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John Shoraka

Contracting with the Federal Government

John Shoraka
Associate Administrator, Office of Government Contracting and Business Development

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 3:00 PM

A. John Shoraka currently serves as the Associate Administrator of Government Contracting and Business Development at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  His team supports thousands of small businesses every year as they compete for over $500 billion in federal prime contracts and billions more in subcontracts.  In his current role, Mr. Shoraka is responsible for overseeing the umbrella office with jurisdiction over the Agency’s offices of Size Standards, HUBZone, Government Contracting, and Business Development/8(a).

With a background in business development, international trade, government contracting, and management, Mr. Shoraka works on behalf of small businesses and entrepreneurs across the region as they turn to the SBA for the tools they need to start, grow, succeed, and create jobs.

Prior to his current role, Mr. Shoraka served as Regional Administrator for the SBA. As Regional Administrator for Region 3, Mr. Shoraka was responsible for the delivery and management of SBA’s small business programs, financial assistance, and business development program initiatives throughout the region.

In addition, Mr. Shoraka served as adjunct faculty at Catholic University of America where he taught courses in international business and management science.        Mr. Shoraka holds a B.S. from the University of Maryland, College Park and an MBA from George Washington University.

Federal contracting opportunities for women have expanded, and now's a good time to take the steps towards doing business with the government. Learn how during this web chat with experts from the SBA.

Please post your question below:

Note: There is not an audio format for the online chat, and no broadcast capability. SBA moderators retain editorial control over the online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for chat participants and hosts.

Chat Transcript

 
From:
Kasha Davis
Location:
, Florida
 

 

Hello – I’m John Shoraka, Associate Administrator for Government Contracting and Business Development. My department is responsible for overseeing the 8(a) Business Development Program, the HUBZone Program, the Woman Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program, and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business contracting opportunities. We are also responsible for helping federal agencies meet the 23% goal for small business spend. I look forward to answering as many questions as I can!
 
From:
Kasha Davis
Location:
, Florida
 
Question:
I have a Cleaning Service business. I have been trying for over 1 year to obtain Government contracts. I have been unsuccessful. I have not put in an actual bid. The main reason my company does not have the experience yet in the industry I am in. And in the RFP's mostly ask for experience. Can you tell me what I need to do? Thanks
Reply:
Hi Kasha – Thank you for your question. I would suggest starting with looking for subcontracting opportunities with what are known as “prime” contractors. Prime contractors are firms that are doing business directly with a federal agency that operate in your industry. You can work with them to do a small piece of a larger contract, and that’s a great way to build your experience. You can find more information regarding subcontracting here: http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/contracting/contracting-opportunities/sub-contracting
 
From:
Kamlesh Aggarwal
Location:
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma
 
Question:
How do I started with contracting with the Federal Government? Could someone guide me? Kamlesh Aggarwal Broker/Owner (918)260-5286 Sooner Realty Properties,LLC kamlesh912@gmail.com www.SoonerRealtyProperties.com www
Reply:
Hi Kamlesh – A great way to get started with understanding opportunities with the federal government is to visit your local SBA District Office and local SBA resource partners. You can find these resources by inputting your zip code here (www.sba.gov/sba-direct). Our office has also recently launched the SBA Government Contracting Classroom (GC Classroom) to help support small businesses interested in federal contracting. Located at www.sba.gov/gcclassroom, you can find online training modules around Government Contracting 101, primers for the HUBZone and WOSB Programs, and other resources. We are constantly updating with new modules, so check back often!
 
