Small biz certification rules delivered

As expected, Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Angela Styles has written letters to the agencies that administer governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs), telling them that they must require small businesses using their contracts to recertify their size and classification annually.

The measure is intended to ensure that only eligible businesses can take advantage of special small-business programs. Sometimes companies outgrow their small-business status but continue to take advantage of small-business programs.

"Increasingly, we are hearing of instances where large businesses are taking advantage of contracting opportunities intended for small businesses," Styles wrote in a letter to General Services Administration Administrator Stephen Perry. "In particular, we are concerned about large, long-term contracts that allow larger contractors to masquerade as small businesses, thus depriving legitimate small businesses of opportunities to compete against their peers."

All the agencies that serve as executive agents over governmentwide acquisitions — GSA, NASA, the Commerce Department and the National Institutes of Health — must enact the rule by April 1, according to an OFPP spokesman. In addition, OFPP is drafting proposed changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation and the Small Business Administration regulations to codify the rule.

Federal contractors understand the need for frequent recertification, but once a year may be too much, said Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement.

"There is a cost and a time factor to recertifying. We feel every five years might be a better time period," he said.

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