112 entries found

Mar 7, 2014

 

The House Small Business Committee has marked up and approved a six-pack of contracting reform bills, including legislation that would raise the current agency goals for steering work to small businesses.
 
The package approved Wednesday would particularly affect the construction industry, women, and disabled veterans. It includes a plan to raise agencies’ small-business prime contracting goal from 23 percent to 25 percent and establish a 40 percent goal for small-business subcontractors.
 
“Greater small business involvement in federal contracting benefits companies and taxpayers alike,” said panel Chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo., who sponsored the bill outlining the new contracting goals. “Small firms are innovative, and increased competition often leads to savings for the taxpayers.”  Read full article.
 

 

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Jan 10, 2014

Proposed changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulations for 2014 include a rule that would encourage agencies to set aside contracts for small businesses.

The interim rule would codify part of the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act that addressed set-asides of task- and delivery-orders as well as partial set-asides under multiple-award contracts, the 2014 FAR regulatory agenda says.
The interim rule would only strengthen what's already happening in the government, said federal procurement expert Larry Allen. Agencies already regularly set aside contracts for small businesses, he added.
 
"It's a further step to enshrine a practice that already happens," Allen said. This year's agenda will also include a proposed rule to clarify regulatory coverage on organizational conflicts of interest--when a contractor provides two types of services to the government that have conflicting interests.
 
Another proposed rule would implement a uniform Procurement Instrument Identification numbering system. That system will require the use of Activity Address Codes to identify contracting offices and other offices in an effort to standardize procurement transactions across agencies.
 
But the gears of regulatory reform might move slowly this year, Allen said, because there will be no full time head of the office of procurement policy when Joe Jordan leaves at the end of January.
"History has shown, with the absence of someone there full time, the wheels will turn more slowly," he said.
For more: - go to a Federal Register notice for the FAR regulatory agenda

 

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Jan 8, 2014

From shutdowns to changed buying methods, the federal contracting market is evolving. Smart contractors will not only face down these changes, but find the best ways to take advantage of them.

Here is a look at how to get ahead in 2014:
 
Move past sequestration and the shutdown. The federal sequester and recent budget cuts — in addition to the 2013 shutdown — mean that federal spending is being scrutinized like never before, putting extra pressure on government contractors.
Companies should focus on winning future business, rather than past obstacles. Smart business development strategies include finding new money in the federal budget.
 
For example, the 2014 federal budget request includes $76.5 billion in information technology spending. The more important figure could be $17.9 billion, or the amount of money included for new projects — as opposed to maintenance costs — in the budget number.
 
Stay ahead of the contract-type curve. Over time, agencies change their contracting practices. Some contract types grow popular while others fall out of favor.
 
In 2009, General Services Administration schedules and government-wide acquisition contracts began losing market share to agency-specific, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract vehicles.
 
Now, spending patterns are shifting back, with GSA schedule and government-wide acquisition contract spending increasing, while agency-specific vehicles decline in use. Though agencies give up some control by using multi-agency contracts, it’s cheaper and easier to rely on a program that’s already in place. Read Full Article.

 

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Nov 18, 2013

As government contracting continues to become more competitive in response to shrinking budgets for federal contracts, more disappointed offerors are pursuing bid protests to protect their interests. After climbing rapidly through the mid-2000s, federal government spending on contracts reached a high of almost $541 billion in Fiscal Year ("FY") 2008. Since then, spending has dropped to $517.1 billion in FY 2012 and continued to decline in FY 2013. As contractors fight to maintain their piece of the federal procurement budget, it is increasingly important for these contractors to understand their options for challenging agency procurement decisions through bid protests.
 
1. Interested Party/Standing
To file a bid protest, a protestor must demonstrate that it has standing as an interested party, meaning the protestor must be an actual or prospective offeror whose direct economic interest would be affected by the award of a contract or by the failure to award a contract. Thus, while a protester challenging the terms of a solicitation must be an actual or prospective offeror, a protestor challenging an agency's selection decision must also demonstrate that it would be next in line for an award but for the agency error or that it would regain the opportunity to compete if its protest was sustained.
 
2. Forum Selection
A contractor challenging a federal procurement may generally choose to file a bid protest before the agency administering the procurement, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (COFC). Agency-level protests typically offer the least expensive and quickest option for a disappointed offeror, followed by GAO protests, and then COFC protests. For agency-level protests, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requires agencies to use best efforts to resolve a protest within 35 days after the protest is filed, although some agencies have implemented their own rules requiring shorter timeframes for resolution. The FAR similarly imposes a strict deadline for resolving protests filed before GAO; however, GAO has up to 100 days after the initial protest filing to issue a decision. By contrast, there are no time constraints on COFC's authority to resolve bid protests.
Further, because none of these forums hold appellate jurisdiction over the others, a protestor who is unsatisfied with the result of a protest may re-file the protest in a different forum, with limited exceptions. For example, a protestor disappointed with the outcome of a GAO protest may be able to file a COFC protest, but a protestor that starts at the COFC cannot later file a GAO protest based on the same issue. Thus, contractors may want to start with an agency-level or GAO protest before going to the COFC.
Although agency-level protests may be relatively quick and inexpensive, they also have significant disadvantages compared to GAO and COFC protests. For example, agency-level protestors have no right to discovery. By contrast, GAO and COFC protests require limited discovery, which means agencies must produce an agency report or administrative record containing all documents relevant to the protest. Further, in some cases, a COFC protest may allow for additional discovery (e.g., depositions).
Another important distinction between agencies, GAO, and the COFC is the difference in remedies available to a disappointed bidder. While agencies and GAO have limited authority and only can issue recommendations, the COFChas the power to enforce its judgments. Although this distinction has the potential to significantly impact forum selection, as a practical matter agencies generally follow GAO's recommendations.
 
3. CICA Automatic Stay
One significant advantage only offered by GAO protests is the availability of an automatic stay of contract award or performance under the Competition in Contracting Act ("CICA"). To obtain a CICA stay, the protestor only needs to file its protest within 10 days of the contract award or within five days of its debriefing. However, the requirement for a CICA stay is not triggered until GAO provides notice of the protest filing to the contracting agency. Further, because GAO has up to a day to provide the required notice, contractors should file protests in advance of the filing deadline when requesting a CICA stay to ensure that GAO has sufficient time to notify the contracting agency.
By contrast, CICA stays are not available in COFC protests. Nonetheless, the COFC may stay contract award or performance through granting injunctive relief, although grants of injunctive relief require the protestor to satisfy a relatively high standard. Further, protestors must not only satisfy a high burden to warrant injunctive relief, but also must post security in an amount deemed appropriate by the court to pay the costs and damages sustained by a party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained.
 
4. Agency Debriefings
Even though competitive procurements require the agency to conduct a debriefing with an offeror following the award decision, the manner and content of debriefings vary greatly. In some procurements, the agency may provide a written debriefing, while in others the agency may provide an in-person or telephonic debriefing. Moreover, some debriefings include detailed analysis, redacted versions of source selection documents, and even an opportunity for the protestor to have the agency respond to specific questions. Other debriefings, are limited to the information required under the FAR�e.g., evaluation of significant weaknesses or deficiencies in the offeror's proposal, overall evaluated cost or price and technical rating, or overall ranking of the offerors. Unfortunately, despite the lack of uniformity and the limited regulations governing the scope of debriefings, an offeror cannot protest the content of its debriefing.
 
5. Pre-Award vs. Post-Award Protests
Regardless of which forum a protestor chooses, protests challenging the terms of a solicitation must be filed prior to the closing date for proposal submissions. After that deadline passes, a protestor only can challenge the terms of a solicitation if those terms contain a latent ambiguity, meaning that the solicitation error was subtle and not capable of being identified until the evaluation. The latent ambiguity exception, however, often can prove a difficult standard to meet. Thus, before the proposal submission deadline, contractors should carefully review solicitations for any unclear or potentially discriminatory terms and consider addressing those terms with the agency and, if necessary, filing a protest. By contrast, post-award protests may challenge a much broader range of issues and follow different timeliness rules.
 
6. Timeliness Rules
Except when based on alleged improprieties in a solicitation, agency-level protests and GAO protests must be filed no later than 10 days after the basis of protest is known or should have been known, whichever is earlier. Agencies however, may consider the merits of a protest filed outside the 10 day requirement for good cause or when the agency determines that a protest raises issues significant to the agency's acquisition system. Further, where the protest challenges a competitive procurement under which a required debriefing is requested, the protestor has until 10 days after the debriefing to file a protest. However, the protest must be filed within five days of the debriefing to secure a suspension of contract performance. Unlike agency-level and GAO protests, the COFC does not require protestors to satisfy strict filing deadlines in most cases, although the COFC has effectively adopted GAO's timeliness rule for protests challenging solicitation improprieties.
 
7. Hearings
Although hearings are regularly held in protests before the COFC, GAO holds hearings in a limited number of protests. Generally, GAO will hold a hearing only to resolve a factual dispute that requires assessing witness credibility or whereGAO determines that a hearing would be more efficient than proceeding on written submissions only. As evidence of how rarely GAO conducts hearings, between FY 2008 and 2012, GAO conducted hearings for only 260 of 10,768 protests filed.
 
8.. Filing Trends
Although the number of GAO protests continues to rise, the rate of increase has tapered off in recent years. In FY 2012, GAO saw 2,475 protests filed, compared to 2,353 in FY 2011, 2,229 in FY 2010, 1,989 in FY 2009, and 1,652 in FY 2008. By contrast, the COFC hears a relatively stable number of protests each year. Between FY 2005 and FY 2010, only 454 protests were filed before the COFC.
 
9. Success Rates
Despite the noted increase in GAO protest filings, the sustain rate has remained relatively stable. In FY 2012, GAO sustained 18.6% of protests, compared to 16% in FY 2011, 19% in FY 2010, 18% in FY 2009, and 21% in FY 2008. Although these figures may seem low, GAO tracks this data only on protests where GAO issues a formal recommendation. As such, GAO's statistics fail to account for protests in which a protestor successfully obtains corrective action from an agency.
 
10. Potential Changes to GAO's Handling of Protest
Despite the drastic increase in protest filings, GAO continues to maintain a manual docketing system. However, GAO's FY 2014 budget request asked Congress to provide GAO the authority to collect a filing fee for protests so that it could fund development, implementation, and maintenance of an electronic docketing system. In response to GAO's request, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate appropriations bills have included language that would authorize GAO to collect the fee, although neither bill specifies the amount of the fee. Reference Article.

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Nov 13, 2013

SAN MARCOS, TEXAS, November 11, 2013 - Berry Aviation, Inc. (BAI) announced today that it has recently made several fleet additions.  The aircraft acquired are three de Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otters and one Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia, all purchased by the company.
 
The Series 300 Twin Otters were acquired to support BAI’s expanding contract airlift services for the US Department of Defense (DOD), a segment of the company that has experienced healthy growth in recent years. Two of these Twin Otters were dispatched to Burkina Faso, Africa to provide short take-off and landing (STOL) services to the DOD throughout the Trans-Sahara region. There they will provide passenger, aerial delivery, casualty evacuation, and cargo airlift support services.
 
“We are excited to expand into Africa utilizing the Twin Otter. It is highly regarded for its reliability and is well suited for utility air transportation in remote and austere environments,” commented Sonny Berry, CEO and President. 
The third Twin Otter will remain at the company’s headquarters in San Marcos, Texas to be used for training exercises. 
 
The Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia was added to expand BAI’s On-Demand Cargo (ODC) operational capabilities. Berry Aviation acquired its first EMB-120 in June 2012 and shortly thereafter decided, based on market demand, to purchase a second one. Both planes perform cargo airlift primarily throughout North America. 
In regards to this, Sonny Berry added, “The Embraer 120’s payload capabilities serve to diversify our On-Demand Cargo offering. We feel that the addition of this airframe will allow us to expand our ODC line of business.” 
 
These additions bring BAI’s current fleet to 25 aircraft: 
• 3 Fairchild Metro II 
• 7 Fairchild Metro III 
• 4 Fairchild Metro III Heavy 
• 4 de Havilland Canada DHC-8-200 
• 3 de Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 
• 2 Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia 
• 2 Dornier DO 328-120 
***BAI also operates four US Army owned UH-72 Lakota Helicopters 
 
Berry Aviation, Inc. (www.berryaviation.com) is a trusted leader in private aviation, with a portfolio of services that includes Government, Private Charter, Scheduled and On-Demand Freight, Maintenance, and FBO operations. Since its foundation in 1983, BAI has grown into a dynamic, customer-focused company with the knowledge, experience and manpower to operate on short notice with turnkey safe aviation services. More information on the company’s awards, services, certifications, history, and industry leadership can be found on the website.  Reference Article.

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Oct 28, 2013

Making it easier for the government to do business with small, high-growth tech companies, and enabling the government to buy better, lower-cost tech solutions from the full range of American businesses.
 
RFP-EZ improves the operations of government by making it easier for small businesses to sell their services to government buyers, and by making it easier for contracting officers within government to navigate the process of purchasing.  In Round 1 of the PIF program, the RFP-EZ team opened the door to small businesses by building a platform for small, creative businesses to more effectively sell to the Federal Government. The objective of the RFP-EZ 2.0 team is to improve upon the existing product and scale the tool across additional government agencies so that fewer taxpayer dollars are spent getting the technology that government needs to do its work for the American people. 
 
As RFP-EZ is tested and scaled, a new effort will be launched to improve Federal procurement by building a portal of prices paid by agencies under their contracts.  Improved information sharing, both within and between agencies, about prices paid for common-use goods and services will make it easier for agencies to find “best in class” spending options.  More informed decision making promises to help save substantial amounts of money each year by pooling resources in the vehicles that offer the best value for the taxpayer. Reference Article.
 
For opportunities, visit https://rfpez.sba.gov/

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Sep 27, 2013

As the end of the government fiscal year looms, a frenzy of contract awards generally follows, accompanied by an uptick in the number of bid protests filed at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Court of Federal Claims. Below, just in time for protest season, are some best practice reminders that relate to debriefings:
1. Debriefings are an opportunity for your company to learn more about the circumstances of an award, to gather data that will help you to improve future offers and determine if a basis for protest exists. The purpose of the debriefing is to obtain as much information about the procurement as possible. Per Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 15.506, a post-award debriefing must include:
  • the agency's evaluation of significant strengths and weaknesses in your proposal
  • the overall evaluated cost or price, and the technical rating, of your offer and the awardee's offer
  • information about how your past performance was evaluated
  • the overall ranking of all offerors, if done
  • a summary of the rationale for the award
  • reasonable responses to questions about whether the evaluation scheme and applicable regulations were followed
Some agencies will provide additional information, although agencies cannot disclose confidential, trade secret or source selection information, or any information that would not be releasable under the Freedom of Information Act.
2. Always ask for a debriefing, even if you are the awardee. For unsuccessful offerors, it never hurts to find out why your efforts to secure a contract have been unsuccessful. If you are the awardee, details about the strengths and weaknesses of your proposal and why you won are always useful.
3. Be sure to make a request for a debriefing within three days of the notice of an award. Debriefings are not required in FAR Part 8 or Part 12 procurements. Sometimes agencies will provide them anyway, although all the agency is required to furnish is a brief explanation of the award decision. In a Part 15 procurement, the agency is required to give a full debriefing when one is timely requested.
4. Debriefings should generally take place within five days of a request. Always take the first debriefing date offered by the government, even if it is inconvenient or if it means you must conduct the debriefing telephonically rather than in person. Competition in Contracting Act statutory stays are triggered from the first debriefing date offered, not the actual debriefing date. Once you have asked for a debriefing, the GAO may dismiss as premature any protest filed before the debriefing. Depending on your actual debriefing date, you could be put in the position of being too early to file a protest but too late to obtain a stay if you do not accept the first offered date.
5. Bring the following with you to the debriefing:
  • a list of debriefing items to which you are entitled under the FAR
  • a list of other questions specific to the procurement
  • a copy of the solicitation, particularly the evaluation factors for award as described in Section M
  • at least two people � one to listen and one to take notes
  • a good attitude � it is not the time to be confrontational or accusatory
It is generally not a good idea to bring your lawyer, even if you think it very likely that you will file a protest, as the presence of your attorney tends to limit conversation.
6. Ask for the following at the debriefing:
  • the names and job titles of everyone in attendance
  • a copy of the source selection memorandum (You will likely will be provided with a redacted version, or only that portion that relates to your evaluation)
7. After the debriefing:
  • discuss with your attorney possible grounds for protest (but be sure to get your attorney involved before the protest, as soon as you receive a notice of the award)
  • you may send post-debriefing requests for clarification or follow up questions to the agency but these will not extend your deadline for filing a protest
  • conduct a "lessons learned" session with the proposal team and other relevant personnel .

Reference full article.

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Sep 4, 2013

The business impact of the OASIS program is huge. A reasonable estimate of the potential value of contracts resulting from OASIS could be $80 billion over the 10-year life of the program. The IT component is significant enough that GSA is using the program to promote other government IT goals, such as promoting the use of open source solutions and open technology where practicable.Anytime the U.S. government signals it is embarking on a program to invest tens of billions of dollars, potential vendors take notice -- especially during a time of spending restraint.

The federal government, through the General Services Administration, has launched a new program for the procurement of a wide range of professional support services. GSA has branded it the "One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services," or OASIS. The idea is for government agencies to use a common contracting vehicle for support services, versus individual agency-by-agency procurement programs, to make such contracting more efficient.

The OASIS initiative represents GSA's solution to reducing contract proliferation and duplication across government.

"This is a problem for both government and for contractors, and when we look at what the government spends annually on professional services, the numbers are significant. GSA uses the buying power of the federal government to bring down costs and reduce duplication," says GSA Public Affairs Officer Cara Battaglini in a blog post.  Read full article.

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Aug 12, 2013

THE United States Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for 35 200km/h diesel-electric locomotives for use on inter-city and commuter services in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, Washington, California, and Oregon.
 