From:
Marvelyn Brown
Location:
Dayton, OH
 
Question:
I have a small business and I would love to obtain a contract with the government. However the process seems complicated. What are the first steps to becoming certified as a women and/or minority owned business? Is certification a requirement to do business with the government or can any business get a contract?
Reply:
Hello Marvelyn – Certification is not a requirement to do business with the federal government. However, if your company meets the requirements to be considered a small business, a woman-owned business, or a minority-owned business (or all three), these statuses can provide your company an advantage in the government procurement process. To check your size status, please visit www.sba.gov/size. To learn more about socioeconomic self-certifications or certifications, you may also visit http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/contracting/working-with-government/small-business-certifications-audi And finally, if you are interested in doing businesss with the government, you must register as a vendor in the System for Award Management (SAM) at www.sam.gov
 
From:
Annmarie Hatfield
Location:
Austin, TX
 
Question:
We are a Women Owned Small Business and need direction on how to register for the WOSB certification. Thanks!
Reply:
Hello AnnMarie – There is a lot of interest in Woman Owned Small Business opportunities, based on the questions we are receiving! You are specifically referring to the Woman Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program. This Program allows set aside contracts for WOSBs that fall into 83 NAICS codes that were identified as underrepresented or significantly underrepresented in the federal supply chain. If you learn that your company does not fall under the 83 NAICS codes of the program – do not worry. Your company is still eligible to do business with the government, just not through the WOSB Federal Contract Program. To learn if your company’s codes are part of the program and the steps to take to register as a WOSB, please visit: www.sba.gov/wosb
 
From:
Alex
Location:
,
 
Question:
Does the SBA intend to make EDWOSB and/or WOSB a preferred and often procured set-aside such as HUBZone or SDVOSB?
Reply:
Hi Alex – The Small Business JOBS Act of 2010 reiterated the concept of “parity” across SBA small business contracting programs. In other words, contracting officers are to view HUBZone, 8(a), SDVOSB, and WOSB set aside options equally. The main reason you are seeing fewer set asides for WOSB firms at this time is the vehicle is just 18 months old. As contracting officers gain more experience using the WOSB set aside vehicle, its usage will increase. We’ve already seen significant increases from the first year into the second year, so stay tuned!
 
From:
Shohida
Location:
Brooklyn, New York
 
Question:
Were can I find the financial aid for business ? I just bought the restaurant business , passed the inspection. And to open it I need some money. I need your advice.
Reply:
Hi Shohida - Great question! Last week, SBA's Office of Capital Access hosted a webchat just like this one that addressed business financing and resources available. You can see the transcript of the chat at: http://web.sba.gov/livemeeting/public/dsp_meeting_view.cfm?meetngid=184
 
From:
Anne Marie Logan
Location:
Indialantic, FL
 
Question:
As a one-person consulting firm seeking to do business with the Fed Gov, what is the best way to pursue opportunities as a subcontractor or a teaming partner? Most RFP's are looking for a larger effort than could be performed by a single person corporation - how do you get a piece of that work - do you have to wait until the contract is awarded and then pursue something with the awardee or is it possible to position yourself to get a piece of the work before the contract is awarded? Is it possible to bid on something directly without being able to perform the entire package? Thank you
Reply:
For some small businesses, subcontracting to a prime vendor is a great way to get your foot in the door of government contracting. As a sub, you can provide goods or services that support a larger procurement that you wouldn’t be able to execute on your own. And it’s a great way to gain valuable experience. Here are some valuable resources for small businesses looking for subcontracting opportunities: 1) Contact your local Commercial Market Representative - http://www.sba.gov/content/government-contracting-field-staff-directory 2)SUB-Net Database. SUB-Net is a listing of subcontracting solicitation and opportunities posted by large prime contractors and other non-federal agencies. http://web.sba.gov/subnet/search/index.cfm 3) It’s also important to attend matchmaking events that are hosted by federal agencies. At www.osdbu.gov, you can find links to the Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization websites and the events they are hosting.
 
From:
Susan Mastria
Location:
E. Wareham, Massachusetts
 
Question:
Please explain Capability Statements. I've listened to several webinars and attended a few procurement events. Some say you should have a 5-page Capability Statement (Core Competencies, Past Performance, Differentiators, and Company Data - 5 separate pages) and others suggest a one-page Capability Statement comprised of the above 5 topics with the back page listing past performance. What is your take on a solid Capability Statement?
Reply:
Great question, Susan. You ask a question we hear a lot. The most important thing about a Capability Statement is that is comprehensive. A strong Capabilities Statement outlining management and technical expertise will have four components, regardless of length: specific capabilities and skills; past performance history, with specific projects; awards and commendations; and resumes of key management. The key piece of advice is to know your client as well as possible in order to tailor the statement to the clients’ needs.
 
