By Gloria Larkin
In a recent memo to its Office of Federal Procurement Policy, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget has updated the certification process for contracting officers in its effort to streamline the training and credentialing of talent.
In short, OMB outlined changes to the Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting standards that align it with the Department of Defense’s contracting certification. The move was made to ensure parity for the training and education of acquisition personnel.
This means the legacy FAC-C certification will transition to FAC-C (Professional), which corresponds with DOD’s Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act standard. The goal of the move is to make it less complicated for contracting officers to follow comparable certification practices across federal agencies, as well as to facilitate easier shifts of talent between agencies.
Going forward, contracting officers certified at Levels I, II and III will automatically shift to the newly designated, single FAC-C (Professional) certification. New hires will have a year to complete four core courses focused on the essential aspects of federal acquisition, from foundational knowledge through pre-award, award and post-award processes.
In the memo, Lesley Field, deputy administrator for federal procurement policy, said of the update: “It shifts us from a talent management system based on early career classroom training to one that reflects best practices in modern learning, training agility and continuous professional growth. The new program is also designed to attract more people into the contracting workforce from a variety of sources.”
Isabella Casillas Guzman, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration ― the voice of America’s 33 million small businesses ― recently issued a statement in response to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. It starts as follows:
“This new Census data shows the Biden-Harris small business boom continued in 2022, with a rapid pace of new business applications second only to the record set in 2021. Since the start of this administration, small business applications reached a high of 10.5 million, the most in any two years in our nation’s history. This report is even more good news for our economy, with steady and stable growth, as well as unprecedented investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and R&D, bringing abundant opportunities for America’s entrepreneurs.”
In the statement, Casillas-Guzman went on to say that while many businesses fought to stay afloat during the shutdown, the government’s “historic investment in economic recovery enabled Americans to start new businesses and jobs at record-breaking levels, a trend that continues today.”
She also noted that the SBA and the Biden-Harris Administration continue to assist entrepreneurs by refining federal small business support programs and services, expanding access to capital, and providing networks for technical assistance and training, often with a boost from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The new Census Bureau data came after analysis from independent academic researchers showed rising consumer confidence as inflationary forces cooled for the sixth consecutive month.
No HoCo HUBZones
Contractors have long-awaited updates to the Historically Under-utilized Business Zone maps. In 2021, the SBA extended the withholding of the HUBZone maps until June 30, 2023, to provide ample time for updates based on 2020 Census results.
However, the SBA has released beta versions of the new HUBZone maps that will take effect on July 1, 2023. They can be previewed at http://preview-maps.certify.sba.gov/hubzone/map#center=44.722800,-103.249700&zoom=4.
Area readers should note that this map does not indicate the presence of any HUBZones in Howard County. That happenstance could result in some small businesses moving from Howard and into a HUBZone in Laurel; Anne Arundel, Baltimore or Prince George’s counties; or Baltimore City.
Also, government contractors that are HUBZone certified (or are planning on applying to the program) should check to see if their principal office location will still be considered HUBZone-eligible when the new maps are officially released.