10 Things You Should Know From the Linda McMahon Hearing

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

On Jan. 24, the Senate Small Business Committee held a hearing on the confirmation of Linda McMahon (former WWE CEO), to become Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Here are the 10 things you should know about her hearing:

  1. SBA is still part of the cabinet—President Obama elevated the position of SBA Administrator to cabinet level. President Trump is sticking with that change.
  2. Existing programs are safe…for now—When questioned by numerous senators on specific program commitments, McMahon repeatedly said that if the program is working then it should be continued.
  3. She will go to bat for small business in the executive branch—McMahon sees herself as the small business advocate within the executive branch, and will go to other agencies and make sure that more federal contracting opportunities are provided to small businesses.
  4. She will work to expand the 5% contracting goal for women—Senator Duckworth (IL), asked about the 5% goal, and McMahon expressed support for women entrepreneurs, broadly, “I have been very forthcoming in wanting women entrepreneurship to grow. And I will continue to support that, it is very near and dear to my heart.”
  5. She has a history working with Veterans—According to McMahon, WWE was always concerned about veterans and how to help create jobs for them. Senator Cardin (MD) discussed the Veterans Institute for Procurement (VIP) program and noted its impact and high performance.
  6. Look for an emphasis on mentoring—Given McMahon’s background in business mentoring, she may focus on programs that incorporate mentorship. As co-founder of Women’s Leadership LIVE, McMahon’s organization educates entrepreneurs about all facets of starting and expanding their business.
  7. She wants to help free small businesses from burdensome regulations—While many senators asked questions about regulatory burdens on small businesses, Senator Ernst brought up the PROVE It Act—legislation passed out of committee last session that empowers the SBA Office of Advocacy to require agencies to analyze rules for their small business impact.
  8. Speaking of advocacy—McMahon expressed support for expanding the independent SBA Office of Advocacy to ensure that the voice of small business is heard on federal regulations.
  9. She wants small businesses to participate in anticipated Infrastructure projects—When asked about promoting fair opportunities for small businesses to compete for work in the highly anticipated infrastructure plan, McMahon stated that small business participation was a given.
  10. Streamlining cumbersome federal contracting—McMahon expressed support for streamlining the alphabet soup of federal websites and databases like SAM and FBO.

This was a conciliatory confirmation hearing. Given the contentious nature of other confirmation hearings, it was unknown what tone McMahon’s hearing would take. But the hearing went well. Senators were polite and McMahon was responsive to concerns. With so much partisanship in Washington, it was positive to see McMahon’s interest in working with the committee—both sides.

WIPP National Partner of the Month – November 2016

laurie-artis-pictureLaurie S. Artis – President & CEO of Civility Management Solutions

1.Tell us a little about your company and its mission.

Civility Management Solutions (CMS) was established to not only employ individuals in professional services but to also mentor and train them in becoming better workforce partners.  In the Marine Corps, we are constantly mentoring to improve others and ourselves, and for those that receive it, it can increase their life personally and professionally.  We are working hard to develop both an east and west coast office, and to add the HUBZone certification to our certifications.  Also, as a Woman Veteran, of course, CMS is focused on supporting both civilian and military, nationally and abroad.  My life story has well prepared me to work with a diversity of individuals, doing a diversity of work for this country, and I am honored at the opportunity to once again serve the United States.

2. Have you always been an entrepreneur?

Yes, I have always been an entrepreneur as I sold candy as a child from my parents’ home; modeled professionally as a teenager in high school; (tried) medical billing and was scammed; marketed holistic products that I still use; and began an outdoor BootCamp exercise program.  So, yes, I have always been an entrepreneur.

What inspired you to take the leap?  

Being inspired by seeing another woman, much younger than myself own and operate a company with over 200 employees was truly some revelation … I can do this!  After working onsite in the government, and inside the corporate office, I really enjoyed the work.  I have thanked her several times since leaving her company, as I am grateful that I had an opportunity to gleam this world before taking the leap.

3. What is your biggest lesson learned from working with the Federal Government? 

You must be a people person!  If you’re not, then you are depending on others to do that for you; whereas, there is no better representation of your company than yourself and being 100% owned, this is important.  You must enjoy working with people and be willing to work with them to give both satisfaction and appreciation despite the obstacles that may come from them.  I love people, and that allows them to appreciate me and relationships are important.

4. Do you have any tips you would like to share with other women pursuing Federal Contracts? 

Put on your big ones (smile) … as this business is not for the faint of heart. It is truly a marathon, and you have to stay focused, stay involved, stay teachable, and get connected.

5. Have you encountered any challenges you had to overcome as a professional business woman and if so, what have you learned from them? 

Yes, I have encountered several challenges, but the worst was dropping my salary to minimum wage in order to stay employed by my company and not seek a job.  In reality, in order to become SBA certified as a WOSB or EDWOSB you should be working for your company full time “during normal business  hours.”  Upon submission of required documentation to Department of VA to become verified I learned then that they can prove this through your tax returns.  So, what I learned is that you need to operate in integrity at all levels in order to ensure success that can be maintained for years to come and stay out of trouble with the government.

6. Do you have a success story that you are particularly proud of? Tell us about it! 

I have responded to a Sources Sought and helped influence the set-aside, then responded to the solicitation and won the opportunity!

7. Tell us about your experience as a WIPP member.

Wow, fascinating, as it is great to be surrounded by women on a mission.  As a WIPP member I have learned so much from great teachers through WIPP webinars; I have been ‘sold out’ on the fight for women in business due to participating in congressional sessions alongside WIPP; and lastly, I truly enjoy being surrounded by women that are determined to make a difference for themselves and others.

What resources/value has WIPP provided that has been helpful to you and your company?

Webinar sessions, Congressional meetings, and testimonies.

Revising the Veterans Certification – Top to Bottom

WomenVeteransAccording to the Small Business Administration (SBA) veterans own nearly 10% of all small businesses and those veteran-owned businesses generate more than $1 trillion dollars in revenue each year. In order to qualify for federal contracting preferences at the Veterans Administration (VA), these businesses have to certify as a veteran owned business. The Veterans Administration calls this program “Veterans First.” Government-wide contracting programs give preferences to service disabled veteran owned businesses (SDVOBs) which are required to go through the certification process at the VA.

The Veterans Administration is asking for comments on a new set of changes for the Veteran Owned Small Business program (VOSB). Among many other changes, the proposal would alter the definition of a veteran, a caregiver, the verification requirements for a VOSB, and requirements for joint ventures.

First, the definition of “veteran” in the program is now consistent with a recent update to the VA’s overall definition of veteran. This means owners who served in the National Guard or in the Reserves are still only eligible to be an owner of VOSB or SDVOSB if they received a service-connected disability. The single definition of “veteran” is intended to create consistency when applying to all programs within the VA.

Veteran owners would be required to oversee “daily business operations,” replacing the terms “daily business management” and “day to day operations” in an effort to simplify the application process. In addition, references to spouses and personal caretakers are removed, replaced by “permanent caretaker” to more clearly define a single role aiding the service-disabled owner. A letter outlining the service-disabled veteran’s disability and the need for the permanent caregiver must be included in order to qualify. The VOSB application process, which was required annually, would be expanded to last for two years if the proposed rule was adopted.

Last, language on VSOB joint ventures has been clarified, requiring at least one joint partner be a verified VOSB. Additionally, the same project and time restrictions that apply to other set-aside programs have been added. All these changes, and more, can be viewed and commented on here.

If you have an opinion on the VA certification, now is the time to submit them. Your comments will make a difference – agencies receive every submission and carefully review them.