WIPP Works in Washington – August 2018

Pay No Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain

Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

In the final scene of the Wizard of Oz, the dog Toto pulls back the curtain and Dorothy discovers the man behind the curtain is not the great and powerful Wizard, he’s just a little old man with a megaphone. Sometimes, actions in Washington use the megaphone but there is relatively little “behind the curtain.” That’s how the new rule on Association Health Plans (AHPs), issued by the Department of Labor, feels.

It was with great fanfare that the Administration issued new rules for AHPs. WIPP has supported AHPs since its inception as a necessary tool to allow small businesses to band together to create larger health insurance pools, thus creating more competition and better prices in the small business marketplace. Insurance rules adopted during the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) largely prohibited AHPs from a viable option. Because every insurance plan had to cover 10 “essential health benefits” under the ACA, these plans became mute.

When the Department of Labor announced loosening the regulations to allow AHPs, we applauded. WIPP submitted comments urging better pooling mechanisms, a wider range of health plan options and protections for those with pre-existing conditions. We also urged the Department to include a different “commonality of interest” definition, allowing small businesses to band together beyond a trade, industry, or profession. This would have allowed small business organizations to offer AHP membership to its members, including WIPP.

On June 21, the man behind the curtain showed up. The Department of Labor issued its new AHP rules. By deciding to keep the definition of who can join an AHP to a trade, industry, or profession, business organizations like WIPP, cannot offer an AHP. For example, an accountant in Nevada could join an AHP housed in a national association of accountants, but an organization of women business owners, does not qualify as a trade, industry, or profession, according to the new rules. The AHP can have out-of-state members but must comply with the rules of the state in which it is housed, restricting its ability to be a true “across state lines” option. Important to note is that AHPs are not required to offer the 10 essential benefits, which means education for employers and employees who join AHPs is needed.

News reports suggested that small business associations who have supported AHPs in their policy platforms are not going to take advantage of the new rules. That’s because they can’t—their commonality is business owners, not limited to a specific trade, industry or profession. Giving small business owners more health insurance options continues to be part of our policy platform. As premiums continue to rise, small business exchanges set up by the ACA should not be the only option. The Department of Labor could have done so much more than use their megaphone.

President’s Corner – August 2018

President’s Corner: All Politics is Local

WIPP President, Candace Waterman

How often have you watched your local news channel only to see a lawmaker standing with local residents or a specific constituency to highlight legislation they passed or money they brought to their local region? Chances are the people you see on the screen are there as the result of a tremendous amount of hard work by a well-organized group, able to mobilize their members when needed.

WIPP often shares pictures of our members side by side with lawmakers as we advocate on your behalf in our Nation’s Capital. WIPP’s success in Washington, D.C. has long been a direct result of our members’ willingness to mobilize when we reach out to you on an issue. Yet, another important component of this success is your engagement with lawmakers in your home districts.

We often hear the phrase “all politics is local.” At the core of this saying is the fact that you and your vote are critical to influencing your legislators, not only on what issues they focus on, but also holding them accountable for their policy positions. At WIPP, we know any successful advocacy effort must include direct communications between constituents and their elected officials.

With congressional recess upon us, I encourage you to reach out this month to your local Representative and Senators in their district offices. Take the time to set up a phone or in-person meeting with your legislator’s staff to highlight your business; the economic impact to your community in terms of job creation and revenue; and discuss a policy or regulatory issue of importance to your business.

Use the WIPP August Recess Guide to help you engage with your local legislators and amplify WIPP’s message on key issues impacting women in business.

Congress has only 35 combined legislative days left before the end of the calendar year, leaving our policymakers not much time to get things done before the end of the 115th Congress. With only 90 days until the midterm elections, which may impact the control of Congress, now is the time to reach out to your policymakers!

WIPP Works in Washington – July 2018

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action, Please

 Ann Sullivan,                 WIPP Chief Advocate

Some days I feel talked to death. The 24-hour news cycle, Twitter, Congressional hearings, roundtables, forums – you name it – everyone’s talking. But to quote an Elvis Presley song, “a little less conversation, a little more action, please.”

