House Committee Passes Bipartisan Federal Contractor Changes

By: Ann Sullivan, WIPP Government Relations

 

In its first major action of 2016, the House Small Business Committee approved changes to federal contracting which affect small companies who do business with the federal government. Acting in a bipartisan manner is relatively rare in Congress these days, but the Committee unanimously adopted the legislation, The Defending America’s Small Contractors Act of 2016, with over two-thirds of the Committee contributing content to the bill.

 

For the last three years, the House Small Business Committee has pushed for changes to the government’s buying rules and this week’s legislation was no exception. In our view, the following changes in the bill will prove to be significant to small contractors. One attacks an age-old problem – showing past performance without a government contract. The bill establishes a pilot program that enables contractors to receive a past performance rating by submitting a request to the contracting officer and/or prime contractor.  Second, the bill strengthens agency small business offices to recommend which small business set-aside programs should be used for each contract at their agency.

Anne CrossmanThird, WIPP’s recommendations were incorporated in the legislation, including one made by Anne Crossman, a member of WIPP’s Leadership Advisory Council, in her testimony before the Committee. Anne took the opportunity to highlight WIPP’s “if you list us, use us” policy for prime contractors’ subcontracting plans. This bill incorporates WIPP’s recommendations to clarify the role of commercial market representatives (CMRs) in encouraging prime contractors to work with small businesses. Lastly, the bill takes the first step toward getting a better handle on the actual amount set aside for small businesses by requiring agencies to divulge awards counted toward multiple small business goals.

An amendment offered by Rep. Takai scored a victory for women entrepreneurs by allowing Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) to provide procurement assistance to women participating in the DOD mentor-protégé program. Rep. Takai’s statement on the amendment is available here and includes WIPP’s statement of support.

These improvements set the stage for a productive year of improvements for small contractors. The bill, which passed unanimously, will now be considered by the full House of Representatives. The House Small Business Committee is off to a great start. We can’t wait to see what they do next.

3 Ways Employee Policies Can Protect Your Business

K Prinz

By Kristen Prinz, Founder and Managing Partner of The Prinz Law Firm

A study by specialty insurer Hiscox was recently published finding that U.S.-based companies have at least an 11.7 percent chance of facing an employment law charge. The study claims that the average cost for small and mid-sized businesses to defend these claims is $125,000. That’s a lot of money. It makes having effective employee policies all the more important.

On November 16, 2015, at 1:00 pm CST, I will be presenting the webinar 10 Employee Policies that Minimize Business Risk for WIPP and the WBDC. Participants will learn about 10 policies that can help businesses avoid the $125,000 average. Here are three ways that these polices can help protect your business:

  1. Address claims before they become lawsuits.

Employee policies can provide employees with an internal method to resolve a potential claim. Businesses can use policies to encourage and require that concerns about discrimination, harassment or even wage issues be reported. Knowing the concerns of your employees puts an organization in a much better position to swiftly resolve an issue that could otherwise become a lawsuit.

  1. Show the government your business is committed to compliance.

Having anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies shows the EEOC that your business has taken a stance against discrimination and retaliation. Similarly, an effective time keeping policy can show the DOL that your business is taking appropriate steps to comply with wage laws. These policies can bolster a defense when an agency audits your business or investigates a claim.

  1. Create a positive workplace culture.

Your business shouldn’t just have policies; it should abide by them and enforce them. Having well publicized policies that demonstrate your business’s dedication to a positive workplace is one of the best ways to deter employment law claims. Employees are far less likely to sue an employer they believe supports and values them.

To learn about the 10 policies that can help your business (i) address claims before they become lawsuits, (ii) show the government your business is committed to compliance, and (iii) create a positive workplace culture, register now for the WIPP and WBDC webinar 10 Employee Policies that Minimize Business Risk.