Increases in Simplified Acquisition Threshold and Micro-Purchase Threshold

Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), the Simplified Acquisition Threshold (SAT) and Micro-Purchase Threshold (MPT) are increasing according to a recent proposed rule. In 2017 and 2018, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) proposed that the SAT and MPT increase. Now, those proposed rules will be coming into play.

On October 2, 2019, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the Department of Defense (DoD) proposed that the MPT and SAT increase. Section 806 increases the MPT to $10,000, which was originally at $3,500. Section 805 increases the SAT to $250,000, which was originally at $150,000.

What does this mean for federal contracting?

Increased thresholds mean more contracts under the SAT and MPT. This increase to the SAT and MPT, “reduces burden on contractors by increasing the thresholds at which various regulatory burdens apply,” according to the proposed rule. It also states that costs associated with contractor financing, “could also be reduced by increasing the number of micro-purchases, for which the Govermentwide purchase card is the preferred method of purchase and payment.” Overall, an increased threshold means that contracts are awarded without regulatory burdens, making the process streamlined.

4 Certification Programs for Women-Owned Small Businesses

In one of our most recent blog posts, we highlighted some of the ways to better market your company as a women-owned small business. One of these ways was to know the women-owned small business (WOSB) program inside and out and to look into becoming WOSB certified.

What does it mean to be WOSB certified?

In order to be eligible for the WOSB Contracting Program, in which you compete for federal contracts that are set aside for your diverse status, you need to be a certified WOSB – either through self-certification or through third-party certification. This lets the government verify that you are what you say you are: a women-owned small business. Here are four different certification programs for you to choose from seeking third-party certification.

Certification Programs

1. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council

Also known as WBENC, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S. Becoming WOSB-certified through WBENC has a variety of benefits, including opportunities to network and pursue business deals, scholarship and award opportunities, and a variety of ways to promote your business. View all the benefits here.

2. The National Women Business Owners Corporation

Also known as NWBOC, the National Women Business Owners Corporation became the first organization to create a national certification program for women-owned businesses more than 20 years ago. The benefits of becoming WOSB-certified through NWBOC include a mentoring program, trainings and webinars, and award opportunities. View all the benefits here.

3. The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce

Also known as USWCC, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce helps women start and build successful businesses and careers. The organization is an authorized 3rd party certifier for the federal WOSB and EDWOSB programs. The benefits of becoming WOSB-certified through USWCC include access to conferences and summits throughout the year.

4. The El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Also known as EPHCC, the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce offers several Federal small business certifications for any business that would like to become a supplier for the U.S. Government. Business development specialists assess your business and help you with the certification process.

Interested in self-certification? No worries. Check out this preparation checklist from the Small Business Administration to kick-start your self-certification process.

Becoming certified as a WOSB can help you stand out among your competition and can result in federal contracts set aside for your diverse status. Take it from us – JetCo Federal is a WBENC certified company. Though the certification program may require some paperwork, it pays off in the long run by helping further differentiate your company. By using one of these four third-party certification programs, you’ll be on your way better marketing your company as a WOSB.

Angel Tree with tags on it

Angel Tree Toy Drive 2019

The holiday season is approaching, bringing joy and cheer to our region.

For some of our west Michigan neighbors, finding the funds to purchase holiday gifts is difficult. That’s where the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Toy Drive comes in. They’ve been making holidays happier for 35 years.

This year, the Salvation Army has a goal of collecting toys for 25,000 children across West Michigan. JetCo Federal is supporting this cause – we are an official Angel Tree site for the drive, which is taking place from November 8 – December 15.

How Does the Angel Tree Toy Drive Work?

  1. Visit one of the Angel Tree locations in West Michigan! If you would like to stop by our cheery office, our address is 525 Ottawa Ave NW, Lower Level, Grand Rapids.
  2. Pick a tag off our Angel Tree. Each tag indicates the age and gender of the child who will be receiving the gift.
  3. Purchase an appropriate gift for the child listed on the tag.
  4. Return the gift, unwrapped, to the Angel Tree location with the tag secured to the gift.
  5. If you pick an Angel Teen tag, do not purchase a toy. Rather, purchase a $10 or $20 gift card to a major retail store. When you bring the gift card back to the Angel Tree location, be sure to hand it to someone at the front desk so that it can be secured in a safe spot. Please make sure the dollar amount is noted on the card.

We welcome you to pick up a tag at the JetCo Federal office Monday – Friday from 8:30 AM – 5 PM. Be sure to return it with the gift by the end of the day on December 13 – we are taking the donations to the Salvation Army on December 16.