From:
Jasmine Siemon
Location:
Gaithersburg, MD
 
Question:
I have registered with Sam.gov and do not understand how to navigate it. How does Sam.gov help with goverment contracts?
Reply:
Hi Jasmine. Great question. The System for Award Management (SAM) is combining federal procurement systems and the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance into one new system. The overarching benefits of SAM include streamlined and integrated processes, elimination of data redundancies, and reduced costs while providing improved capability. As a small business looking to do business with the government, you must register in SAM to be recognized as a potential vendor. There are training modules available at https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/?portal:componentId=57fe9a6b-c4e1-4068-96b9-82d9e3bbd3e9&portal:type=action&navigationalstate=JBPNS_rO0ABXdcACJqYXZheC5mYWNlcy5wb3J0bGV0YnJpZGdlLlNUQVRFX0lEAAAAAQApdmlldzpjMWQzM2JiOS04NDJlLTQ0ZmMtYWQ5Yi1kZDY1NDE0NmM2NmYAB19fRU9GX18*&interactionstate=JBPNS_rO0ABXc5ABBfanNmQnJpZGdlVmlld0lkAAAAAQAYL2pzZi9oZWxwL3NhbUhlbHBOYXYuanNwAAdfX0VPRl9f
 
From:
Dana
Location:
Greer, SC
 
Question:
1. What is the very first step to take after legally starting a small business in order to begin the journey of finding Gov't contract work? 2. Will a transcript of the entire session be available afterwards?
Reply:
Hello Dana – first, congratulations on the launch of your business! With your company at such an early stage, we would recommend that you reach out to your local SBA District Office to access counseling resources. Your District Office can connect you to SCORE Counselors, who are volunteer counselors with business expertise that can help you identify the best next steps to take. Alternatively, the District Office may connect you with Resource Partners that provide trainings and other support services to startup businesses. And of course, District Office staff have lots of experience with helping business owners take their next step forward. To find local assistance near you, please visit: http://www.sba.gov/local-assistance?ms=tid56 Also, this chat will be available as an archived chat at this webpage after the live session has ended.
 
From:
iqbal rashid
Location:
San Marcos, California
 
Question:
what is the best way to pursue 8a set aside sole source opportunity
Reply:
Hello Iqbal – The 8(a) BD program is a self-marketing program. The best way to pursue sole source opportunities is by meeting with the Agency Small Business Specialist to introduce your company and its capabilities, build relationships, and to better understand the needs of the Agency. When you identify a potential contract you should meet with or contact your Business Opportunity Specialist (BOS) at your local district office to request assistance. The BOS can submit a requirements letter to the Agency requesting that the contract be set-aside on your behalf, based on your ability to perform the required work. Your BOS can also issue search letters to Federal Agencies in an effort to identify contract opportunities for your firm. You should work closely with your BOS throughout your program term.
 
From:
rebecca
Location:
,
 
Question:
where are federal contracting opportunities advertised?
Reply:
Hi Rebecca – Many federal contracting opportunities are listed at Fed Biz Ops (www.fbo.gov). Additionally, many agencies release what is known as a procurement or acquisition forecast. These forecasts indicate which products and services the agency plans to buy over the coming months. Our Government Contracting 101 and Business Opportunities modules in our GC Classroom have additional details on how to find contracting opportunities. The modules are located at www.sba.gov/gcclassroom.
 
