporting System (eSRS). For some construction projects this can be a time consuming event given the large number of subcontractors.  My typical client has 30 to 90 subcontractors depending on the size of the project.  On May 21st I authored a piece highlighting Small Business Utilization Monitoring and Reporting requirements.  This post calls into action the tips and techniques covered in that post as 30 September 2013 marked the end of the most recent reporting period.  The ISRs and SSRs are due within 30 days of that date.

Individual Subcontract Plan Reporting

The ISR reporting period is 1 April – 30 September and the project team (or group responsible for managing reporting) should have collected and categorized all of the subcontract awards related to the contract.  It is beneficial to start the reporting process early so it can be broken down into several discreet steps creating a more manageable process reducing interference with regular tasks the project team completes on a daily or weekly basis.  Below is an overview of the basic steps for those reporting on small business to complete:

  • Collect and organize all of the subcontract award data (i.e. business name, award date, and amount) made during the period sorting by business type, OTSB, WOSB, SDVOSB, etc.  This can be accomplished using Excel, Access, certain contract / project management databases, or paper and pencil.
  • Ensure the required self-certifications and HUBZone certifications are collected and reviewed for accuracy.
  • Ensure the correct subcontracting plan goals are entered for the ISR to be submitted.
  • Enter the required data in the eSRS ISR reporting tool.  There are several useful step by step guides with detailed instructions on the eSRS site.  Of note the ISR tool will calculate the participation rate percentages for you, although I prefer to calculate the small business (SB) participation rates prior to beginning the process.
  • If required, enter an appropriate remark explaining why goals have not been met.  Regardless if the goals are or are not being met, the team buying out the subcontracts should keep detailed notes on the bidding for each bid package.  This is very valuable information to use for remarks in the ISR in addition to any future contract work in the same region.

Summary Subcontract Reporting

There are a few differences between the ISR and the SSR in addition to a couple of tips that are worth noting.

  • The SSR is a fiscal year summary of Federal subcontracting activity reported by agency.  The more contracts and agencies a company works with the more complex the process becomes.  A common mistake I see is firms incorrectly totaling all of the ISRs for a particular agency and reporting that number.  ISRs are reports documenting subcontracting activity for the life of a contract.  Using the ISR in this manner will inflate the data in the SSR.
  • SSRs are reported at the agency level which creates one or more confusing aspects of submitting the SSR of “who”  or “where” to send it to from the range of choices available on the drop down menu.  The good thing is most agency personnel are very good at directing reports to the correct destination.
  • Similar to the ISR, there are several guides available on the eSRS site containing detailed instructions.  I recommend using the guides as they are helpful.

DoD Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) recently updated is policy on SSRs and the Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) participation report.  Highlights from the notice distributed several weeks ago are included below:

  • Starting in FY 2014 the SSR submission will be submitted once per year matching civilian agency requirements.
  • For FY 2013 reporting, contractors submit their consolidated SSR in eSRS to the Department of Defense (9700) and NOT to the department/agency which administers the majority of their subcontract plans.
  • For FY 2013 contractors should not submit the SDB participation report as they are no longer authorized since 10 U.S.C. 2323 expired.  For further guidance go to: http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/sbs/esrs.shtml

Summary:

  • Don’t procrastinate starting the reporting process and make sure time is left to review the data for accuracy and completeness.
  • If you have delegated the responsibility for data entry of the ISR, make sure you review the material before it is submitted.  Any errors will find their way back to you.
  • CEO or Senior VPs are required to sign the SSR, make sure they know the report is being submitted and they are briefed on the contents of the report.  Too often I have seen an electronic signature from the reporting authority used and not back-briefed on the event.

The Value of Developing a Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Matrix Review During Proposal Development

Eagle with flag

Overview

Maintaining a proactive compliance stance in federal contracting is a tedious task requiring constant diligence and regular reviews.  Administrative reporting requirements and critically important performance requirements are sprinkled throughout the typical federal Request for Proposal (RFP).  Therefore, a key step in the proposal process is conducting a complete review of the FAR clauses in the proposal to set the stage for an active contract management and contract compliance stance.  There are numerous items for the home office and project teams to track.  For example, reporting requirements for subcontracts (which are reported on three separate occasions in many instances), small business reporting, improper business practices, annual representation and certification, I-9 verification requirements, cost & pricing certification requirements, and prompt payment issues (withholding procedures).  A detailed review provides several benefits highlighted below in addition to highlighting the previously mentioned requirements.

Benefits

  1. The overall benefit is it establishes the right mindset for a strong compliance program which reduces friction and interference from the contracting office.  Not only are there contractual requirements for completing certain reports, every contractor is required to annually assert they have complied with Previous Contracts and Compliance Reports as stipulated in clause 52.222-22.  Not doing so could expose a firm to problems associated with making a false statement.
  2. It provides an objective estimation of the level of effort the project team and corporate staff will incur as a result of a successful offer (the amount of required reporting increases with the size and complexity of the project).
  3. A review conducted during the proposal stage allows contractors to communicate with the procuring agency to eliminate errant clauses included in the RFP.
  4. Helps identity mandatory versus recommended FAR clauses for flowdown.
  5. Highlights actions required to comply with the various requirements.

Solutions

There are two solutions (actually there are three if you count doing nothing as an option) to conducting a FAR clause review and documenting the outcome.

  • One option is to build a FAR matrix manually using Excel, Word, or another software tool.  This option is the most time intensive since it involves reviewing the RFP, recording the clauses included in the contract, and briefly outlining each clause, its applicability, required reporting, flowdown requirements (mandatory or recommended), and other information your organization deems relevant.  When I used this method several years ago I slowly built a master file of clauses typically found in RFPs based on the procurement to help save time and effort.  An example is included below:

Article 12 FM Image

  • A second option is to use an automated tool that stores and updates all of the FAR and DFAR clauses for you.  Then all that is left is for your compliance team to do is review the RFP, select the clauses from the electronic list of clauses, and print the results.  I have found this option reduces the level of effort substantially.  An automated tool is not free of course, but it quickly makes up for itself in time saved.  Currently, I use a system designed by Wolters Kluwer (I am not affiliated with Wolters Kluwer and this is not a paid endorsement), and included a snapshot below:

Article 12 WK Image

Regardless of the option you select, either method will drive the compliance team to conduct a detailed review of the RFP developing a clear understanding of the contractual requirements upon award.  Also, it provides decision makers with the information needed to staff the project appropriately, identify any required training for the project team, subcontractors, or consultants, and ensure the company is complying with all applicable regulations.