Archives for October 12

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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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 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 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 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 24, 2012

GSA Schedules are long-term government-wide contracts that establish set prices and terms for supplies and services.  Because ordering from these established contracts saves government agencies administrative time and money, preference is often given to vendors on a GSA Schedule.

If you are debating on whether or not your company should invest the time and resources in having your company included on a GSA Schedule, consider the following Pros and Cons:

•    A less selective competitive pool (as you will only be bidding against other companies that are already on the GSA Schedule)
•    Access to Request for Proposals and Request for Quotations that are not normally published on
•    Know who exactly who your competition is
•    An excellent marketing tool for your company—Government Agencies like it that your company has already been pre-vetted by the GSA Schedule selection process!

•    Inclusion into the schedule could be a time and resource consuming process
•    The requirements for a GSA Schedule contract award are stringent: you need to demonstrate a history of financial stability, a strong past performance experience, and the capability to meet the service/product requirements
•    The GSA requires prospective vendors to: possess up to date CCR and ORCA records, as well as complete a Readiness Assessment, a Pathway to Success certification, and comply with wage determination labor standards… what does all of this mean?

GovPartners has a 100% success rate in obtaining GSA Schedule contract awards for eligible companies.  We make the process as easy as possible for our clients, providing all of the necessary services for our clients, from the cradle to the grave.  This includes things such as submitting our client’s Open Ratings Reports in the beginning to negotiating acceptable discount terms with the GSA prior to a contract award.

To find out more about our GSA Schedule submission services, click here.


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