From:
Linda DeGraffenreid
Location:
Gaithersburg, Maryland
 
Question:
Please describe the advantages and/or disadvantages of pursuing 8(a) status, particularly for a sole-proprietor who does not want to
Reply:
Hi Linda – The full name of the 8(a) Program is the 8(a) Business Development Program, and its primary intention is to help socially and economically disadvantaged individuals grow their businesses. It does so by offering technical and support assistance to firms to create business plans and make progress against those plans. It also offers mentorship arrangements with more established firms to help protégé firms grow. Also, 8(a) firms have the opportunity to pursue set-aside and sole-source contracts for 8(a) firms. These benefits help companies that want to expand their companies. If you are not interested in expanding your firm, I would suggest working with a SCORE counselor or an SBA Resource Partner to create a business plan and business model that helps your company sustain at the level you desire. To find those resources locally, please visit: http://www.sba.gov/local-assistance?ms=tid56
 
From:
TINA DAVIS
Location:
SEMMES, ALABAMA
 
Question:
How do I get started with an 8A construction/development business?
Reply:
Tina – That’s a great question, and SBA has just launched a new Training Series to help you get started. The Pre 8(a) Business Development Training Series was just announced a few weeks ago. This training series helps potential 8(a) firms understand the program, its requirements, and how to get ready to join the program. It’s available at the GC Classroom - www.sba.gov/gcclassroom
 
From:
Mary Beth Charlet
Location:
Morehead, Kentucky
 
Question:
Are there government contracts for tutoring?
Reply:
Mary Beth – The government purchases a wide variety of goods and services. A good place to start to understand the opportunities for your company is to first identify your company’s North American Industrial Classification System codes (NAICS codes). NAICS codes are the primary way government agencies identify the products and services they buy. You can find the codes applicable to your company here: http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/ Once you have your NAICS codes, you can visit the Federal Business Opportunities page (www.fbo.gov) to see which government agencies are buying in those codes. Thanks for your question!
 
From:
Deborah DeLeo
Location:
Cocoa Beach, Florida
 
Question:
When is it expected that we will see more EDWOSB or WOSB set aside opportunities?
Reply:
Deborah – Another great question about our new Woman Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program! As you may know, the program was only just implemented in April of 2011. In preparation for that implementation, and since, we have been working to train contracting officers and small business specialists in the federal acquisition workforce about the opportunities available to them to set aside contracts for women owned small businesses. From year one to year two, we’ve seen significant growth in the number of contracts set aside to woman owned small businesses, and we expect to see that growth continue into FY13.
 
From:
Linda DeGraffenreid
Location:
Gaithersburg, Maryland
 
Question:
I have just begun to notice a few Federal government requirements on fedbizopps.gov that have been set aside for women-owned businesses. What goals (percentage) has the government established for ensuring that women-owned businesses receive a fair share of Federal contracts through this set-aside program, and how is SBA working to ensure that contracting officials and program staff use this set-aside program?
Reply:
Hi Linda – You are correct that there is a requirement for government agencies to award business to Woman Owned Small Businesses. Federal agencies are held to a statutory goal of 5% of small business eligible dollars being awarded to woman owned small businesses. As mentioned earlier, the WOSB Federal Contract Program allows set asides for WOSBs in 83 NAICS codes. This program was intended to be a vehicle to assist agencies in meeting their 5% goal. SBA is educating federal agency personnel about the program and holds agencies accountable via the SBA Scorecard. To see the results of FY11’s scorecard process, please visit: http://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-procurement-goaling-scorecards
 
From:
Victoria Allen
Location:
Austin, Texas
 
Question:
Thank you for taking my question. I formed my LLC this past summer, to establish myself as an independent consultant in the field of INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS. Since then I have acquired my EIN, DUNS, and CAGE code. I've also self-certified as an EDWOSB (via SAM.gov). To my knowledge I now have all of the prerequisites to being a government contractor. I'm poised to leap, and need guidance to find where my niche RFPs & RFIs can be found. My question, then: Specific to my business focus, intelligence analysis and border security, what are my next few steps?
Reply:
Hi Victoria – it sounds like you have taken many of the necessary steps on the path to obtaining a government contract! For next steps, I would recommend researching various federal agencies to identify which of them purchases your goods and services. You can do so at Fed Biz Ops (www.fbo.gov). Additionally, I would suggest you start building relationships with the Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBUs) at those agencies to begin to identify potential opportunities. You can learn more information about OSDBUs at www.osdbu.gov. Building your network of relationships will help you find potential opportunities to pursue.
 
