Despite sluggish recovery in consumer spending, there is one customer who is always out shopping: The Federal Government. Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, billions of dollars are being made available for government contracts as part of the largest economic stimulus program in history. This is particularly good news for small business owners, who have been hit particularly hard by the recession. The Small Business Set-Aside Program reserves government purchases meeting certain criteria to be awarded exclusively to small businesses. Additional set-asides such as minority, woman and veteran owned status also give small business owners an advantage over large, wealthy corporations.
However, before a company can do business with the government, they must be properly registered with a D&B DUNS Number, entered into the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database and complete the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA).
The primary purpose of CCR registration is to collect, validate, store and disseminate information necessary for acquisition and award actions by the Federal government. CCR is used by the Federal government to easily and quickly find vendors, verify eligibility, research capabilities and disburse payments. The ORCA filing streamlines and consolidates the representations and certifications vendors were required to complete for each individual contract award into one annual registration. Without proper registration, it is impossible for a small business to be awarded a contract or receive payment for any work completed.
According to the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center, as many as 20% of the firms registered in CCR have mistakes in their record, including omitted data, misspelled words, incomplete registrations and incorrect data. Being registered with errors or an incomplete record can be even worse than not having registered in the first place. Depending on the mistakes, there can be even worse consequences for companies whose CCR registration is incorrect. Penalties, fines and even criminal charges can be levied against the firm or individual, depending upon the severity of the errors. Since most registrants don’t properly research the laws and regulations governing CCR and ORCA registration, they won’t know about these consequences until they’re experiencing them firsthand.