January 16, 2012 by cs
Government contractors shouldn’t fear the looming defense budget cuts, the private sector still has a critical role to play, said the leader of the military’s acquisition arm on Jan. 6.
Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said in a conference call that the department convened a joint DOD-private sector task force to determine the potential effects on industry of impending budget cuts and the military drawdown in Southwest Asia.
The task force has helped guide some of DOD’s strategy outlined Jan. 5 by President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Kendall said. He was optimistic despite a new report from the task force that revealed worries over the projected spending decreases.
“The industrial base was considered throughout the review as part of total force structure,” Kendall said. “The department is dependent on the industrial base as a partner in the defense enterprise. But less is less…you cannot expect the market to continue to grow as it has in the past.”
But despite his optimism, defense industry executives are worried about the cuts. Their concerns were outlined in a report dated Nov. 11, 2011, but released Jan. 6.he
“This report paints an alarming picture for the future of the aerospace and defense industry,” Marion Blakey, president of the Aerospace Industries Association, said in a release. “Yesterday Secretary Panetta outlined very severe reductions in the defense budget. Any further cuts will cripple crucial industrial base capabilities in the national security sector.”
AIA was part of the Defense Industrial Base Task Force; other groups included the Professional Services Council and the National Defense Industrial Association.
Kendall said technology remains one area that likely will still see investment and the private sector’s partnership would remain critical to military operations.
“Our continued dominance will rely on technological superiority,” he said. “While we will be taking budget cuts, there will be high priority areas of investment,” including cyber, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and space.
The task force’s report assessed the effects of two scenarios: the $480 billion defense spending reduction over 10 years that Obama and Panetta outlined Jan. 5, and the $1 trillion across-the-board cuts that could result from sequestration triggered by the congressional supercommittee’s failure to agree on federal budget cuts.
“Cuts beyond $480 billion…would render major segments of the defense industry unable to produce critical products and components, leaving wide gaps in the domestic capacity needed to sustain an acceptable margin of military superiority in the future,” the report stated.
According to Kendall, he and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter have met with the task force, and Panetta is slated to meet with members in two weeks.
Kendall stressed that he believes the cuts and strategy implementation are doable, and that industry has a seat at the table as DOD’s leadership determines strategy.
“I believe we can execute the strategy within the context of budget constraints and still preserve military and industrial base,” he said.
About the Author: Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering defense and national security for Federal Computer Week. This article appeared Jan. 6, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/01/06/kendall-defense-industry-task-force-report.aspx?s=wtdaily_090112.
January 13, 2012 by cs
On Friday, Jan 13, 2012, President Obama announced he will ask Congress for the power to merge six federal trade and commerce agencies, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The WSJ report said Obama will ask Congress for “reorganizational” power. The last president to have this power was Ronald Reagan.
The new power would allow the president to propose mergers in order to save money and make the government work more efficiently, according to the report.
The plan would allow Obama to propose mergers that would be “guaranteed an up-or-down vote from Congress within 90 days,” the report said.
The six agencies Obama wants to consolidate include the Commerce Department‘s core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Trade and Development Agency.
The report cited a White House official who said the merger would save taxpayers around $3 billion over the next decade by eliminating duplicate overhead costs.
In addition, between 1,000 and 2,000 jobs would be eliminated through attrition, according to the WSJ.
January 13, 2012 by cs
As the Pentagon readies a fiscal 2013 budget expected to map out $487 billion in cuts over the next 10 years, many contractors already are bracing for a new climate of austerity, but they are heartened by the Obama administration’s pledge to preserve America’s industrial base.
At the Pentagon on Thursday (January 5, 2012) with President Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Deputy Secretary Ashton B. Carter stressed the need for innovation and scientific progress. Both touched on the importance of innovation, maintaining the industrial base, and fostering science and technology.
“As we reduce the overall defense budget, we will protect our investments in special operations forces, new technologies like [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] and unmanned systems, space and cyberspace capabilities, and our capacity to quickly mobilize,” Panetta said.
Carter said, “this guidance tells us to preserve investment, and even in some cases to increase our capabilities in key areas that are clearly important to the future — special forces in counterterrorism, countering weapons of mass destruction, building partner capacity, cyber, and aspects of our science and technology investments — making sure that we don’t simply revert to yesterday’s pre-9/11 force structure under the pressure of budget cuts.”
He offered assurance that the Defense Department does not “eat the seed corn” by making cuts that are irreversible. “As we make program changes, we want to make sure that 10 years, 15 years from now, we still have an industrial base that supports our key weapon systems even if we’re not able to buy in those areas at the rates or in the volume that we had planned before we were handed this $487 billion cut.”