The Illinois Department of Transportation is leading the procurement with the first deliveries expected in 2016. The FRA has allocated $US 808m to manufacture the 35 locomotives and 130 double-deck coaches, with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) awarding the American subsidiary of Sumitomo, Japan, the $US 352m coach contract in September 2012. The coaches are being built at Nippon Sharyo's plant in Rochelle, Illinois and are scheduled to be delivered between autumn 2015 and early 2018.
The RFP states that the locomotives should use ac traction motors and meet EPA Tier 4 emissions standards. The winning bidder for the locomotive contract will be announced in early 2014. Many of the new locomotives and 88 of the coaches will be operated on upgraded infrastructure between Chicago and St Louis, and Chicago and Detroit (IRJ January p28).
 
This is the second locomotive contract to be procured under the standardised regulations outlined in Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) 205 specifications for the Next Generation Corridor Equipment Pool Committee. Southern California Regional Rail Authority selected EMD on May 31 to supply up to 20 F125 Spirit diesel-electric locomotives, which will also be designed to meet EPA Tier 4 standards, for operation on Southern California's regional rail service, Metrolink.
 
"The new uniform standards will drive down costs and allow more manufacturers and suppliers to compete, fostering healthy competition while re-establishing the US domestic supply chain for passenger rail equipment," says federal railroad administrator, Mr Joseph Szabo. "The intent to purchase 35 new locomotives comes as intercity passenger rail ridership continues to post and exceed ridership records. The need for new rail equipment has never been greater." Reference Article.

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Jul 25, 2013

Berry Aviation Inc., San Marcos, Texas, has been awarded a $10,725,000 fixed-priced, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for Trans-Sahara short take-off and landing (STOL) services.  The contract provides for casualty evacuation (CASEVAC), personnel airlift, cargo airlift, and air drop services.  Services will be performed throughout the recognized political boundaries of Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, South Sudan, Tunisia, and Uganda, with an expected completion date of June 27, 2017.  The value, including the base period and three one-year option periods, is $49,092,472.  The contracting activity is U.S. Transportation Command, Directorate of Acquisition, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., (HTC711-13-D-C013)

 

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Jul 19, 2013
ASHBURN—As the federal government continues to tighten their budget, the same goes for all of the federal departments and agencies. What does this mean for companies interested in pursuing government contracts? Well, with less money to spend, it means that contractors should expect most of the contracts to be awarded to the Lowest-Price, Technically Acceptable (LPTA) offeror.
 
Though lowest price technically acceptable is often referred to as the alternative to best value, it is actually stated in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) as a type of best value. FAR Subpart 15.1—Source Selection Processes and Techniques defines Best Value as:
           
Best Value - Defined
FAR 15.101 Best value continuum
An agency can obtain best value in negotiated acquisitions by using any one or a combination of source selection approaches. In different types of acquisitions, the relative importance of cost or price may vary. For example, in acquisitions where the requirement is clearly definable and the risk of unsuccessful contract performance is minimal, cost or price may play a dominant role in source selection. The less definitive the requirement, the more development work required, or the greater the performance risk, the more technical or past performance considerations may play a dominant role in source selection.
 
Below the above description, the FAR presents LPTA as a subsection of best value, stating:
 
LPTA - Defined
FAR 15.101-2 Lowest price technically acceptable source selection process.
(a) The lowest price technically acceptable source selection process is appropriate when best value is expected to result from selection of the technically acceptable proposal with the lowest evaluated price.
(b) When using the lowest price technically acceptable process, the following apply:
(1) The evaluation factors and significant subfactors that establish the requirements of acceptability shall be set forth in the solicitation. Solicitations shall specify that award will be made on the basis of the lowest evaluated price of proposals meeting or exceeding the acceptability standards for non-cost factors. If the contracting officer documents the file pursuant to 15.304(c)(3)(iii), past performance need not be an evaluation factor in lowest price technically acceptable source selections. If the contracting officer elects to consider past performance as an evaluation factor, it shall be evaluated in accordance with 15.305. However, the comparative assessment in 15.305(a)(2)(i) does not apply. If the contracting officer determines that a small business’ past performance is not acceptable, the matter shall be referred to the Small Business Administration for a Certificate of Competency determination, in accordance with the procedures contained in Subpart 19.6 and 15 U.S.C. 637(b)(7)).
(2) Tradeoffs are not permitted.
(3) Proposals are evaluated for acceptability but not ranked using the non-cost/price factors.
(4) Exchanges may occur (see 15.306).
 
The above FAR provisions exhibit that Best Value speaks for itself, the government wishes to obtain the best quality service they can for a reasonable price. Though they are seeking a fair and reasonable price, the quality of the service is of more importance than price. On the other hand, when it comes to LPTA, as long as the evaluators deem the bidder as acceptable under the proposal requirements, then the price becomes the sole determining factor.
 
So, why is LPTA such a big deal? Most people would assume that with sequestration affecting all of the agencies, this should be a fairly good solution. This may be true, but does lowest price guarantee the best quality?
 
Historically, Lowest-Price, Technically Acceptable solicitations were primarily used for the purchase of products and non-complex services with little risk, especially towards national security matters; such as janitorial services. However, recently we see LPTA solicitation within extensively complex services; services in which quality is far more important than price. This is not to say that the government should spend an outrageous amount of money for these projects, but should a few hundred dollars be the difference between two-star and five-star quality service? Additionally, will the compromise to service end up costing the government more money in the long run? For example, the old saying “you get what you pay for” may hold true for LPTA contracts. In the end, the awardee may not perform to standards; which risks the government needing to spend additional funds to manage the contract, or potentially terminating the contract to then put it out for recompete. The push for lower prices and acceptable quality will not save the government money if performance is sacrificed.
 
The best way to determine the quality of service to be expected from a contractor is from their Past Performance records. As a requirement under Best Value solicitation, Past Performance holds a hefty weight in the evaluation/selection process. Within LPTA solicitation, it is ‘technically’ a requirement; however, it has a considerably large loophole.
 
According to the DoD’s Source Selection Procedures past performance is considered required criteria to be provided within a proposal for evaluation. It states the following:
 
A.2.1.2. Past Performance.
“Past performance shall be used as an evaluation factor within the LPTA process, unless waived by the PCO in accordance with FAR 15.101-2(b). It shall be evaluated in accordance with FAR 15.305 and DFARS 215.305. However, the comparative assessment in FAR 15.305(a)(2)(i) does not apply. Therefore, past performance will be rated on an “acceptable” or “unacceptable” basis using the ratings in Table A-2.”
 
 
Table A-2. Past Performance Evaluation Ratings
Rating
Description
Acceptable
Based on the offeror’s performance record, the Government has a reasonable expectation that the offeror will successfully perform the required effort, or the offeror’s performance record is unknown.
Unacceptable
Based on the offeror’s performance record, the Government has no reasonable expectation that the offeror will be able to successfully perform the required effort.
 
Though one would think that this is sufficient for determining whether a bidder has the necessary qualifications and experience to support the proposed task, it is flawed. Within the appendix, directly below this table, it states:
 
“Note: In the case of an offeror without a record of relevant past performance or for whom information on past performance is not available or so sparse that no meaningful past performance rating can be reasonably assigned, the offeror may not be evaluated favorably or unfavorably on past performance (see FAR 15.305 (a)(2)(iv)). Therefore, the offeror shall be determined to have unknown past performance. In the context of acceptability/unacceptability, “unknown” shall be considered “acceptable.””
 
This note nullifies the entirety of the past performance requirements within the LPTA source selection framework as it allows offerors to essentially disregard this requisite. If a bidder’s past performance record is “not available or so sparse that no meaningful past performance rating can be reasonably assigned” one would typically assume that they are thus unqualified for the job; for the lack of experience in handling a task or assignment of relevance, or they could have opted to disregard the section based on unacceptable performance history. However, rather than being deemed unacceptable, the bidder is given a free-pass.
 
“LPTAs may be used in situations where the Government would not realize any value from a proposal exceeding the Government’s minimum technical or performance requirements, often for acquisitions of commercial or non-complex services or supplies which are clearly defined and expected to be low risk.”
 
This is not to say that LPTA solicitation is in any way defective or insufficient, only that it should be offered towards those services in which it was initially meant for. There are countless jobs and services that would be a perfect fit for LPTA based solicitations; however, when it comes to complexity, quality past performance must be a primary evaluation factor during the source selection process.
12 July 2013 -- Written By: Christine Ray

 

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Jun 25, 2013

ASHBURN, VA — As the festivities come to a close, small business leaders return home to put what they have learned into practice. From June 17th to the 21st, small business employees and entrepreneurs traveled from across the country to participate in the 50th anniversary of National Small Business Week.

National Small Business Week is a major event held annually for all existing and potential (future) small businesses, as the Small Business Administration (SBA) dedicates an entire week to celebrating and educating small businesses and their entrepreneurs.

Throughout the week, small businesses had the opportunity to learn from seminars, gain advice from successful entrepreneurs and business leaders, attend informational workshops, and were given the chance to participate in hands-on experience led by experts in the field. The Small Business Administration (SBA) conducts this week-long culmination of events every year with the goal of educating people on the importance of small businesses, as well as assisting these businesses (present and future) to be successful.

For a promising end to the celebration, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced on Friday June 21, that the National Prime Contractor of the Year and National Subcontractor of the Year were awarded to a service-disabled veteran-owned small business contractor and to a woman-owned mapping technology company, (source: www.sba.gov).

“When federal contracts get into the hands of small businesses, it is a win-win for the federal government, small businesses, the economy and the job market,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “The federal government awarded nearly $100 billion in federal contracts to small business like the ones being honored today. These businesses and the industry leaders who contract with small businesses help boost the nation’s economy and they are stellar models of how to successfully navigate the federal contracting arena.”
(Source: http://www.sba.gov/about-sba-services/7367/680421)

The main events were held in Seattle, Washington (June 17th); Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas (June 18th); St. Louis, Missouri (June 19th); Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (June 20th); and Washington, D.C. (June 21st). With the exception of St. Louis, all of these events were sold out. Small business gathered their forces and came together to help educate each other in hopes of learning and growing for the future. People who could not attend the events could access a live stream, as well as media/news articles and coverage, on the SBA official website. More information about the events, awards, and news throughout National Small Business Week, can be found at http://www.sba.gov/nsbw/.
25 June 2013 -- Written By: Christine Ray
 

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Jun 7, 2013

DoD, GSA, and NASA are proposing to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to implement a uniform Procurement Instrument Identification (PIID) numbering system, which will require the use of Activity Address Codes (AACs) as the unique identifier for contracting offices and other offices, in order to standardize procurement transactions across the Federal Government. This proposed rule continues and strengthens efforts at standardization accomplished under a previous FAR case.  Reference Article.
 

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Jun 5, 2013

The U.S. Small Business Administration's Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) Program helps small businesses gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.  The shaded area on the map below is the Leesburg HUBZone - the only HUBZone in Loudoun County.

Map of Leesburg HUB Zone

To qualify for the HUBZone program, a business must meet the following criteria:

  • It must be a small business by SBA standards
  • It must be owned and controlled at least 51% by U.S. citizens
  • Its principal office must be located in a designated HUBZone
  • At least 35% of its employees must reside in a HUBZone

Benefits of the HUBZone Program include:

  • Competitive and sole source contracting
  • 10% price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions, as well as subcontracting opportunities.

Reference Article.

Is your company eligible for HUBZone?  Contact us for assistance. 

 

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Jun 4, 2013

President Obama this week will propose legislation that would reduce payments for executive compensation tied to cost reimbursment contracts, Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Joe Jordan said in a May 30 blog post.

Currently, under part of the fiscal 1998 national defense authorization act codified as 41 USC §1127, companies with cost reimbursment contracts can claim as part of their overhead relevant portions of executive compensation capped at $763,000 annually. If Congress doesn't pass legislation that lowers the cap, it will go up to more than $950,000 in the coming weeks, Jordan said.
 
Obama is proposing to abolish the current formula for the cap and tie the reimbursement cap to the president's $400,000 a year salary and apply it across-the-board to all defense and civilian cost-reimbursement contracts, Jordan said. Read full article.

 

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May 24, 2013
If the idea of the sequester is to save the government massive amounts of money and cut the deficit, a GSA report indicates that budget cuts actually may hamper the agency's ability to cut back on waste.
 
According to Federal Times, the GSA stands to lose $250 million in funding next year. That funding would force it to cut back on projects that find waste and fraud impacting American taxpayers.
 
Estimates indicate that more than $3 billion in savings could be missed due to the cuts. Read more.

 

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May 9, 2013

As agencies deal with budget cuts, the government is missing an opportunity for innovation and leadership by establishing "lowest price, technically acceptable" as the default approach to the acquisition of IT assets.
 
The LPTA approach has its place and can work well for commoditized services with clearly defined, low-risk requirements — think facilities maintenance. But "technically acceptable" implies minimum performance expectations based on what we know has worked in the past and does little to keep up with new demands or evolving threats. In other words, LPTA encourages government and industry to settle for "good enough" just to hit a price point.
 
And when it comes to the acquisition of new technology solutions and services, the LPTA approach offers short-term savings at the expense of long-term mission effectiveness. It hurts the business of government because technically acceptable does not anticipate the needs and threats of tomorrow — or provide for the technology and systems to address them. As the fiscal pressures intensify, it is essential that we reach new levels of performance and efficiency for the short and long term alike.
 
The time is right to get more from our acquisition approach by changing from "lowest price, technically acceptable" to "lowest price, functionally better" (LPFB). Read Full Article.

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May 8, 2013

The HUBZone Maps landing page has recently been updated with PDF and Excel documents displaying the most up to date qualifications for counties. Last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released 2012 annual unemployment data, which we use to determine nonmetropolitan county eligibility. The results are in!
  • 39 counties that were previously redesignated or not qualified are now Qualified. If you know a firm located in one of these areas, please spread the word—these areas are now HUBZones, and firms from these counties can now apply at any time.
  • 35 counties that were previously qualified by unemployment have become redesignated.
Are you affected by these changes? Visit the HUBZone Maps landing page and open the PDF or Excel document for counties to check on the status of your county. If your county has become redesignated, its HUBZone status will expire in May 2016. If you have further questions about the HUBZone Maps or how this may affect your firm, please visit the maps section and the maintaining certification section of the FAQ page. Reference Article.

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May 3, 2013

WASHINGTON — Despite budget cuts requiring most federal agencies to furlough workers, the State Department says it will not have to force any of its employees to take unpaid leave.

State’s top management official said Friday that the budget sequester cut for the department would be only $400 million, less than half of $850 million that was originally estimated. Read full article.

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Feb 14, 2013

The automatic budget cutting set for March 1 would hamper the government’s ability to protect the public in a range of areas, according to several warnings that were sounded Wednesday.

The Department of Homeland Security said sequestration “would roll back border security, increase wait times at our Nation’s land ports of entry and airports, affect aviation and maritime safety security, leave critical infrastructure vulnerable to attacks, hamper response time” and weaken cybersecurity protections.
 
In a letter to Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (Miss.), the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said frontline law enforcement personnel would have to be furloughed for a total of 14 days and the department might have to lay off employees.
 
The letter did not specify the potential scheduling of furloughs, but the Defense Department, facing similar cutbacks as are nearly all federal agencies, has said it would spread out the unpaid furlough days starting in April through the remainder of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. Furloughs could not begin until after a 30-day notice period and certain aspects are subject to bargaining, in unionized workplaces. Read full article.

 

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Jan 7, 2013
Washington’s elected officials are taking new steps to direct more government work to small businesses, just as contractors are bracing for the threat of sequestration.
 
President Obama on Tuesday signed as part of the military spending budget a series of provisions to help small firms compete for more federal contracts and ensure that agencies take their annual small business contracting goals more seriously. Most notably, the law requires that small business contracting performance be part of employee reviews for senior agency officials, which factor into their consideration for bonuses and promotions.
 
The change comes after the federal government missed its stated small business contracting goal (23 percent of total procurement across all agencies) for the eleventh straight year in 2012. Though lawmakers stopped short of imposing penalties like reducing budgets or senior level compensation for agencies that fall short of the annual goals, as had been previously proposed in both chambers, this is the first time they have provided formal incentives to encourage agencies to deliver on their annual pledge to small businesses. Read full article.

 

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Dec 18, 2012

If there was ever any question about the course correction the federal contracting market has been going through over the past three years, a new survey from Grant Thornton puts it all to rest.

Government contractors say they are making less money than at any time in the last 18 years, including 56 percent of the respondents revealing they made less than 5 percent profit off their government contracts in 2012.
 
Grant Thornton's 18th annual study of the government contractor industry details the impact of the changing federal procurement environment.
 
"I think we are seeing, probably, the government is spending less money on contracts, and that's being reflected in the revenues and the companies are beginning to diversify," said Lou Crenshaw, who leads Grant Thornton's aerospace and defense industry market and is a retired Navy vice admiral. "This year, for instance, less companies received work from the federal government as an overall percentage of their revenue. So we are seeing a move of the companies to the commercial sector."
 
 
Crenshaw, who presented the preliminary results of the survey at a luncheon sponsored by AFFIRM in Washington Friday, said vendors overall saw a 9 percent drop in revenue and a 16 percent drop for those working with DoD last year.
 
Additionally, 38 percent of the respondents said they saw decreased revenues — a 9 percent increase over last year — while 35 percent saw increases, a 15 percent decline over 2011.

Not only is revenue down, but profits are down too. Grant Thornton found the percentage of vendors making less than 5 percent profit or no profit grew in 2012 by 31 percent over 2011.

Federal procurement spending down $20 billion. Read Full Article.

 

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Dec 5, 2012

A bipartisan group of United States Senators led by Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Mary L. Landrieu (D-Louisiana) were successful in adding an amendment to bolster contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) to the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013 (S. 3254).   The measure would eliminate a current-law restriction on the dollar amount of a contract that women-owned small businesses can compete for, putting them on a level playing field with the other federal small business socio-economic contracting programs.  The federal government has consistently failed to meet its annual women's contracting goal of five percent, and this provision will assist in satisfying, if not exceeding that goal.  The amendment was cosponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Scott P. Brown (R-Massachusetts), Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), and Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania). 

