After subcontracting plan reports are due in October, SBA starts sending out letters to the firms selected for a compliance review. These letters start going out late in the year, with the compliance reviews scheduled for early in the new year. That means we are in the heart of subcontracting plan review season. Are you ready?
Much like preparing for a winter storm, advance planning is critical to make it through a subcontracting compliance review. Don’t wait for the letter from SBA to start your preparations–the advance planning should start when you submit your subcontracting plan reports.
If your reports indicate negative trends or that you did not meet certain goals, then that is a good opportunity to self-identify the problem and begin to implement corrective measures. Or, at a minimum, document why your performance fell short of expectations, notwithstanding your good faith efforts to comply with your plan.
It is also critical to make sure you have written self-certifications from all of your small business subcontractors. If your number comes up for a compliance review, SBA will select a cross-section of your small business vendors to analyze, and they will ask you to produce the self-certification forms from those vendors. You should already have these on file if you counted the vendors as small in your last report. But if you have a shortcoming in your documentation, now is the time to circle the wagons and make sure the vendors get you their written size and status representations as soon as possible.
Training and outreach is another component of a well-run subcontracting plan compliance program, so make sure to oil that machine. Are your internal compliance procedures and documents up-to-date with the latest changes in SBA and FAR requirements? There have been many changes over the last year or so, with more proposals to be finalized this year, so chances are your procedures could use some fine-tuning. Make sure to get your training done, and that you have sufficient documentation of the training. Document is also key for your efforts to locate, hire, and mentor small business vendors. If your compliance file is light in these areas, take some time now to beef it up.
If it is your turn for an SBA compliance review this year, do not bury your head in the snow. Be proactive and address the review head-on. Tell your story and get out in front of any bad news with explanations and voluntary corrective measures. Your ability to demonstrate good faith efforts to comply, and the right attitude toward the process, will go a long way toward smoothing over any rough edges in your plan’s performance.
And, remember to contact us when preparing for a compliance review. We can help dig you out.
About the Author: Jon Williams is a partner with PilieroMazza and a member of the Government Contracts Group. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.