Breaking Down Biden’s ‘Made in America’ Executive Order

In the beginning months of 2021, President Biden signed two executive orders addressing the lack of domestic manufacturing infrastructure and capabilities in the United States. The first, signed in January of 2021, was titled “Ensuring the Future is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers”. Simply put by the White House briefing room, this executive order maximizes the “use of goods, products, and materials produced in, and services offered in, the United States.”

In February of 2021, an executive order on America’s supply chains was released, stating that the United States needs “resilient, diverse, and secure supply chains to ensure our economic prosperity and national security.”

The Biden administration quickly made it a priority to evaluate where critical deficiencies are in domestic manufacturing and moved to rectify them. President Biden’s ‘Made in America’ executive order specifically has implications for the federal contracting industry. Here is a breakdown of the executive order:

  1. Agencies must stop or revise actions that don’t promote Made in America Laws.
  2. A Made in America Office will be established and will be headed by a Director appointed by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
  3. Agencies must submit detailed justification, along with a proposed waiver, if they want to make an exception to the Made in America Laws and purchase goods or services from an international company.
  4. These waivers submitted by the agencies will be made publicly available on a new website to promote transparency within federal procurement. The website will also contain information as to whether or not the waiver was approved by the Made in America Office.
  5. Agencies can partner with the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to scout out small to mid-sized American companies that can meet federal procurement needs.

Changes to Part 25 of the FAR

The executive order also outlined suggestions for changing Part 25 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). While these changes to the FAR are not final, it’s important to keep up with all FAR updates so that your organization complies with federal procurement rules and regulations.

The suggested changes are broken down below.

  1. Increase the threshold for domestic content requirements for end products and construction materials. The FAR states that the cost of components mined, produced, or manufactured in the U.S. (for end products or construction materials) must exceed 50 percent of the cost of all of its components. This percentage is subject to increase under President Biden’s executive order.
  2. Increase the price preference for domestic end products and domestic construction materials. Simply put, the government will favor end products and construction materials that are made in the U.S. by increasing the price preference for those products.
  3. Update the list of nonavailable articles or items that are not sufficiently made in the United States. Nonavailable articles are items that are not readily available and/or made in the U.S. The executive order suggests updating the list of nonavailable articles for accuracy.

What does the executive order mean for federal contractors and the government procurement industry?

The government will continue to encourage domestic products by making it more attractive to utilize them via price preference. Additionally, the government will require a greater percentage of end products to come from domestic manufacturers via FAR threshold adjustments. Finally, this executive order will close a loophole in the list of nonavailable articles.

Overall, the federal government is moving toward rules that will make it more advantageous for businesses to have a more domestically located supply chain.

If you are currently a subcontractor for a government contract, you may want to reach out to your prime contractor to discuss these changes and their implications for your business.

Have further questions about these changes? Chat with our team today.

veterans with american flag

Veteran Entrepreneurship Advocate Recognized

Keith King, Founder and CEO of the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC), was recently recognized as a notable executive in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by Crain’s Detroit Business.

I remember the first time I met Keith King. He testified in support of the Senate Bill that eventually passed and created Public Act 91 of 2005. Public Act 91 of 2005 created a State of Michigan purchasing preference for companies owned by veterans with service-connected disabilities and created a goal for spending with these companies. At the time, Michigan was only the third state to have a preference (behind California and Virginia).

(At the time, I had the greatest job in state government. I was responsible for expanding our diverse and under-represented supplier base, and I played point on business outreach for the Michigan Department of Management and Budget (DMB). My job was to teach companies how to bid on state-level solicitations, focused on increasing bidding by highly qualified companies that had not considered state contracting as a revenue source. Second to the job I have now, it was my favorite. Talk about rewarding.)

Back to Keith.

I was immediately impressed. He was knowledgeable, connected, and a great advocate for veterans. Legislative testimony can be daunting. Not for Keith King.

After passage, I had the honor of implementing Public Act 91 of 2005. It was a challenge because the State of Michigan vendor registration system used in 2005 did not capture ‘veteran’ as an ownership classification. This meant we didn’t have a group of initial business owners for outreach or to determine baseline metrics.

