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Contracting Opportunities & Surety Bonds

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SBA's Online Business Chat

A live Q&A session with small business experts. Submit your question before or during the chat discussion. You cannot submit question after Closing Remarks for the chat. No registration is needed for the web chat.

Expert: Karen Hontz
Contracting Opportunities & Surety Bonds

Karen Hontz

Director of Government Contracting

Thursday, March 4, 2010 6:00 PM

Karen Hontz oversees the Small Business Prime and Subcontracting federal procurement programs, the Small Business Innovative Research and Technology Transfer Programs, the development of size standards, and small business federal procurement policy development in general. She is a member of the Chief Acquisition Officers Council and is the Chair of the Council's Small Business Task Force. Hontz also serves on the board of the Integrated Acquisition Environment.

Hontz has been with the SBA since 1991 and has held various agency positions including Counselor to the Administrator and Associate Deputy Administrator for Congressional and Legislative Affairs. She has also severed two details to Senator Snowe on the Senate Small Business Committee.

Hontz holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and economics from Furman University and a master's degree in political science from George Washington University.

Are you looking to grow or expand your small business in the Federal Government marketplace? Does your small business need surety bonds to do public and private contracting?

Get answers to your questions about selling your product or service to the government, federal contract procedures, and how to position your business to sell to the government. For small and emerging contractors that cannot obtain surety bonds through regular commercial channels, learn how the SBA can help you.

Additional contracting information and resources can be found in the following document, Useful Government Contracting Websites:


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 hosts may decline to answer questions.

Chat Transcript

From : U.S. Small Business Administration
Location : Washington , D.C.
Question :

 

Reply :
Good afternoon. We're ready to begin Thank you for joining us today.
From : Raul Espinosa (FPA Think Tank at UNF)
Location : Jacksonville , Florida
Question :
The 'access to credit' subject is critical to the survival of small biz. Surety bonds are important, however, 'accelerated payments;' 'contract financing' and 'advance payments,' are 'access to credit benefits' the FAR allows, but the contracting community has been avoiding supporting. SBA should look into them... The 'Umbrella Initiative,' by the way, solves many of the shortcommings in government contracting? You should become familiar with its concepts.

 

Reply :
Mr. Espinosa. Thank you for participating. Contractor financing and advance payments are discretionary with the contracting officer. However, if you are having difficulty obtaining ‘accelerated payments;' 'contract financing' and 'advance payments, you should seek the assistance of the agency’s small business office in helping you resolve your issue. Thank you for your question.
From : Teresa Smith
Location : Ponca City , OK
Question :
I am part of the PTAC Program - we help small businesses in government contracting. How can we get the "representations & certifications" part of the bid documents to reflect SBA changes (10/01/08) for SDB self certify? You can only mark SDB if your certified with SBA & with the above change the only certifying programs (to my knowledge) are 8(a) & HUBZone. Thanks for your help.

 

Reply :
The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council is currently addressing this issue. Thank you for your question.
From : Shikha
Location : Somerset , NJ
Question :
My company does not have Secret clearance, what are the possible ways to get the clearance. For doing business with defense, it is mandatory to have the clearance.

 

Reply :
Hello Shikha. You are referring to a “Facility Security Clearance”. A contractor or prospective contractor may not apply for a facility clearance on its own. A procuring activity of the Government or a cleared contractor for subcontracting may request the clearance when a classified procurement is awarded. This is referred to as a Sponsorship. The Facility clearance requires a Dept. of Defense Security Agreement and the clearance remains active as long as the Security Agreement is effective. Generally this is for the same period as the needed access to classified information. Evaluation of a Facility Security request is performed by the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office. Thank you for your question.
From : Jackson
Location : ,
Question :
How much capital is needed for businesses to bid on these contracts?

