The GSA’s notarized letter policy has left many U.S. government contractors outraged and without pay. In just a few months, it managed to hinder an entire industry. On June 11, 2018, they announced upcoming changes to this policy, but these changes raise doubts.
It began in March 2018, when the GSA started to implement the notarized letter requirement to register in SAM.gov, to renew this registration, or to make any changes. An active SAM registration is required to work as a government contractor and get paid. This policy was put in place because of limited instances of fraud. Meant as a deterrence, this move was deemed by many as a “band-aid” solution.
Rash Decision, Harsh Consequences
Right after this policy went into effect, the FSD became overwhelmed with letters. So much, that many new or existing SAM registrations have remained or gone inactive for an indefinite amount of time. The door to the federal marketplace has seemingly closed and many contractors have been left unpaid for the work they’ve completed.
“I would tell them [the GSA] that this policy was not well thought out, that it affects the small business owner, and the organization does not seem to care,” says Raffa Gibbard of Salisbury, N.C. Gibbard is one of 859 US Federal Contractor Registration clients the GSA had thrown under the bus. USFCR is a third-party government contracting firm located in St. Petersburg, Fla. that helps entities get registered, and learn bidding practices for the federal marketplace.
Gibbard started her business, Barrier One Contract Agency, for the sole purpose of government contracting. Barrier One, specializing in concrete and concrete admixture, was also founded on a $20,000 loan. Gibbard is now left with no way to pay it off.
Kurt Jameson of Ranger Construction in Reno, Nev. had a registration that he couldn’t get renewed. The result? He completed his end of a contract and the government never paid him. In total, they owe him $87,000.
“This is crazy, we cannot pay the subcontractors who know nothing about this,” he says.
So what is the GSA doing about this?
Starting on June 29, 2018, a contractor’s SAM.gov registration will not require a notarized letter to be activated. However, if the notarized letter isn’t processed within 30 days, the registration will expire.
What does this mean for government contractors? It means nothing.
If you’ve been waiting since March or April for your notarized letter to get processed, then you’ve been waiting in vain. Christie Jackson, the department lead case manager at US Federal Contractor Registration, was able to get hold of the FSD. From their conversation, she found that all letters from this period were considered “lost.” They caused a backup, made many contractors wait for weeks, only to throw out their letter.
Let’s say a contractor gets their SAM registration activated and they send in the letter. Nothing about this change in policy deals with the fact that the FSD is already overrun with thousands of letters they’ve received in May. Within the last month, there were 756 new vendors and 15,938 whose registration expired. What is most likely to happen, is that letter won’t get processed in time. Nothing changes.
Directions for your notarized letter can be found on US Federal Contractor Registration’s website. If you are a contractor in need of assistance in registering, fill out this form to get in contact with USFCR.