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Emily Theriault is an associate in the Governmental Practice in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

Welcome back to the Cost Corner, where we provide practical insight into the complex cost and pricing requirements that apply to Government Contractors. We just completed two articles on the Truth in Negotiations Act (TINA) [1] and, before that, two articles on Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) audits. This issue of the Cost Corner concludes our coverage of TINA by addressing DCAA Truth in Negotiations (TIN) compliance audits (defective pricing audits) and identifying best practices for contractors to mitigate defective pricing risk.Continue Reading Government Contracts Cost and Pricing: The Truth in Negotiations Act, or Whatever the Kids Are Calling It These Days (Part 3)

Welcome back to the Cost Corner, where we provide practical insight into the complex cost and pricing compliance issues facing Government contractors. This is the second installment of a two-part article on Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) audits. DCAA’s mission is to conduct contract audits and to provide accounting and financial advisory services to all Department of Defense (DoD) components responsible for procurement and contract administration. Part 1 of this article provided an overview of DCAA’s mission, organization, and audit rights, as well as the types of audits conducted by DCAA. Part 2 focuses on DCAA’s standard audit procedures across audit types and identifies best practices for contractors dealing with DCAA audits.Continue Reading Government Contracts Cost and Pricing – DCAA Audits (Part 2)

It’s starting to feel like summer in Washington, DC and like most Washingtonians, the GSA and SBA are thinking about pools. So throw on some flip flops, grab a cold beverage, and let’s dive in to the 8(a) Multiple Award Schedule (“MAS”) Pool Initiative (and, obviously, prepare yourself for many, many more pool-themed puns).Continue Reading Let’s Go Swimming: Small Disadvantaged Business Growth Targeted by SBA and GSA 8(a) MAS Pool Initiative

Summer is here and we’re back with another edition of the Cost Corner, where we provide practical insight into the complex cost and pricing requirements that apply to Government contractors. We just completed a two-part series on the Truthful Cost or Pricing Data Statute, commonly known as the Truth in Negotiations Act (TINA).[1] We will return to TINA in a few months to address the Defense Contract Audit Agency’s (DCAA) playbook for defective pricing audits. But first, we embark on a two-part series regarding DCAA audits generally. Part 1 (this article) provides an overview of DCAA’s mission, organization, audit guidance, and audit rights. We also address the types of audits DCAA conducts and recent DCAA audit statistics. Part 2 (our next article) will focus on DCAA’s audit guidance, audit procedures, and best practices for contractors dealing with DCAA audits.Continue Reading The Cost Corner: Government Contracts Cost and Pricing – DCAA Audits

On April 4, 2023, the Defense Contract Management Agency’s (“DCMA”) Commercial Item Group held an industry day at Fort Lee in Virginia. The DCMA Commercial Item Group assists DOD purchasers in determining whether items provided to DoD qualify as commercial products or services and, thus, will be subject to fewer federal acquisition and DoD requirements. The Commercial Item Group also assists with market research, technical analysis, price analysis, negotiation support, commercial item database maintenance and providing support on commercial products and services initiatives.Continue Reading DoD Commercial Item Group Summit: A Recap

Buying a small business government contractor may not be as simple as a standard acquisition. This is particularly true if the small business wants to continue to qualify for federal small business set-aside and sole-source awards during negotiations. The U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) treats stock options, convertible securities, and agreements to merge (including agreements in principle), as having a “present effect” on the power to control a concern. So if a letter of intent is sufficiently firm to be considered an agreement in principle, the SBA’s regulations require such agreements be given “present effect” on the power to control a concern – deeming the two entities are immediately affiliated. In other words, the small business likely is no longer small (and, if it is a specialty small business concern, like woman-owned or service-disabled veteran-owned, it is likely ineligible for those programs as well) before the deal even is done. On the other hand, agreements to open or continue negotiations towards the “possibility of a merger or a sale of stock at some later date” are not considered agreements in principle, and are not given present effect. In practice what this means is that a letter of intent must be carefully drafted to ensure that it does not trigger the present effect rule before the parties are ready or willing to be considered affiliated.Continue Reading Buying or Selling a Small Business Government Contractor? Draft the Letter of Intent Carefully to Avoid Immediate Affiliation

In a recent bid protest decision from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”), the GAO clarified that, in evaluating the experience of a mentor-protégé joint venture for a small business set-aside procurement, when the joint venture itself does not have the required experience (normally because it’s a newly formed enterprise), the agency must evaluate each joint venture member’s experience individually.Continue Reading To Each Their Own: Agency Must Consider Experience of Each Partner in a Small Business Set-Aside Joint Venture

Effective January 1, 2023, certification of veteran-owned small businesses (“VOSBs”) and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (“SDVOSBs”) moved from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (“VA”) Center for Verification and Evaluation (“CVE”), to the Small Business Administration’s (“SBA”) Veteran Small Business Certification Program (“VetCert”). Previously, VOSBs and SDVOSBs only needed to be independently verified for VA sole-source and set-aside awards – for procurements by all other federal agencies, SDVOSBs could self-certify without an outside review. The final rule, published November 29, 2022, but effective January 1, 2023, shifts the venue to SBA while also implementing four key requirements from the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, as discussed below.Continue Reading News For Veteran-Owned Small Businesses – SDVOSB and VOSB Certification Moves to the SBA in 2023

The federal government uses its contracting dollars not only to purchase the supplies and services it needs, but also to support broader policy goals. For example, the government has special contracting priorities for veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs), as well as women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) and economically-disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs), and others, like the 8(a) business development program and small businesses more generally. In other words, these special types of businesses are able to compete for government contracts with a limited pool of competitors (and limited competition should yield a higher likelihood of business success for these small businesses). But access to these contracting priorities comes with a complex web of regulatory requirements unparalleled in the commercial sector. And one way to make sure that only eligible small businesses are receiving these special set-aside and sole-source awards is through what is known as a “status protest,” where it is alleged that the specialized small business does not actually qualify for the status and priority that is being claimed.Continue Reading Comparing Two Small Business Status Protests: Veteran-Owned Small Business CVE Protests and Women-Owned Small Business Status Protests—Different Processes but Similar Results

The U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) recently released its annual Procurement Scorecard, demonstrating the federal government’s continued prioritization of small business contracting and subcontracting. In 2021, the government awarded $154.2 billion dollars in federal prime contracts – an increase of $8.5 billion over the prior year – with at least an additional $72 billion in small business subcontracts – a decrease of $10.8 billion from the prior year. These subcontracting figures continue the trend from prior years, which may lead to increased scrutiny of small business subcontracting plans to reverse the perceived decline. (In 2020, small business subcontracting decreased by an estimated $7.9 billion). Overall, the government yet again exceeded the service-disabled veteran-owned small business goal of 3%, and more than doubled the small disadvantaged business goal of 5%, but continued to struggle to meet the 5% women-owned small business and 3% HUBZone small business goals. The SBA released these figures in its FY 2021 Small Business Procurement Scorecard, available here.Continue Reading SBA Annual Scorecard Shows Federal Government Continues to Prioritize Small Business Contracting

The Small Business Administration’s (“SBA”) Office of Hearing and Appeals (“OHA”) rejected a small business government contractor’s 8(a) participation determination appeal as untimely, notwithstanding the contractor’s claim the termination letter at issue was sent to a junk email folder.
Continue Reading SBA OHA Says Small Business on Notice of Email in Junk Folder: Appeal Untimely