 

Reply :
Good question. Contracting officers evaluate a firm’s capability. Capital is part of a firm’s capability but not the only part. Usually successful experience in meeting a given requirement for a best value is the most important requirement. The size and type of a given contract dictates capability requirements so it is difficult to give a precise answer. Usually the contract solicitation specifies, if any, necessary capital requirements.
From : Terris Riley
Location : Columbia , South Carolina
Question :
We are minority and woman-owned South Carolina-based firm. We are registered w/CCR and are diligently pursuing Government Contracts. We are submitting proposals for opportunities that we qualify for. However, we have no (Fed Gov't) past experience. Feels like we keep running into walls. Can you offer any advice as to how we can obtain subcontracting opportunities? Thank you in advance.

 

Reply :
Hello Terris. Gaining experience through subcontracting opportunities is a good way to gain experience and establish contacts. You have already made your firm visible to large primes by registering in the CCR and the DSBS and are identified as a SDB and WOSB which is a good marketing tools. Now you are ready to use SUBNet which offers subcontracting opportunities and the SBA’s Subcontracting Directory, both found at the SBA’s web site at www.sba.gov. Contact the primes Small Business Liaison Officers and advise he/she of your firm’s capabilities and request to be added to their list of suppliers. Also consider other teaming arrangements in the form of Joint Ventures.
From : John W. Paulsen
Location : Salt Lake City , Utah
Question :
Is it procedure to have local SBA offices approve teaming arrangements prior to a project proposal? Can a large corporation indemnify an 8a entity in a teaming agreement?

 

Reply :
Hi John. Thanks for your question. Yes, if your firm is an SBA approved 8(a) firm and you are submitting a joint venture offer as the teaming arrangement for an SBA Section 8(a) solicitation, either competitively or as a sole-source offer, the joint venture must be recommended for approval by your SBA Business Opportunity Specialist (BDS). This is necessary for your joint venture to be identified as eligible to receive 8(a) program work in the CCR. If the teaming arrangement is an 8(a) prime/subcontractor arrangement, then you should also notify your BDS the amount of work you will be performing and identify your subcontractor and their responsibilities in performing the contract if the work is to be offered and awarded through the 8(a) program. Large businesses may participate in joint ventures, only if there is an SBA approved mentor/protégé agreement in place prior to the offer. Your BDS will on a case-by-case basis under the agreement determine if it is appropriate for your large business mentor to assist in indemnifying your firm for specific contracts via a joint venture based on the agreement, your business plan, and financial and bonding data.
From : Holly Pinedo
Location : Orange , CA
Question :
Our company just received our 8A certification and would like to know where do I go to get government jobs right away?

 

Reply :
Hello Holly. You should work with your assigned Business Development Specialist at your servicing district office to understand how you may start receiving work via the 8(a) program. First you must have an SBA approved business plan so you will want to meet with your BDS to get started on the process immediately. You are always eligible to bid or make an offer for work that is not restricted to the 8(a) program or one of SBA’s other socioeconomic programs that require eligibility status.
From : Richard Phillips
Location : SUMMERFIELD , FL
Question :
INFRADANT is an employee-owned, disabled woman owned small business with an organizational infrastructure comparable to that of a well-established small sized government prime and sub-contractor. How can we get Government work as that everyone in the DC area has the work. We lost a contract the other day from a company that is in Silver Spring, MD. and has no web address, no search information and is running out of a home.

 

Reply :
If you’ve been denied the award of a federal contract, we recommend you ask for a debriefing from the selecting contracting officer which you are entitled to under the Federal Acquisition Regulations. In addition, if you contact the SBA Office of Government Contracting in Atlanta at 404-331-7587, they can furnish you with information on “How to do Business With the Government. Federal Agencies with which you wish to do business also have Small Business Offices that you can contact for information. Thank you for your question.
From : Johnny G.
Location : Washington , DC
Question :
How do I get in contact with an agent to work on my SBA bonding submission?

 

Reply :
Hello Johnny G. Go to www.sba.gov/osg/ and click on "List of Participating Agents," and click on your state and a list of agents should come up. If you have more questions, you can contact Pam Swilling at (202) 205-6546.
From : Modesto R Gonzalez
Location : Boynton Beach , Fl
Question :
Is there any special requirements to sell to the Government a new product a flashing Safety belt and vest and what department I have to contact, please? to show the product.