"Simply put, women-owned small businesses have yet to receive their fair share of federal contracting dollars, and as the fastest growing segment of our economy, women-owned small businesses will play a critical role in helping our nation recover from the recent recession," the Senators said.  "This inequity was the impetus behind the women's contracting program that Congress authorized on December 21, 2000, and over a decade later, the program was finally implemented by the SBA.  While we applaud this Administration's efforts to finally put in place a functioning program, the unfortunate fact is that women-owned small businesses will still face a disadvantage when compared to HUBZone, 8(a), and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.  Our amendment will help put women-owned firms on a level playing field with these other socio-economic groups to ensure their maximum participation in the federal contracting process."

Women-owned small business advocates and leaders praised the news.

"This is a very important step toward bridging the gap for women entrepreneurs who wish to do business with the world's largest consumer - the federal government," said Barbara Kasoff, President of Women Impacting Public Policy. "We would like to thank Senator Olympia Snowe and her colleagues for their commitment to building a better partnership between government and the women-owned small business community."

"Implementing a women-owned small business procurement program but limiting the size of the awards was akin to opening the door of opportunity only part-way," said Julie R. Weeks, chair of the board of the Association of Women's Business Centers and president & CEO of Womenable.  "This amendment not only will provide more opportunities for WOSB contractors, it will increase competition and provide greater value to federal agencies."

"We congratulate this bipartisan group of Senators on their leadership moving forward the first of the several modifications that are needed to improve the effectiveness of the Women's Procurement Program," said Margot Dorfman, Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce.  "Removing the cap on federal contracts for women is an important first step to bring parity to the set aside programs. We hope that Congress will build on the Senators' efforts to bring the rest of the needed changes to provide fair access to federal contracts for women-owned firms."  Read full article.

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Nov 29, 2012
A proposed fee for filing bid protests with the Government Accountability Office could have the biggest impact on agencies and small businesses.
 
Large systems integrators that are competing for multimillion- or multibillion-dollar contracts would not be put off by a flat fee of roughly $240 to file a protest with GAO against an agency's award decision. But companies at the other end of the contracting spectrum will likely face a tough question: Is it worth protesting a small contract?
 
"It will have a chilling effect on the little guy who is filing a protest ‘pro se' on a potential decision to go ahead with the protest," said attorney John Chierichella, a partner at Sheppard Mullin Richter and Hampton who has worked on many bid protest case.
 
More than 50 percent of protests are filed by small companies, and more than 60 percent are filed against defense contracts, said Ralph White, managing associate general counsel for procurement law at GAO.  Read full article.

 

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Nov 19, 2012

Major U.S. companies including General Dynamics and Medtronic have received billions of dollars in federal government contracts that were supposed to go to small businesses.

About $4.74 billion, or 45 percent, of more than $10.6 billion targeted for small businesses under government acquisition rules were won by bigger competitors in the year ended Sept. 30, 2011, according to government data.
 
Companies that need the revenue the most are losing opportunities, said Margot Dorfman, chief executive of the Washington-based U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
 
“I think this particular issue should be one of the top concerns of the Small Business Administration and the president,’’ Dorfman said in an interview. “Fix it now. Let’s not wait.’’
 
The awards to bigger companies stem in part from an undertrained and understaffed acquisition workforce as well as an excessive use of exemptions, according to former procurement officials and contract attorneys. Read Full Article.

 

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Nov 14, 2012

A panel composed of the director of the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, a Vice President and General Manager from Computer Sciences Corporation, and a Founder and CEO of a telecommunications company held a discussion early in November at the Tysons Tower Club.

When speaking about how his agency determines the specifications of upcoming solicitations, Kevin Boshears, Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization said that his agency “looked at all the tools that we have in the toolbox in order to craft the solicitation, based on the market research results that we receive."  It's very important for small companies to respond to Sources Sought notices, as they allow government agencies to get a better understanding of what products and services are available in the market place, as well as what sort of businesses are capable of providing such services.  For example, if enough Veteran owned or woman-owned firms respond to the Sources Sought notice, it's possible that the solicitation may mark the solicitation as a Set-Aside for that particular business.

From a large prime contractor's standpoint, Patrick Schambach, Vice President and General Manager of Computer Sciences Corporation’s DHS Division, advised that small businesses that want to become subcontractors to a contract should approach Prime Contractors "as a prime".  By that, he means that small businesses should initiate conversation with a specific deal and agenda in mean.  That means identifying the capabilities that you have as an organization, as well as doing research on the Prime Contractor and their requirements prior to coming in and making a pitch.  More specifically, potential subcontractors should establish an intimacy with the client, have a proven past performance with the services being provided, and understanding your organization and how it fits into the big picture.

Meanwhile, Joe Fergus, the Founder and CEO of Communications Technologies, Inc., advised that small businesses must be able to bring a value proposition to the table.  Mr. Fergus advised that relationship building was the key to get the ball moving.  Subcontracting is a means through which a small business can participate and get their foot through the door on a contract.  Constructive dialogue is a must when seeking to participate on a contract with a prime as a subcontractor.

What happens once you become a subcontractor?

Mr. Schambach notes that one of the major keys to continuing work participation is by continuing to build the relationship between the Prime and the subcontractor.  As a subcontractor, you must continue to excel in performing according to the contract requirements.

In terms of protecting yourself as a subcontractor, and that you receive the amount of work that was promised to you, Mr. Schambach advised that you should hold a kickoff meeting with the senior team involved with the contract.  In this meeting, both the subcontractor and the prime have an eyeball-to-eyeball discussion, and they should make sure that they hold the person who agreed to the amount of work guaranteed to the subcontractor accountable. 

Other methods of acquiring government contracts.

It should be noted that the opportunities that are released on FedBizOpps.gov only comprise 20-25% of all business opportunities within the government.  The rest of that government business is being conducted on a task order basis. 

Task orders are a way of acquiring government business.  A small business that is in the process of acquiring such business should ask themselves, “is our organization in a position to prime one of these task orders?” or “how do we get ourselves on a team that would allow us to get into one of these task orders?”

 

 

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Oct 24, 2012

Presidential Debates – On Sequestration

Sequestration is set to take place a little more than two months from now.  Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have gone on the record with their intent to prevent sequestration from occurring.  Here’s what each of the candidates said regarding the topic on the third and last presidential debate held on October 22, 2012.

President Obama: “First of all, the sequester is not something that I've proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen.  The budget that we are talking about is not reducing our military spending.  It is maintaining it.”

Governor Romney:  “Former chief of the -- Joint Chiefs of Staff said that -- Admiral Mullen said that our debt is the biggest national security threat we face. This -- we have weakened our economy. We need a strong economy. We need to have as well a strong military. Our military is second to none in the world. We're blessed with terrific soldiers, and extraordinary technology and intelligence. But the idea of a trillion dollar in cuts through sequestration and budget cuts to the military would change that. We need to have strong allies.”

“Our Navy is old -- excuse me, our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We're now at under 285. We're headed down to the low 200s if we go through a sequestration. That's unacceptable to me.

It remains to be seen how the result of the election, if any, will factor into the impending January 2, 2013 sequestration. 
 

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Oct 23, 2012

The threat of sequestration continues to loom over the federal government, and perhaps the only thing more evident than concerns about deep budget cuts is the sense of paralysis surrounding the possible implementation.
 
It is still far from certain that the 10 percent, $1.4 trillion across-the-board cuts to federal spending will actually kick in on Jan. 2. And directives from the White House and Office of Management and Budget have reinforced that sense of mere possibility, offering little in the way of concrete guidance for agencies to prepare for the so-called fiscal cliff.
 
Still, there are mixed signals. Defense Department officials have continued to warn of sequestration’s devastating effects. Those calls have come as recently as Oct. 19, when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reminded a Hampton Roads, Va., audience that such cuts would jeopardize defense operations and that Congress must act to overturn the measure, which is mandated by last year’s Budget Control Act.
 
“There’s still time to prevent sequestration,” Panetta said, according to a DOD statement. “Let me be clear, no one wants this to happen…but for God’s sake, don’t just kick this can down the road.”  Read full article.

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Oct 12, 2012
Government and contractors must demand affordable, but innovative solutions.
 
When I hear "acceptable," I think adequate, good enough, not great but okay. Who among us would choose an acceptable surgeon? Fly on an acceptable plane? So I sort of cringe each time I read or hear about the low price/technically acceptable (LPTA) procurement evaluation criteria.
 
No one disagrees that the government - and, more importantly, the taxpayer - needs affordable solutions. We also need innovative solutions that enable service delivery and mission fulfillment, that stand the test of time, and that drive return on the investment. Should we, as taxpayers -- and, in this discussion, as service providers in this market -- invest in and provide solutions deemed acceptable?
 
Acceptable really is the antithesis of innovative. LPTA is a hold-the-nose response to the economic climate. It doesn't challenge government or the service provider community to do anything other than define, expect and deliver adequate work -- and we need and deserve a lot more than adequate.
 
Exceptional solutions and services don't just address today's needs in an OK manner; they position for the future, they conserve resources both fiscal and human, and they get to the right answer quickly. Why shouldn't we demand exceptional - of ourselves and our government?
 
Because we think it's too expensive? Mediocrity is what's expensive. If the goal is acceptable, where is the incentive to define and provide anything beyond that which works fairly well and might last a while?
 
For those of us who serve the federal government, we can and should clear a bar higher than acceptable. I don’t think any of us wants to claim bragging rights for mediocrity. Technology is our lifeblood; we are equipped to design and deliver technically exceptional services and solutions that also are appropriately priced, even low-priced.  Read Full Article.

 

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Oct 3, 2012

Agency chief acquisition officers are not playing a big role in planning for sequestration or even future budget cuts.

An exclusive Federal News Radio survey of federal CAOs and senior procurement executives found 57 percent of the respondents said they are not preparing for smaller budgets.
 
Joe Jordan, the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said the survey responses weren't that surprising.
 
"With the budget situation overall, agencies have some good foreknowledge usually into what their agency's budget will look like," Jordan said in an exclusive interview on In-Depth with Francis Rose. "The important thing is to make sure that planning is integral to the acquisition process overall, make sure agencies are doing good acquisition forecasting, creating robust plans and conducting the appropriate market research, so they can cast a wide net for new businesses that can deliver the goods and services they need in the best possible way." Read full article.

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Oct 1, 2012

While their views varied to some degree, federal agency officials and advocacy groups GAO contacted identified a number of challenges that small, minority-owned businesses may face in pursuing federal government contracts. For example, officials and advocacy groups pointed to a lack of performance history and knowledge of the federal contracting process as significant barriers. Officials from advocacy groups cited additional challenges, such as difficulty gaining access to contracting officials and decreased contracting opportunities resulting from contract bundling—the consolidation of two or more contracts previously performed under smaller contracts, into a single contract. Officials from agencies that accounted for 70 percent of federal contracting with small, minority-owned businesses—(the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, and the General Services Administration) told GAO that they conducted outreach to help small, minority-owned businesses with these challenges. Their outreach efforts include one-on-one interviews between contracting office staff and businesses seeking federal contracts. Linguistic and cultural barriers were identified as a challenge on a limited basis.
Federal agencies GAO contacted collected and reported some information on the contracting assistance provided to small disadvantaged businesses—including those that are minority-owned. Two agencies GAO reviewed collected and reported data by minority group. The Minority Business Development Agency in the Department of Commerce—created to foster the growth of minority-owned businesses of all sizes—reported that its business centers helped these businesses obtain 1,108 financings and contracts worth over $3.9 billion in fiscal year 2011. For the same fiscal year, the Small Business Administration (SBA) reported that more than 90 percent of its primary business development program participants were minority-owned businesses. Federal agencies that GAO contacted said that the goals SBA negotiated with federal agencies for contracting with various socioeconomic categories, including small disadvantaged businesses, provided some information on efforts to assist minority-owned businesses. In fiscal year 2011, agencies GAO contacted met their prime contracting goal and three out of four agencies met their subcontracting goals. GAO generally found limited data on participants in agency outreach efforts because the agencies are not required to, and therefore generally do not, collect data on the minority group or socioeconomic category of businesses that participate in outreach events for federal contracting opportunities. Read the full study.

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Sep 11, 2012

Prospective contractors won't have to register online to sell goods and services to the Defense Department, as required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation, because of technical problems with the government's newly launched procurement system.

An Aug. 21 memo from Richard Ginman, director of defense procurement and acquisition policy, pointed to issues with the System for Award Management in announcing that contractors would not have to adhere to the registration requirement before bidding on government work. Read full article.

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Aug 30, 2012

A proposed a rule could result in more set aside solicitations for research and development being awarded to small business, when capable and willing companies exist. Currently, the wording of a provision of the Federal Acquisition Regulation regarding research and development procurements might be an impediment to smaller firms.

The FAR states:

"In making R&D small business set-asides, there must also be a reasonable expectation of obtaining from small businesses the best scientific and technological sources consistent with the demands of the proposed acquisition for the best mix of cost, performances, and schedules."

Acquisition officials at the DoD, NASA, and the General Services Administration have proposed a revision that removes the phrase: "consistent with the demands of the proposed acquisition for the best mix of cost, performances, and schedules."

The phrase would add additional and unique condition that contracting officers have to establish before they can proceed with small-business set-asides, the SBA has noted.

The proposed new wording makes clear that the contracting officer need only determine that there are small businesses capable of handling the specialized work based on market research, in order to justify the set-aside.

The proposed rule is intended to remove potential barriers for small businesses, comments are being accepted through Oct. 9.  Reference NAGC Article.

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Aug 28, 2012

Small businesses that have been federal contractors for more than 10 years, or that have won more than $1 million in government contracts, tend to invest more time and money in seeking work, and submit more bids than their less active counterparts, a new survey shows.

The American Express OPEN survey found, on average, these so-called “procurement leaders” leaders spent $233,457 in preparing their bids for federal contracts in 2010, both in terms of staff time and direct expenditures. “Casual” contractors — those that have been contracting for less than three years and have won less than $1 million in federal contracts — only spent $31, 278 over the same period.

Procurement leaders also bid more, submitting an average of 18.9 prime bids and 5.6 subcontracting bids over the past three years, which is 83 percent and 37 percent more than all active contractors. Though they bid more, procurement leaders appear to bid “smarter,” said survey research research advisor Julie Weeks. “The bidding activity did not go up as fast as the success rate did, so that shows you’re not getting more success by throwing more proposals,” Weeks said. Instead, procurement leaders often only bid when they believe they will be likely to succeed.
 
Though only a minority of businesses surveyed hired outside consultants to research and apply for contracts, those that did found it very helpful, Weeks said. Procurement leaders were more likely than the average contractor to be in the goods-producing, professional/scientific/technical services or information industries, and slightly more likely to be located in the D.C., Maryland or Virginia areas. But it was the manner in which they pursued contracts that tended to be the bigger predictor of contracting success rate than industry or location, Weeks said. When asked what tips they had for less experienced firms, procurement leaders often suggested getting on a General Services Administration schedule, which is a kind of preapproved bidders’ list. But there are other paths to success as well. Amber Peebles, president of Dumfries, Va.-based Athena Construction Group started pursuing federal construction contracts in 2008, but did not pursue the GSA schedule because she didn’t feel the schedule would be helpful for her industry, construction.
 
The former Marine sought contracts through government set-asides for women-owned businesses and businesses owned by the service-disabled veterans. Today, 90 percent of Athena’s revenue comes from federal contracts — instead of bidding through the GSA, Peebles has instead developed contacts in individual government agencies.
Prior to 2008, Athena was focused on residential construction. Peebles was anxious to move from commercial to federal construction because she found the commercial sector to be sexist, and it was “difficult for women to succeed” in residential construction. Though the procurement process can sometimes be stressful, she said she “felt like there was a more level playing field in the government.”
 
Peebles emphasized that procuring prime contracts — instead of only subcontracts — helps small businesses gain credibility, though initially subcontracting helped her company “get our foot through the door.”
But for Peebles, the most important factor in procuring a federal contract is persistence. “Keep calling, and keep trying,” she advised. The AmEx study was based on 740 small businesses between August and November of 2011. Reference Article.


 

 

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Aug 10, 2012

Women are changing the face of America's economy, the Bureau of the Census has reported. Women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) are increasing in number, range, diversity and earning power. As women business owners expand their companies, they contribute to the growth of our national economy.

Annually, the DoD awards nearly $2 billion in prime contracts and $2.4 billion in subcontracts to WOSB concerns. All DoD subcontracting plans are required to have a separate goal for awards to WOSBs. The DoD considers the extent of participation by small business concerns when awarding contracts.

The focus of the DoD WOSB program is the provision of effective outreach, training and technical assistance in order to increase the accessibility of WOSB concerns to DoD procurement opportunities. Reference Article.

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Aug 8, 2012
Seven companies won spots on the Defense Information Systems Agency test and evaluation contract worth more than $871 million.

The companies will compete for task orders to provide services for testing, scientific, engineering, logistics, administrative, purchasing and ancillary support.

The seven companies are:

  • Alion Science and Technology Corp.
  • American Systems Corp.
  • CGI Group
  • Lockheed Martin
  • ManTech International
  • Science Applications International Corp.
  • TASC Inc.

CGI’s win came through Oberon Associates, which was acquired by Stanley Associates, which in turn was acquired by CGI.

The services under the contract will include operation and maintenance of test tools, labs, networks, infrastructure and administration.

Each company is guaranteed $100,000. The contract has a one-year base and four one-year options. There is a phase-in period from July 30 to Oct. 28. The first year of the contract then begins on Oct. 29.

Work will take place at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and Indian Head and Forte Meade, Md.

DISA received seven proposals for the contract. Reference Article.

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Jul 20, 2012

Alaska Native Corporations (ANC's) are receiving fewer awards this year than in the past years. The reduction is attributed to the sharp drop to new measures installed last year to minimize the volume and size of sole-source contracts to ANCs.
 