Congressional inaction didn’t start yesterday. The budget process has been broken for some time. In fact, Congress passed all 12 appropriations bills by the October 1st deadline (the beginning of the fiscal year) just four times in the last 40 years. However, from 2011 to 2016, not a single appropriations bill passed by itself. For the last 7 out of 10 years, Congress has failed to pass a budget. Finally, the last time the Congress passed all 12 of its appropriations bills was 1994.

The same goes for legislation. Historically, this session of Congress is on pace to pass the least amount of legislation in the last 50 years. Congress has passed 194 pieces of legislation signed into law during the first 18 months of the 115th session of Congress. Of those 194, 23 bills were symbolic or ceremonial. Roughly 1.7% of bills introduced this session of Congress have become law, compared to 4.5% of bills in the 105th session (under President Clinton), and 3.3% of bills in the 110th session (under President George W. Bush.)

No one knows better than Congressional Members that the system is broken – especially its fundamental budget responsibility. A little-known effort is commencing on Capitol Hill – the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. This Committee, comprised of House and Senate Members of both parties, is tasked with recommendations to reset the way Congress budgets and appropriates the taxpayers’ money. Recently, the Committee asked Members of Congress to share recommendations and Speaker Paul Ryan testified that the Congress should do a biennial budget. Others suggested getting rid of the Budget Committee, indexing spending to a percentage of the gross national product and eliminating the debt ceiling vote by making it automatic. What struck me most listening to the hearing was the bipartisan interest in fixing the budget process.

Two former Senate Leaders, Tom Daschle (D) and Trent Lott (R), currently lead the Commission on Political Reform as part of their work at the Bipartisan Policy Center. They have shared three recommendations to address the gridlock:

  1. Move to a two-year budget cycle, allowing more time for Members to understand programs under their jurisdiction in-depth;
  2. Get rid of the Senate filibuster but make the majority 60 votes, not 51 votes;
  3. Have a minimum number of amendments that can be offered to legislation, thus encouraging Members to get involved in legislating.

Being an eternal optimist, I believe the Congress can fix the process. One small ray of hope is the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is moving its bills at a much faster clip than we have seen in many years. I anticipate the Joint Select Committee on Budget Reform will produce serious recommendations.

Changing the rules will lead to action. Members of Congress will get back to legislating and time will be spent considering serious issues that need resolution. Getting back to an action-oriented Congress would be the first step toward more action and less talk.

President’s Corner – July 2018

The Power of WIPP’s Voice in Action

Candace Waterman,        WIPP President

As a business owner, part of what makes you successful is staying abreast of what is going on in your industry, with your customers or clients, and within your company to ensure you can take advantage of any opportunities ahead or prepare for any changes on the horizon.  At WIPP, we too are consistently keeping our ear to the ground and eyes open to changes in policy and the impact it may have on businesses like yours.

At the core of WIPP’s mission is to advocate for public policy that supports women business ownership by creating economic opportunities and a favorable regulatory environment.  This past month highlighted the power of WIPP in action.

  • When the SBA Inspector General issued an audit report on the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Procurement Program last month that highlighted issues with implementation of sole source authority in that program. WIPP led the response, calling on Congress and the SBA to encourage federal agencies to use the WOSB program and simplify the requirements, which have proven to be confusing.
  • As Congress debated workforce development programs and how to address the skills gap in various hearings, WIPP spoke up with a letter to policymakers about ensuring women business owners have a role in these discussions and sharing recommendations on how to create a skilled, qualified workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
  • After the Department of Labor issued their final rule on Association Health Plans (AHPs) last month, WIPP was among the first to spread the word to our network about the details and impact of AHPs on the health insurance market and cost of coverage for business owners.

All of the above are a testament to the ways in which WIPP takes action on your behalf.  We know that your time is best spent running and growing your business.  However, we know the impact that a new regulation, tax or change to a government program can have on your bottom line.

That is why WIPP has spent years building key relationships with lawmakers and their staff to afford WIPP the access and clout needed to be at the table to affect change on legislation, regulations and key policy initiatives.

