Sole Source Opportunities: How to Help Your Company During the Coronavirus Pandemic
A lot of businesses are looking to the federal government and the public sector to keep their businesses profitable during an economically uncertain time. Thankfully, the U.S. government is taking steps to try to help out Economically Disadvantaged Businesses through methods like those outlined in the OMB Memorandum. The federal government is also prepared for times of emergencies and has put statutes and clauses in place that specifically address small business set-asides and sole-source opportunities in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the Stafford Act. If you and your company are economically disadvantaged due to the effects of the Coronavirus, let’s review how set asides, sole source opportunities, and the updates to the MAS program can help your business.
Small Business Set-Asides
While all government contractors can help their business practices through the public sector, certain disadvantaged businesses are seeing an increased benefit right now. The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) has enacted certain set-asides for specific socio-economic categories. These set-aside contracts include:
- Small Business Set-Aside
- Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) Small Business Concerns
- Women-Owned Small Business
- Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVOSB)
- Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB)
The SBA is great about trying to utilize economically disadvantaged, veteran-owned, and woman-owned small businesses during normal government functionality, but especially in times of crisis when small businesses are hurting the most, the SBA is really pushing to prioritize small business. Particularly if your business can help fight the COVID-19 pandemic, utilizing small business set-aside opportunities can be a win-win situation for your company and for the U.S. government. Taking advantage of small business set asides can bring in more revenue for your business during a time it may be greatly needed.
If you aren’t familiar with it, sole sourcing means that after conducting market research, a government agency has determined that your company offers a unique solution at a value that can’t be matched by other competitors, and therefore the government doesn’t need to compete the opportunity. If you are a woman owned small business or an economically disadvantaged business, this may specifically impact the way you sell to the government. If you can distinguish yourself as unique from competitors, a sole-source opportunity may be a good avenue to enter the public sphere with less competition than you would typically see in a government opportunity.
One of the ways the U.S. government has helped government contractors is by invoking the Defense Protection Act, which allows a response to National Emergencies outlined in the Stafford Act. The Stafford Act gave agencies power to temporarily start sending sole sources to economically disadvantaged business that typically would not be eligible for sole source. FAR Part 18 – Emergency Acquisitions gives even more Emergency-specific information regarding sole sourcing to specific small business set-asides. Some applicable Sole Source Awards Authorities include the following:
- FAR 18.115 HUBZone: Contracts may be awarded to Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) small business concerns on a sole source basis (Detailed more thoroughly in FAR 19.1306)
- FAR 18.116 SDVOSB: Contracts may be awarded to Service-disabled Veteran-owned Small Business (SDVOSB) concerns on a sole source basis. (Detailed more thoroughly in FAR 19.1406)
- FAR 117 EDWOSB and WOSB: Contracts may be awarded to economically disadvantaged women-owned small business (EDWOSB) concerns and women-owned small business (WOSB) concerns eligible under the WOSB Program on a competitive or sole source basis. (Detailed more thoroughly in FAR 19.1506)
One crucial piece throughout these FAR clauses is that the sole source opportunities must be awarded through a fair and reasonable price. If you are a current GSA Contractor, you know that this is the price point for a product or service that is fair to both parties involved, based upon the agreed-upon conditions, promised quality, and timeliness of contract performance. Getting a GSA Schedule will prove that your prices are vetted and are ready for government opportunities. If you aren’t already a GSA Schedule holder and you are looking to get into the public sector, now is an excellent time to take the leap!
Updates to the MAS Program
If you’ve been following the Winvale blog, you know that we’ve made a huge effort in the last few months to update both new contractors and for existing GSA schedule holders on the changes that the MAS Consolidation has brought. If you are a new contractor, you will not be getting an IT Schedule or a Professional Services Schedule, but a Multiple Award Schedule contract instead. Your offerings will differ depending on your commercial practices, but the products and/or services you provide to GSA are much more flexible because of the MAS Consolidation than was possible in the past. Adding Special Item Numbers (SINs) to your Contract is significantly easier now with the Consolidation in place, so if you are looking to expand your offerings to be more competitive for new opportunities, this is the time! Having a GSA Schedule contract doesn’t guarantee business, but in an economic climate that is less than ideal, working with the public sector can be a safer bet than commercial.
As a small business that works with a myriad of small businesses, we at Winvale truly understand the difficulties that some contractors are facing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are an economically disadvantaged business that is facing tough decisions, we want to encourage the use of set-asides and sole source opportunities to help stabilize your business in a time that seems to be constantly changing. The General Services Administration and the U.S. government are making good faith efforts to help small business government contractors be part of the solution against COVID-19. If you have any questions about how your business can be involved in the public sector, reach out to our team and we’d be more than happy to assist.