ANCs received $4.4 billion in contracts in 2011. About $2.5 billion of that (57%) was awarded through sole-source contracts valued at $20 million or more each, according to federal contract data.
 
This year, the numbers are dramatically lower: $1.8 billion in total obligations for the first three quarters of fiscal 2012. Sole-source contracts valued at $20 million or more each accounted for $587 million, or about 33% vs. 57% in 2011.

Reference Article.

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Jul 17, 2012
Sequestration - the automatic across-the-board cuts that will occur if an agreement cannot be reached regarding the nation's deficit.  These cuts would go into effect on January 1, 2012.  These defense cuts would take place over the span of a decade, amounting to $500 billion.

Prime Contractors in the defense industry are warning of massive layoffs, with Lockheed Martin threatening to layoff up to 123,000 personnel should sequestration occur.  Meanwhile, lobbying expenses from military contractors has increased by 11.5%, for a total of $15.9 million, in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same quarter in 2011.  Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin increased their spending by 51% and 25% respectively.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made a plea to Congress in the end of June urging Congress to prevent sequestration budget cuts from threatening "the programs critical to our nation's security." 

Acting Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jeffrey Zients has agreed to testify before his committee on the looming defense cuts.  This hearing will occur two weeks after the scheduled July 18 hearing in which members of the defense industry will discuss the impact of sequestration cuts on U.S. companies.

A majority of Democrats and Republicans (which includes the Obama administration) are opposed to the sequestration cuts, but both parties have so far failed to reach an agreement on the alternatives they could implement to replace the cuts.

By: Ira Evangelista, GovPartners Market Analyst

 

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Jul 17, 2012
Small businesses are the primary job creators in this country, making up greater than two-thirds of all new jobs created.

In FY2011, the Federal Government awarded more than $91.5 billion in federal contracts to small businesses, representing 21.64 percent of small business eligible federal contract dollars.  During the first three years of the Obama Administration, the federal government awarded $286.3 billion, or 22.07 percent in federal contracting dollars to small businesses.  This is a $32 billion increase over the three preceding years even as contracting spending overall has declined across the federal government. Even with these increases, however, the government has still failed to meet the statutory goals it has set for small businesses.

According to the Small Business Administration, the dollars and percentages for four of the five statutory goals have actually declined between 2010 and 2011:

1. SDB - 2010: 7.95%, $34.4 billion; 2011: 7.67%, $32.4 billion
2. Women-owned - 2010: 4.04%, $17.5 billion; 2011: 3.98%, $16.8 billion
3. Service-disabled Veteran-Owned - 2010: 2.5%, $10.8 billion; 2011: 2.65%, $11.2 billion
4. HUBZone - 2010: 2.77%, $12 billion; 2011: 2.35%, $9.9 billion

There are three possible reasons for the decline in total dollar amounts. 

1)  The decline in funding due to a shrinking budget/ new austerity measures.
2)  The expiration of many of the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, of which over 30 percent were allocated to small businesses.
3)  The emerging trend of Contract Bundling - even if the resulting contract is a small business set aside, only large smaller firms or joint ventures can compete, instead of smaller firms going after the individual contracts.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the Small Business Committee, is sponsoring the Government Efficiency Through Small Business Contract Act of 2012 (H.R. 3850).
If this bill is approved, it will raise the small business contracting goal to 25 percent from the original 23 percent.  It would also seek to make senior leadership in each agency accountable in attaining those goals. Rep. Graves has attached this bill to the 2013 Defense Authorization bill.

By:  Ira Evangelista, GovPartners Market Analyst

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May 30, 2012

5/10/2012 - GovPartners attended the The IT Budget Battle: Achieving Savings from Year One, Session One hosted by MICRO FOCUS.  Below is a summary of what we learned.

Government agencies are bogged down by legacy systems that were first created before most of the programmers and software developers currently utilizing them were even born. 

By 2015, 70% of application modernization projects will entail fundamental and complete shifts in technologies and infrastructure.  In an effort to cut down on costs, paperwork, for example, is going cloud.  As long as you have ubiquitous mobile connectivity, cloud technology will allow firms and agencies to scale up and down according to their needs.

The big drivers of IT will be mobile, social, and big data.  According to the panelists below, the next ten years in IT will be huge.

An IT Summit sponsored by Micro Focus in May included a panel of industry insiders from both the Federal and Commercial sectors:

·       Dorothy Aronson, Acting Director, Division of Information Systems, National Science Foundation

·       Susan Drennan, Vice President of Channel Sales, North America, Micro Focus

·       Bob Ellsworth, Director, Platform Modernization and Application Platform Compete, Enterprise & Partner Group, Microsoft

·       Amy Northcutt, Chief Information Officer, National Science Foundation


The panelists cited examples as to what steps agencies and commercial companies alike could implement to modernize their aging legacy systems.  Below are the examples cited:

Agency Example:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has always been one of the agencies which adopted new technologies early on.  In 1997, it created Fast Lane, a tool which automated processes which were originally composed of data entry flows.  At the time, it was a big deal for a Federal Agency to become paperless. 

At this point, the NSF is moving towards a strategic planning phase in regards to how to modernize its legacy systems, followed by a governance process while simultaneously undertaking a performance review. 

The NSF has always sought to evolve in a way in which it predicts the market to be evolving.  The experts from the NSF gave the following advice on how to position an agency or firm in regards to modernizing a legacy system:

Company Examples:

A Ferry ticketing company in Spain was able to modernize their systems seamlessly, investing in new IT infrastructures while simultaneously reducing their operating costs.  They moved forward with modernizing their legacy systems.  Their operating costs went from $1.2MM per year to $150,000 per year.  However, the cost was $2MM to implement.  Microsoft allowed the company to finance the modernization program so that they paid their usual operating costs for two years.

Another company in Richmond, VA first rehosted their mainframe application, which allowed them to save up to $6MM per year.  They then used those savings to reinvest in a modernization/ rewrite project.

Starting Points to Modernization of Legacy Systems:

   Have knowledge of the environment

   Make sure that you employ personnel which possess the right kind of skills

  Identify what it will take to modernize the system as well as when the opportune time to act is

A poignant observation from Dorothy Aronson, is that companies must be able to discern what action is sustainable and what is not.  NSF began virtualization early in the process, but it is only recently, after the technology and cost became affordable that modernization made sense for the organization.

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Apr 24, 2012

A majority of the initiatives GAO reviewed (26 of 30) met, or expected to meet, the Department of Defense’s (DOD) expectation for fielding a capability in response to joint urgent operational needs within 2 years. However, performance in meeting schedule estimates varied, and more than half of the initiatives experienced schedule delays.

Initiatives leveraged three types of solutions: (1) off-the-shelf products, (2) modifications of off-the-shelf items to add capabilities, and (3) products requiring technology development. Off-the-shelf solutions should be fielded the quickest because existing products are being bought. However, while off-the-shelf solutions were fielded quickly once a contract was awarded, it took longer than the two other types to identify, fund, and contract for off-the-shelf solutions. In addition to the program offices that manage traditional acquisition programs, initiatives were also managed by research laboratories and engineering centers, such as the Army Research Laboratory or the Naval Surface Warfare Center. Program offices fielded solutions faster, in part, because program offices are experienced in the full range of acquisition activities. Also, laboratories and engineering centers depended on funding provided by other organizations and delays in receiving this funding affected the start of some initiatives.
 
GAO recommends that DOD reduce the time spent on identifying and contracting for off-the-shelf solutions, devise methods for providing early funding to research laboratories and engineering centers, require that initiative decision memorandums be prepared for all initiatives, and require acquisition organizations to communicate with the Central Command and other combatant commands about plans for fielding capabilities. DOD concurred with these recommendations.  Read Full GAO Report
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Apr 13, 2012

On April 10, 2012 US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the launch of a DOT Mentor-Protégé Pilot Program during DOT’s Small Business Day: Moving Forward.  This pilot program was created to enhance the capability of minority and small business owners to successfully compete for and perform in federal procurement opportunities. Managed by the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), the program will provide an opportunity for small businesses to create strategic alliances with successful large or prime contractors to receive technical assistance and move their businesses to the next level.

 

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Mar 28, 2012

Last week, the House Small Business Committee advanced six (6) bills aimed at reforming a wide range of contracting policies, all aimed at helping small businesses.

1.HR 3850, the Government Efficiency Through (GET) Small Business Contracting Act which raises the small business contracting goal from 23% to 25%.

2. HR 3851, the Small Business Advocate Act which improves the ability of small business advocates (OSDBUs) to increase agency contract awards to small businesses.

3. HR 3893, the Subcontracting Transparency And Reliability (STAR) Act, which improves enforcement of subcontracting plans and increases small business teaming opportunities.

4. HR 3980, the Small Business Opportunity Act, which requires a greater role for procurement center representatives in reviewing acquisition plans for barriers and advocating for increased use of small businesses.

5. HR 4118, the Small Business Procurement Improvement Act, which requires federal agencies to include small businesses in multiple award contracts.

6. HR 4121, the Early Stage Small Business Contracting Act, which sets aside certain contracts ranging from $3,000 to $75,000 for small business startups.

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Mar 2, 2012

Companies would lose the opportunity to respond to performance reviews written by government officials under a new contracting bill. The reviews often play a major role in winning future contracts.

The Comprehensive Contingency Contracting Reform Act (S. 2139), which was introduced Feb. 29, would revise language in the Federal Acquisition Regulation that gives companies 30 days to comment, provide additional information or rebut a contracting official’s assessment of their work. The same FAR provision requires agencies to provide companies with a copy of the work performance evaluation. Read full article

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Feb 27, 2012

During the past year, revenue from government contracts has grown for 50% of survey participants, while 21% experienced no significant change and 29% experienced reductions in revenue. The fact that the highest percentage of companies experienced revenue growth continues a long-term trend reported in previous surveys, indicating that government contractors are far less vulnerable than commercial companies to recessions or slow growth in the overall economy. However, the 29% of companies experiencing revenue reductions is the highest percentage reported in several surveys, indicating that government efforts to reduce deficits are adversely impacting government contractor revenue. Read Full Report.

 

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Jan 26, 2012

 

Under a new bill, a department that misses a set goal to contract with small businesses could lose 10 percent of its budget as a penalty.
Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) introduced the Small Business Growth and Federal Accountability Act (H.R. 3779) Jan. 18, saying the government’s annual 23-percent small-business contracting goal is regularly ignored by agencies.
He said his bill would “ensure that Washington lives up to its promise to foster an environment of success for small businesses.”
Owens, a member of the Small Business Committee, said federal agencies typically fail to meet their small-business contracting goals and they currently face no penalties for the shortfalls.
Under his bill, if an agency misses the set small-business contracting goal, their budget would decrease by 10 percent in the following fiscal year, with that percentage of funds going to pay down national debt.
“It is critical that federal agencies be held accountable,” Owens said.
The bill also would offer agencies more authority to give “preference” to small companies when awarding contracts. The term “preference” is not defined in the bill.
The bill has been sent to the Small Business Committee for consideration.  Read full article.

 

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Dec 1, 2011

Forty-eight companies will vie for almost $6 billion in task orders as the Air Force unveils two indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity firm-fixed-price contracts for a variety of support services.

Twenty-nine companies have been named to two contractor pools worth a total of $4.7 billion: a full and open competition pool for large businesses and a small business pool. Both call for management and professional support services, studies, analyses and evaluations, and engineering and technical services, according to a Nov. 29 Defense Department announcement.

The task orders call for assistance for facilities at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, including Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Aeronautical Systems Center, Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Institute of Technology, and National Air and Space Intelligence Command.

The Acquisition Management Integration Center in Newport News, Va., is the contracting activity.

The large business awards go to:

Booz Allen Hamilton
CACI International Inc.
Computer Sciences Corp.
Cubic Applications Inc.
Jacobs Technology Inc./Tybrin Corp.
L-3 Services Inc.
MacAulay-Brown Inc.
Science Applications International Corp.
Spectrum Comm Inc.
The Analysis Group, L.L.C.
USFalcon Inc.

Small business awards go to:

Apogee Solutions Inc.
Avanco International Inc.
Blue Force L.L.C.
Catapult Consultants L.L.C.
ComCon Technologies Inc.
D3 Air and Space Operations
Decypher-PSI
ITility L.L.C.
Object CTalk Inc.
Phantom Eagle L.L.C.
Pioneer Technologies Corp.
Sawdey Solution Services Inc.
ZCSolutions L.L.C.
B3H Corp.
Insignia Technology Services L.L.C.
Prevailance Inc.
Quantell Inc.
R&K Enterprise Solutions

Under the second multiple-award contract, 19 companies will compete for a total maximum of $950 million in task orders.

These task orders also will provide support in the areas of management and professional support services, studies, analyses and evaluations; and engineering and technical services at the named facilities at Wright-Patterson AFB.

The Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, is the contracting activity on this contract.

Contractors are:

Array Information Technology Inc.
BTAS Inc.
Centech Group Inc.
DCS Corp.
Enterprise Information Services, Inc.
ERC Inc.
Intelligent Decisions
Innovative Technologies Corp.
Leader Communications Inc.
Linquest Corp.
MCR Federal L.L.C.
National Technologies Associates Inc.
Oasis Systems
Paragon Technology Group Inc.
Peerless-MacB J.V.
PESystems Inc.
Quantech Services Inc.
Spectrum Comm Inc.
Sumaria

Reference Article

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Nov 22, 2011

This analysis is a first-ever, in-depth review of the characteristics of women-owned firms in federal contracting and a comparison of those characteristics with those of all women-owned firms. It will enable public-policy makers, government procurement officials, women business owners themselves, and other interested parties to gain a greater understanding of the women entrepreneurs who are providing products and services to federal government agencies. Reference article.  Download analysis.

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Nov 21, 2011

Most small businesses feel intimidated when competing with larger businesses. If you review the Top 100 Government Prime Contractors List, published by Washington Technology.com, majority of the companies are large businesses. If you are a small business reviewing a government solicitation, you may come to the conclusion that the requirement is tailored for a large business. You may ask yourself, why bid? In most cases, you would not bid. The truth is, the government encourages large and small business participation. The small business set-aside programs are not only used for small businesses to respond, but the subcontracting plans that mandate large businesses to respond to a solicitation also require a planned percentage to be subcontracted or set-aside for small businesses. This seems to be fair for the small businesses, but the question is, is it fair to large businesses? Why are they required to share a piece of their pie with small businesses?

The federal government has an overall goal of setting aside 23% of prime contracts flowing to small businesses. Every federal government purchase anticipated to be valued from $2500 to $100,000 is automatically set-aside for small businesses as long as there are at least 2 companies that can provide the product/service. Contracts over $100,000 can be set aside if enough small businesses are qualified to do the work. Contracts over $500,000 have to include a small business subcontracting plan ensuring small businesses an opportunity to obtain work under these large contracts.

Without these set-aside programs, large companies would continue to dominate the federal market and the small businesses would go out of business, never get off the ground, or never be created due to the lack of projected demand. For years, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing, and other prime contractors continued to capitalize on the federal marketplace. Without the small businesses set-aside programs, the small businesses would not be able to participate, gain financial stability, or grow into a medium to large size business. If the government had to choose between a Top 100 prime contractor and a small business, they would most likely pick the large prime. The set-aside programs ensure that the government gives the little guy a chance. This also benefits the government in the long run because the small guy is enabled and expanded to become a contender for other contract vehicles. This promotes efficient and effective competition. It also provides the government with competitive and responsible buying options.

The 8(a) program is a good example of a fair set-aside program, when properly executed. There is a certain time allotted for the small business to take advantage of set-aside contracts, learn the ropes, gain financial stability, capture commercial business to off-set the government revenue, and grow into a medium to large size company. This opens up a new slot for another small business, and enables your company to subcontract and help other small businesses. I guess you could call this the government’s small business circle of life. If rules are followed, it works for all parties involved. 

Contact GovPartners to find out how your organization can join the government's circle of life.

 


 

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Nov 17, 2011

On 14 Nov 2011, OMB and SBA issued a memorandum to Procurement officials regarding the improvement of small business data.  Quality and timely Federal procurement data are essential to increasing Federal small business contract awards and achieving the agencies small business contracting goals. Actions are being taken to improve the quality of procurement data on small business contract awards.

As a result of these changes separate processes related to small business data quality are being aligned to increase awareness and attention on small business contracting data. Integrating small business data quality reviews into routine agency processes and procedures is expected to reduce burden on the acquisition workforce, facilitate improved acquisition planning, and increase data accuracy of awards made to small businesses.

Accordingly, OMB and SBA asks all procurement officials to increase the attention given to small business data quality as part of their ongoing data validation efforts. Reference memorandum.

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Oct 31, 2011

OSDBU is pleased to make the Fall DOT Biz Journal available for download. This issue is chock full of highlights on several small business programs and events that have been held recently by the OSDBU across the country, as well as important information on planned and potential procurement opportunities for federal and state transportation-related contracts. Recent and ongoing programs highlighted include several DOT Safety Days hosted by the OSDBU’s Small Business Transportation Centers and the continuation and expansion of the hugely successful Bonding Education Program in its second year into several cities around the nation.

With the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1st, OSDBU released its FY 2012 Procurement Forecast and we provide an overview of how to search the online system for potential opportunities with the Department in the next 12 months. This edition also discusses some of the key transportation infrastructure proposals that are included in President Obama’s American Jobs Act presented to Congress in September. Also included are articles on the states of Illinois and Maine multi-year transportation plans which provide key insight into planned highway, bridge and transit projects in their states in the coming years as part of the regular Follow the Money feature. (Reference DOT electronic notifications 31 Oct 2011)

Click the following link to download the DOT Biz Journal [Download]

 

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Oct 28, 2011

The Defense Information Systems Agency has a new director: Air Force Maj. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins will succeed Lt. Gen. Carroll Pollett as the agency's leader, according to a release from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Hawkins returns to DISA after a brief stint at the Pentagon as the Joint Staff's deputy director, command, control, communications and computer systems, a role he has filled since July. Prior to his Joint Staff assignment, Hawkins was DISA's vice director under Pollett.

