Questions About GSA, Mobis

These questions were asked during a recent session of “How to Qualify for the GSA Schedule”


Question: “I’ve heard a lot of “noise” about MOBIS.  Is it always open for application like the other schedules?”

Answer:  There is no open season on MOBIS. It’s always open.  Here is a link to article related to the MOBIS Schedule.


Question: “Do you have to complete “Pathways to Success” training each time you apply?”

Answer:  We could not find a definitive answer, but suspect it’s a one-time requirement.  We would suggest if you have already taken the course, keep some documentation/proof of completion.


Question:  “Is there a formula to build your billing rate?”

Answer:  Our Government Contract Negotiations workshop focuses on identifying overhead expenses that you must factor into your selling price to ensure the costs are covered.  Overhead expenses are all of the costs you incur, except direct labor cost, direct materials cost and subcontracting costs that can be billed directly to a customer’s account.  We address overhead, profit and walk through a formula to build your fully loaded rate.  We are offering that workshop on Monday, September 22, 2014 at 1 – 5 PM (EST).  You can register to attend at:


Question:  “How do you defend your pricing?”

Answer:  In regard to defending your pricing, what that means is that when you put together Section III, Price Proposal you pricing must be consistent with commercial practices and you must provide supporting documentation on how and where you derived at that specific price.  Remembering that GSA’s pricing goals is to obtain equal to or better than the most favored customer (MFC) pricing you need to provide sufficient information to allow the contracting officer to determine that your prices are fair and reasonable.  It’s always a smart business decision to build an Excel spreadsheet with your numbers and the supporting narrative to be used when negotiating price.


Is A Business Development Plan The Same As A Strategic Plan?

Question from a recent workshop:  I have a written business development plan.  Would you consider that to be the same as having a Strategic Plan?

Frank Lane:   I believe the Strategic Plan and the Business Development Plan share the same goal; to assess the business vision mission and core values and transition them into opportunities for growth.  I think Business Development focuses on taking the current niche and expanding through new products/services, building alliances, establishing partnering relationships..etc.  Strategic growth expands this by adding “outside the box” thinking and addressing changing environments with growth strategies that may be outside the current niche areas.  The two could overlap in many ways.

Thanks for a great question!


How Many Times Can the Government Extend A Four Year 8(a) Set Aside?

How many times can the Government extend a four year 8(a) set aside FFP contract before re- solicitation?


Your 8(a) contract lasts nine years, but you remain “grandfathered” if you receive a multi-year contract prior to the end of that nine-year period that extends beyond the nine years.    In most cases,  you should be able to have it extended at least once.  Keep in mind that “grandfathering” applies only to that contract.

Thanks for a great question.


– Jim Dickensheets

Questions Asked: Can You Perform A GSA Contract as an 8(a) Enitity?

Can you perform a GSA contract as an 8(a) entity?

Yes. FAR 8.405-5(a)(1) expressly states that agencies may set aside orders and BPAs for any of the small business concerns identified in 19.000(a)(3). Under the Interim rule, an agency set aside Schedule order and/or Blanket Purchases Agreements (BPA) for any of the socioeconomic programs, (e.g., service disabled veteran owned, women-owned, and Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) small business concerns is allowed.

Stover & Associates, Inc. offers a GSA Contracting Online Workshop as part of the SBA Small business Series.  Please check our Event Catalog for additional information.

What does CICA stand for?

The Competition in Contracting Act (CICA) generally governs competition in federal procurement contracting.  Full and open competition under CICA also encompasses full and open competition after exclusion of sources, such as results when agencies engage in dual sourcing or set aside acquisitions for small businesses.


Does a subcontractor need to be aware of your 8(a) status?

Generally speaking, if you are considering entering into a teaming arrangement, full disclosure of your status would be recommended.  This would be a subject that you would discuss while vetting any potential partner.

Is there a website that would indicate a contractor’s performance on a government contract?

Please reference FAR Part 42 – Contract Administration and Auditing Services. This part provides directions and guidance to Federal contracting Officers on the procedures to prepare, collect and validate past performance.

The Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System is a web-enabled system with electronic workflow that reports Contractor performance. CPARS reports are transmitted to the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS) which provides timely and relevant information on Contractor performance for use in source selection. CPARS includes the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) which is a database reporting on terminations for cause or default, defective cost and pricing data, and determinations of non-responsibility. FAPIIS records are created using the FAPIIS module located in CPARS and completed records are then transmitted to PPIRS where they are used to support future acquisitions.

If you have been awarded a federal contract, you have two ways of reviewing your past performance.  You may use your Marketing Partner Identification Number (MPIN) which is a personal code that your company selects and is registered into the System for Award Management (SAM). Using that number, you may login into PPIRS and read what was written about your performance. The second option is that you will receive a notification from the contracting officer stating that you may review the required Contractor Performance Report.

 –Donna Gaillard, Phyllis Embree


Answers to Questions About Teaming – Part 2 – Joint Ventures

These questions were asked during a recent “Developing and Managing Contractor Teams” Workshop.

