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Understanding Set-Asides

By Debbie Gregory.

Every year, the federal government spends approximately $500 billion on goods and services. In order to keep a level playing field, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has worked with federal agencies to ensure that at least 23 percent of all prime government contracts are awarded to small businesses. These are called “set-asides.”

In addition to the 23 percent for small businesses, statutory goals established by Congress for federal executive agencies are:

  • 5 percent for women-owned small businesses
  • 5 percent for Small Disadvantaged Businesses
  • 3 percent for HUBZone small businesses
  • 3 percent for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses

There are two kinds of set-aside contracts: competitive set-asides and sole-source set-asides.

According to the SBA, in competitive set-asides, when at least two small businesses could perform the work or provide the products being purchased, the government sets aside the contract exclusively for small businesses. With few exceptions, this happens automatically for all government contracts under $150,000.

Sole-source contracts are a kind of contract that can be issued without a competitive bidding process. This usually happens in situations where only a single business can fulfill the requirements of a contract.

Veterans are uniquely qualified to secure government contracts due to the skills and experience inherit from their career in the military. The federal government tries to award at least three percent of annual federal contracting dollars to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

Working with veteran owned businesses have additional advantages: many of their owners already have the necessary security clearances often required for government contracts. They also have knowledge of the inner workings of government.

The certification process varies depending on the SBA contracting program. For some, you can self-certify just by updating your business profile in the System for Award Management (SAM) at http:www.sam.gov.

For other programs, you have to apply for certification. As part of the application, you’ll answer questions about your business and its ownership, and upload supporting documents.

By Debbie Gregory.

WWII Army Veteran Bob Evans, whose small truck stop restaurant in Ohio grew into a national chain and a line of pork sausage products that bear his name, created a corporate culture that recognizes and appreciates military service. To that end, one of the largest veteran-only business grants in the country is provided by the Bob Evans Farms “Heroes to CEOs” business grant.

As a way of giving back to the men and women who keep America safe, the grant program was born out of a need to provide funding and assistance to veteran entrepreneurs.

“Our company has a passion for helping those who serve,” said Mike Townsley, CEO and President of Bob Evans Farms. “Serving in the military and beginning a new-business venture can feel worlds apart for many vets.”

Judging criteria for the grant includes categories such as “Success,” “Reason” and “Opportunity.”

Those who have served make excellent entrepreneurs because of the skills and traits garnered through their military service. In fact, according to the Small Business Administration, more than 2.5 million small businesses in the U.S. are veteran owned.

Last year, the grant recipients were:

Army veteran Carson Goodale,  co-founder of Fanfood, an app that gives you the power to order concessions directly to your seat at sporting events.

Air Force veteran Charlynda Scales, who founded Mutt’s Sauce, an all-purpose, tomato-based specialty sauce. The condiment recipe was passed down by and is named for her grandfather, Charlie “Mutt” Ferrell.

Army veteran Jerry Martin, who founded Vet Veggies, which provides fresh, pesticide and chemical free vegetables grown locally by military veterans in a sustainable environment.

The deadline for the 2018 program is June 27th, and three $25,000 business grants will be awarded to veterans or active-duty members who either have their own business or an entrepreneurial business idea. Last year’s awardees will also serve as judges for this year’s grant competition.

In addition to the grant money, the three recipients will also receive a three-day trip for two to New York City, as well as a half-day mentoring session with Daymond John, Co-Star of ABC’s Shark Tank.

Learn more about this year’s “Heroes to CEOs” contest or submit an application at https://www.ourfarmsalutes.com.

By Debbie Gregory.

It turns out that Clayton Pressley III, a former sailor who was serving a 50 month prison sentence for stealing the identities of his subordinates, was also ripping off the Navy through an elaborate procurement fraud scheme.

Pressley, who was kicked out of the Navy after nearly 20 years, will now serve an additional two years in federal prison in connection with the $2.3 million scam, which netted him more than $644,000.