He will be based at DISA's Ft. Meade, Md., headquarters. Reference Article

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Oct 27, 2011

A proposed rule to curb agencies’ little used capacity to offer higher payments to needier contractors “will have no impact on the government’s ability or commitment to drive contracting opportunities for small disadvantaged businesses,” Dan Gordon, administrator of the White House Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said Friday.

In a blog post for the Office of Management and Budget, Gordon sought to reassure some in the minority business community that a proposed regulation issued in September by the Small Business Administration is a routine “housekeeping” tool designed to catch the law up with a 2008 court ruling that declared such price premiums unconstitutional.

“The proposed rule in no way changes the fundamental policies, practices or programs that agencies have been using in recent years to achieve strong SDB participation in the federal marketplace, including the goal of awarding 5 percent of federal procurement dollars to SDBs,” Gordon wrote.

The affected agencies — the Defense Department, NASA and the U.S. Coast Guard — have not used price premiums to attract disadvantaged small contractors in years, Gordon noted. But the administration has “been working with the Minority Business Development Agency to strengthen the bond between contracting, small business and program offices at every agency,” Gordon wrote. “Since the beginning of [fiscal] 2009, agencies have awarded more than $85 billion in contracts to SDBs, exceeding the goal of awarding at least 5 percent of contract dollars to SDBs.” In fiscal 2010, he added, contract awards to small disadvantaged businesses accounted for 7.95 percent of all eligible contract dollars, “well above the goal.”

Gordon’s clarification came as the Obama administration readied a new set of executive actions designed to spur job creation in large and small businesses  while Congress debates the president’s larger proposed jobs package.

The perception among some that ending premium payments to disadvantaged businesses was a pullback in the administration’s commitment was rejected by Molly Brogan, vice president of public affairs for the National Small Business Association. “At the end of the day, small businesses just want a level playing field,” she told Government Executive. “Ensuring that small businesses — including SDB businesses — have a fair opportunity to compete for federal  dollars ought to be the No. 1 goal. We don’t believe this new rule will change [that] in any way.”

Raul Espinosa, founder of a Jacksonville, Fla. – based university nonprofit called the Fairness in Procurement Alliance, which has been pressing for stronger rules on accelerating payments to small disadvantaged businesses, said he was grateful for the administration’s overall effort, but worries it might be “lip service.” Changes “will mean nothing unless they’re codified into the federal acquisition regulation and referred to in actual contracts,” he said. Reference Article

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Oct 27, 2011

With Congress poised to slash spending to cut the deficit, more large companies are seeking an edge in the competition for federal dollars by acquiring small contractors.

Acquisitions of small government vendors rose by 22.4% last year to 71, the highest level since 2000, according to calculations by Houlihan Lokey, an investment bank in Los Angeles.

Last year was "the most transactions in this space ever," and this year's acquisitions are on pace to match it, said Jean Stack, a managing director at Houlihan Lokey. Read Full Article

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Oct 26, 2011

Out go all the U.S. troops by year’s end, President Obama said Friday about Iraq. And in go the contractors, along with some familiar contracting problems, say other government officials and independent experts.

As the United States pulls out its remaining 50,000 or so troops after a decade of conflict costing around $1 trillion, many of the soldiers’ non-fighting functions will be pursued by a force of State Department-funded government contractors expected to near 15,000.

That preliminary estimate, now being circulated by the administration among lawmakers on Capitol Hill, would represent an overwhelming share of the official remaining U.S. presence in the unsettled country. But even after wide publicity about past contracting abuses and waste, new scandals may trail behind this persistent deployment, according to a commission created by Congress to study the missteps so far.

“After a decade of war, the government remains unable to ensure that taxpayers and warfighters are getting good value for contract dollars spent,” Dov S. Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller and a member of the congressionally-created Commission on Wartime Contracting, told the Senate Armed Services committee a day before Obama’s announcement.

In an August report, prepared after a three-year study of contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the commission estimated that between $30 billion and $60 billion has been lost to waste and fraud so far in those conflicts, representing 15 to 30 percent of all that Washington has spent on contractor-provided security, civil reconstruction, training, and other nation-building work. Read Full Article

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Sep 13, 2011

DoD, GSA, and NASA are proposing to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to address the impact of the decision in Rothe Development Corporation vs. the DoD and the U.S. Department of the Air Force (USAF) on small disadvantaged business concerns and certain institutions of higher education.

DATES: Interested parties should submit written comments to the Regulatory Secretariat at one of the addresses shown below on or before November 8, 2011 to be considered in the formation of the final rule.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments in response to FAR Case 2009-016 by any of the following methods: Regulations.gov: http://www.regulations.gov. Submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking portal by inputting ``FAR Case 2009-016'' under the heading ``Enter Keyword or ID'' and selecting ``Search.'' Select the link ``Submit a Comment'' that corresponds with ``FAR Case 2009-016.'' Follow the instructions provided at the ``Submit a Comment'' screen. Please include your name, company name (if any), and ``FAR Case 2009-016'' on your attached document. Fax: (202) 501-4067. Mail: General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat (MVCB), Attn: Hada Flowers, 1275 First Street, NE., 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20417. Instructions: Please submit comments only and cite FAR Case 2009-016, in all correspondence related to this case. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal and/or business confidential information provided.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Karlos Morgan, Procurement Analyst, at (202) 501-2364, for clarification of content. For information pertaining to status or publication schedules, contact the Regulatory Secretariat at (202) 501-4755. Please cite FAR Case 2009-016.  Reference notice.

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Sep 8, 2011

Sep 08 2011: This Request for Offers (RFO) transmits the Filing Instructions (FI) for the submission of Emergency.  Response rate offers on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other Federal civilian agencies that require transportation services for Federal disasters and emergencies. Rate offers filed in response to this RFO and its FI will be in accordance with the terms and conditions of the GSA Standard Tender of Service (STOS) and this RFO and its FI. Please note in some instances this RFO and its FI will deviate from and will supersede certain provisions and requirements published in the STOS. Rate offers accepted in response to this RFO and its FI are due by 10:00 PM Central  Standard Time (CST), October 7, 2011. Rate offers submitted and accepted for the traffic identified in  Section 9 will be for the time period November 1, 2011 through October 31, 2012. Rate offers submitted and accepted and for the traffic identified in Section 10 will be for the period November 1,  2011 through October 31, 2012 with the Government’s option to extend from November 1, 2012 through October 31, 2013.

Traffic to be included under this RFO and its FI will be freight-all-kinds (FAK) shipments moving via closed van for less than truckload and truckload, and for flatbed, single/double drop, lowboy and power  only units. The transport of travel trailers and mobile homes is also included.  Click here to request more information about this opportunity.

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Sep 7, 2011

Hurricane Irene has left serious damage in its path from the caribbean to Maine along the East Coast that will require cleanup, repair and relief efforts. Government agencies will begin to release contracts for recovery in the days ahead as emergency crews and regional utilities require additional assistance to quickly restore power and essential services to areas affected by wind damage and serious flooding.

Government contracts can be found using the OnDemand Government Contract Leads System offered by the National Association of Government Contractors.

Construction and utility contractors will see a spike in contract availability as damage is assessed and reconstruction begins. Some estimates of reconstruction costs have exceeded $12 billion. Most of those dollars will be spent on cleanup and construction activity.

The Small Business Administration has deployed a team from the Office of Disaster Assistance in Puerto Rico, to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Irene. In addition to the 900 employees already on board, SBA has 500 reservists ready to be deployed immediately. The SBA team is already on the ground working with FEMA in Regional Communications Centers.  Reference Article

Business owners in the affected areas can find advice and assistance with reopening their business from ReadyBusiness.gov

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Aug 31, 2011

Are you ready to expand beyond America’s borders? Doing business in other countries will expand your potential customer base, but there are associated challenges you need to tackle first. SBA provides the following resources:

International Travel Resources, Tips and Advisories :  Provides must-read resources if you are planning to go overseas to conduct business. Country-specific resources include current travel advisories, tips for international travel and document requirements.

International Business FAQs :Lists answers to frequently asked questions about doing business abroad, facilitating overseas investment, trade restrictions and assisting foreign companies.

Department of State Office of Authentications: Outlines the Department of State's Authentications Office, which is responsible for signing and issuing certificates under the Seal of the U.S. Department of State. The Authentications Office also verifies business documents that will be used overseas, including company bylaws, powers of attorney, trademarks, diplomas, transcripts, distributorship agreements, articles of incorporation, good standing certificates, home studies and letters of reference. The Office also ensures that the requested information will serve in the interest of justice and is not contrary to U.S. policy.

Guidelines for Foreign Business Travel: Offers guidelines for exporters, or those thinking of selling abroad. These individuals often visit foreign countries to research market conditions and understand cultural nuances. This checklist, including information ranging from "A Basic Guide" to exporting, details the required steps you should take when traveling abroad, and some practical tips as well.

Passports: Supplies information and services to American citizens who need to obtain, replace or change a passport.

 

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Aug 2, 2011

Washington Technology's annual Fast 50 rankings is generally a celebration of the achievements of some of the best small businesses in the market.

This year is no exception. The companies making the list have had extraordinary growth, starting with No. 1 company, SAVA Workforce Solutions, which achieved a five-year compound annual growth rate of 326.05 percent.

The small businesses on this list have shown an ability to adapt and change with the market. Many are taking advantage of various small business programs to build businesses that will stand the test of time.

The types of companies that populate the Fast 50 range from resellers to consultants and IT services providers to research and development firms. The list is entrepreneur heavy with most companies having a founder or team of founders at the helm.

The aggregate value of 2010 revenue for the Fast 50 is $1.4 billion. The No. 50 company NextPoint Group, came in with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 62.49 percent. Not too shabby. Read More.

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Jul 19, 2011

Research is the first key to success. When you are on the outside looking in, you might often wonder what it takes to get from where you are (Point A) to where those, say, on Washington Technology’s annual Top 100 and Fast 50 lists are (Point B). All companies, large and small, have to start somewhere, but you don’t start out on any of those lists.

When you boil it down to its basic elements, there are Three R's that are the keys to success in this government market: research, resources and relationships. While this may be over-simplifying things, the three remain basic building blocks for the market. I’ll devote this article to the first R — research.

Regardless whether you are just getting started or bidding on your 100th contract, research is critical.

The problem for the novice is where to start. Although there are both paid and free research tools, some better than others, some harder to find, and most who are new to the market are overwhelmed by how many tools there really are. They often don’t know which to use or how to use those they select. So it’s better to start with some good, free resources to determine some things about your company before you start paying for resources you may not need.

For the novice, the research must start with answering the question "Does the government buy what you sell?"  Read full article.

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Jul 15, 2011

Antonio Hunter, the director of D.C.'s Department of Small and Local Business Development, who was confirmed by the D.C. Council in April, is leaving for a job with a division of Magic Johnson Enterprises, the Washington Business Journal has learned. His resignation is effective at the end of July, an agency official said.

Hunter did not return calls and emails for comment.

I'm told his exit was simply a matter of a job opportunity he couldn't pass up, not one related to his job performance. That said, Hunter hadn't generated much momentum for small and local businesses in his brief stint, small business leaders say. How could he, in only seven months? Read Full Article

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Jul 7, 2011

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released the Small Business Procurement Scorecard for all agencies reflecting each agency’s contracting accomplishments for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010. The Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) is pleased to announce DOT received an “A” rating for its FY 2010 small business efforts. This is the second consecutive year DOT has received an “A” rating for its small business contracting achievements.

“We’re extremely proud to earn an “A” rating from SBA for small business contracting. It takes a dedicated team, led by Secretary LaHood, the modal administrators, small business specialists, and our regional staff to achieve this level of success,” remarked Brandon Neal, OSDBU Director.

The annual Scorecard is an assessment tool to (1) measure how well federal agencies reach their small business and socio-economic prime contracting and subcontracting goals, (2) provide accurate and transparent contracting data and (3) report agency-specific progress. The prime and subcontracting component goals include goals for small businesses, small businesses owned by women, small and disadvantaged businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and small businesses located in Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones).  Reference article

The “A” rating reflects the Department’s ongoing commitment to providing the small business community the greatest access to federal contracting opportunities and to ensure that DOT’s procurement officers have the information and tools needed to connect with these innovative small businesses.

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Jul 5, 2011

Contractors lured to task-order contracts by the promise of a big payoff...

In sports parlance, it’s known as going for the gold. The term also applies in government contracting, as more and more companies are seeking the gold to be found in the large federal indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract vehicles.

“Come July and August, the IDIQs light up like Christmas trees,” said Paul Strasser, senior vice president and general manager of Dynamics Research Corp.’s federal group. “There are task orders going out like crazy because, with the continuing resolutions, agencies are trying to spend the money they have allocated. The IDIQ has become by far the vehicle of choice. So you have to prepare.”

“The smarter smaller companies are looking at the vehicles earlier and seeing what resources it’s going to take to win,” said Mark Amtower, co-founder of the Government Market Master certificate program at the George Mason University School of Management and a Washington Technology contributor. “The large companies have two avenues. They can buy a company that owns the IDIQ or wait until the recompete and try to win it. However, there are no guarantees for the recompete.” Read full article.

Tags: Idiq M&a
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Jun 29, 2011

Four companies have won parts of a $480 million Veterans Affairs contract to provide IT services.

The companies will compete for task orders under the Veterans Relationship Management IT Solutions and Support Services contract, according to a VA announcement on FedBizOpps.

The contract is a multiple-award, task-order contract.

The winners are:

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services
SRA International
Insignia Technology Services
VetsAmerica Business Consulting Inc.
In its solicitation, VA said it would use the contract to improve communications between VA and veterans, no matter what technology they are using to reach the agency. This includes phone, web, e-mail and social media.

The contract has several “work streams” as VA calls them: voice access modernization, customer relationship management, unified desktop, Web/self service, knowledge management, and member and integration services.  Read full article.

 

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Jun 28, 2011

The Navy is awarding IDIQ multiple award contracts to 333 contractors that will compete for service requirements solicited by Naval Sea Systems Command; Naval Air Systems Command; Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command; Naval Supply Systems Command; Military Sealift Command; Naval Facilities Command; Strategic Systems Programs; Office of Naval Research; and the Marine Corps.

The 22 functional service areas within the scope of the contracts include: research and development support; engineering system engineering and process engineering support; modeling, simulation, stimulation, and analysis support; prototyping, pre-production, model-making, and fabric support; system design documentation and technical data support; software engineering, development, programming, and network support; reliability, maintainability, and availability support; human factors, performance, and usability engineering support; system safety engineering support; configuration management support; quality assurance support; information system development, information assurance, and information technology support; ship inactivation and disposal support; interoperability, test and evaluation, trials support; measurement facilities, range, and instrumentation support; acquisition logistics support; supply and provisioning support; training support; in-service engineering, fleet introduction, installation and checkout support; program support; functional and administrative support; and public affairs and multimedia support.

These contracts are in addition to the existing 2,212 contracts previously awarded under the SeaPort Enhanced (SeaPort-e) acquisition program for services procurements. The government estimates a maximum of $5,300,000,000 of services will be procured per year via orders issued under the SeaPort-e multiple award contracts. The awards have a three-year base period with one five-year award term. The award of these contracts is a result of the SeaPort-e Rolling Admissions solicitation. The SeaPort-e acquisition is comprised of seven regional zones in which task orders will be competed based upon the principal place of performance. These awards contain provisions to set aside requirements for small businesses, service disabled veteran owned small businesses, 8a business development program and historically under-utilized business zone small businesses. Under these multiple award contracts, each contractor will be provided a fair opportunity to compete for individual task orders solicited within their zone or zones of performance. These contracts were competitively procured via Navy Electronic Commerce Online, with 358 offers received and 333 contracts awarded. Contract funds will be obligated at the time of task order award and as such, multiple funding types (with varying expiration dates) may be used, consistent with the purpose for which the funds were appropriated. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren, Va. is the contracting activity (N00178-11-D-6408-N00178-11-D-6740).