Can you explain the use of “unpopulated” and “populated” Joint Ventures?


Please reference for additional details.

Excerpts from the reference.

“Contents of joint venture agreement.” Every joint venture agreement to perform an 8(a) contract, including those between mentors and protégés authorized by § 124.520, must contain a provision:

(2) Designating an 8(a) Participant as the managing venturer of the joint venture. In an unpopulated joint venture or a joint venture populated only with administrative personnel, the joint venture must designate an employee of the 8(a) managing venturer as the project manager responsible for performance of the contract. In a joint venture populated with individuals intended to perform any contracts awarded to the joint venture, the joint venture must otherwise demonstrate that performance of the contract is controlled by the 8(a) managing venturer.

(3) Stating that with respect to a separate legal entity joint venture the 8(a) Participant(s) must own at least 51% of the joint venture entity.

(4) Stating that the 8(a) Participant(s) must receive profits from the joint venture commensurate with the work performed by the 8(a) Participant(s), or in the case of a populated separate legal entity joint venture commensurate with their ownership interests in the joint venture.


(d) Performance of work.

(1) For any 8(a) contract, including those between mentors and protégés authorized by § 124.520, the joint venture must perform the applicable percentage of work required by § 124.510. For an unpopulated joint venture or a joint venture populated only with one or more administrative personnel, the 8(a) partner(s) to the joint venture must perform at least 40% of the work performed by the joint venture. The work performed by 8(a) partners to a joint venture must be more than administrative or ministerial functions so that they gain substantive experience. For a joint venture populated with individuals intended to perform contracts awarded to the joint venture, each 8(a) Participant to the joint venture must demonstrate what it will gain from performance of the contract and how such performance will assist in its business development.


(i) In an unpopulated joint venture, where both the 8(a) and non-8(a) partners are technically subcontractors, the amount of work done by the partners will be aggregated and the work done by the 8(a) partner(s) must be at least 40% of the total done by all partners. In determining the amount of work done by a non-8(a) partner, all work done by the non-8(a) partner and any of its affiliates at any subcontracting tier will be counted.


(ii) In a populated joint venture, a non-8(a) joint venture partner, or any of its affiliates, may not act as a subcontractor to the joint venture awardee, or to any other subcontractor of the joint venture, unless the AA/BD determines that other potential subcontractors are not available, or the joint venture is populated only with administrative personnel.


(A)    If a non-8(a) joint venture partner seeks to do more work, the additional work must generally be done through the joint venture, which would require the 8(a) partner(s) to the joint venture to also do additional work to meet the 40% requirement set forth in paragraph (d)(1) of this section.


(B)    If a joint venture is populated only with administrative personnel, the joint venture may subcontract performance to a non-8(a) joint venture partner provided it also subcontracts work to the 8(a) partner(s) in an amount sufficient to meet the 40% requirement. The amount of work done by the partners will be aggregated and the work done by the 8(a) partner(s) must be at least 40% of the total done by all partners. In determining the amount of work done by a non-8(a) partner, all work done by the non-8(a) partner and any of its affiliates at any subcontracting tier will be counted.

– Donna Gaillard/Phyllis Embree

Answers to Questions About Teaming – Part 1

These questions were asked during a recent “Developing and Managing Contractor Teams” Workshop.


How long does it take the process to become a mentor/protégé?

8(a) firms should consult with their SBA District Office Business Opportunity Specialist BEFORE they apply for the 8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé program.

According to the Small Business Administration Office of Government Contracting and Business Development, it usually takes about 3 or 4 months for a new 8(a) Mentor Protégé Agreement to undergo full analysis and receive a decision from the SBA headquarters.

Protégé 8(a) firms should notify their prospective Mentors that 1.) SBA approval and acceptance of the Mentor Protégé Agreement is not guaranteed and involves a great deal of due diligence and 2.) The entire end-to-end Mentor Protégé Agreement review process will entail approximately one quarter to one half of a year to complete.


Can the three Protégé’s have the same NAICS Code?

Please reference 13 CFR124.520 (b)(2) for complete details as well as contacting your SBA District Office for an official answer.

Excerpts from the reference.

(2) Generally a mentor will have no more than one protégé at a time. However, the Assistant Administrator//Business Development (AA/BD)  may authorize a concern or non-profit entity to mentor more than one protégé at a time where it can demonstrate that the additional mentor/protégé relationship will not adversely affect the development of either protégé firm (e.g., the second firm may not be a competitor of the first firm). Under no circumstances will a mentor be permitted to have more than three protégés at one time.


When an 8(a) enters into a Mentor Protégé Joint Venture Agreement with a large business, is the new JV a small business?

Under the formal Mentor Protégé and Joint Venture Programs the answer is yes.


– Donna Gaillard/Phyllis Embree

Post-Award Debriefs

Congratulations!  You won the contract!  Win or lose, be sure to take part in the Post-Award Debrief.