From:
Alex
Location:
,
 
Question:
As a woman-owned business participating in the 8a program, is my company automatically certified EDWOSB?
Reply:
Hi Alex – This is a great question, because it’s important to remember that having multiple certifications can help differentiate your company from its competition. As an 8(a) firm, you are not automatically certified as an EDWOSB. To demonstrate EDWOSB status, you must provide a copy of the SBA 8(a) certification along with the EDWOSB Certification Form and other required documents to the WOSB Program Repository. You can learn more about the documentation requirements and appropriate regulations at www.sba.gov/wosb
 
From:
Imju Byon
Location:
Palo Alto, CA
 
Question:
About WOSB, can you explain about 'having been in business for 2 yr' requirement? Thanks,
Reply:
Hi Imju - To qualify for the WOSB Federal Contract Program, you’ll need to have managerial experience of the extent and complexity required to manage and to control the company’s day to day operations as well as its long-term strategy. There is no requirement for your company to have been in business for 2 years.
 
From:
Denise DeJoseph
Location:
Honolulu, HI
 
Question:
Is there a potential disadvantage to registering as a EDWOSB vs. a WOSB? Judging from the WOSB Guidelines (p.5), there appears to be more opportunity associated with the WOSB designation, because the
Reply:
Hello Denise - It is in your best interest to qualify for as many programs as possible. This will increase the number of opportunities for you to bid on that may be set aside for various small business and socioeconomic categories. A company can be both a WOSB and an EDWOSB at the same time because an EDWOSB is, by definition, also a WOSB. As a result, those that qualify for EDWOSB designation have the benefit of pursuing both EDWOSB and WOSB set-aside contracts.
 
From:
Ladi March
Location:
Jacksonville, FL
 
Question:
Does a WOSB that is relatively new (within the first two years of establishment) have a realistic shot at landing a contracting opportunity with the federal government or does a relationship have to be established first via a partnership with a more experienced firm?
Reply:
Hello Ladi – It’s hard to tell if a relatively new company has a chance at winning business with the government directly. It depends greatly on your industry, your track record, your growth, and your references. However, an excellent way to improve your track record, growth, and references is by teaming with a more experienced firm, and it’s a great way to break into the government contracting space. I would suggest attending matchmaking and networking sessions hosted by federal agencies, which as referenced earlier, can be found at www.osdbu.gov.
 
From:
Saron Johnson
Location:
Gary, In
 
Question:
Thank you for taking my question, I want to know if there is a physical document(certification/certificate) that we should receive for proof of a being a certified WOSB.And how do we tap into the set-asides just for us.
Reply:
Hi Sharon - The SBA does not issue a formal certificate for the WOSB Federal Contract Program. You may, in good faith, claim WOSB/EDWOSB status after uploading all pertinent documents to the General Login System (GLS). Your status will be verified by the contracting officer when you become the apparent awardee of a contract. Set aside opportunities are announced on a federal procurement website called Federal Business Opportunities (www.fbo.gov). You can search for WOSB or EDWOSB or both using the search engine on this website.
 
From:
Sherry Fluke
Location:
Lemoyne, PA
 
Question:
What is the process for an established S-Corp business go from a non-WBE to Woman Owned Status to be able to take advantage of set asides? How long does this process take and what is the cost of certification?
Reply:
Hi Sherry – To take advantage of the set asides designated for Woman Owned Small Businesses, the products or services offered by your company must fall into the 83 NAICS codes covered by the program. You may self-certify, which is free, or may get certified by a third-party certifier, some of which charge a fee for the certification. To see the list of steps for self-certification as well as a listing of third party certifiers, please visit: www.sba.gov/wosb
 
From:
Maura Staten
Location:
Huntsville, Alabama
 
Question:
What is the most sought after NAICS code for government set asides for women owned busineses today?
Reply:
Hi Maura - The federal database of all procurement activity is the Federal Procurement Data System (www.FPDS.gov). Although it is a fairly complex system to navigate, there are reports available that provide indications of previous purchasing activity by industry code for each agency.
 
From:
Kasha Davis
Location:
, Florida
 

 

I appreciate everyone taking the time to participate in our chat today. Should you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your local SBA district office and www.sba.gov. Have a great day!