The list of contractors involved are: 1st American Systems and Services, LLC*, Proctorville, Ohio; 1st Choice Staffing, LLC, dba 1st Choice Government Solutions*, Silver Spring, Md.; 22nd Century Technologies, Inc.*, Somerset, N.J.; AASKI Technologies*, Ocean, N.J.; Abex Systems, LLC*, Vienna, Va.; About Web, LLC*, Rockville, Md.; Acquisition Logistics, LLC*, Richmond, Va.; Advance Career Development*, San Jose, Calif.; Advanced Facility Management Services, dba AFMS*, Greencastle, Pa.; Advanced Integrated Technologies, LLC*, Norfolk, Va.; Advanced Resources Technologies, Inc.*, Alexandria, Va.; AEG Group Inc.*, Grayslake, Ill.; Agile Business Concepts, LLC*, Reston, Va.; Agilis Group, Inc., dba AgilisIT*, San Diego, Calif.; Ahrens Consulting Group, LLC*, Dayton, Ohio; Airtec, Inc.*, California, Md.; Alainn, LLC*, Arlington, Va.; Alakai, LLC*, McLean, Va.; Alatec, Inc.*, Huntsville, Ala.; Allied Associates International*, Warrenton, Va.; Alpha Omega Technologies, Inc. *, Rockville, Md.; Alpha-Omega Change Engineering, Inc.*, Hampton, Va.; AMDEX Corp.*, Silver Spring, Md.; American Maritime International, Inc., dba AMI International*, Bremerton, Wash.; American Technology Solutions International*, Stafford, Va.; AMSEC, LLC, Virginia Beach, Va.; Amvet Technologies, LLC*, Las Vegas, Nev.; Anacapa Micro Products, Inc.*, Ventura, Calif.; Analycis, LLC*, Evansville, Ind.; Analysis Design and Diagnostics, dba AD&D*, Jacksonville, Fla.; Analysis, Integration and Design, Inc.*, Melbourne, Fla.; Analytical Services, Inc.*, Columbia, Md.; Apex Skills Group*, Virginia Beach, Va.; Applied Environmental, Inc.*, Herndon, Va.; Applied EnviroSolutions, Inc.*, Tempe, Ariz.; Applied Marine Solutions, LP*, Kailua, Hawaii; Applied Systems and Technology Transfer, LLC*, Youngstown, Ohio; Apprio, Inc.*, Highland, Md.; Arcata Associates, Inc., Las Vegas, Nev.; Ardent Management Consulting, Inc.*, Reston, Va.; ARES Solutions, Inc.*, Fredericksburg, Va.; Arete Enterprises*, Richmond, Va.; ARMEC Corp.*, Knoxville, Tenn.; Armed Forces Services Corp.*, Arlington, Va.; Arnold-Hanafin Corp.*, Boca Raton, Fla.; ASR International Corp., dba ASR Management and Technical Services*, Hauppage, N.Y.; Async-Nu Microsystems*, Fredericksburg, Va.; A-Team Solutions*, Fulton, Md.; Athena Consulting Group, LLC*, North Charleston, S.C.; Atlas North America, LLC, Virginia Beach, Va.; Atmospheric And Environmental Research, Lexington, Mass.; Atteloir, Inc.*, Germantown, Md.; Aveshka, Inc.*, McLean, Va.; Avitecture*, Sterling, Va.; Aviture, Inc.*, Irving, Texas; Aya Associates, Inc., dba COMP U FLOOR*, Maitland, Fla.; Azimuth Corp.*, Dayton, Ohio; Back Country Driving School, Inc.*, Roanoke, Va.; Bay State Computers, Inc.*, Bowie, Md.; Betis Group, Inc.*, Cape Charles, Va.; BizTech Fusion, LLC*, Laurel, Md.; Blanchard's Contracting, LLC*, Washington, D.C.; Blue Canopy Group, LLC*, Reston, Va.; Bluemont Technology & Research, Inc.*, Bluemont, Va.; Bluestone Logic, LLC*, McLean, Va.; BPC Group, Inc., dba BP Consulting Group*, Orlando, Fla.; Brayman Technical Services*, Alexandria, Va.; Brillient Corp.*, Reston, Va.; Bronico, Inc.*, Vacaville, Calif.; Burgos Group, LLC*, Albuquerque, N.M.; Business Integra Technology Solutions, Inc., dba Business Integra*, Greenbelt, Md.; CANA, LLC*, Gainesville, Va.; Capriccio Software*, Fredericksburg, Va.; Capricorn Systems, Inc.*, Tucker, Ga.; Cardinal Engineering, LLC*, Washington, D.C.; Cardinal Point Captains, LLC*, Carlsbad, Calif.; Carter Safety Consultants, Inc.*, Fayetteville, Tenn.; Celerity IT, LLC, McLean, Va.; CENTRA Technology, Inc., Burlington, Mass.; Centuria Corp.*, Reston, Va.; CET, LLC*, Earth City, Mo.; Cetacean Marine, Inc.*, Dania Beach, Fla.; CH2M Hill, Inc., Englewood, Colo.; Chaos Consulting, Inc.*, Fairfax, Va.; The Chigosi Co.*, San Diego, Calif.; Childs Engineering Corp.*, Medfield, Mass.; Chronos Systems, Inc.*, Camp Springs, Md.; Chugach Federal Solutions, Inc*, Anchorage, Alaska; Circinus, LLC, dba Circinus*, Fredericksburg, Va.; CKSolutions, LLC*, Solomons, Md.; Clarke House Technologies, Inc.*, Midland Park, N.J.; Client Network Services, Inc., dba CNSI, Gaithersburg, Md.; Compendium Federal Technologies, LLC*, Lexington Park, Md.; Component Sourcing Group*, Laguna Hills, Calif.; CompQsoft, Inc.*, Houston, Texas; Computer Systems Center, Inc., dba CSCI*, Springfield, Va.; Concept Analysis and Integration*, Silver Spring, Md.; Consolidated Networks Corp.*, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Consumer Management Solutions, LLC*, Dumfries, Va.; Consummate Computer Consultants Systems, LLC, dba C3 Systems*, Lusby, Md.; Costech Inc.*, Winter Springs, Fla.; CPN-Network, LLC*, Washington, D.C.; Craytek, Inc*, Arlington, Va.; Creoal Consulting*, Rockville, Md.; Critigen, LLC, Greenwood Village, Colo.; Croop-LaFrance, Inc.*, Vistor, N.Y.; Cyber Security Research and Solutions Corp., dba CSRS*, La Plata, Md.; Cyberdata Technologies, Inc.*, Herndon, Va.; DanSources Technical Services, Inc.*, Rockville, Md.; Datawiz Corp.*, Vienna , Va.; Davis Strategic Innovations, Inc., dba DSI*, Grant, Ala.; Dennis Millican & Associates, Inc.*, Coral Springs, Fla.; Dependable Global Solutions, Inc.*, Arlington, Va.; The Desilets Group, Inc.*, Bristow, Va.; Dfuse Technologies, Inc., dba Dfusetech.com*, Ashburn, Va.; DIGITALiBiz, Inc.*, Rockville, Md.; Diligent Consulting, Inc.*, San Antonio, Texas; DKJ Technologies, Inc.*, Beavercreek, Ohio; DMP Services*, El Cajon, Calif.; Donald L Blount and Associates*, Chesapeake, Va.; Driven Engineering, Inc.*, Semmes, Ala.; DSD Laboratories, Inc.*, Sudbury, Mass.; DSU Staffing, Inc.*, Raleigh, N.C.; Dunhill Personnel of Hawaii, dba Dunhill Professional Staffing of Hawaii*, Honolulu, Hawaii; Dyonyx, LP*, Houston, Texas; EclecTek, LLC*, California City, Calif.; EDC Consulting, LLC*, Washington, D.C.; Edwards Industries, dba Edwards Project Solutions*, Hanover, Md.; The Electronic On-Ramp, Inc.*, Rockville, Md.; Ellumen, Inc.*, Arlington, Va.; Elusive Solutions, Inc.*, King George, Va.; Emtec Federal, Springfield, N.J.; EnergySolutions Government Group, Inc., Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Engineering & Computer Simulations, Inc.*, Orlando, Fla.; ER Williams, Inc.*, Silver Spring, Md.; Escape Communications, Inc.*, Torrance, Calif.; ETSVETS, Inc.*, Enterprise, Ala.; Federal Program Integrators, LLC*, Indian Island, Maine; Financial Systems Consultants, Inc., dba FSC*, Cape Charles, Va.; Forwardyne Systems, Inc.*, San Diego, Calif.; FT Technologies, LLC*, Olney, Md.; Fulcrum Technology, LLC*, Bedford, Ind.; Fuse Integration, Inc.*, Long Beach, Calif.; Futech Technolgies, Inc.*, Baltimore, Md.; G2 Ops, Inc.*, Sierra Vista, Ariz.; Gale Force Software Corp.*, Indianapolis, Ind.; Gallup, Inc., dba The Gallup Organization, Washington, D.C.; Garud Technology Services, Inc.*, Ellicott City, Md.; GBTI Solutions, Inc.*, Herndon, Va.; Gella, LLC*, Johnstown, Pa.; Global Resource Management, Inc.*, Suwanee, Ga.; Global Resource Solutions, Inc.*, Olympia, Wash.; Government Technology & Business Services, Inc., dba GTBS*, Falls Church, Va.; GTANGIBLE*, Alexandria, Va.; The Hambrick Group, Inc.*, Los Angeles, Calif.; Hazard Management Solutions, Inc.*, Arlington, Va.; Hickory Ground Solutions*, Heathsville, Va.; Hi-Tec Systems, Inc., dba Hi-Tec Systems*, Egg Harbor Township, N.J.; Hooah, LLC*, Winter Park, Fla.; HVF West, LLC, Tucson, Ariz.; iAccess Technologies, Inc.*, Long Beach, Calif.; Icube Systems, Inc.*, Clifton, Va.; Ideogenics, LLC*, Washington, D.C.; iGouge, LLC*, Carlsbad, Calif.; Imagine Media Group, LLC, dba IMG Networks*, Chula Vista, Calif.; Impres Technology Solutions, Inc.*, Santa Fe Springs, Calif.; Infinity Technology, LLC*, McLean, Va.; Information Engineering Services, Inc., dba IES*, Alexandria, Va.; Information Technology Coalition, Inc., dba IT Coalition*, Alexandria, Va.; Information Technology Solutions & Consulting, LLC*, Falls Church, Va.; Ingenium Corp.*, Greenbelt, Md.; Integrated Technologies of Kansas, Inc.*, Wichita, Kan.; Integrity Management Consulting, Inc.*, McLean, Va.; IntellecTechs, Inc.*, Virginia Beach, Va.; Intelligence, Communications and Engineering, Inc., dba ICE-PS*, Sierra Vista, Ariz.; Intelligent Payload Solutions, Inc.*, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Intelligent Software Solutions, Inc., Colorado Springs, Colo.; Intelligent Systems Research, Inc.*, Agoura, Calif.; Intrinsyx Technologies Corp.*, Moffett Field, Calif.; iParametrics, LLC*, Alpharetta, Ga.; Ironhawk Technologies, Inc.*, Los Angeles, Calif.; Isomorphic Systems, LLC*, Trinidad, Colo.; IST Research, LLC*, Fredericksburg, Va.; IT Strategic Performance Firm*, San Antonio, Texas; ITCS, LLC*, Purcellville, Va.; ITechnology Group, LLC, dba ITGROUP*, Wayne, N.J.; J.L. Marshall & Associates, Inc.*, Virginia Beach, Va.; Jacer*, Fairfax, Va.; JRC Integrated Systems, Inc.*, Vienna, Va.; Kairos Consulting Worldwide, LLC*, Chicago, Ill.; Katmai Information Technologies, LLC*, Anchorage, Alaska; KEMA, Inc., Burlington, Mass.; KineTexas, Inc.*, Tempe, Ariz.; KNWEBS, Inc.*, Oklahoma City, Okla.; KORE Federal, Inc.*, Falls Church, Va.; Krozak Information Technologies, Inc.*, Silver Spring, Md.; La Jolla Logic*, San Diego, Calif.; Laxton Consulting, LLC*, Springfield, Va.; Level 4 Press, Inc., dba Level 4 Ventures, Inc.*, Jamul, Calif.; Levick Strategic Communications*, Washington, D.C.; Liberty Solutions*, Alpine, Calif.; Linium, LLC*, Albany, N.Y.; LinkVisum Consulting Group, Inc.*, Leesburg, Va.; Lion-Vallen, LP, dba LVI, Dayton, Ohio; Management Science and Innovation, Inc., dba 6 Sigma Technology Group*, Chantilly, Va.; Marc Enviro Services, Inc.*, Omaha, Neb.; The Mayvin Consulting Group, Inc.*, Alexandria, Va.; McNeal Professional Services, dba McNeal Wireless Services*, Kennesaw, Ga.; MedPacs, LLC*, Seattle, Wash.; Mega-Tech*, McLean, Va.; Metro Productions Government Services, LLC*, Hampton, Va.; MicroSys, LLC*, Manassas, Va.; Mission Assurance International, dba MAI*, Tampa, Fla.; Modus21*, Mount Pleasant, S.C.; MOSAIC Technologies Group, Inc.*, Fulton, Md.; Mustang Technical Services, LLC*, Fredericksburg, Va.; National Defense Advisors, Inc.*, Fairfax Station, Va.; The NAVSYS Corp.*, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Net Esolutions Corp.*, McLean, Va.; Neubrain, LLC*, Rockville, Md.; New River Systems Corp.*, Reston, Va.; Newmoyer Geospatial Solutions, LLC*, Mount Pleasant, S.C.; Nexus Technologies, Inc.*, Reston, Va.; Noise Control Engineering, Inc.*, Billerica, Mass.; Novus Origo, LLC*, Vista, Calif.; NucoreVision, Inc.*, Lanham, Md.; NVision Solutions, Inc.*, Bay St. Louis, Miss.; Occam Solutions, Inc.*, McLean, Va.; Occoquan Crew Technologies, Inc.*, Dumfries, Va.; Oceanit Laboratories, Inc., dba OCEANIT*, Honolulu, Hawaii; Octo Consulting Group, Inc.*, Vienna, Va.; Odyssian Technology, LLC*, South Bend, Ind.; Old Dominion University Research Foundation, Norfolk, Va.; Olusys, Inc.*, Camarillo, Calif.; Omitron, Inc.*, Beltsville, Md.; OmniPulse Technology Corp.*, San Diego, Calif.; Organon Advisors, Inc.*, Silver Spring, Md.; Osen-Hunter Defense Systems, LLC*, Madison, Va.; Ostari, Inc.*, Los Gatos, Calif.; OT Training Solutions, Inc.*, Orlando, Fla.; Performance Aircraft Services, dba Performance Aircraft Fuel Systems*, Grapevine, Texas; Phigenics, LLC*, Naperville, Ill.; Pierson Computing Connection, Inc..*, Mechanicsburg, Pa.; The Pierson Group, LLC*, Washington, D.C.; Precision Computing Intelligence, LLC*, Sierra Vista, Ariz.; Precision Task Group*, Houston, Texas; Premier Consulting & Management Services, Inc., dba PCMS*, Atlanta, Ga.; PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, McLean, Va.; Professional Solutions Delivered, LLC, Professional Services*, King Georga, Va.; Qi Tech, LLC*, Vienna, Va.; Quantell, Inc.*, Grantsville, Md.; Quantum Technology Sciences, Inc., dba QTSI*, Cocoa Beach, Fla.; R.H. Shackelford, Inc.*, San Antonio, Texas; R3 Strategic Support Group*, Coronado, Calif.; RedHawk IT Solutions, LLC, dba RedHawk IT*, Woodbridge, Va.; Reefpoint Group, LLC, dba Reefpoint Group*, Annapolis, Md.; RoundTurn, LLC*, Richmond, Va.; S. H. Huber and Associates, Inc.*, Oxnard, Calif.; SA Technical Services, Inc.*, Niceville, Fla.; Sabio Systems, LLC*, Albuquerque, N.M.; Saras America, Inc.*, Farmington Hills, Mich.; Schultz-Creehan Holdings, Inc.*, Blacksburg, Va.; Seawolf Solutions, Inc.*, McLean, Va.; Selsoft, Inc.*, Allen, Texas; Sensis Corp., East Syracuse, N.Y.; Sericore, LLC, dba Sericore Technologies*, Hanover, Md.; Shackleton Group, Inc.*, Lakewood, Colo.; Shipley, Inc., dba Isolated Ground*, Glendale, Calif.; Sierra Cybernetics, Inc.*, Anaheim Hills, Calif.; Sierra Infosys, Inc.*, Houston, Texas; Sierra Nevada Corp.*, Sparks, Nev.; SilverRhino, LLC*, Rockville, Md.; SNR Systems, LLC*, Leesburg, Va.; Software Professional Solutions, Inc.*, Farmingdale, N.J.; Sparc, LLC*, Charleston, S.C.; Spartan Management, LLC*, Manassas, Va.; Standard Technology, Inc.*, Warner Robins, Ga.; Statscom, Inc.*, Ashburn, Va.; Stealth Network Communications*, Scotts Valley, Calif.; Strategic Applications and Technologies, Inc.*, Columbia, Md.; Submergence Group, LLC*, Chester, Conn.; Superior Communication Solutions, Inc.*, Moultrie, Ga.; Swanson Services, LLC, dba Swanson Security Guard & Patrol Services*, Richmond, Va.; Symphony Consulting Group, Inc.*, Herndon, Va.; Synergy Technology Services, Inc.*, Eddystone, Pa.; Systems Software Solutions, Inc., dba 3S USA*, Bloomingdale, Ill.; TAF & Associates, Inc.*, Fairfax, Va.; Talentscale, LLC*, Lake Elsinore, Calif.; TeamStaff Government Solutions, Loganville, Ga.; Technical Automation & Management, Inc., dba TEAM*, Falls Church, Va.; Technology Blue, Inc.*, Cranberry Township, Pa.; Technology Concepts & Design, Inc.*, Reston, Va.; Telnet, Inc.*, Rockville, Md.; TeraLogics, LLC*, Ashburn, Va.; TeraThink Corp.*, Reston, Va.; Texeltek, Inc.*, Annapolis Junction, Md.; Thermopylae Sciences & Technology, LLC*, Arlington, Va.; Thor Solutions*, Annandale, Va.; Three S Consulting, Inc.*, San Francisco, Calif.; Tiber Creek Consulting, Inc.*, Farifax, Va.; Titanium Cobra Solutions, LLC*, San Diego, Calif.; Torknet, LLC*, Suitland, Md.; Total Computer Solutions, Inc.*, Arlington, Va.; TRAX International Corp., Las Vegas, Nev.; Tri Com Enterprises, Inc.*, Va Beach, Va.; Trinuc, LLC*, Buffalo Grove, Ill.; Tritus Technologies, Inc.*, Gainesville, Va.; Triune Solutions, LLC*, Washington, D.C.; Troika Solutions, LLC*, Arlington, Va.; Troy Networks, Inc.*, Lovettsville, Va.; Trusted Intelligence Support Services Corp.*, Scottssboro, Ala.; TurningPoint Global Solutions, LLC, dba TurningPoint*, Rockville, Md.; U.S. Information Technologies*, Chantilly, Va.; United Federal Systems, Inc.*, Reston, Va.; USmax Corp.*, Gambrills, Md.; Valicore Technologies, Inc., dba Valicore*, Irvine, Calif.; Vantage11, LP*, Tinton Falls, N.J.; Varilog Research, Inc.*, Beltsville, Md.; VariQ Corp.*, Washington, D.C.; Vetegrity, LLC*, Annapolis, Md.; Virsys, LLC*, Dunn Loring, Va.; VisionOnline.com, LLC, dba VOL*, Reston, Va.; Watershed Security, LLC*, Chesapeake, Va.; Web and Writing Solutions Co.*, Pasadena, Md.; Wight & Company, dba Wight Construction, Darien, Ill.; Windwalker Corp.*, McLean, Va.; Wittenberg Weiner Consulting, LLC*, Tampa, Fla.; Wolf Technical Services, Inc.*, Indianapolis, Ind.; Xeeto, Inc.*, Miami, Fla.; Yearround Accounting Taxes, LLC, dba McKinley Group*, Gaithersburg, Md.; Z and A Infotek Corp., dba Xeon Info*, Parsippany, N.J.; The Zanfer Group, LLC*, Lusby, Md.; Zantech IT Services, Inc.*, McLean, Va.