It is this collaborative spirit that has made WIPP successful thus far and makes people want to continue to be involved. We invite you to add your voice and join WIPP as we continue the great work of this organization on behalf of women business owners across the country.

 

President’s Corner – June 2018

Action always beats intention – and the future depends on what we do today.

Candace Waterman         WIPP President & CEO

From its inception, the core of WIPP’s mission has been uniting women entrepreneurs across the country to raise their voices and take action on issues impacting their business.  At WIPP we know that engagement of women business owners, like you, as well as organizations and corporations that support women entrepreneurship will lead to better policies and more accountable public officials.

To help us in our work to improve the economic and regulatory climate for women in business, I’m excited to announce WIPP’s 2018 Advocacy Pillars:

  • Create Parity for Women-Owned Small Businesses in Federal Contracting
  • Infrastructure Improvements
  • Fairness in the Workplace
  • Modernizing Our Tax Code
  • Increasing Access to Capital for Women

These pillars represent the core issues critical to the success of women business owners and the areas of policy WIPP will focus on in our advocacy efforts. WIPP’s Economic Blueprint provides you with a deep dive in each of these issue areas and discusses some of the current legislation as well as WIPP policy recommendations on our 2018 Advocacy Pillars.

In addition to our focus on advocacy, access to procurement opportunities is a top priority for WIPP. We are also launching our 2018 Procurement Education Platform which focuses on the following topics that are in alignment with, and support our Advocacy Pillars:

  • Doing Business with the Federal Government
  • Building Capacity
  • Financing Growth

We will work to bring you relevant educational content, webinars, events and develop partnerships that help support these key areas to federal contracting success.  WIPP already has an extensive catalog of helpful recorded webinars you can explore and a number of upcoming events around our popular procurement initiatives – Give Me 5 and ChallengeHER. We look forward to building on this great work.

The future depends on what we do today – and WIPP continues to take action to ensure that women business owners continue to be a strong economic force in the United States and increasingly, in the world.

WIPP Action Alert: Urge Your Members of Congress to Support the Accelerated Payments for Small Business Act!

Contact Your Members of Congress to Support the Accelerated Payments for Small Business Act (H.R. 5337)!

House Small Business Committee member, Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) recently introduced the Accelerated Payments for Small Business Act of 2018 (H.R. 5337) which would direct federal agencies to make payments to small business prime contractors within 15 days of sending an invoice. This important legislation needs to move quickly to maintain assurance of prompt payment for small business contractors in the federal contracting arena.

Please contact your Representative and urge them to support the Accelerated Payments for Small Business Act of 2018.

Not sure what to say? Use this sample script:

My name is _____________, I am a constituent and [owner/founder/president] of [business name]. As a woman-owned small business contractor, I am calling to urge the Congress[woman/man] to co-sponsor H.R. 5337, the Accelerated Payments for Small Business Act of 2018. This bill is crucial for small business contractors, like me, because it would direct federal agencies to make payments to small business prime contractors within 15 days of sending an invoice. This is a common issue for small business contractors who rely on a consistent flow of income in order to be able to continue to serve their customer – the federal government. Ensuring prompt payment for small business contractors will help provide stability for companies who suffer large consequences when payments are delayed. Please ask the Congress(man/woman) to support H.R. 5337 and consider cosponsoring the bill. Thank you for your time.

Visit WIPP’s Legislative Action Center to Call Your Representative!

The Trump Administration Sends Request to Congress for Over $15 Billion of Spending Cuts for This Year

Using an obscure federal law, the White House sent a sweeping $15.4 billion rescission package to Congress which requests spending cuts this year across 10 federal departments.  This request comes from the Trump Administration in an effort to address the rising federal deficit.

