WIPP Comments on WOSB Certification Changes

WIPP logo final copyWIPP submitted comments today to the SBA Office of Policy, Planning and Liaison on the SBA Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) regarding certification in the WOSB Program that was issued on December 18, 2015. The WOSB Program is extremely important in assisting women entrepreneurs entering the federal contracting marketplace. WIPP highlighted the following principles to guide the SBA in their implementation of the changes to the certification process.

Please see a brief outline of the principles below:

  • Third-Party Certification

                 -Keep the Integrity of the Program Intact – we are focused on making sure that    the changes to the certification process do not result in the disruption of the program.

  • State and Federal Agency Certification

                 -Expand Acceptable Certifications in a Uniform Manner – if certification is being accepted from multiple sources then we urge the SBA to have requirements set up so that there is as little duplicative paperwork as possible.

  • SBA WOSB Certification Program

                 -Without Adequate Resources, SBA Certification Will Fail WOSBs  

                 – Strengthen Compliance/Enforce Procedures

To see the submitted comments in their entirety, click here.

December 2015 WIPP National Partner of the Month: Cindy Towers

C. Towers
WIPP National Partner of the Month

December 2015

Cindy Towers, Co-Founder and CEO of JURISolutions

 

We sat down with Cindy to ask her a little more about her company and relationship with WIPP…

 

Tell us a little about your company and its mission.

JURISolutions is a company dedicated to delivering innovative and value-driven legal solutions to corporations, law firms and government entities across the country.   We sit in the space between in-house legal departments and outside law firms.  We provide a number of outsourcing and insourcing offerings including highly skilled project attorneys and subject matter experts, full-service legal staff augmentation, end-to-end litigation support and government support services.   Our corporate mission is to take a very client-centric approach to the design and delivery of legal services to increase efficiency within our client’s legal operations.  We also have an executive search arm as well.  The company’s secret sauce across all verticals is our unparalleled recruiting and vetting processes that enable us to find the best legal talent for each specific initiative.

 

 

Have you always been an entrepreneur?  If not, what, or who, inspired you to take this leap?

Although the nature vs. nurture verdict may still be out,  I can tell you that entrepreneurship is definitely a family trait.  My father was a child of the depression with the odds of success firmly stacked against him.  Despite very limited education and financial resources, he and my mother were able to build a very successful auto parts company.  After spending summers counting mufflers and spark plugs, I thought getting professional degrees would be more satisfying than owning my own business.  I was wrong.  It took me 10 years to figure out what my father had always known and was trying to teach me.   Being an entrepreneur is so much more than just being your own boss.   It is about having the authority and control to make a difference in the lives of others!

 

What has been your biggest lesson learned in working with the Federal Government?

To remain agile. Being mindful of all the moving parts and levels of urgency – from end user, to program and contracting offices each has a problem to solve within a certain timeframe – we get to know our customer closely and stay in alignment with each group in order to move the needle efficiently.

 

Do you have a contracting success story that you are proud of?

This year we were awarded a large contract with the CFPB.  We are particularly proud of this contract because it was the result of a very strategic process.   In 2013, I had attended an event where leadership from CFPB was a speaker.  In learning about the agency, it became apparent that their volume of legal work was very large and that they  likely had problems we would be able to successfully solve for them.  We set out to get to know as much about the agency as we could.  I personally attended their outreach events, met stakeholders and read every news alert published.   When the contract eventually went out to bid, we were invited to compete and won.

 

 

Tell us about your experience as a WIPP Member? What resources/value has WIPP provided that has been helpful to you and your company?

WIPP has been very instrumental in helping us grown within the government space.  The resources offered are incredible: speakers, webinars, legislative updates, sources sought blasts and much more.   I have also been given amazing opportunities to be a speaker at a ChallengeHER event, which afforded me amazing exposure to stakeholders in the government, SBA and corporate primes.

 

Click here to view Cindy’s Bio.

WIPP Testifies to Congress on Challenges Facing Small Contractors

Anne Crossman

The House Small Business Committee hearing last week focused on one of WIPP’s key priorities: ongoing issues affecting small companies trying to do work with the federal government. Anne Crossman, a member of WIPP’s Leadership Advisory Council, used her expertise in subcontracting to testify before the Committee regarding the challenges faced by small subcontractors.

