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Tonya Speed of the Mid-Tier Advocacy recently forwarded “Federal Contracting and Subcontracting with Small Businesses: Issues in the 112th Congress,” a useful report prepared by the Congressional Research Service. She writes:

This report describes and evaluates certain measures proposed or enacted by the 112th Congress to promote government contracting with small businesses. The report also discusses changes to existing laws that may be required when these provisions are implemented as well as certain potential legal and/or constitutional issues. 

The key topics addressed in this report include:

  • Size standards, including new standards for early stage small businesses and mid-sized firms;
  • Increase to government-wide and agency-specific goals for small business contracting and incentives to meet the goals;
  • Set-aside eligibility, especially with respect to Alaskan Native Corporations. There is some concern expressed that if goals became mandatory, then they could be construed as quotas which could unfairly benefit one class of small businesses over others.
  • Limitations on the amount of work that can be subcontracted under SBA programs
  • Bundling and consolidation of requirements into contracts that would be inappropriate for small businesses to bid on;
  • Expedited payments to small businesses;
  • Agency insourcing practices;
  • Responsibilities of Agency OSBDU’s and SBA Procurement Center Representatives;
  • Mentor-Protegee programs;
  • Waste, fraud and abuse within small business programs–detection and penalties;
  • Subcontracting plans within prime contracts–reporting requirements and financial penalties for failure to meet commitments.

You can click here to view the report as posted on the Women Construction Owners & Executives website.

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The All-Small Mentor-Protégé Program

SBA had a well-established mentor-protégé program (MPP) for SBA 8(a) certified firms but lacked an MPP program for other small business concerns and specifically, one for specialized certified concerns such as WOSB, EDWOSB, SDVOSB, & HubZone. The 2010 Jobs Act and 2013 NDAA gave SBA the authorization to address this by establishing an all-encompassing mentor-protégé program. Ms. Sandi Clifford, deputy director of the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program (ASMPP), visited the Mid-Tier Advocacy (MTA) earlier this year to discuss the program. Here are some of the highlights of this candid and informative discussion: As Ms. Clifford explained, mentor services to protégés include: • Management and technical assistance (internal business management systems) • Financial assistance (in the form of equity investments and/or loans) • Contracting assistance (contracting processes, capabilities acquisitions and performance) • International trade education (learn how to export, international trade business plan, finding markets) • Business development assistance (strategy, finding contracting and partnership opportunities) • General and/or administrative assistance (business processes and support) As administrators of the program, SBA provides: • Central HQ as opposed to 8(a) distributive model • Online application – certify.sba.gov • Online course tutorial requirement • Annual review and evaluation • Template agreements, i.e., MPA (Mentor-Protégé Agreement) Other All-Small Mentor-Protégé Program (ASMPP) details: • A protégé may generally only have one mentor at a time; SBA may approve a second (two is the maximum) where no competition exists, or if the protégé registers under a new NAICS or otherwise requires new mentor skills.  • Both protégé and mentor must be for-profit (with exception of protégé being an agriculture cooperative). • A mentor may have no more than three protégés at same time (no lifetime limit). • A participant can be both a protégé and mentor at the same time, if there is no competition or conflict. • The ASMPP is self-certifying and is open to businesses who qualify as small in their primary NAICS code, or who are seeking business development assistance in a secondary NAICs where they also qualify as small.  • SBA will not authorize MPAs in second NAICS in which firm has never performed any work; or where firm would only bring “small” status to Mentor and nothing else. • Existing 8(a) firms in last 6 months of the 8(a) program may transfer their MPA to the ASMPP via the online application process. Coordinate with 8(a) office to fine tune the process but there is no reapplication required. • Application requirements include upload of business plan, but no financial statements or tax returns. • JV agreements: ASMPP will not review and approve joint venture agreements. How to apply for the ASMPP: • Applicants are required to register in the System for Award Management (SAM) prior to submitting their mentor/protégé application. • Complete your business profile in certify.SBA.gov. • Evaluate and select your mentor prior to applying. This is not a matching program. SBA will not find a mentor for you. • Begin the ASMPP application process. • Protégés and mentors must complete the online tutorial and have their certificate of completion and all other required documents ready for upload Thank you to Sandi Clifford, Deputy Director, All Small Mentor-Protégé Program, for this helpful overview. TAPE has mentored several small businesses over it’s life as a large business (we’re large in some NAICS codes, though still small in others) and it has been gratifying, satisfying, and integral to our success. As protégés ourselves, we have benefitted from working with some really classy large businesses, and have also had the experience of being a protégé and really getting no tangible benefits. We are currently working with two small businesses, and negotiating ASMPP agreements. You can learn more about the ASMPP on the SBA site. To join MTA and attend future events like this one, please visit www.midtier.org.
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