Together, we will bring joy to children this holiday season!

 

4 Tips to Better Market Your Company as a Women-Owned Small Business

As October comes to an end, so does National Women’s Small Business Month. However, this doesn’t mean that we should stop supporting women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) once the first of the month hits. Though the number of WOSBs has grown 114% from 1997 to 2017 according to a PNC Bank and Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) report, WOSBs are still facing many obstacles.

In fact, that same PNC Bank and SBAM report states that in 2016, “only 18 percent of all 7(a) and 504 small business loans approved went to women-owned businesses,” (PNC-SBAM, p. 4). The statistics are similar when looking at WOSBs in the world of government contracting. A recent Government Accountability Office report stated that “98 percent of total dollars obligated for contracts to all women-owned small businesses in the WOSB-program-eligible industries were not awarded under the WOSB program,” (GAO, 2019, p. 27).

Despite the growth in the women-owned business sector, WOSBs still have a long way to go when it comes to being treated equally. So, if you’re a women-owned small business, what can you do now to help your business stand out from the rest? Based on our experience, here are some tips.

1. Lead with your capabilities.

NEVER start your capabilities statement with “a small women-owned business headquartered in Michigan…” That is your small status, not your mad skills. Lead with your most important asset. Need an example? Here’s what we put on our capabilities statement: “JetCo Federal reliably delivers corrugated cartons, sheets, pallets and crating to our government agencies. We are a small business with a large, national reach due to our redundant supply chain of highly qualified small manufacturers…” Need more tips? Check out our recent blog on how to capitalize on your small business status.

2. Know the WOSB program inside and out.

By discovering the differences between the WOSB program and other programs, you’ll have a better understanding of how your company fits into the government contracting space. Our advice? Look into WBENC certification.

3. Focus on your processes.

You can’t always rely on your WOSB status to make you stand out. You need to be good at what you’re doing. Refine your processes, map your workflows, and ensure your product or service is being delivered to your clients efficiently and effectively.

4. Give back.

Have some free time? Support other women-owned small businesses or take the time to mentor someone. You’ll benefit from collaboration and an expanded network all while supporting someone who may need advice. According to the PNC Bank and SBAM report, “as few as three hours of counseling can mean increased revenues and higher employment growth for women-owned businesses,” (PNC-SBAM, p. 4).

In government contracting, or almost any field, your diverse status may provide you with opportunities. However, it’s your capabilities, processes, knowledge, and network that will help you stand out from the rest. By following these four tips, you’ll be on the right track to better market your company as a women-owned small business.

The WOSB Program and Other Contracting Assistance Programs

If you’re a diverse company, the federal government has specific programs that allow you to compete for contracts that are set aside for your diverse status. What are these programs? There is a variety, but the ones that we are highlighting in this blog post are the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program; the 8(a) Business Development Program; and the HUBZone Program.

If you’ve been following the recently proposed changes in the WOSB program, you might note that Contracting Officers currently must verify the WOSB documentation during the bid process. Although recently proposed changes may alter this process, it begs the question – are other diverse programs going through this same verification process? And if not, what are the other differences between these contracting assistance programs? We take a look at these differences below.

The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Contracting Program

  • Eligibility: Be at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens and have women manage day-to-day operations and make long-term decisions.
  • Certification Process: You can self-certify or go through third-party certification such as Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
  • Contract Award Process: The contracting officer must verify WOSB documentation. For sole-source authority, the GAO report indicates that “the FAR’s requirement that contracting officers justify, in writing, why they do not expect other WOSBs or EDWOSBs to submit offers on a contract is stricter under the WOSB program,” (GAO, 2019, p.31, para. 2).

The 8(a) Business Development Program

  • Eligibility: Be a small business; not already have participated in the 8(a) program; be at least 51% owned and controlled by U.S. citizens who are economically and socially disadvantaged; be owned by someone whose personal net worth is $250,000 or less; be owned by someone with $4 million or less in assets; have the owner manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions; have all principals demonstrate good characters; and show potential for success and be able to perform successfully on contracts.
  • Certification Process: Use the cerify.SBA.gov website.
  • Contract Award Process: The contracting officer does not have to verify 8(a) documentation.

The HUBZone Program

  • Eligibility: Be a small business; be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, a Native Hawaiian organization, or an Indian tribe; have its principal office located in a HUBZone; and have at least 35% of its employees live in a HUBZone.
  • Certification Process: You must be certified by the SBA. There are six steps outlined on the SBA website.
  • Contract Award Process: The contracting officer does not have to verify HUBZone documentation.