Back to Keith again.

Keith King chaired a roundtable of service-disabled veteran-owned businesses (SDVOB), which became a critical source of information to get the word out about the preference, and to hold DMB (including me) accountable for action. The preference was successful in large part due to the efforts of this small-but-mighty roundtable. Keith eventually founded the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) because he saw a gap in the supplier diversity landscape. It flourished, which is no surprise.

Keith is a friend to every veteran in Michigan, whether or not they know him. I want to congratulate Keith on being named a notable executive in DEI by Crain’s Detroit Business. This is so well-deserved, and Keith is a tireless advocate for veteran entrepreneurship.

SBA Takes Over the WOSB Program

The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) changed the certification process for woman-owned small businesses (WOSB) and economically disadvantaged woman-owned small businesses (EDWOSB). Specifically, Section 825 replaces self-certification with a certification program run by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Simultaneously, it beefs up the sole source contracting opportunities by increasing the contract value ceiling. Combined, this gives the WOSB/EDWOSB contracting programs credibility while adding motivation for potential contractors to get involved. These updated regulations make it easier for qualified small businesses to participate in the WOSB Federal Contracting Program by improving the customer experience. At the same time, SBA is strengthening oversight and maintaining the integrity of the certification process.

If you are a WOSB or an EDWOSB and you want to capitalize on set-asides or sole source opportunities to win government contracts, you can no longer rely solely on third party certification or self-certification.

Do not ignore this if the WOSB or EDWOSB set-asides are part of your business strategy. And, if you have not already completed your SBA certification, you are late. The SBA’s old self-certification program died on October 15, 2020. The new certification is free. No need to pay for external certification or consultative support unless those benefit you in other ways.

JetCo Federal is a WBENC-certified, SBA-certified WOSB. The application and approval process with the SBA was seamless and quick. We were in the know about the changes, thanks to strong communication from the SBA and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP). From a marketing perspective, we lead with capabilities and allow the WOSB status to be a secondary added value.

WOSB Resources

There are many resources for WOSBs in the government contracting industry. Here are our favorites:

We discovered the SBA Certification Process through WIPP webinars and interaction with the SBA directly. SBA has it TOGETHER on this program. The program managers and regulation authors have been tireless in the program rollout and the external communication. Kudos to them.

JetCo Federal President Moderates Webinar on Joint Ventures and the WOSB Program

JetCo Federal’s President, Sue Tellier, moderated a ChallengeHER webinar titled “Joint Ventures and the WOSB Program” on Thursday, April 22 at 2 PM ET.

According to Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), “Joint Ventures are an excellent opportunity for smaller businesses to combine resources for approaching federal contracts that would otherwise be out of their reach.”

The webinar outlined information on Joint Ventures from the Small Business Administration’s requirements and perspective; Joint Ventures as it pertains to the Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program; and Joint Ventures from a legal perspective.

The webinar recording can be found on WIPP’s Website.

Business as a Force for Good

Employees enable our work, our community matters, and the earth sustains us.

Normal business at JetCo involves a continuous cycle of challenging ourselves to be better. After reflecting on ways to improve our impact on our employees, our community, and our industry, we decided to pursue B Corp certification.

What is a certified B Corp?

Certified B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. B Corps “Envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good.” Members of the B Corp community are tackling some of the most pressing global challenges and building a new economy that benefits all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

What is B Corp certification?

B Corp Certification is the only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance. It evaluates how a company’s operations and business model impacts its workers, community, environment, and customers. From supply chain and input materials to charitable giving and employee benefits, B Corp Certification proves a business is meeting the highest standards of verified performance.

Why is JetCo Federal getting B Corp certified?