We all know it’s important to follow-up after contract award and request a debrief so that we can learn about how our proposal stacked up against our competitors.  Even if you’ve won the contract, a debrief makes sense, so you can learn what you did right and then apply that knowledge to the next contract competition.  In order to gain the most from these debriefing opportunities, it’s also smart to review the FAR guidance that applies in FAR 15.506, Postaward Debriefing of Offerors, to fully comprehend what information the contracting officer can and cannot reveal.  First, be aware that debriefings of successful and unsuccessful offerors may be done orally, in writing, or by any other method acceptable to the contracting officer.  Secondly, be familiar with the FAR description of the minimum items to be included.  They are:

(1) The Government’s evaluation of the significant weaknesses or deficiencies in the offeror’s proposal, if applicable;

(2) The overall evaluated cost or price (including unit prices), and technical rating, if applicable, of the successful offeror and the debriefed offeror, and past performance information on the debriefed offeror;

(3) The overall ranking of all offerors, when any ranking was developed by the agency during the source selection;

(4) A summary of the rationale for award;

(5) For acquisitions of commercial items, the make and model of the item to be delivered by the successful offeror; and

(6) Reasonable responses to relevant questions about whether source selection procedures contained in the solicitation, applicable regulations, and other applicable authorities were followed.

Finally, it’s important to understand what the CO will not discuss. That would include:

point-by-point comparisons of the debriefed offeror’s proposal with those of other offerors. Moreover, the debriefing shall not reveal any information prohibited from disclosure by 24.202 or exempt from release under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552) including –

(1) Trade secrets;

(2) Privileged or confidential manufacturing processes and techniques;

(3) Commercial and financial information that is privileged or confidential, including cost breakdowns, profit, indirect cost rates, and similar information; and

(4) The names of individuals providing reference information about an offeror’s past performance.

A bit of preparation leading up to the debrief is time well spent.  It’s prudent to jot down the pertinent questions and give some thought to the sequencing of questions.  Be persistent in your questioning and you may learn more useful information that can be applied to the next competition.

–Jim Dickensheets

Question: How to Find Opportunities


What is the best way to find federal contract for engineering product design? I’m doing FedBizOpps and MyBidmatch, but they don’t seem to key in on those contracts. Is there another avenue the military and other government agencies use for their product design procurement?


You’re right about not finding much in the way of opportunities on FedBiz or MyBidmatch for your industry group.  Many Federal clients will use IDIQ contracts, Task Order contracts or other contract vehicles to acquire services in your industry.  In addition, I suspect that the acquisition process is more dispersed to the local level, as opposed to a centralized acquisition process driven by the agency in DC.  What you may want to do is take your search local, looking at individual Federal facilities web sites in your state/region.  I would also suggest you get plugged into your nearest SBA office and PTAC to see if they can provide some additional advice on narrowing down your search.  Hope this helps!

–Jim Dickensheets

Words of Wisdom From A Small Business Leader

Our founder, Tom Stover, led his company with integrity, faith and skill. He passed away in 2013 after battling cancer.
Tom believed that small business success came through a combination of hard work, sound execution and fair play.  Tom was also an avid reader of Tom Clancy and on more than one occasion he shared “quips of Clancy” in conversation.
“The point of life is to press on, to do the best you can, to make the world a better place.”
Tom Clancy, Clear and Present Danger 
Tom would often remind his audience, in closing a training session, to “Remember your families.” — His take on making the world a better place.

How Can A Joint Venture Help My Business Grow?

A joint venture is defined as a business arrangement in which two or more parties agree to pool their resources for the purpose of accomplishing a specific task. This task can be a new project or any other business activity. In a joint venture (JV), each of the participants is responsible for profits, losses and costs associated with it. However, the venture is its own entity, separate and apart from the participants’ other business interests – Investopedia

The JV can be either informal, where a handshake seals the agreement to share a booth at an expo, or very formal with lawyers and complex agreements documenting two or more companies combining resources to develop new technologies.  Benefits:

  • Save money and reduce risk through capital and resource sharing
  • Smaller companies are able to work with larger companies to develop, manufacture and market new products/services
  • Research/Development underwritten by more than one company

The Joint Venture for the 8(a) company joining with a non- 8(a) company in the pursuit of federal business opportunities is executed in a Mentor- Protégé relationship.  The two companies, let’s assume a small 8(a) and a large non 8(a), work the JV through the SBA.  The companies form a new legal entity (JV-1 for example) for the mutual interest of both companies.

The purpose of the JV is to increase the number of contract wins however there are specific rules.  Highlights as follows:

  • The JV is limited to 3 contracts in a 2 year period.
  • The 8(a) firm in the JV must receive profits commensurate with the work performed by the 8(a) firm
  • The 8(a) must perform at least 40% of the work
  • Mentor firm is only allowed 3 protégés at one time
  • The mentor protégé agreement is required to specify the development assistance the  mentor will provide the 8(a) firm.

JVs offer opportunities that a small company may not experience when going it alone.  If this sounds like something you may be interested in contact your nearest SBA office and inquire about establishing a JV.

–Frank Lane