by Alice Lipowicz
editor, Set-Aside Alert
It was a tweet-filled, fake-newsy, Wikileaking kind of year that turned a lot of precedents upside down–and the feelings of disruption and uncertainty are likely to continue through 2017.
The final year of Democrat Barack Obama’s presidency was a busy one for small business federal contractors, and the November elections brought in a new administration and new Congress–all Republicans–promising major changes in budgets, taxes, regulations and foreign policy.
Here is a rundown of Set-Aside Alert’s picks for top 16 small business federal contracting stories of 2016.
#1 – The elections
The 2016 presidential and congressional elections brought in GOP President-elect Donald Trump, who ran on a populist agenda promising jobs and major changes in government, and a GOP-majority House and Senate.
Trump’s Cabinet picks to date have reflected a pro-business and strongly anti-regulation point of view, which has encouraged some small business contractors.
But there also are concerns about about Trump’s potential conflicts of interest while serving as president and also owning a global hotel and real estate company. At the same time, federal workers and vendors must hew to strict ethics rules to protect against conflicts of interest.
Predictions for the Trump administration’s agenda have been uncertain and some predict greater volatility in the federal market.
While Trump has talked about increasing the defense budget, he also has tweeted unexpectedly that contracts awarded to Boeing and Lockheed Martin for specific major weapons systems should be cancelled, causing stock price fluctuations.
Trump nominated Linda McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment and a major Trump donor, to head the Small Business Administration.
#2 – Kingdomware decision
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Veterans Affairs Department’s interpretion of a 2006 law. The law created strong preferences for veteran-owned small business contractors at the VA.
The court unanimously decided that under the 2006 law the VA must award contracts to small firms owned by veterans and service-disabled veterans if several conditions are met: first, if there are two or more veteran-owned small vendors that can meet the requirements and are likely to submit bids; and if the firms can meet the requirements at a fair and reasonable price that offers best value to the government.
The VA had argued that task orders under the Federal Supply Schedules (also known as GSA Schedules) were exempt, but the court disagreed. [read more]