Assistance Measures for Small Government Contractors
The Defense Department and the Small Business Administration maintain assistance programs for small businesses to help them in the acquisition process.
Two government contracting assistance programs that are available to small businesses to help them in the acquisition process are the Certificate of Competency and DoD Regional Councils programs.
Certificate of Competency
The Certificate of Competency program, sometimes referred to as the "second bite of the apple," comes into play when a government buyer determines that a small business is "not responsible" for a specific contract award. In other words, the buyer has determined that the business does not show certain elements of responsibility, such as capability, competency, capacity, credit, integrity, perseverance, or tenacity, for the purposes of receiving and performing that specific government contract. In such a case, the Contracting Officer is required to withhold the contract and refer action to the Small Business Administration for a possible Certificate of Competency (COC).
Once the matter is referred to the SBA, the SBA must, within 15 days, inform the company of the Contracting Officer's decision and offer it an opportunity to apply to the SBA for a COC. After receiving an acceptable application, the SBA conducts an independent pre-award survey to determine the company's ability to perform on the specific contract. If the SBA determines that the company is able to perform, the COC program authorizes the SBA to issue a Certificate of Competency. The COC certifies to government Contracting Officers as to all elements of responsibility of the small business concern to receive and perform on the specific government contract.
If the small business decides that it has bid too low or a better job comes along, it may want to ignore the COC involvement. If the COC is refused, the government buyer can then make the award to the next low responsive and responsible bidder.
DoD Regional Councils
The DoD Regional Councils for Small Business Education and Advocacy are a nationwide network of small business specialists organized to promote national small business programs to include minority and disadvantaged small business concerns and minority universities and institutions.
Additional objectives include promoting the exchange of ideas and experiences and general information among small business specialists and the contracting community; developing closer relationships and better communication among government entities and the small business community; and staying abreast of statutes, policies, regulations, directives, trends and technology affecting the small business program.
There are eight councils in all: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, District of Columbia, Southeastern, North Central, South Central, Pacific Northwest, and Western. They are sponsored by the DoD Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (SADBU), but are governed by individual by-laws. Membership is open to small business advocates from the DoD and civilian agencies. The DoD Office of SADBU is an active participant and advisor to each Council; however, each Council establishes its own committee structure, meeting schedules and agendas.
Non-voting membership is extended to personnel representing small business interests such as Small Business Development Centers and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers. Some Councils invite the Small Business Liaison Officers representing prime contractors in an effort to promote small business subcontracting.
These councils offer small businesses a chance to "rub shoulders" with government and large contractors that may lead to contract opportunities.
You can visit the SADBU website to get more information on the councils and a schedule of their various events.
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