PennDOT will host a one-day conference, Pathways to PennDOT on Oct. 18 to connect small, minority, women-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) with potential contracting opportunities at the department.
The conference will be held at the Best Western Premier Hotel and Conference Center Union Deposit at 800 East Park Drive in Harrisburg. Registration is free.
“Small and diverse business are central to our communities, and our economy,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “I’m thrilled to host this conference and to help facilitate connecting these critical businesses to opportunities with PennDOT.”
The conference, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. is open to DBE firms, primes, contractors and industry leaders, and will cover such topics as DBE certification, the PennDOT prequalification process, branding strategies, and a panel discussion on best practices from current DBE’s, among other sessions.
Firms can also learn how to participate in PennDOT’s Mentor-Protégé program, which connects DBEs with prime contractors to gain and expand experience in the industry.
To learn more about Pathways to PennDOT or to register for the conference, visit PennDOT’s website. Pre-registration closes on Oct. 7.
U.S. Small Business Administration today said the Biden-Harris Administration exceeded its small business federal contracting goal, awarding $154.2 billion in contracts to small businesses.
SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said the awards are an increase of $8 billion from the previous fiscal year.
The share of contracts going to small businesses equates to 27.2 percent of total federal contracting funds. Combined with $72 billion in subprime contracting goals, this historic spend has supported over one million jobs in the American economy, she said.
Overall, the federal government exceeded its goal of 23% in prime contract dollars and earned an “A” on this year’s government-wide Scorecard. Eleven federal agencies earned an “A+” for their agencies’ achievements in small business contracting, and an additional ten agencies received an “A” grade, according to Guzman. SBA sets contracting goals for each agency and works with government buyers to ensure that they prioritize small businesses.
“The Biden-Harris Administration set historic records in small business contracting, including the highest percentage spend to Small Disadvantaged Businesses and growth for our Service-disabled Veteran Small Businesses, which has advanced competition, strengthened local economies, and supported job growth across the nation,” Guzman said.
“By expanding small business opportunities and building equity in federal procurement, we have helped to ensure that federal agencies can fully leverage the extraordinary talent and innovation delivered by our nation’s entrepreneurs,” she added. “Building on the major procurement reforms announced last year; the SBA will continue to further progress in all federal procurement goals so more entrepreneurs can grow their businesses with government contracts, including those presented by President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”
“These small business contracts represent an incredible impact on the Mid-Atlantic region,“ said SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator John Fleming, “infusing more than $53 billion into the economies of DC, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania – the agency’s largest portfolio of federal contractors. That’s nearly 12,500 companies providing quality, American-Made goods and services and employing thousands of U.S. workers, while advancing innovation and growth.”
“Small businesses know how to get the job done, and they have a key role to play in delivering the generational infrastructure investment underway through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “We know that it hasn’t been easy for small businesses – particularly those owned by women and people of color – to reap the benefits of past infrastructure investments, and we’re proud of the actions this Administration is taking to level the playing field, remove barriers to opportunities, and increase access to wealth creation for small businesses across America.”
As states and counties around the country are taking protective measures with the concern of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the time has come for individuals and organizations to consider how their contractual agreements might be impacted or if their contracts are enforceable at all.
This article outlines several legal concepts that may be valuable in these uncertain times. However, careful review of the each individual contract and situation is paramount.
What is Force Majeure?
Some contracts contain “Force Majeure” provisions, which set forth the types of events, usually natural and always unforeseen, that if they occur, may excuse a party from its duty to perform under a contract. 
Whether an event constitutes Force Majeure depends on terms in the contract, the duties contemplated under that contract and the nature of the interfering event. If a contract does contain a Force Majeure clause, careful review of the contract needs to be made, in order to determine whether a party may use Force Majeure to excuse its performance of the contract.
What is Impracticality or Frustration of Purpose?
If a contract does not include Force Majeure provisions or Force Majeure is not an available defense, all hope is not lost and a party might be able to rely on the common law defenses of impracticality or frustration of purpose. Pennsylvania law recognizes the doctrine of frustration of contractual purpose or “impracticability of performance” as a valid defense to performance under a contract.
Performance can become impractical when it becomes significantly difficult or extreme due to an unforeseen event.  However, a simple change in the degree of difficulty or expense is not enough to invoke the Doctrine of Impracticability. Impracticability also comes into play when the law directly intervenes to make performance impracticable or impossible. A good example of this is the current governmental Coronavirus restrictions limiting and prohibiting certain types of activity like group gathering. While these mandates have been put in place to protect public health, they may make performance of certain contracts impossible.
The doctrine of frustration is slightly different and may be available if a change in unforeseen circumstances or event destroys the value of the contract’s purpose. The doctrine of frustration is only applicable if the event is both substantial and beyond a party’s control. It is not simply enough that the transaction has become less profitable or even that the party will sustain a loss.
Your unique circumstance
It cannot be overstated that a situation needs be evaluated on an individual basis in order to determine whether any of these defenses are useful. Just as the circumstances surrounding each contract differ, how the current circumstance and governmental restrictions impact the enforceability of contracts also varies.
Accordingly, as the current COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic continues to evolve and governmental response seems to change daily, early identification of contracts that may be impacted by the current situation is imperative to create an appropriate plan of action to protect your interests.
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