  • It will make us better. What we like about B Corp Certification is that it will not just acknowledge what our company excels at now—it commits us to setting goals for improvement so that we create more positive social and environmental impact.
  • We win the right way, because our stakeholders deserve it. This is one of our value statements. We are passionate about doing things the right way. By doing things right—with all stakeholders in mind—we believe that certified businesses like ours can solve social and environmental problems.
  • We want to stand out. The B Corp seal instantly communicates that a company is a verified leader when it comes to positive impact and empowerment. The third-party validation that comes with B Corp Certification will be another feather in our cap to help JetCo Federal stand out in our industry.

How do we measure up?

Certified B Corporations must achieve a minimum verified score of 80 points on the B Impact Assessment. According to B Lab, which administers the program, the median score for “ordinary businesses” is 50.9. After completing our B Impact Assessment, JetCo Federal scored 54.4.

We have to say, when we read that our score was “ordinary” it felt like a compelling kick in the ass. Over the next several months we will be working as a team to achieve specific goals to earn those extra needed points. Because we don’t settle for ordinary. We want to be a force for good.

Volatility in The Freight Market

Of the major factors that make a logistics operation successful, managing volatility in freight markets is one of the most important. Volatility manifests as fluctuations in supply-side availability, or as customer demand, or as an external event (like a pandemic). It has immediate and substantial impacts on costs, and can be a major source of profit drag.

For logistics managers, mitigation isn’t straightforward. Simply pricing in the risk would make rates unsustainable, so organizations have to adopt more sophisticated strategies that adapt to market conditions. At JetCo, we have built our strategy on three pillars:

Organizational Resilience

When freight demand is strong, redundancy in the supply chain helps smooth spikes in pricing or dips in availability. Also, by actively developing multiple transportation options, opportunities to find efficiency naturally develop as demand eases.

Trusted Networks

Delivering to highly-secured or difficult-to-access locations demands a high level of trust and respect between companies and logistics partners, but organizations doing business commercially can benefit from developing trusted relationships as well. The freight market has an enormous amount of human capital, companies that recognize that as a place to invest real resources will find that it pays dividends in a volatile market.

Expert Resources

Resource diversity is key to active management of market uncertainty, and finding ways to multiply expertise internally and externally is a powerful way to mitigate risk. At JetCo, we utilize a mix of resources, including our own logisticians, brokers, and best-in-class technology platforms together to predict and mitigate market uncertainty.

In the past several years, the freight market has been severely tested by swings in demand due to general shifting industry in the United States, the ongoing pandemic, and technology. Through the application of these strategies JetCo has been able to maintain a 99% on-time rate for shipments. For more information on how we manage through volatility in the freight market, view our capabilities.

Transformation in Government Contracting

I think we can all agree that the year 2020 was fundamentally disruptive for both people and business. Much has been, and will continue to be written on it; I suggest this McKinsey survey for a wide view on the scope of the transformation. Even the typically circumspect Federal contracting industry has not escaped the acceleration into new modes of thinking. Beyond pandemic factors, a new administration and the implementation of long-term initiatives like the Cybersecurity Maturation Model Certification (CMMC) are also having a major effect on the contracting landscape. Below are a few of the changes to look out for in 2021 and beyond:

  1. The Executive Order on America’s Supply Chain

This is new as of late February, and I expect to have a deeper look in the coming months, but this has the potential to transform how the government purchases in fundamental ways. There are already several statutory preferences for acquiring domestic products like the Buy American and Buy America Acts, but those laws don’t extend to the production of those products. This executive order builds on several others by directing agencies to submit capability reports that detail current production capacity, gaps, and recommendations for building resilience in their supply chains. It is likely that those reports will be directive for both agency interpretation of the FAR in the short-term, and potentially for Congressional action in the long-term.

  1. The Rule of Two

While small businesses are eligible to bid on most open market solicitations, the government recognizes that the reality of unrestricted competition may reduce access for small business concerns. To protect the diversity of the contracting pool, set-aside programs mandate acquisitions from small or diverse businesses. These programs are balanced by exceptions that allow the government to make awards when small businesses cannot fulfill certain requirements, as determined by market research. One commonly used test in the research process is called the Rule of Two: For contracts under a certain threshold, the government must utilize a set-aside if there are at least two small businesses who could reasonably bid and offer a fair market price.