 

Reply :
Hello Modesto.When the Government identifies a need for products or services it generally solicits for its needs in the FEDBIZOPPS www.fedbizopps.gov. If your firm has developed an improved product or service that will better meet the Government’s needs or the firm has a unique and innovated product/service it may submit an Unsolicited Proposal to the Government. For information about submitting Unsolicited Proposals, review Subpart 15.6 of the Federal Acquisition Regulations or contact the Federal Agency’s Small Business Advocate that you believe will have use of your proposal. If you need assistance in identifying an agency that may be interested in your product or service, contact the SBA’s Office of Contract Assistance in your area. A list can be found at www.sba.gov. Thank you for your question.
From : Quickwords Secretarial Service
Location : El Paso , TX
Question :
CCR registered and recd note from www.governmentcontractors.org but it went in spam folder. Is this worth enrolling in?

 

Reply :
Hello. Contractors shall be registered in the CCR database prior to award of a contract with few exceptions that may be reviewed in the Federal Acquisition Regulation Subpart 4.11 “Central Contractor Registration”. Failure to be registered in the CCR might result in the loss of a contract award by the successful offeror. If you need assistance with the CCR contact Ms. Amie Garcia, at .
From : Bassam Al Ameri
Location : Baghdad , Iraq
Question :
Need to position my business to sell to the government of Iraq

 

Reply :
Hello Bassam. Contract opportunities in Iraq will be posted at the Government point of entry (GPE), Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) at http://www.fedbizopps.gov// unless a statutory exception to synopsis requirements as described in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) applies. To determine how to sell directly to the Government of Iraq, we suggest you contact the Department of Commerce www.commerce.gov or the State Department www.state.gov
From : lisha chesson
Location : sulphur , la
Question :
am start up. have louisiana heavy construction license and am total woman owned. would like to participate as prime contractor protege. Is it at all possible for me to obtain bonding as a protege if the bonding institution acts as my mentor? Is it possible For the financial or bonding mentor to choose the sub contractors to act as my mentors?

 

Reply :
Hello Lisha. In reference to using the bonding company as your mentor, this would raise “affiliation” issues and depending on the size standard used for the particular procurement you are placing a bid on, you may be found to be “other than small” for that procurement.
From : Susan White
Location : Houston , Texas
Question :
After September 2010, will the SBA bond guarantee program still have the $5 million bond limit or will it go back to the $2 million limit?

 

Reply :
Hello Susan. Unless the legislation is extended under the American Recovery Reinvestment Act, we go back to a $2 million bond limit.
From : Sarah Vandenberg
Location : Des Moines , IA
Question :
Are there any easy-to-use resources that small businesses can get access to in regards to federal contracting and surety bonds?

 

Reply :
Hello Sarah. Information on surety bonds can be found at: www.sba.gov/osg/ and also see the Web chat page above. Additional contracting information and resources can be found in the following document, Useful Government Contracting Websites.
From : Murrell Cash Tru-Valu Builders Inc.
Location : Milton , PA
Question :
How do I obtain & submit an application for a SBG from an approved agent and also How can I aquire forms 912 994 & 994F and the elecronic applications

 

Reply :
Hi Murrell. Please contact your participating SBA surety and request the forms for approved agents. The SBA forms can be found at: www.sba.gov/osg.
From : Stephen
Location : Little Rock , Arkansas
Question :
Hello, I have a Contractor's Bid Bond but was denied the Standard Surety Bond, what is the time frame for applying and being awarded a Surety bond that's backed by SBA?

 

Reply :
Hello Stephen. SBA's application processing time for complete applications is 2-4 days.
From : Thomas
Location : ,
Question :
I noticed that under the Recovery Act, maximum bonds are stretched up to $10 million. As a small business supplying heat transfer equipment to power generation industries, how can I tap into the funding for specifically the biomass industries as presented in the Recovery Act?