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Jun 27, 2011

The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently made changes to the 8(a) certification program for socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses with hopes to increase the amount of opportunities awarded to small qualified and certified companies.

To qualify, a company can not exceed a certain size limit according to its industry, has to be able to meet certain economic criteria, and must be able to prove that is is socially disadvantaged, such as minority owned.

If you qualify, get your financial statements prepared.  The SBA requires many supporting documents on every qualifying aspect of an 8(a) business and its owners. 

 

 

 

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Jun 23, 2011

The pre-solicitation notice helps government agencies determine if there are qualified vendors to perform the work scope. It provides a “heads up” that the solicitation will be released and solicits capability responses from responsible vendors. The pre-solicitation notice also helps the government determine if the requirement can be set-aside for a small business if capable small businesses respond. The pre-solicitation notice is valuable to a contractor for the same reason and it also provides the contracting office with information on the company if they have never done business with them before.

The pre-solicitation notice serves its purpose. However, it would help first-time contract bidders if information regarding the purpose of the solicitation such as; is there an existing requirement, if so, who is the incumbent, what are the differences in work scope (if any), and overall budget for the project term.
 
The proposal process includes three very important elements:
 
1.       Technical/Management Approach – companies must be able to perform the requirements in the Statement of Work, as well as describe how they plan to do so. Sales brochures or cookie cutter company descriptions will not work. A business owner should be prepared to write to the requirements and respond with a strong technical volume. Offer what they want, not want you think they want or need.
 
2.       Past Performance – companies should include strong references of relevant past performance.
 
3.       Price – Competitive pricing is expected, as long as it’s not so low or high that it is determined that the contractor does not understand the requirements.
 
The major differences between a solicited and unsolicited proposal are:
 
1.       An unsolicited proposal in NOT in response to a government solicitation.
 
2.       An unsolicited proposal is a submission of a new or unique idea not currently being offered or procured by the agency. 
 
3.       An unsolicited proposal does not result in an award, but is considered by the agency if there is a need.
 
4.       An unsolicited proposal must be independently originated and developed by the contractor.
 

 

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Apr 19, 2011

A database housing performance reviews of federal contractors is available to the public, beginning 15 April 2011.  But the public won't find much there, at least initially.

That's because only contractor performance information posted on or after April 15 will appear on the site.
 
The Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information Systems (FAPIIS) site shows actions taken against contractors in the course of their work with the government. Contracting officers are supposed to use the year-old database to review companies' past behavior before awarding a contract.
 
Members of the public must submit a Freedom of Information Act request to access any info before April 15.
 
The General Services Administration, which created the database, hailed the public launch of the website, saying the public now can view information previously available only to federal procurement staffs and congressional leadership. The database includes contract terminations, determinations of defective or false pricing data, and contractor self-reporting of criminal, civil and administration actions.
 
"Creating the public-facing FAPIIS is akin to setting up the Better Business Bureau of federal contracting - which is good for government and good for the public," said Kathleen Turco, associate administrator of GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy. "As FAPIIS continues to be populated, it will significantly support and assist federal government efforts to make informed spending decisions and to reduce risk."  Read Full Article.

 

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Apr 8, 2011

A government shutdown seems more likely now than the near misses of earlier this year.
Many prognosticators are putting the odds at 50-50 but leaning toward a shutdown. The government has estimated that 800,000 government employees will be sent home if it happens.
For contractors, the picture isn’t quite as clear. They have options on how to keep working even if are locked out of customer sites.
 
“We’ve been preparing for this for over a month,” one executive told me.
 
The big question of whether contractors work or not depends on several factors.
The first is whether the customer is exempt. An exempt customer means the contractor keeps working as normal. Another executive told me his company created teams that included operations, finance, legal, human resources and contracts. The teams then are putting work into four categories:
  • Funded and essential
  • Funded and non-essential
  • Unfunded and essential
  • Unfunded and non-essential
A second factor is where the money is coming from. If it is 2010 money, work can continue but invoices may get paid late, according to Alan Chvotkin of the Professional Services Council. If the work depends on money coming out of 2011 funds, work stops.
 
"If we have a contract and a statement of work and we aren't on a government site, we've got to show up for work," an executive told me.
 
A third factor relies on company policy. Workers can be shifted to other work that will continue during a shutdown. That likely will not take care of most workers, and some companies may require employees to take paid time off rather than laying off workers. Read Full Article

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ireyes said: testing
Apr 17, 2011
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Apr 7, 2011

Closing would affect more than 800,000 federal employees, including some White House staffers
Contingency plans are in the works as the government prepares funding to expire on April 8.
 
Expect about 800,000 federal employees to stop working, said a senior administration official in a conference call for reporters April 6. That figure is based on what happened during the last government shutdown in the mid-1990s, the official said.
 
That rough estimate doesn’t account for changes since the previous shutdown though, such as the Veterans Affairs Department’s multi-year appropriations and the creation of the Homeland Security Department. Reference Article.

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Mar 22, 2011

D.C.-area firms will bid on range of IT services.

Three D.C.-area small-business IT contractors will vie for task-order work under a Defense Department contract that has a maximum value of $495 million.

PowerTek Corp., of Rockville, Md.; NetCentrics Corp., of Vienna, Va.; and Digital Management Inc., of Bethesda Md., have each being awarded an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity, cost-reimbursement and fixed-price type multiple-award contract for a wide range of net-centric integrated IT support, services and supplies, according to a DOD announcement released March 18.
 
The services includes customer support; systems operation, administration, and maintenance; applications support, development and maintenance; and engineering services.
 
Other services include e-business systems administration, software system development, business continuity and continuity of operations, hardware and software acquisition, enterprise architecture, performance management, project management and IT training services.
 
The work will primarily be performed in the National Capital Region area.
 
The multiple-award contracts were competitively procured by full-and-open competition after exclusion as total small-business set-asides via the Federal Business Opportunities website, with 14 offers received, the DOD announcement states.
 
The Washington Headquarters Services Acquisition Directorate in Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity. Reference Article.
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Mar 18, 2011

It looks like Congress has averted the possibility of the government shutting down tomorrow by passing yet another funding extension that gives lawmakers three more weeks to reach a compromise on a long-term bill.
The Senate passed the latest short-term funding measure today by a vote of 87-13. The House approved the same bill earlier in the week. The bill (H.J. Res 48) would keep the government funded until April 8 and cut an estimated $6 billion in spending. 
The existing continuing resolution is set to expire March 18, and the government could have shut upon its expiration.  Full article.

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Mar 11, 2011

CACI International will need to compete all over again if it wants to hang on to a $450 million financial management systems modernization contract it won from the Homeland Security Department last year.
 
The Government Accountability Office confirmed today that it has upheld a protest against the DHS award to CACI. The 10-year contract is valued at up to $450 million.
 
DHS awarded the Transformation and Systems Consolidation contract to CACI this past November. Shortly afterward, Global Computer Enterprises, of Reston, Va., and Savantage Financial Services, of Rockville, Md., filed protests with the GAO. Full article

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Mar 11, 2011

Eight companies, including Lockheed Martin Corp., BAE Systems Inc., and L-3 Services, have been named to an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity, performance-based contract that includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the individual contracts to an estimated $183 million.

Under the awards, the contractors will provide Integrated Security Systems Sustainment support services in Charleston, S.C.; Norfolk, Va.; and Washington, D.C.; according to a Defense Department announcement today.
The awardees and the value of their individual contracts are:
  • Lockheed Martin Corp., $34,670,212;
  • Chenega Technical Services Corp., LLC, $36,009,534;
  • Dataline LLC, 36,193,425;
  • BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services Inc., $36,194,645;
  • M.C. Dean Inc., $35,520,355;
  • DRS Technical Services Inc., $34,653,184;
  • L-3 Services Inc., $33,489,745;
  • Systems Applications and Solutions, $34,864,977.
Work is expected to be completed by March 2012. If all options are exercised, work could continue until March 2016, the announcement said.
This contract was competitively procured by full and open competition via the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center e-Commerce Central website and the Federal Business Opportunities website, with eight offers received.
 
The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, Charleston, S.C., is the contracting activity.  Read full article.

 

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Mar 10, 2011

3/9/2011 - SINDELFINGEN, Germany (AFNS) -- Members of the Defense Department's newest combatant command bid farewell to their inaugural commander.

Army Gen. William E. "Kip" Ward passed the reins of U.S. Africa Command to Army Gen. Carter F. Ham after nearly three years at the helm.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates officiated at the ceremony and spoke to the audience at the Sindelfingen city hall near AFRICOM's headquarters in Stuttgart. Read full article.
 

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Mar 2, 2011

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Feb 24, 2011

Contractors should brace for a government shutdown

Politicians wrangle while pay, people and procurements hang in limbo

By: Matthew Weigelt

Source:  Washington Technology, Feb. 23, 2011

While there is still optimism that a federal government shutdown can be averted, the threat is real and there is plenty of uncertainty over how government contractors will be affected.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) intends to bring a short-term measure before the Senate next week to keep the doors open for another 30 days but Republican leaders in charge of the House have promised to reject a move if the measure continues funding the government at current levels, which the GOP believes are excessive.

Still, the chances are small for a government shutdown on March 4 when the current continuing resolution expires, although the political situation has changed and the reasons for a shutdown have increased, said Barry Anderson, a former acting director of the Congressional Budget Office. He spoke this morning at a conference hosted by the Professional Services Council on the implications of a potential shutdown.

Meanwhile, federal employees and government contractors remain in limbo, on the edge of a rare event that has lots of twists and turns as many decisions depend on answers to other questions.

“You will find there is a maze here. There are no good answers,” said John Cooney, who was the general counsel at the Office of Management and Budget during the 1995 government shutdowns. He also spoke at the conference.

If the government closes, agencies would launch their plans required by OMB and downshift to a skeletal crew of employees. Only a few jobs would be exempt from stopping during a shutdown, for example, those jobs that protect government property, such as federal buildings, or those that protect life, such as health care services or troop support. Often, Social Security Administration offices remain open and operational, as well as offices related to Medicaid and Medicare services.

This time, IT will be a new problem for officials to deal with. During shutdowns in the past — even the most recent in 1995 — the government was not so dependent on the Internet for providing services.

Cooney said the IT function would be critical during the shutdown, even as officials try to draw a dividing line. For example, the same Web server may host a government website offering registration services for Medicare as well as public relations for the agency. Legal officials would have to decide if the server should operate and if the employee who operates it is a necessary employee.

“OMB is going to have to think long and hard about what to do when the same website might be supporting a portfolio of accepted and non-accepted functions,” Cooney said.

For government contractors some contracts may be exempt from the shutdown while others are not.

A company may have to shift employees to avoid working on a project that isn't funded. The government is banned from accepting voluntary work, Cooney said. In fact, agencies are required to keep people from working. He suggested giving employees training that they may need or having them work on another project that isn't affected by the shutdown.

Contracts paid for with fiscal 2010 money are still in operation, but invoices might be paid late because of a shutdown. The government might owe a little more if the payment is late. Yet the contractor would generally be required to continue working and to bill the government according to the terms of the contract, said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel for the Professional Services Council said at today's conference.

Contracts providing products and services won’t be affected in the same way despite using fiscal 2011 money.

Product sellers wouldn't be hit in the same way as service contractors. Companies offering products will face changes in when and where they would make their deliveries, but the government likely will have already paid the companies for those products. However, services aren’t paid for when the contract is signed, Chvotkin said. Those companies may be paid a number of different ways, from quarterly payments for work to jobs done per day.

As a result, a shutdown would tear into service contractors’ pocketbooks, he said.

To deal with a shutdown, Chvotkin and Cooney both recommend that companies talk with their contracting officers about what’s ahead and share their concerns. In preparation, companies should analyze the possible circumstances and make plans in case of a shutdown. They should document if, for example, employees' job status were changed and account for how the shutdown affected the business, Chvotkin said.

“Make sure you can track the costs as best you can,” he said. “The stronger the documentation, the greater the likelihood of being able to demonstrate the costs incurred.”

Cooney said be patient with the contracting officer, especially if the shutdown goes on for many days.

He said, “The contracting officer may not know and may not have any answer because the decision being made is far above his pay grade and being made on very different grounds.”

The pain may be short lived, depending on whether the shutdown is "soft" or "hard." In a “soft shutdown,” federal employees would come to work but could not do anything “productive,” that is, anything to carry out the central duties of the agency.

“Basically they’re told the clean up their desks and consult with friends,” Cooney said, adding that it’s the flipside of a snow day, where employees come into the office or stay home.

The soft shutdown would occur if the president believes there’s a chance for a rapid compromise with Congress. "We designed it to give the president some other option besides Armageddon,” said Cooney, who helped draft guidance on shutdowns in the 1980s.

On the other hand, a “hard shutdown” would mean employees are furloughed from work.

 

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Feb 18, 2011

BAE Systems Inc. has completed its acquisition of L-1 Identity Solutions Inc.’s Intelligence Services Group, which comprises SpecTal LLC, Advanced Concepts Inc. and McClendon LLC. The purchase price was approximately $297 million.

Tags: Bae
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Feb 15, 2011

Fluor Corporation (NYSE: FLR) announced today that the company has reached a teaming agreement with Boeing (NYSE: BA) to pursue work from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) at its Sandia National Laboratories.

Sandia is a government-owned, contractor-operated facility that is
managed on behalf of the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Sandia has major facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., and an annual operating budget of approximately $2.5 billion. The current contract expires in September 2012.
 

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Feb 2, 2011

President Barack Obama released a memo in January asking regulators to avoid imposing heavy burdens on small companies and to search for ways to minimize these burdens.  Obama wrote in his memo, “Agencies must carry out the regulatory law by allowing small businesses more flexibility in meeting the compliance requirement. They should take into account the resource available to small entities.”

A couple days later Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said she plans to introduce a bill to require government regulators to consider small businesses as they draft new rules. “I intend to offer legislation in the coming weeks requiring the federal government to fully consider the economic impact on small businesses during the federal rulemaking process,” she said.

The legislation should be introduced in the next couple of weeks and small businesses should keep this on the radar.

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Jan 31, 2011

On January 27, 2011 - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a final rulemaking that will help economically and socially disadvantaged businesses take advantage of opportunities to participate in federally funded highway, transit and airport projects. This final rule will also hold state and local agencies more accountable for including disadvantaged businesses into their transportation plans.

“When we help small businesses, we’re helping to get the economy going,” said Secretary LaHood. “This rule will help small and disadvantaged businesses get a fair shot at participating in state and local transportation projects.”

The rulemaking also included provisions to ensure that prime contractors fulfill commitments to use Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) subcontractors. Another major change with this rule is all states will be required to accept DBE certifications obtained in other states, unless the state finds good cause to not accept it.

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Jan 21, 2011

The SBA will award $5 million in grant funding to assist undersized firms compete for large contracts. The grant recipients will be asked to find teaming partners to bid on large contracts with them. This will include identifying the team, preparing proposals and submitting the bids.

“The Small Business Jobs Act provides critical resources to help small businesses continue to drive economic recovery and create jobs,“ SBA Administrator Karen Mills said.  “The teaming pilot program will help put contract dollars into the hands of small businesses, create job opportunities through the teaming arrangements, help drive innovation and promote economic growth for our nation’s economy.”

The SBA is projecting to make 10 – 20 grant award of $250,000 - $500,000 for FY 2011. The awards will have a base project period of one (1) year, with four (4) option 12-month extensions. Applicants must:

  • Private entity – profit or nonprofit
  •  At least 3 years old
  • Must have experience working with small business issues on a national level

The organizations that are awarded the grants will be required to coordinator their own assistance with the agency’s district offices and other federal, state, local and tribal government small business development programs.

All grants proposals must be submitted through the federal website www.grants.gov by Friday, February 25, 2011.

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Dec 8, 2010


The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is hosting a half day conference on January 12, 2011. focused on helping women and minority businesses understand certifications and procurement tactics that work for them. Hear  from several procurement experts including:

   -Sharon Jackson, MBE Compliance and Outreach Manager, GOMA
   -Shirley Williams, Chief of MBE/WBE Opportunity Office, Mayor's Office
   -Gloria Larkin, President, TargetGov
   -Liz Cullen, WBENC.

Enjoy multiple breakout sessions and a Lunch Panel with success stories and networking.
Location: Sheraton Columbia, 10207 Wincopin Circle, Columbia, MD 21044
Price: $50 NAWBO members/ $65 non-members

To learn more and register click here.

 

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Dec 3, 2010

Department of Homeland Security Enterprise Solutions Office - EAGLE (Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions) contract – worth $22 billion. The EAGLE II solicitation will include two separate source selections – one unrestricted, and one specifically set aside for small businesses. The RFP for this contact is expected to come out during the first quarter of fiscal-year 2011.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Chief Information Office Solutions and Partners 3 (CIO-SP3) - worth $20 billion. The RFP for this contract is expected to come out during the first quarter of fiscal-year 2011.

US Army Program Manager, Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems (PM DCATS) – worth $19.5 billion. The RFP for this contract is expected to come out during the third quarter of fiscal-year 2011.

U.S. Coast GuardTechnical, Acquisition and Business Support Services (TABSS) – worth $11 billion. The RFP for this contract is expected to come out during the first quarter of fiscal-year 2011.