Recently, the discretion to apply the rule of two was litigated in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, with the COFC ruling that it is required when set-aside obligations apply. This decision provides significant clarity for small businesses, and is expected to have wide-ranging implications for contracts under $250,000.

  1. Adoption of Commercial Business Practices

Less visible is the general adoption of commercial business practices across government acquisition practices and operations. In the Department of Defense especially, public/private partnerships have resulted in significant efficiency increases and cost reductions via trial programs. The visible success of these efforts within DoD and other agencies will likely fuel further exploration of contractor integration “inside the fence”. In these scenarios, contractors often become responsible for performance goals rather than specific requirements, allowing the government more access to best-in-class commercial processes and technology. As these programs continue to develop, look for more opportunities through industry day connections and other networking events.

Separately, each of these have the potential to shape industry outlooks, combined with the underlying push toward a more digital economy they will have outsize impact on contracting for 2021 and beyond.

Rolling with the Punches: Company Culture & COVID-19

Change can be difficult. In this past year alone, there have been dramatic changes in our lives, work, politics, and society. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have faced new challenges, including the absence of face-to-face interaction. Keeping a company culture alive through a computer screen is no easy task, and each business, big or small, has had to adapt, keeping company morale, employee engagement, and overall motivation in mind.

Change and Challenges

Our team has been known for our ability to embrace the challenges that come our way and be flexible in the fast-paced environment that comes with the government contracting industry. However, when the pandemic hit, we, along with many other small businesses, were struck with change. We worked through supply chain issues, manufacturers shutting down, long lead times, price changes, and the unavailability of products and materials.

But that didn’t get us down. We rolled with the punches, maintained our entire supply chain, and kept up with our exceptional on-time delivery rate.

Through times of crisis, our team has been able to bend but not break. We adapted to challenges and made a conscious effort to provide extra support to our employees. This included:

  • Increased check-ins. Because face-to-face interactions are limited, our employees have been more intentional to check-in on each other and lend a helping hand. During the transition to working from home, employees did weekly team meetings to make sure everyone was on the same page and had the ability to ask questions to company leadership.
  • An increased effort in communication. Our President, Sue Tellier, kept an open line of communication in consistent employee news emails. These emails would highlight action items such as encouraging employees to get some fresh air or nominate other employees for excellent performance.
  • Employee wellness challenges. When the lockdown order was in place, our leadership team recognized the importance of employees getting outside for fresh air and exercise. Because of this, they developed a team wellness challenge: a competition to encourage employees to drink water, exercise, and practice gratitude during the lockdown. Along with this wellness challenge, JetCo formed an Employee Action Committee, dedicated to uncovering valuable employee feedback, keeping a pulse on morale, and implementing activities that increase employee retention and engagement.
  • Virtual get-togethers. Each year, JetCo holds a holiday party for its employees. Because we were unable to hold it in-person this holiday season, we hosted a virtual holiday happy hour, which included hand-delivered holiday gifts to employees. Our inability to celebrate the holidays in-person only strengthened our drive to keep the company culture alive and well.

Overall, COVID brought many changes, but our team quickly adapted, implementing virtual events, communicating clearly about changes, and putting the well-being of employees first. Our ability to embrace change has allowed us to work through the challenges COVID-19 brought.

What is our team doing now? We’re still rolling with the punches and will continue to work through any challenges thrown our way.

Everything You Need to Know About Cold Chain Packaging

Cold chain packaging is a system of packaging and shipping goods maintaining a consistent temperature from manufacture to final destination. JetCo Federal has developed relationships with manufacturers to supply off the shelf cold chain solutions for sale and lease, but our expertise is in custom cold chain packaging design. We can provide the full range of cold chain logistics, from packaging to conditioning to shipping.

We began developing these capabilities as a part of a strategic plan to supply more specialty packaging, but the pandemic accelerated those plans when existing clients began asking us to consult on packaging solutions for the vaccine. We are currently working with the government domestically and abroad to support the supply chain for vaccinating service members.

