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SBA Increases Its Size Standards, Opening More Opportunities for Winning Government Contracts, April 4, 2022, Peter Ford, Patrick Rothwell
The long-awaited increase to size standards by the Small Business Administration (SBA) has arrived. On March 31, 2022, SBA issued four final rules that increase the small business size standards for a number of industries. As a result, many businesses will gain eligibility for federal small business assistance programs or retain eligibility for a longer period. These programs include SBA’s business loan programs, Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, and federal procurement programs that provide targeted, set-aside opportunities for small businesses. Small businesses also may benefit through reduced fees, less paperwork, and fewer compliance requirements. Read more here
GSA Pauses Polaris RFPs, April 7, 2022, Cy Alba
The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Polaris Request for Proposals (RFPs) are on pause after the agency received comments regarding the evaluation of joint ventures. GSA is now assessing whether changes are required to the RFPs and is temporarily pausing the RFPs until further notice. Women-Owned Small Businesses, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses, and Historically Underutilized Business Zone IT service providers should pause proposal activities until the assessment is completed. This assessment may be an indication that GSA is carefully considering aspects of Polaris RFPs that will hopefully be beneficial to both large and small contractors and improve teaming arrangements. Read more here.
GSA Pauses Polaris Contract to Consider Merits of Pre-award Protest
FEDSCOOP reported that the General Services Administration has halted the award of the $15 billion Polaris governmentwide acquisition contract while it assesses the merits of a pre-award challenge. The agency said it is assessing concerns that small companies could lose out because the procurement terms currently allow firms involved in mentor-protégé arrangements to rely solely on the experience of larger, mentor companies. Read more here.
DOD Invites Public Feedback on Implementation of Defense Authorization Act for FY 2022
The Department of Defense (DOD) is giving the public an opportunity to provide early input on implementation of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2022 within the acquisition regulations. The public may submit early input through the DARS website. Read more here.
House Passes Bill to Give Relief to Restaurants and Other Small Businesses Hit Hard by COVID
The House of Representatives passed H.R. 3807, the Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard-Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022. The bipartisan bill would deliver $55 billion in relief to small businesses through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) and establish a new program for hard-hit industries. Created under the American Rescue Plan, the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund supplied grants to help more than 100,000 small bars and restaurants stay afloat, but lack of funding forced it to turn away 177,000 eligible restaurants. The Relief for Restaurants & Other Hard-Hit Small Businesses Act will provide $42 billion to replenish the RRF to help fund applicants that did not receive an award. Read more here.
Registration Opens for National Small Business Week Virtual Summit
Registration for the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s 2022 National Small Business Week Virtual Summit, “Building a Better America Through Entrepreneurship,” is open. SBA’s National Small Business Week (NSBW), to be held May 1-7, 2022, will acknowledge small businesses from across the country for their resilience and ingenuity and will recognize SBA partners for their involvement in entrepreneurial development, disaster recovery, government contracting, financial development, and overall support for small businesses and entrepreneurship. Read more here.
Interior Department Revises Buy Indian Act Rules
The Department of the Interior (DOI) issued a final rule revising DOI regulations implementing the Buy Indian Act, which gives DOI authority to set aside procurement contracts for Indian-owned and controlled businesses. These revisions eliminate barriers to Indian economic enterprises competing on specified construction contracts, expand Indian economic enterprises’ ability to subcontract construction work consistent with other socio-economic set-aside programs, and give greater preference to Indian economic enterprises when a deviation from the Buy Indian Act is necessary. This rule takes effect May 9, 2022. Read more here.
GAO Seeks Nominations for New Tribal Advisory Council
The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) announced its intention to form a standing Tribal Advisory Council (TAC), to be composed of a diverse group of tribal leaders (elected or appointed by their Tribes); an elected or appointed leader of a state-recognized Tribe and/or Native Hawaiian organization; and advisors who are experts on tribal and indigenous issues. The TAC will advise GAO with respect to the agency’s work evaluating federal programs serving Tribes. Nominations are due May 20, 2022, and the TAC appointments will begin in August 2022. Read more here.
State Department Announces Formation of Bureau of Cyberspace And Digital Policy
NextGov reported that the Department of State is forming a Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy to emphasize digital modernization in the federal sphere. Its areas of focus will include national security, economic developments, and digital technologies. Read more here.
Upcoming Government Contracts Presentations
Appeals Court Reinstates Biden’s Vaccine Mandate for Federal Employees
GovExec reported that a federal appeals court reinstated President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the federal workforce, overturning a lower court’s nationwide pause that had been in effect since January. The plaintiffs who sued over Biden’s executive order did not have standing, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said in a 2-1 opinion, and instead must pursue their appeals through the Merit Systems Protection Board or Office of Special Counsel. Read more here.
COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Laws Could Show Emerging Compliance Trends for Employers, April 4, 2022, Sarah Nash, Sara Nasseri
Since the onset of the pandemic, many states and localities have passed COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave laws requiring employers to provide leave to employees for COVID-19-related reasons. California and Colorado have gone beyond many other states by adding to the required amount of sick time. These laws present unique administrative compliance challenges and financial burdens on employers who must prepare for employees’ additional paid COVID-19-related absences. Even employers with no employees in California and Colorado should be mindful, however, because sick leave developments in those states could foreshadow developments in other states. Read more here.
DOL Seeks Wage Rate Information from Nevada Highway Construction Employers
The Department of Labor (DOL)’s Wage and Hour Division is asking Nevada’s highway construction businesses to complete a survey to help it establish prevailing wage rates, as required by the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts. The survey includes active highway construction projects in Nevada between August 1, 2020, and July 31, 2021, and is not limited to federally funded construction projects. Read more here.
DOL Recovers More Than $1.9 Million in Back Wages for 139 Pharmaceutical Workers
An investigation by the Department of Labor (DOL) found that Romark Laboratories LC, a pharmaceutical company based in Tampa, FL, violated minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act by missing several payrolls from July 25, 2021, to November 15, 2021.
DOL recovered more than $1.9 million in back wages for 139 workers. Read more here.
Upcoming Labor & Employment Presentations
Fort Drum Contractors Plead Guilty to Wire Fraud Conspiracy and Pay More Than $750,000
Sean O’Sullivan of Sackets Harbor, NY, and David Rose of Newport News, VA, have pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for their roles in a scheme to obtain government construction contracts that were set aside for businesses owned and operated by disabled veterans, the Department of Justice announced. O’Sullivan, Rose, and their businesses also agreed to pay a total of $758,526.68 to the United States to resolve their civil liability for the submission of false claims for payment to the federal government. Read more here.