 

In particular, many WIPP members have questioned to what extent subcontracting plans are enforced. WIPP has long advocated for a policy of “if you list us, use us” and it is still unclear if prime contractors are being held to these plans.

 

Subcontracting is a staple of many small contractors and facilitates the flow of federal contract dollars into small businesses, which provide jobs and boosts local economies. Agencies have subcontracting goals to ensure that small firms get a fair shot at contracting dollars.

 

The Committee delved into these and many other challenges facing small subcontractors. The hearing can be found in full here.

From the Hill: Contractors Face Additional Reporting Burdens

By: Jake Clabaugh, WIPP Government Relations

hillFederal contractors will now face a bevy of additional reporting requirements when seeking procurement opportunities. The House Small Business Committee held a hearing Tuesday to exam the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces regulations. These new rules are expected to be finalized late this year or early next year and require federal contractors to document and report labor law and safety violations for their firm and all subcontractors when bidding for contracts above $500,000.

WIPP supports efforts to rid the contracting environment of businesses with a history of abusive and neglectful violations, but these new rules will be particularly burdensome for small contractors. The House Committee hearing focused on the increased administrative burden that small contractors will face and how opportunities for small and women-owned businesses to enter the federal contracting arena will be affected.

WIPP addressed many of these issues in its official comment, submitted earlier this summer. The hearing highlighted the likelihood that contractors may be “blacklisted” from contracting opportunities, a concern that WIPP expressed. The regulations require all violations to be reported, even infractions that have yet to be adjudicated. The contractor is not afforded the opportunity for explanation until the contract is likely to be awarded. The danger is that a contracting officer will simply pass over or “blacklist” a potential contractor rather than dig deeper into nature and validity of the reported infraction. This could leave many upstanding small and women-owned firms with unproven or minor violations unable to secure contracting opportunities.

The hearing also stressed the duplicative nature of these regulations. Several witnesses noted how suspension and debarment procedures already exist. In its comments, WIPP recommended incorporating safe workplaces into the well-established system of suspension and debarment as an alternative to creating this enormous reporting burden.

These reporting requirements will impose significant costs for small and women-owned firms. Not only will it require the business to submit excessive documentation, it will also require significant resources to research, gather, and report the necessary information for the small business and all of its potential subcontractors.

Far from leveling the playing field for the millions of businesses playing already by the rules, these regulations will add to the tremendous burden facing small and women-owned businesses.

September 2015 WIPP National Partner of the Month: Tracy Balazs

September 2015

WIPP National Partner of the Month: Tracy Balazs, President and CEO, Federal Staffing Resources, LLC dba FSR

We sat down with Tracy to hear more about her business and her relationship with WIPP:

Tracy Balazs

Tell us a little about your company and its mission.

FSR was started with the desire to help our wounded warriors heal and to provide healthcare personnel with the clinical expertise to our military treatment facilities and VA hospitals around the country.

Have you always been an entrepreneur?  If not, what, or who, inspired you to take this leap?

I was a Registered Nurse with 25 years of ICU and Trauma nursing experience. I had the opportunity to work at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as a government contractor.  This exposure provided me the ability to care for individuals who had sacrificed for our freedoms, hear their stories and meet their families. I was encouraged to start a business that could provide more than just my expertise at the bedside and also be an employer of best in class healthcare professionals that had the same passion as I did.

How has your background in Healthcare helped develop and grow your company?

As a RN, I understood the environment that I was placing our professionals in.  I could speak the same language, however, learning the business of government contracting was a challenge as my background was in patient care.  I was working nights as a RN at Walter Reed and during the day, I was focused getting business, writing proposals and learning about government contracting.

Do you have a contracting success story that you are proud of? 

There is not one contract that I am more proud of than the others, however, none came without sacrifices and hard work. Once you receive a Government contract, your goal is to exceed your customer’s expectations and  gain outstanding performance ratings. Having gotten my 8(a) certification within the same year as I started FSR (through a waiver), has helped me a great deal, although it took 18 months of hard work and complete dedication before I got my 1st Government contract.

Tell us about your experience as a WIPP Member? What resources/value has WIPP provided that has been helpful to you and your company?

WIPP has provided me with the education on policy and what is going on in government contracting  in a concise fashion.  There is a lot of material to read and learn about, however I can go to a single website and find out what is going on.  I was so excited that WIPP was so instrumental in getting sole source opportunities and specific set asides for WOSB!