The revival of earmarks
Earmarks ― or funds offered as favors to individual members of Congress for particular projects ― have made a major comeback, with more than 7,000 worth billions of dollars in the latest deal.
What’s interesting about that spike in interest is that earmarks had been basically ruled out by Congress for about a decade after the Tea Party movement, though members had talked about bringing them back in a more limited, transparent way since and 2023 is the second year of the newly instituted system. The good news is that there have not been any scandals so far and earmarks are proving to be popular.
In 2022, the mantra in Congress was to limit earmarks to no more than 1% of discretionary spending and members took such care that they only reached about two thirds of that limit. This year, however, the amount spent is heading further north, with the $15.3 billion omnibus bill that can spark 7,234 specific member projects. That means the investment could reach about $17 billion and stay within that 1% figure.
Moving forward, know that the earmarks are getting bipartisan support, In the House, it appears that the Democrats have maybe 60% of the earmark dollars, with Republicans (who were initially skeptical) hovering around 30%, with about three quarters of the House Republican Conference recently voting against a ban on earmarks. The remainder lay in the bipartisan space.
NAICS updates for WOSB
Updates are being implemented by the U.S. Small Business Administration in regard to the North American Industry Classification System codes that are authorized for use in its Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program. The SBA’s impetus is to reflect the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s NAICS revision for 2022, which is known as NAICS 2022.
These changes would impact 85 of the 2017 NAICS codes eligible for use under the program. The designations of industries contained in SBA’s notice apply to all solicitations issued on, or after, this past Oct. 1.
NAICS 2022 created 111 new industries by reclassifying, combining or splitting 156 NAICS 2017 industries or their parts, as well as renaming some NAICS industry titles. After review and comparison of the NAICS 2017 and NAICS 2022 industry groups, the SBA’s changes affected 85 of the 2017 NAICS codes deemed eligible for the program in the March 18, 2022, Federal Register notice.
Those 2022 NAICS changes impacted 72 NAICS codes designated as eligible for WOSB set-asides and sole-source awards, plus 13 NAICS codes designated as eligible for Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business set-asides and sole-source awards.
For more information and to access the two tables that explain the updates, go to www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/11/17/2022-25013/notice-of-updated-naics-codes-for-use-in-the-women-owned-small-business-federal-contract-program.
Prison camera law
President Biden recently signed into law the bipartisan Prison Camera Reform Act, which is a bill that requires the federal Bureau of Prisons to repair outdated security systems and fix broken surveillance cameras. The move came after rampant staff sexual abuse, inmate escapes and high-profile deaths, such as the suicide of financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The new law requires the Bureau to evaluate and enhance security camera, radio and public address systems at its 122 facilities. It also requires the Bureau to submit a report to Congress within three months detailing deficiencies and its plans to make upgrades, which are required within three years.
In addition, the Bureau must submit annual progress reports to lawmakers.
Gloria Larkin is President and CEO of TargetGov, and a national expert in business development in the government markets. Email glorialarkinTG@targetgov.com, visit www.targetgov.com or call toll-free 1-866-579-1346 x 325 for more information.