Though these programs are bound to have their differences, the process of awarding contracts for WOSBs is significantly different than the other two programs, as noted above. Programs such as the 8(a) Business Development or HUBZone do not have to go through the same in-depth process before being awarded a contract, and therefore, those programs are often awarded dollars that were supposed to be for WOSBs.

In fact, the oversight on these issues resulted in the U.S. Government Accountability Office conducting a report on what needs to be addressed. In this report, the GAO explains that from fiscal years 2012 through 2017, “98 percent of total dollars obligated for contracts to all women-owned small businesses in the WOSB-program-eligible industries were not awarded under the WOSB program,” (GAO, 2019, p. 27, para. 1).

It’s alarming that federal contracting dollars for women-owned small businesses are not being awarded to that diverse group. However, the proposed changes from the SBA as a result of the GAO report show that many changes will be coming to the WOSB program.

United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) (2019). Women-Owned Small Business Program. Retrieved from https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/697580.pdf.

How to Capitalize on Your Small Business Status

This article was first written for the Small Business Association of Michigan as a resource for small business owners. You can find the original article on the SBAM website.

Size Matters. Many large companies and government agencies actively seek out highly qualified small companies to do business with. This offers savvy small business owners opportunities to diversify their revenue stream and customer base.

There’s homework in this article. So, go grab a pen. Quick. Do it. We’ll wait.

Write down three things your company does that makes you different. Don’t spend more than five minutes – make it the first things that come to mind.

Done? Keep that list handy. We’ll reference it later in this article. Now, back to size. Own it. This article is intended to help you capitalize on your size to increase revenue. How do you do this?

  1. Don’t lead with size. Lead with your experience, capabilities, differentiators, etc. We roll our eyes every time we see a capabilities statement begin with “A small, woman-owned business headquartered in Michigan….” No! Lead with your most important asset. That is your mad skill, not your small status.
     
  2. Don’t pretend to be big. Embrace the small status, knowing many large companies and government agencies value your nimble, more innovative culture. In fact, they might even be jealous of it.
     
  3. Build an asset list in advance. Keep it fresh. Your large counterparts have large teams for sales and bid responses. Let them be bloated – you can be efficient instead. For each of your key personnel, have a fresh resume in a format that meets your company style guide. (And if you don’t have a company style guide, make one. It’ll take you an hour.)

    Keep a list of client compliments. Document your past performance in a consistent manner. Formal RFPs will ask for this. Determine in your industry, what else might large organizations and government agencies ask for? Write it when you have time, not when you are on a deadline.
     
  4. Build relationships. If you are selling to large companies, don’t assume that registering in their vendor portal is enough. Just registering will not get you sales. This assumption is lame and lazy. Build relationships.
     
  5. Check your size standard. If you are selling to the federal government, remember that they don’t use a one-size-fits-all standard for size. Instead, they use NAICS to determine whether you are small, understanding that “small” in consulting or professional services is different from “small” in manufacturing. The first thing you should do is ensure you are small in the NAICS code(s) you intend to compete in. Check your size standard here.
     
  6. Create a targeted list of organizations you want to sell to. Then, determine what preparation you should do. Do they require you to be certified small? Do they buy what you sell? Do they know you exist?

    Remember that list of differentiators you created earlier? Within the next week, ask a few random employees what makes them proud about your workplace. Ask your customers what they value most in what you do. Augment your differentiators list with this, and keep revising it.
JetCo Logo on coffee mug with office in the background

3 Benefits of Working with a GSA Contract Holder

Are you looking to sell to the government or expand your sales? The General Services Administration (GSA) allows companies to sell to the government on their version of an Amazon-type website. Becoming a GSA contract holder can be time-consuming and resource intensive, however, if you are a subcontractor working with a company who has a GSA schedule, you do not need to get a GSA Schedule yourself. So, what are the benefits of working with a company who has a GSA contract?

1. Prices are verified by the government.

This means you don’t have to determine the price of your products. The government’s price is established from day 1 and cannot be negotiated per contract. In the long run, this saves you time and resources as you don’t have to price items.

2. Contracts are more accessible.

By becoming a supplier with us, you’ll have access to opportunities that non-GSA holders don’t have access to. Additionally, you don’t have to look for these opportunities as finding them is already a part of JetCo Federal’s day-to-day operations. Currently, JetCo Federal has a GSA Schedule 81, which includes shipping, packaging, and packing supplies. As we expand our capabilities and products, we will also expand to additional GSA Schedules.