Court documents show that Pressley conspired with two others to form a sham government contracting firm in May 2014. The company was ostensibly formed to provide “inert training aids” to Navy units.

The conspirators manipulated the government procurement process to contract with themselves and signed fraudulent documentation indicating the company had delivered product when it had not.

The Navy would pay the company through intermediaries and ultimately the conspirators would distribute the proceeds among themselves.

According to court documents, an unnamed Navy officer who had purchasing authority ordered the aids from two vendors, identified as Firm D and Firm V. It is unclear whether the sales representatives knew the scope of the fraud.

Pressley used the money for travel and home goods.

“The steps taken by Mr. Pressley and others to perpetrate their scheme demonstrated remarkable cunning and deceitfulness,” Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David Layne said in court documents, asking for a sentence of at least three years and 10 months.

Pressley’s attorney, Bruce Sams, said his client was struggling with unspecified mental health issues at the time of his crimes and asked for leniency.

“Mr. Pressley does not really know what reasons led him to engage in his criminal conduct but has expressed his remorsefulness and repentance for having done so,” Sams said in court documents.

Pressley, who was awarded a Bronze Star “for exceptionally meritorious service during Operation Iraqi Freedom” has been ordered to pay full restitution.

By Debbie Gregory.

On May 17th, the Department of Veterans Affairs inked a 10-year, $10 billion contract with Kansas City, Missouri-based Cerner Corp. to adopt the same commercial electronic health records system as the Pentagon.

“President Trump has made very clear to me that he wants this contract to do right by both Veterans and taxpayers, and I can say now without a doubt that it does,” said Veterans Affairs Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie. He continued, “Signing this contract today is an enormous win for our nation’s veterans. It puts in place a modern IT system that will support the best possible health care for decades to come. That’s exactly what our nation’s heroes deserve.”

The department received nearly $800 million in funding from Congress for fiscal 2018 to begin the contract.

“For too long, service members transitioning from the Department of Defense to VA healthcare have been unable to take their medical records with them,” said Rep. Tim Walz, ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Cerner President Zane Burke said in a statement that the company is honored to have the opportunity to improve the health care experience for our nation’s veterans.

“The VA has a long history of pioneering health care technology innovation, and we look forward to helping deliver high-quality outcomes across the continuum of care,” said Burke. “We expect this program to be a positive catalyst for interoperability across the public and private health care sectors, and we look forward to moving quickly with organizations across the industry to deliver on the promise of this mission.”

 

By Debbie Gregory.

Lids.com abandoned a recently-unveiled online ad campaign after receiving a dressing-down from the Marine Corps.

The advertising campaign mentioned the Marine Corps in selling jerseys to be worn over the Memorial Day weekend by Major League Baseball teams including the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers.

One ad read, “Honor the U.S. Marine Corps brave men and women with this authentic New York Yankees Giancarlo Stanton Majestic MLB Men’s USMC Cool Base Jersey.”

The Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard all have a trademark licensing office in order to control their logos and slogans. Revenues generated from licensing products support morale, welfare and recreation programs worldwide.

The Marine Corps does not currently have a licensing agreement in place with Lids or Major League Baseball.

Nick Francona, son of Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, is a former Marine who doesn’t mince words regarding profiting from those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice.

On the Friday before Memorial Day, Francona tweeted, “How about a Friday scavenger hunt? Who can find the 501c(3) filings showing specific details on MLB’s donations related to the proceeds from the sale of Memorial Day apparel the past few years? It’s a charity after all, right?”

In another tweet, Francona wrote “You have to hand it to @NewEraCap, @lids, and @MLB. It’s not often that you can combine callous exploitation and ignorance of the fundamental tenets of democracy in such an efficient manner.”

Besides these call-outs, Francona’s Twitter page is filled with tributes to the fallen. In his quest to make sure that they are not forgotten, Francona made personalized wristbands with the names of specific U.S. military veterans who died while serving overseas and distributed them to players and coaches with connections to the hometowns or schools where the deceased veteran was from.

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