 

Reply :
Hello Thomas. Please visit the Recovery.gov Web site to obtain information on opportunities at various federal agencies.
From : ProAxis IT
Location : Ashburn , va
Question :
The answer you gave as to obtaining a security clearance is curious to me. What you are saying, correct me if I am wrong, is that you will only get the facility clearance if you have a contract and the procurement office sponsors you. What if you have a bid bond in place and something happens with the clearance and the company that won the bid cannot get the clearance? Does the company lose the bid bond or a portion of it for the recompeted contract?

 

Reply :
Hello. If the security clearance can not be obtained timely, the contract will be awarded to the next apparent successful offeror.
From : Steve Matteau
Location : Naples , FL
Question :
How can I obtain information on supplying building materials for government contracts on housing, commercial, DOT jobs etc?

 

Reply :
Hello Steve. Please visit the Housing Urban Development and Department of Transporation's Web sites as well as your local government Web sites to get information.
From : Derrik Johnson
Location : Columbus , OH
Question :
I have a small construction company and have been looking for ways to increase my contracting opportunities and have read a lot about the 8a program. I see there are a lot of companies like www.ez8a.com www.8acertification.net www.ezcertify.net www.sba8a.net and www.charlesgatson.com that help with the process. Do you have one you recommend? Do you agree that 8a is worth pursuing? Any other suggestions? Thanks

 

Reply :
Hello Derrik. Yes, it's worth pursuing. To learn more about the 8(a) program, please visit SBA's Web page at: www.sba.gov/gcbd and select Business Development.
From : Alicia Jones
Location : Detroit , Michiagan
Question :
Our company is an IT workforce development training organization with an 85% success rate, and (0) zero percent recidivism rate in training economically disadvantage unemployed, underemployed Detroit residents, we are expanding to start up a new proprietary school entity. We need to obtain a surety bond to apply for our Michigan state license. What programs are there to assist us in obtaining the following 1. Our surety bond 2. DOL, DOE, DOJ, DHHS Commerce and NSF grants, contracts and subsidies What programs or assistance do you provide to assistant pre-seed small businesses in securing contracts with state, county and local municipal ARRA and other federally funded programs? What if any pre-seed funding sources are there to assisting minority / women owned new businesses.

 

Reply :
Hello Alicia. In reference to securing grants, we suggest you review grant availability at www.grants.gov The Federal Government does set-asides for small businesses for Certified HUBZone Small Businesses, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses, SBA 8(a) Program participants and Small Businesses in general. These opportunities are posted on-line at www.FEDBIZOPS.gov your company may also qualify for a grant or contract under the Government’s Small Business Innovative Research Program For information about the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program can be found at http://www.sbir.gov/about/index.htm Thank you for your question.
From : Steve Pocock
Location : , Ohio
Question :
We're interested in hearing your take on how to obtain government contacts when we can't obtain 8a, veteran, hubzone or women owned status. We perform environmental work and have an excellent reputation for a small business. We have teamed with an 8a firm but it's difficult to pull them along sometimes with the restrictions on the amount of work they must perform. Bottom line is, we can provide an excellant service for the government but they won't have anything to do with us because of our race, gender or we're not a large (100 - 499 employees) small business. We're also interested in obtaining surity bonds through the SBA. With the economy the way it is, certain companies are requiring these more and more.

 

Reply :
Hi Steve. In reference to your contracting question, if your firm is not eligible for SBA’s socioeconomic programs then you are eligible to compete for environmental work that is competed as a small business set aside or unrestricted work that is solicited via full and open competition. At those agencies where you are aware of unrestricted environmental work, you may meet with SBA’s PCRs, if assigned, or the agencies’ small business advocates to determine if you may provide a presentation to key personnel demonstrating your firm’s capabilities for the purpose of breaking out a portion of a larger environmental contract for small business competition. Or, rather than teaming with a socio-economic firm, you may choose to team with another small business as a Joint Venture and make an offer on unrestricted environmental solicitations with the added support of another small business sharing financial and technical requirements. Thank you for your question.
From : Amy McKearney
Location : Bristol , CT
Question :
What is the best method for contacting the government to do business under $25,000? Thanks. Amy McKearney Marketing Coordinator Transcription Plus, LLC p: 860-583-2818 email: amymtranscriptionplus@comcast.net Website: www.transcriptionplus.net