Types of Cold Chain Packaging

There are three types of cold chain packaging: Active, Passive, and Hybrid.

  • Active Packaging
    • Does not use phase change materials (PCM) such as water/ice or dry ice.
    • To maintain proper product temperatures, active systems use mechanical or electric systems powered by an energy source, combined with thermostatic control.
    • Typically highest cost.
    • Highest temperature accuracy.
    • High reliability.
    • Typically easy to use.
  • Passive Packaging
    • Uses PCM and is the most basic and cost-effective shipping system.
    • Lowest cost and lowest temperature accuracy.
    • High reliability with proper procedures.
    • Requires PCM conditioning.
    • Typically the hardest to use.
  • Hybrid Packaging
    • Uses a combination of PCM and thermostatic control.
    • PCM are used as an energy source that is regulated by some type of thermostatic control.
    • Moderate to high cost and moderate to high temperature accuracy.
    • Moderate reliability with proper procedures.
    • Requires PCM conditioning.

The most common types of refrigerants are dry ice, gel packs, gel bricks, phase change material (PCM), and EPS panels (expanded polystyrene or styrofoam). This type of packaging is important to ensure safe transport of pharmaceuticals, such as the COVID-19 vaccine.

How Businesses Rely on Cold Chain Packaging

Businesses in the pharmaceutical, medical and food industries are increasingly relying on cold chain packaging. Food products (such as produce, meats, and frozen food) and medical products (such as vaccines, blood, and insulin) are the most common items that utilize insulated shipping products. The quality of food and medical products degrades with time since they maintain chemical reactions, which can be mostly mitigated with lower temperatures. It takes time and coordination to move a shipment efficiently, and every delay can have negative consequences to the product.

Having a company that has expertise in not only the packaging, but in conditioning, storage, and transport is critical. We have a national network of partners who support these functions, not just local or regional partners. Additionally, our experience working with mission-critical products in high-compliance environments makes us uniquely positioned to execute in this space.

There is a high demand and low supply for these products, making it essential to have a partner who can deliver. At JetCo Federal, we embrace challenges and want to win, every single day. Whether it’s a demanding contract or thorny sourcing problem, our team delivers on time and on budget.

Interested in learning more about our cold chain packaging solutions? Talk to our team today.

 

7 Benefits to Becoming a Subcontractor

Doing business with the government comes with a long list of rules, regulations, and complex ordering and billing processes. In other words: a lot of red tape. Many companies don’t have the resources, expertise, or appetite for risk that navigating direct sales to the government requires.

Recognizing this, the federal government has formalized the contractor/subcontractor process for many bids, requiring, in many cases, companies who have the expertise to work with a small, diverse supplier base for at least a portion of that contract. This helps maintain a competitive environment for acquisitions and ensures that the supply chain for critical products and services does not become monopolized by a single company.

As a prime contractor, JetCo Federal has pushed this approach even further, purposefully and proactively developing relationships with a wide partner network, making access to contracting opportunities even more seamless for the commercial market. Our team of compliance and operations experts manage subcontracting requirements directly, so companies can do business as a commercial partner.

Here are some of the ways that working with a prime contractor benefits our supplier network.

  1. We communicate directly with the government.
  2. Contracts and the resulting requirements are solely held by JetCo Federal, so suppliers are working with a commercial partner under separate terms.
  3. Sometimes, compliance flows down to subcontractors. We communicate requirements with guidance early, and clearly.
  4. We pay our suppliers on time, even if the government does not pay us on time.
  5. We understand industry terminology and government terminology.
  6. We are transparent and specific about what we need from supplier partners.
  7. We provide training and support as needed.

Becoming a subcontractor

A diverse commercial subcontracting network benefits businesses by leveling the playing field, and it benefits the government by ensuring redundancies in the supply chain for critical products. With the JetCo Federal supplier program, you can proactively register to be considered for opportunities with subcontracting. Because we hold multiple government contracting vehicles, you can focus on your operations while we focus on the red tape.