Some programs in which cuts were requested include:

  • $50 million from the Rural Business-Cooperative Service (Department of Agriculture)
  • $30 million from the Economic Development Administration (Department of Commerce)
  • $4.3 billion from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (Department of Energy)
  • $683 million from the Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program (Department of Energy)
  • $800 million from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Department of Health & Human Services)
  • $179.1 million from the Federal Highway Administration (Department of Transportation)
  • $53.4 million from the Federal Railroad Administration (Department of Transportation)
  • $46.5 million from the Federal Transit Administration (Department of Transportation)
  • $22.7 million from the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund (Department of Treasury)
  • $151 million from Capital Magnet Fund, Community Development Financial Institutions (Department of Treasury)

These cuts, if approved, could impact current government contracts depending on the agency. In addition, cuts to the CDFI Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund will have a big impact on lending to minority and women-owned businesses and those in economically disadvantaged areas.

The House Appropriations Committee has 25 days to address the request by crafting its own bill based on the White House recommendations or decide not to act.  After 25 days, other House members can introduce their own rescissions legislation. Congress must act within 45 days of the request, which was made on May 8th.  If the House passes a bill, it would be taken up next by the Senate. Rescissions bills require only a simple majority for passage.

President’s Corner – May 2018

Some people say timing is everything, but I say timing is the only thing!

WIPP President, Candace Waterman @CandaceWaterman

I have spent over 30 years in the business world, as a corporate executive, a business owner and almost 13 years with Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) helping women-owned firms get access to growth opportunities through corporate and government procurement.

For over a decade, I have worked with WIPP as a one of our partners. Thus, with the announcement of the WIPP and WBENC Strategic Partnership, the time was right for a new challenge that would harness my expertise, my network of wonderful WBENC partners and constituents, and my passion for leveling the playing field for women in business.  I am honored, and humbled to be stepping into the role of WIPP President this month.

What a future this organization has before it!  The WIPP and WBENC Strategic Partnership is a win, win, win – a win for WBENC, a win for WIPP, and a win for women business owners across our nation.  WIPP’s public policy efforts and federal procurement education programs are to become an important benefit that WBENC’s 14 Regional Partner Organizations will offer to WBEs certified in their regions.  WBENC will be adding the voices of its over 14,000 certified women-owned businesses to WIPP’s national advocacy work in Washington, ensuring that women business owners will continue to be a force to be reckoned with on Capitol Hill.

WIPP has been doing amazing work for decades, yet many women business owners don’t realize the depth and breadth of WIPP’s impact on policy and the entrepreneurship ecosystem.  My first goal as WIPP President will be to raise the brand awareness for WIPP.

We’ll be creating an “Each One, Reach One” campaign, in which every person that has been engaged with WIPP will have the tools to become an ambassador for this great organization by reaching out to at least one woman business owner and bringing them into the WIPP community.  With a refreshed focus and new partnerships, we will work to improve the visibility of this great organization and all its accomplishments through our expanded network of women business owners.  I am committed to make WIPP a household name, ensuring that current or prospective women entrepreneurs know that WIPP is tirelessly working to create an economic and policy climate they need to succeed.

Second, I plan to work with our top-notch policy team to leverage the economic impact of women-owned firms in this country to expand our policy reach.  We will not only continue to take the voice of the Boardroom to the Halls of Congress, but with new partnerships that provide a regional reach and WIPP’s stellar reputation in the policy arena, we will get women business owners engaged in grassroots advocacy in their communities as well.

There are so many policy challenges and opportunities before us on issues like procurement, infrastructure, implementation of tax reform, access to capital, and workforce development.  In my role as WIPP’s President, I will dedicate my full resolve to ensuring that women’s entrepreneurship continues an upward trajectory and business owners, like you, have continued success and growth.

Thank you again for this opportunity and I look forward to meeting you all!

How Can My Unpopulated Small Business Joint Venture Get a Clearance?

When the SBA issued its final rule concerning its new Small Business Mentor Protégé Programs, it adopted a major change for 8(a) and small business joint ventures:  no more populated joint ventures. Instead, the rule provides that where a joint venture is formed as a separate legal entity, like a limited liability company, it may not have its own separate employees to perform contracts awarded to the joint venture.