 

Reply :
Hello Amy. Identify the Federal agency you wish to do business with. Once you identify the agency you wish to do business with, visit that agency’s home page and locate their “Doing Business With” site. It may be a different phrase, but you want to go to information on how to do business with the particular agency. This will also tell you how to access procurements below $25.000. In addition, you might consider getting on GSA schedule. Most small purchases are made through the schedule process. Visit:http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/contentView.do?contentType=GSA_OVERVIEW&contentId=8202 Thank you.
From : Eugene Sieminski
Location : ,
Question :
I am a contractor with the Department of State and am looking for an SBA point of contact for 8(a) contracts we are closing. My email address is SieminskiEB2@state.gov Many thanks - Gene

 

Reply :
Mr. Sieminski, you may contact the SBA’s Office of Business Development to locate the appropriate district office that is responsible for the Business Development Specialist that services the 8(a) contractor having responsibility for the performance of the 8(a) contract. The phone number is 202.205.5852. Thank you.
From : Anne Shaji Issac
Location : Farwaniya , Kuwait
Question :
I would like to wish you all in advance happy independence day!!! My question is : Why the US companies in US allow the construction companies in Kuwait and the Gulf to bid on their upcoming construction projects? Wouldnt it be an economical factor ?The US companies can definetly find some great ideas from companies based in Kuwait. Suggest.

 

Reply :
Hello Anne. We suggest that you contact the US companies directly to determine available subcontracting opportunities or the Federal agency that issues the contract for their guidance on how to obtain subcontracting opportunities on these contracts. Thank you.
From : Bradley Excavating, Inc.
Location : Colorado Springs , CO
Question :
What is the maximum size of a bond a small business can obtain for a federal contract?

 

Reply :
Currently, it's $5 million dollars, and it can go up to $10 million for contracts issued under the Recovery Act.
From : Bradley Excavating, Inc.
Location : Colorado Springs , Colorado
Question :
What are SBA bond rates? Does the SBA generally need collateral? How quickly can the SBA provide a bond? Does the SBA provide Bid Bonds?

 

Reply :
Hello. SBA's contracting fees are $7.29 per thousand dollars per the contract amount. The SBA doesn't need collateral; however, the surety company may require collateral. SBA guarantees bid payment and performance bonds between 2-4 days.
From : Bradley Excavating, Inc.
Location : Colorado Springs , CO
Question :
For the maximum bond rates you offer - is this for prime contractors only, or can this be the amount for sub-contractors as well? Does the SBA differentiate between the two (sub vs. prime)?

 

Reply :
Hello. The fees are the same for both and the contract aggregate is the same for both.
From : Karen Burgess
Location : Santa Ana , CA
Question :
Does the increase to $10M have a sunset date?

 

Reply :
Hello Karen. It sunsets September 30, 2010.
From : Laurie L.
Location : Vienna , VA
Question :
Does SBA provide assistance to SBs for commercial bonding applications?

 

Reply :
Hello Laurie. SBA only guarantees contract surety bonds.
From : Jane Han
Location : Flushing , New York
Question :
What can you do if you get denied from bond insurance companies? We have tried several companies but they are not helping us.

 

Reply :
Hi Jane. Please contact Pam Swilling at: (202) 205-6546 or pam.swilling@sba.gov.
From : Lauren
Location : Snowden , Dalton, GA
Question :
I work for Global Environmental. We would like to know where a SBA office is located in our area? We would like to get any forms or materials that correspond with this matter. Thank you!

 

Reply :
Hello Lauren. Please visit: www.sba.gov/ga.
From : U.S. Small Business Administration
Location : Washington , D.C.
Question :

 

Reply :
Thanks to everyone for participating. Our time has ended. For further questions on surety bonding, please contact Pam Swilling at: pam.swilling@sba.gov and for government contracting questions, please visit www.sba.gov/gcbd. Today's chat will be archived at: http://www.sba.gov/tools/monthlywebchat/index.html.