Government Contracting: Key Developments in April 2024

Apr 25, 2024

Biden-Harris Administration Surpasses Small Disadvantaged Business Contracting Goal

The Biden-Harris Administration has achieved a remarkable milestone in federal contracting, surpassing its goal for Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs) for the second year in a row. With SDBs receiving a record-breaking $76.2 billion in federal contracts in FY2023, this achievement underscores the administration’s commitment to fostering diversity and opportunity in the business landscape.

  • Federal government exceeded its SDB contracting goal of 12% for FY2023, reaching 12.1% totaling a record $76.2 billion.
  • Biden-Harris Administration set an ambitious goal of 15% SDB contracting by FY2025, aiming for a 50% increase from initial levels.
  • SBA initiated various measures to bolster SDB participation in federal contracts, including guidance for a more diverse procurement system and enhanced training programs.
  • Reforms include expanded access to multiple-award contracts for small businesses and special contract procedures for 8(a) participants.
  • Fiscal year disaggregated data released to enhance transparency and accountability in federal contracting.

The Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to fostering a level playing field for small disadvantaged businesses underscores a vital path towards economic inclusivity and innovation. As the government continues to exceed its contracting goals, opportunities for small businesses to thrive and contribute to a resilient economy are increasingly within reach.

Bipartisan Bill Proposes Streamlined Procurement for Government Contractors

A new bipartisan Senate bill, the FIT Procurement Act, promises to slash through procurement red tape, opening doors for government contractors to tap into lucrative federal contracts. Spearheaded by Senators Peters and Cruz, this legislation aims to revolutionize procurement rules and programs, fostering innovation and accessibility in government acquisitions.

  • Senators Peters and Cruz introduce the FIT Procurement Act to streamline federal procurement processes.
  • The bill mandates updates to procurement rules, eliminating restrictive requirements, and expanding procurement options for agencies.
  • It proposes equipping agencies with advance payment authority for cloud computing and innovative tech purchases.
  • The legislation aims to make the commercial solutions opening authority permanent, offering more flexibility in tech acquisitions.
  • It doubles the simplified acquisition threshold to $500,000, easing procurement for small and innovative businesses.
  • The bill emphasizes past performance considerations for non-federal work and directs a “best value” approach in awarding acquisitions.
  • Proposed updates to the Federal Acquisition Institute aim to train federal buyers in cutting-edge technologies like AI.
  • The bill incentivizes employee stock ownership programs to leverage government purchasing power effectively.

The FIT Procurement Act signals a significant shift in government contracting, promising a more agile and innovative procurement landscape. For contractors, it underscores the importance of staying abreast of evolving regulations and seizing newfound opportunities in federal acquisitions.

Federal Contractors Brace for Cybersecurity Overhaul: Proposed Rules Bring New Compliance Demands

In the wake of escalating cyber threats targeting both public and private sectors, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council has unveiled two proposed cybersecurity rules with profound implications for government contractors. These rules aim to bolster defenses against sophisticated cyber campaigns, making compliance imperative for contractors vying for government contracts.

  • Cyber Threat and Incident Reporting and Information Sharing (FAR Case 2021-017)
    • Mandates sharing of cyber threat information and reporting incidents promptly.
    • Requires preparation and maintenance of cybersecurity infrastructure, including a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) and IPv6 implementation.
    • Demands collaboration with agencies like CISA and grants access to contractor information and systems during security events
  • Standardizing Cybersecurity Requirements for Unclassified Federal Information Systems (FAR Case 2021-019)
    • It aims to standardize cybersecurity contractual requirements across government agencies.
    • Introduces new clauses for cloud computing and non-cloud computing services contracts, emphasizing FedRAMP-level security and continuous monitoring.
    • Raises awareness of potential False Claims Act liability for non-compliance.
      • Potential Liability Under the False Claims Act:
        • Contractors face increased scrutiny and potential False Claims Act liability for non-compliance.
        • Recent cases highlight the growing focus on cybersecurity compliance enforcement.

With cybersecurity enforcement poised to intensify, contractors must prioritize compliance efforts. As the regulatory landscape evolves, staying ahead of the curve and investing in robust cybersecurity measures is not just a recommendation but a necessity for survival in the federal contracting arena.

DARPA Launches SURGE Program, Seeking Life Prediction Methods for Additive Manufacturing

DARPA has initiated the Structures Uniquely Resolved to Guarantee Endurance (SURGE) program, inviting proposals for innovative methods to predict the lifespan of machine parts produced through additive manufacturing. This program aims to revolutionize how durability is ensured in critical components.

  • DARPA’s SURGE program seeks to develop model-based hardware life prediction methods for metallic parts made via additive manufacturing.
  • The program integrates process modeling, sensing technologies, and microstructure-based fatigue life methods.
  • Contractors selected for Phase 1 will develop and validate their methods, while Phase 2 involves applying these methods to complex parts and demonstrating transferability.
  • The program has a two-year Phase 1 base period and optional two-year Phase 2 effort.
  • Responses for proposals are due by July 1.

With the SURGE program, DARPA aims to pioneer predictive techniques that transcend material and geometry boundaries, revolutionizing how additive manufacturing contributes to national defense. Government contractors are encouraged to seize this opportunity to innovate and contribute to the future of durable machine parts.

Pentagon’s Cybersecurity Initiative Aims to Safeguard Small Contractors

The Pentagon is spearheading a new cybersecurity initiative targeted at bolstering the defenses of small contractors. With a focus on shared virtual cloud-based workspaces, this strategy seeks to fortify data security across the defense industry.

  • The Defense Department plans to launch a pilot program for up to 75 small businesses, testing the viability of a purpose-built cloud infrastructure.
  • This initiative is part of a broader industrial cybersecurity strategy aimed at centralizing cyber efforts and resources within the Pentagon.
  • With cyber threats persisting, the strategy aims to enhance collaboration, bolster production capabilities, and fortify overall security within the defense industrial base.
  • Currently, only a fraction of defense contractors utilize cybersecurity assistance services, highlighting the need for broader participation.
  • The Pentagon encourages companies to engage in cyber resilience analysis and sign up for voluntary cybersecurity assistance programs.

As cyber threats continue to evolve, the Pentagon’s proactive approach underscores the critical importance of fortifying cybersecurity measures within the defense industry. Small contractors stand to benefit significantly from these initiatives, safeguarding sensitive data and bolstering their resilience against cyber threats.

 

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