US Army - Computer, Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions (CHESS) – worth $5 billion, with a percentage designated as small business set-asides. The RFP for this contract is expected to come out during the third quarter of fiscal-year 2011.

Teaming Tip:

The dollar value of some of these opportunities may be daunting. That’s where teaming comes in. As a small business in the government contracting world, some of your best opportunities will be through teaming arrangements.
 

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Dec 3, 2010

The government has a contracting goal of 5% with women-owned companies and to date the federal government has never met this goal. Starting in early 2011, the Small Business Administration (SBA) will have procedures in place to help women-owned companies gain access to more federal contracts. 

The program will allow contracting officers to restrict competition in 83 industry categories to women-owned small businesses. When the program was being defined 45 industries were deemed “underrepresented” and 38 industries were deemed “substantially underrepresented” by women-owned companies.

"Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing sectors of our nation's economy, and even during the economic downturn of the last few years, have been one of the key job creation engines in communites across the country," SBA Administrator Karen Mills said.

It is believed with this new program with federal government will achieve the 5% contracting goal with women-owned companies.

For more information click here.

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Dec 3, 2010

Apple Corp is taking the beginning steps to formalize relationships with system integrator companies; Agilex Corp and Unisys Corp. Mobile technologies are stirring interest among government customers and Apple’s products can meet this demand. The iPad and iPhone are among the top mobile devices Apple will use in their authorize systems integrator program.  To learn more click here.

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Nov 24, 2010

On November 17th, 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) hosted an event to develop stronger working relationship between OSDBU’s Financial Assistance Division, Participating Lenders and Small Business Transportation Resource Centers (SBTRCs).

“We are very excited to have our SBTRCs and Participating Lenders from all over the country here at DOT Headquarters to learn and share ideas to help small businesses obtain working capital. The energy and enthusiasm of today’s event will be channeled to each region, increasing opportunities for small businesses to grow,” remarked Brandon Neal, OSDBU Director.

DOT OSDBU’s Short-Term Lending Program (STLP) helps small businesses gain access to the financing they need to participate in transportation-related contracts. STLP provides certified DBE's and other certified small businesses short term working capital financing at competitive interest rates for DOT or DOT funded contracts and subcontracts. The loan guarantee provides a revolving line of credit for work on transportation-related contracts.

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Nov 1, 2010

The military has tested many new technologies in the past and the most recent are iPads and e-books. The main reasons to test these specific types of technologies are for the field manuals. If there any updates in the manuals the iPads or e-books would directly receive the updates reducing printing costs and distribution time.

The military is also testing smart phones. Smart phones have lots of memory, reception, applications and new operating systems. The smart phones are used in during basic training as a learning tool. There are also military affiliated contests for new iPhone Apps. The top 5 winning Apps are: a physical training program, a telehealth mood tracker, a disaster relief application, a movement projection tool for mapping routes and a program to provide information to prospective soldiers.

A huge drawback is the potential risk that the iPads, e-book and Smart Phones could get hacked as other military equipment has in the past.

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Nov 1, 2010

The Defense Department’s need for unmanned aircraft continues to increase but the technology to operate them is reaching its limitation.

The automation will increase the number of platforms and missions while minimizing the number of personnel. Fewer pilots will be able to manage several unmanned aircrafts on missions using autonomous fight software. The new technology will also allow large amounts of data to be transmitted to personnel in the US instead of needing onsite analysts.

Initial reports estimate total spending over the next 10 years to be approximately $80 billion. 

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Nov 1, 2010

There is a new Mobile Gov IT App. Designed by Winvale, this app has the latest Government IT news, CIO blogs, FY2011 IT budget forecasts and GSA’s IT Schedule 70 information. This FREE App is the first of its kind for Government Technology. Download it at the Apple’s App Store.

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Oct 8, 2010

On Monday September 27 2010, President Barack Obama signed the small business bill into law! The law also sets up a lending fund for small business and $12 billion in tax breaks.

“It was critical that we cut taxes and make more loans available to entrepreneurs.” Obama said in remarks at the White House. “So today after a long and tough fight, I am signing a small business jobs bill that does exactly that.”

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Oct 8, 2010

There is a small business dashboard which shows all government agencies and their contracting dollars with small businesses and socio economic companies. The dashboard is broken down further into eligible dollars, actual dollars, goal % and actual %. This is a great tool to see which agencies are not fulfilling their goals and if your company can help them. 

To view the dashboard click here.

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Oct 8, 2010

The government has a contracting goal of 5% with women-owned companies and to date the federal government has never met this goal. Starting in 2011, the Small Business Administration (SBA) will have procedures in place to help women-owned companies gain access to more federal contracts.

The program will allow contracting officers to restrict competition in 83 industry categories to women-owned small businesses. When the program was being defined 45 industries were deemed “underrepresented” and 38 industries were deemed “substantially underrepresented” by women-owned companies.

It is believed with this new program with federal government will achieve the 5% contracting goal with women-owned companies.

For more information click here.

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Oct 8, 2010

It is first important to know the difference between prime contractor and subcontractor. A prime contractor sells to the government; whereas, a subcontractor sells to who sells to the government.

Prime Contractor
Some small businesses are not aware of what they are committing to when becoming a prime contractor for the government. The government views a prime contractor as the single point of contact, and is accountable for cost and schedule and performance.

One problematic area for a small company working as a prime contractor for the government is payment. A typical company invoices the government 30 days after starting a contract and the government has up to 90 days to respond to that invoice.  The government pays a prime contractor when it sees fit so it could take at least four to five months. Most small companies do not have a cash reserve to put front so much money  and wait months for payment.

Another problematic area is the language and clauses to a contract. Many small companies are unsure of all the terms, acronyms, clauses, references and requirements in a contract. These results in a poorly negotiate contract and the uncertainty of the contract itself.

Subcontractor
In most instances it makes sense for a small business to be a subcontractor. The advantage is the business relationship with the prime contractor and the face to face time.  The prime contractor can also pay invoices within days of receipt and as a subcontractor it will be easier to have access to the information you need to complete the job.

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Oct 8, 2010

The Department of Defense is proposing to standardize the process of distributing orders electronically and posting them on a central site for all contractors to access.

Currently the DoD has this capability and the proposal would officially standardize the process. The benefit and belief is the new rule will help small businesses.

If there are any concerns from small businesses or other parties, officials are taking comments on this proposal until November 30 2010.

For more information click here.

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Oct 1, 2010

Today, the Department of Transporation (DOT) released it's FY 2011 procurement forecast. To view and print the forecast please click here.

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Sep 15, 2010

Defense Secretary Robert Gates today released a 23-point memorandum for reforming defense acquisition processes, aiming for increased efficiency and productivity and proclaiming a new era in defense spending and acquisition strategy.

To read the whole article click here.

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Sep 15, 2010

WashingtonTechnology ranked the Top 100 Government Contractors who won nearly $130 billion in prime contracts last year.

1. Lockheed Martin Corp
2. Northrop Grumman Corp
3. Boeing Co
4. Raytheon Co
5. Science Applications International Corp

To see the entire Top 100 List please click here.

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Aug 4, 2010

The Federal Government's fiscal year ends on September 30, which gives agencies a "use it or lose it" mentality regarding their budgets. If an agency has unspent dollars at the end of the fiscal year it loses the money and runs the risk of a reduced budget the following year.

Many buyers and credit card holders will spend impulsively to use up the rest of the funds. Procurement Officers have authorization to buy up to $25,000 without needing to put out a competitive bid, those needing to spend over $25,000 will issue a competitive bid.

How do you find these opportunities? Contact us. We will help you find these agencies and point you in the right directions to take advantage of these impulse buys.These opportunities can help you get your foot in the door to do more business with the government in the future.

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Aug 4, 2010

Myth #1: More specific specifications are always better.

Fact: All suppliers get the same exact requirements in the RFP. The government is not looking for irrelevant information or minutia, so just stick to the facts.

Myth #2: Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis is always the best method on which to base a supplier selection.

Fact: TCO is useful but Value Management (VM) may be more appropriate. VM has emerged as the leading financial analysis for the US Government. VM is especially popular witht he DoD and at one point was mandated.

Myth #3: Privately-held suppliers will never share their financial statements.

Fact: Privately-held suppliers are not required to disclose financial statements and are less visible than publicly-held suppliers. If disclosure of financial statements is a requirement or condition then accommodations must be made between the agency and supplier; this can include a confidentiality agreement or limited access to the statements.

Myth #4: Long-term contracts should always begin immediately after a sourcing process.

Fact: It is normal for a long-term contract to be awarded and for business to start quickly but this may not be the best way to do business. Just like most warranties and guarantees a 30-90 day trial period should be negotiated to make sure the agency and supplier is a good match.

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Jul 21, 2010

DOD expects to spend $5.3B annually through program
The Navy has qualified 556 additional contractors to compete for task orders under the SeaPort Enhanced acquisition program.

The new indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract awards are in addition to the existing 1,675 contracts previously awarded under the SeaPort-e acquisition program that covers a wide array of technical and engineering services, the Defense Department said July 15. Each of the awards has a four-year base period.

About $5.3 billion in services will be procured per year via orders issued under the program, DOD said.

Under the SeaPort-e program, contractors provide services in 22 functional areas, including research and development, system engineering, modeling and simulation, information system development and information assurance.

Other areas involve support for analysis, prototyping, technical data, networks, software engineering, test and evaluation, training and logistics.

The services will support the Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Air Systems Command, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Naval Supply Systems Command, Military Sealift Command, Naval Facilities Command, Strategic Systems Programs, Office of Naval Research, and the Marine Corps.

The contracting activity is the Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren, Va.  Reference Article.

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Jul 21, 2010

Agencies do not outsource critical work, ODNI says
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has issued a rebuttal to a Washington Post report about the intelligence community’s seeming dependence on contractors to carry out its work.

In a story published 20 July, 2010 and headlined "National Security Inc.," Post reporters write that a two-year investigation concluded that contractors perform inherently government functions all the time and in every counterterrorism agency.

“What started as a temporary fix in response to the [2001] terrorist attacks has turned into a dependency that calls into question whether the federal workforce includes too many people obligated to shareholders rather than the public interest — and whether the government is still in control of its most sensitive activities,” according to the Post.

ODNI disputed that allegation in a fact sheet posted on its Web site.  Read full article.

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Jul 1, 2010

Acquisition will cost defense giant $775 million in cash. The Boeing Co. will acquire Argon ST in an all-cash tender offer and merger for $34.50 per share, or approximately $775 million.

The agreement to acquire the developer of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and combat systems advances Boeing's growth strategy and expands the company’s capabilities to address the C4ISR, cyber and intelligence markets, according to a statement issued today by Boeing.

Founded in 1997 and based in Fairfax, Va., Argon ST develops sensors and networks designed to exploit, analyze and deliver information for real-time situational awareness. Read full article.

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Jul 1, 2010

The GSA is preparing to launch FedSpace, its social media platform for federal agencies and contractors in late summer.

The secure intranet collaboration platform will be made available to federal employees and contractors, according to GSA's statement on USA.gov.

FedSpace will provide a usable and accessible platform for accessing resources that Federal employees and contractors need to do their work better, faster, and more efficiently. FedSpace will be "social" in terms of people interacting with other people through the use of social technologies and tools to enhance professional communication and relationships, not "social" in terms of personal social networking. FedSpace will provide netiquette guidelines to help people understand the kinds of behavior that contribute to a collaborative virtual workplace, as opposed to behavior more suited to personal activities. Find out more.

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Jun 8, 2010

The Department of Energy (DOE) is working tirelessly to address the oil spill in the Gulf. At the request of President Obama, Secretary Chu traveled down to Houston to work closely with a team of top scientists from academia and the U.S. government, with support from more than 200 personnel from DOE's national laboratories, to analyze the response efforts and recommend additional options for stopping the leaking oil.

DOE would like you to share your ideas on how to stop or contain the oil spill and mitigate its impact on the environment. The Deepwater Horizon Response has an online form available to collect your suggestions here: http://www.horizonedocs.com/artform.php

As small business owners, you know that innovation comes from many sources. We need to tap into the spirit of American entrepreneurship to learn as much as possible. So far over 20,000 ideas have been sent to BP since the Gulf of Mexico incident from oil industry experts, small businesses, and everyday Americans.

The online form, entitled "Alternative Technology Response," collects detailed information about your idea, including the materials, equipment and resources required to put your idea into action. Your idea, once you fill out the form, will go to a team of 30 technical and operational BP personnel for evaluation

Submit your ideas here.

We encourage you to be part of the solution and submit any ideas you have to the Deepwater Horizon Response, and to share this message with others who might be able to help. For more information on the Deepwater Horizon Response suggestion form, visit this link.

Thank you,

Bill Valdez, Acting Director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization

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May 20, 2010

The Department of Defense Mentor-Protégé Program assists qualifying small businesses (Protégés) to successfully compete for prime contract and subcontract awards by partnering with large companies (Mentors) under individual, project-based Agreements. http://www.americansecuritychallenge.com/

The American Security Challenge (ASC) is working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense to help identify potential Protégé Awardees for the Robotics Initiative which has technology interests in:
  • Power- batteries, fuel cells, energy scavenging, renewable, etc
  • Communications- signals, wireless security, obfuscation, unattritable systems, encryption, etc
  • Sensors- CBRNE, camera, biometrics, etc
  • Software- data analysis, pattern recognition, network security, etc
The Protégé Award is up to $1,000,000 per year for up to three years which may be applied to legal, manufacturing, engineering, and other hard costs as well as valuable counseling by the Mentor.  ASC is pleased to announce the Mentor for this ASC DOD Protégé Award will be Raytheon.
To qualify for this small business award, A Protégé firm must SBA a certified small disadvantaged business (SDB), a qualifying organization employing the severely disabled, a women-owned small business (WOSB), a service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB), or a historically underutilized business zone (HUBZone).
 
Companies that register for the Protégé Award are also eligible for other awards through ASC.  After generating over $10M last year in teaming, sub-contract and investor term sheets, the 2010 Challenge is targeting $25M in contract revenue and investment capital for Challenger applicants.  This year over 40 Pilot Awards are added providing Challengers opportunities to have their technologies test driven by qualified potential customers; with ready contract vehicles and funding for technologies passing the pilots.  These customers may include but are not limited to various groups within the Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Raytheon, ArcSight, Intuit, members of the Intelligence Community and others (additional customers pending ).  By quickly identifying solutions to mission critical and highly visible issues in cyber, C4ISR, physical and energy categories, the American Security Challenge public/private partnerships are working to secure our nation's citizens, our assets and our economy.
 
CALL TO ACTION:           
SBA Certified Small Businesses with power, communications, sensors or software technologies should REGISTER BY MAY 28 to be considered for this and other ASC Awards.  
Scoring criteria, eligibility, customer requirements, deadlines, investment and pilot contract award dates and other information is available on the website
 

 

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May 13, 2010

The US DOT/OSDBU ihas issued the Spring 2010 edition of the DOT Biz Journal and it is available for download. In this issue the DOT/OSDBU highlights the recent OSDBU Small Business Summit attended by over 700 individuals from across the nation who came together to learn strategies from industry and government leaders to meet the demands of the competitive small business environment in the transportation industry. Also included in this Spring edition is a summary of DOT's proposed funding under President Obama's 2011 budget.

You will also find information on the Small Business Administration's proposed rule to expand access to federal contracting opportunities for women -owned small businesses and will learn about a Short Term Lending Program success story on HydroTech, Inc, a Nevada based woman-owned 8(a), HUBZone certified company. In addition, the DOT includes their regular features including Follow the Recovery Money and the upcoming Calendar of Events.

Click the following link to download the DOT Biz Journal (PDF)

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Apr 29, 2010

Comments are to be submitted no later than May 3, 2010.
After more than a decade of waiting, the SBA has finally published a set of Proposed Rules to implement the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program that, with some refinement, will serve to implement a strong program enabling restricted competition for certain women-owned small business on contracts within selected NAICS codes. This program should help the federal government to meet their mandate for providing a fair portion of Federal contracts to women-owned small businesses. LEARN MORE

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Apr 28, 2010

President Barack Obama has formed two interagency working groups that will look for ways to award more federal contracts to small businesses.The president has created task forces to focus on small-business contracting problems and opportunities for companies owned by service-disabled veterans.

Obama signed an executive order April 26 that established an interagency task force that will seek to develop opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses. He also signed a memo establishing an interagency task force to help small businesses overall win more federal contracts.

In addition, the memo directs Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra to build a Web-based dashboard by July that will illustrate how many contracts agencies award to small, disadvantaged businesses. FULL ARTICLE

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Apr 28, 2010

The Air Force is looking to improve its acquisition activities, starting immediately with the impending contract awards for the KC-X tanker, the F-35 joint strike fighter and the Network-Centric Solutions-2 Enterprise Integration and Service Management program (NETCENTS-2), according to a top Defense Department official.

“Recapturing acquisition excellence in the Air Force is a top priority,” David Van Buren, Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition, said today at an AFCEA Nova luncheon. In particular, “our acquisition cycle times are horrible," he said. FULL ARTICLE

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Apr 16, 2010

TeleCommunication Systems Inc., founded in 1987 as a small wireless systems provider, could be a role model for how to succeed in government business by really trying.

The company’s 23-year history includes a stint in the 8(a) certified small-business program, an initial public offering, conducting triage on a moribund government business, making several acquisitions and, last year, reaching $300 million in annual revenue.

TCS has more than 1,000 employees, and company executives say they expect TCS' combined commercial and government revenues to be between $430 million and $450 million this year, which would mean a 50 percent growth rate.

“We are a growth company. We’re not stopping,” said Drew Morin, TCS’ senior vice president and chief technology officer. As the third employee hired by company founder Maurice Tose, he knows TCS’ history first hand.

The Annapolis, Md., company’s first major contract came in 1989, the same year that TCS entered the 8(a) program. The $1.75 million award called for designing and building a local-area network for the Special Operations Command's headquarters at McDill Air Force Base, Fla.

That award led to further work from military special operations clients.  Read Full Article.

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