Megan Connor.jpg

By Megan Connor, Partner PilieroMazz

For contractors well-versed in the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (“NISPOM”) and who otherwise pursue and perform cleared contracts, the SBA’s move away from populated joint ventures in favor of unpopulated joint ventures raises some eyebrows. A joint venture without any personnel of its own cannot obtain a facility clearance (“FCL”) because an FCL always depends on the personnel security clearance (“PCL”) of the company’s key management personnel, including the facility security officer (“FSO”). In other words, the only way a contractor receives an FCL is if it has cleared employees.So how, then, can a small business comply with the SBA’s regulations requirement for an unpopulated joint venture (if a separate legal entity) and the requirements of Defense Security Service and NISPOM?

By “populating” the joint venture with administrative personnel. This is expressly allowed under SBA’s regulations. While the SBA does not want separate legal entity joint ventures populated with direct labor, the regulations expressly allow a joint venture to have “its own separate employees to perform administrative functions.”  13 C.F.R. § 121.103(h). Thus, a joint venture may be populated with employees and still be considered an unpopulated joint venture so long as these employees are not performing the contracts awarded to the joint venture.

The administrative personnel employed by an unpopulated joint venture can be the individuals upon whom the joint venture’s FCL is based. For instance, the joint venture could employ a single management position, the FSO, and the joint venture’s FCL would be contingent on the FSO’s PCL. Although the NISPOM requires the FSO tobe an employee of the cleared entity, there is no requirement for the FSO to be a full-time employee, so the FSO could split his time as the FSO of the joint venture and as the FSO of one of the venturers. The FSO could not perform direct labor on the joint venture’s contracts, but could (and should) be performing administrative functions, like supervising the joint venture’s compliance with the NISPOM and maintaining the joint venture’s records in the Joint Personnel Adjudication System.

____________________________________________________________________________________________Megan Connor is a partner with PilieroMazza and focuses her practice in the areas of government contracts, small business administration programs, business and corporate law, and litigation.  She may be reached at mconnor@pilieromazza.com.

Entrepreneurs shine during National Small Business Week

By Linda McMahon, SBA Administrator

Through awards ceremonies, media interviews and community events, we honor entrepreneurs whose achievements stand out. As an entrepreneur myself, I know the hard work that goes in to starting and building a small business – efforts that don’t often get the attention they deserve.

Honorees in this week’ spotlight do not cast a shadow that dims the efforts of others; rather they serve as a beacon – to competitors, up-and-comers and communities as a whole. They show what is possible. They are innovators and problem solvelinda-mcmahon-high.jpgrs, creating products and services that are better, smarter or more efficient than what came before. They are risk takers. And through their success, they inspire others to dream and to create small businesses of their own.

Small businesses contribute so much to our communities and economy. They create two out of every three net new jobs in the private sector. More than half of all Americans either work for or own a small business. Entrepreneurs are not only making a living for themselves, they are making their neighborhoods vibrant places to live and work and contributing to our nation’s economic strength.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is so proud to have been a part of small businesses’ success for 65 years. Since 1953, the SBA has been supporting entrepreneurs with the tools they need to succeed. The Agency – through its headquarters in Washington, DC; its 68 district offices nationwide; and resources partners like Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Veterans Business Opportunity Centers and SCORE chapters – serves entrepreneurs at every stage of their lifecycle. It guarantees loans for entrepreneurs who can’t get capital from other sources, mitigating a lender’s risk. It offers counseling on starting and scaling a business, from how to draft a business plan to how to export products overseas. It trains small businesses to compete for government contracts. And it helps those recovering from a declared disaster get back on their feet.

Whether they are starting up, expanding or getting through a tough time, the SBA is the nation’s only go-to resource for small business backed by the strength and resources of the federal government. It powers the American Dream. And the SBA is working to make that dream accessible to more Americans by modernizing its application processes, improving online resources, and streamlining how technology is used to deliver services more efficiently and effectively.

National Small Business Week honors entrepreneurs who have used these resources to make their lives and their communities better. And the SBA shines a light on their achievements, I hope it will illuminate the path for even more aspiring entrepreneurs following in their footsteps.


Linda McMahon serves as the 25th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. As a member of President Trump’s cabinet, she advocates on behalf of the 30 million small businesses in America, which employ nearly half of all American workers and account for 56.8 million jobs.