Federal contractors bogged down in the push for more transparency

As the Obama administration continues to put federal contracting under the microscope in an attempt to clean house, companies selling goods and services to the government are beginning to suffer under the mounting requirements placed on contractors.

The burden of complying with federal contracting regulations is not new — nor is it unreasonable considering the dollars that filter from government to industry. However, local contractors are growing increasingly weary from the collective onslaught of new requirements.

“Every one on its own is a sticky tack requirement — not crushing for a company,” said Jeremy Grant, chief development officer of ASI Government, an Arlington consulting and software company that sells acquisition and management solutions to the public sector. “But combined, they create more paperwork and staff time that, for a small business of 200 people, can stand in the way of getting our day jobs done.”

One of the most recent requirements demands that prime contractors report details about subcontract awards, which theoretically will help ensure the companies are meeting obligations to allocate a certain percentage of dollars to small businesses.

The rule was first published in the Federal Acquisition Regulation in July, but most contractors didn’t feel the impact until Oct. 1, when the requirement was expanded from contract awards worth $20 million or more to any contract worth at least $550,000. On March 1, the requirement will expand to include contracts worth $25,000 or more.

Expect this rule to involve more than simply forwarding a spreadsheet to the contracting officer at the start of the performance period. Should subcontracting numbers reported by the prime contractor not match exactly what the agency has documented, the discrepancy is fodder for the inspector general and Government Accountability Office, said Reid Jackson, CEO of Compu­search, a Dulles-based provider of acquisition software. Contractors and agencies will inevitably have to rectify their records.

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