3. Suppliers can take advantage of small business set asides.

Currently, the government’s goal is to award 5% of all federal contracts to women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) and 23% of all federal contracts to small businesses. JetCo Federal is a women-owned small business with large capabilities. Even if you are a large supplier, you can utilize our WOSB and small business status to qualify for contracts that you wouldn’t normally qualify for.

If you’re interested in becoming a supplier for JetCo Federal, contact us. Even if you don’t currently fit under Schedule 81’s shipping, packaging, and packing supplies, still contact us as we are in the process of expanding our capabilities and products.

Person sitting at a table writing on paper

The WOSB Program History and 2019 Changes

The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program began in December of 2000. Public Law 106-554 established this program to help the federal government meet its goal of awarding at least 5% of all contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses. To qualify as a women-owned small business, you must be at least 51% directly owned and controlled by one or more women and be considered “small” as defined by the relevant North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code.

Throughout the years, the WOSB program has gone through several changes, and most recently, there have been proposed changes that could significantly impact the program. Before we dig into those changes, lets take a look at where the WOSB program has been.

Timeline

  • 2011: In April of 2011, the new Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR) implemented the WOSB program and limited the number of eligible industries that can qualify for the women’s contracting program. As a result of this change, 38 industries were eligible for Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs) and 45 industries for WOSBs.
  • 2014: In December of 2014, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 ended the self-certification program and provided sole source authority.
  • 2015: In October of 2015, the Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR) implemented the sole source process, meaning sole source authority is allowed in industries in which WOSB and EDWOSB set asides are offered.
  • 2016: In March of 2016, the eligible industries for WOSB and EDWOSB companies were revised and expanded. A Department of Commerce study was released and provided information which led to the revised and expanded industries. 27 industries changed designation between WOSB and EDWOSB, six industries were removed, and 36 industries were added.
  • 2017: In October of 2017, NAICS 2017, a NAICS code update, led to the WOSB and EDWOSB industries being revised to a total of 112. If you would like to see a list of the current NAICS that qualify for the WOSB program, they can be found on the Small Business Administration (SBA) website.

Proposed Changes for 2019

This leads us to the recent proposed WOSB program changes. In May of 2019, the SBA published a proposed rule outlining the following changes:

  • WOSB certification can be accepted from SBA-approved third parties and certain identified government entities.
  • There will be eligibility under the WOSB program as long as your application is pending.
  • A free electronic application process will be available for companies who want to be WOSB and EDWOSB-certified.
  • The SBA will adjust the economically disadvantaged threshold in the 8(a) Business Development program to make it consistent with EDWOSB thresholds.

Why all the changes?

Currently, SBA has some difficulty processing applications, such as WOSB, 8(a), and HUBZone, due to the sheer number of applicants. The proposed changes will ease administrative burden, increase speed and efficiency, and save money by using an electronic-based platform.

Altogether, the proposed WOSB program changes are targeted toward the goal of increasing the number of WOSBs that win Federal contracts.

JetCo Federal is a WBENC-certified woman-owned small business based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We have a robust supply chain of high-quality manufacturers and strong past performance. Interested in becoming a supplier for us? Contact us.

a hand pointing to a flow chart

3 Things to Know About Flowdowns in Government Contracting

The world of government contracting is complex and ever-changing. Adding suppliers and subcontractors into the process can make it even more complicated. Therefore, if you’re a supplier or contractor thinking about entering the world of government, it’s important to note that each government contract requires specific oversight and regulation.

How does the government regulate contracts?

Government contracts are regulated by the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), as well as supplemental editions related to specific agencies (such as the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement, aka DFARS). When a contract between business and government is entered, the contracting officer selects clauses from these regulations that apply to the specific contract. These clauses may include language that requires the prime contractor to “flowdown” the requirements to their supplier or subcontractor. View examples of flowdowns and their descriptions.

What is a subcontract?

A subcontract as defined in FAR 44.101 includes, but is not limited to, purchase orders and changes and modifications to purchase orders. The regulations in the prime contract can be flowed down through purchase orders, subcontracts, or terms and conditions. These flowdowns are important because it helps to ensure the prime contractor is meeting its contractual requirements.

How does this impact subcontractors and suppliers?

Some flowdowns may apply to all purchase orders and subcontracts, and others are only applicable to those at a certain dollar value. Each subcontractor should understand the responsibility they have when accepting an order from a prime government contractor. Many of the requirements may already be met by the subcontractor, but it is their responsibility to ensure compliance.

Interested in becoming a supplier in the world of government? Connect with us.