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.

Celebrating National Women’s Small Business Month

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by AnnaKate Moeller, WIPP Programs Manager

This October we are particularly excited to celebrate National Women’s Small Business Month because of the release of the results of the 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) and the SBA issuing the final rule on Sole Source Authority. It has been a big year for women in business to say the least.

The theme for this year’s National Small Business Month is “10 Million Strong” recognizing the 2012 SBO results of the nearly 10 million women-owned businesses currently in the United States. This is a 27.5% increase from 2007 survey results, showing that women-owned businesses are growing and in turn boosting the economy.

We also have cause to celebrate as the Small Business Administration issued the final rule improving access to federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses with Sole Source Authority. This rule is expected to be effective and available for use by federal agencies on October 14, 2015.

As we celebrate 10 Million Strong this October, WIPP will be highlighting women business owners on our boards, throughout our member base and networks. Please check out our twitter, Facebook and blog throughout the month to hear the stories of these female leaders.

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!

General Assembly Fellowship Opportunity

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WIPP sponsor, AT&T, is partnering with General Assembly to support the General Assembly Opportunity Fund, a fellowship program aimed at providing hands-on education and career opportunities in technology to underrepresented groups across the globe. The Opportunity Fund specifically supports women, people of color, military veterans, and low-income individuals.  GA’s Opportunity Fund scholarship program will provide 20 youth and veterans an opportunity to take GA’s full-time, 12 week Web Development Immersive (WDI) and 10 week User Experience Design (UXDI) courses in San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. and 50 scholarships for an online web design course. You can read more at CGI America here.

Deadline for all applications is August 15th.