The Professional Services Council, a contractors trade group, issued a statement applauding the administration for recognizing that a “strong, flexible and resilient industrial base is integral to ensuring future readiness and mission success.” But the council warned against “arbitrary cuts” to contracts, programs and personnel.
“Clearly, the planned reductions will have an impact on both the military and the industry. Those impacts could be exacerbated if the department does not pay close attention to how it can best capitalize on the capabilities of the private sector,” said PSC President and Chief Executive Officer Stan Soloway. “It is therefore more important than ever that the department buy smart and ensure it genuinely incentivizes and rewards performance and innovation rather than simply buying at the lowest price.”
The Aerospace Industries Association also was encouraged by the Pentagon’s approach, saying in a statement that officials “recognized the importance of a strong industrial base” and for planning reductions based on “a new national defense strategy … rather than simply lower numbers across-the-board.”
Richard Rector, a partner with DLA Piper who runs the law firm’s contracting practice, told Government Executive he expects “contractors’ work and the legal work to track the decline in spending, and that companies will be less willing to accept a loss on a key programs as the pie shrinks and there are fewer large programs.”
During the previous defense spending downturn, in the mid-1990s, the number of bid protests went down commensurately, he said, but companies today are apt to be “less sanguine about accepting a loss when profitability and margins are thin, and more likely to fight over things that at other times they would let slide.” That might mean more bid protests and more claims against agency contract officers for changing the scope of contract work, he added.
The American Federation of Government Employees urged the Pentagon “to take a balanced approach to spending reductions that subjects private contractors to the same cost-cutting scrutiny that has already been placed upon the civilian workforce,” AFGE President John Gage said in a statement.
“Tens of thousands of civilian jobs are slated for elimination, despite strong evidence that having civilians perform these jobs is the most cost-effective strategy,” he said. “Meanwhile, the department continues to increase spending on contractors, even though they are more costly and less accountable.”
The nonprofit Project on Government Oversight criticized both Defense officials and an advance story about the Pentagon review in The New York Times for failing to address possible savings through decreased reliance on contractors. “Beyond the secretary’s failure to provide specifics on how he’s going to achieve his budget savings, it was what he didn’t say that left us flabbergasted,” POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said in a statement. “Not once did he mention the need to take a serious look at the more than $200 billion the Pentagon spends each year on outside service contractors.”
Brian said her group’s research shows the Pentagon spends more on service contractors than on its uniformed military and civilian employees combined, and that contractors, on average, bill the government “nearly twice as much as it would have cost federal employees to do the same jobs.”
Defense budget analysts Barry Watts and Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments wrote a December 2011 op-ed in Politico underlining the importance of contractors in maintaining the industrial base and the need for a long-term Pentagon strategy that sets priorities for critical capabilities.
“For-profit companies, defense firms cannot afford to maintain a broad range of weapon design and production capabilities if there is no funding,” they warned. “In 1997, for example, the British navy wanted to develop a new class of nuclear attack submarine, only to find that the British defense industrial base no longer had the necessary design or production skills. Fortunately, the Royal Navy could turn to a U.S. firm for the lost expertise. But if the Pentagon finds itself in a similar situation, to whom would it turn?”
— by Charles S. Clark – Government Executive – January 6, 2012 at http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=49718&oref=todaysnews
January 12, 2012 by cs
The General Services Administration will require vendors to provide information technology security plans detailing how they are meeting federal cyber regulations under a new rule published on Jan. 6, 2012.
GSA said that changes are will apply to IT contracts awarded after Jan. 6, 2012 and that contractors must submit their IT security plans within 30 days of the contract award.
The plan should detail the processes and procedures the contractor will follow for “appropriate security of IT resources… used under the contract.”
GSA said it will use this information to verify that IT data and systems are effectively secured from unauthorized users. GSA will also inspect prime contractors’ and subcontractors’ facilities and IT systems.
Both prime and subcontractors will submit written proof of IT security authorization six months after the award in order to verify the validity of their security plan. The required plans and proposals will be included in IT contract solicitations.
— by Katelyn Noland, ExecutiveGov, on Jan. 6, 2012 at http://www.executivegov.com/2012/01/contractors-to-give-gsa-it-security-plans/
January 11, 2012 by cs
- People: The skills and experience of the people involved in creating proposals.
- Business acquisition process: Business acquisition maturity covering the five stages of business acquisition lifecycle.
- Tools: Proposal infrastructure and personal and productivity tools.
- Management decision-making: Qualification and bid decisions.
- Solution competitiveness: Competitive solution with good features and customer benefits.
- Proposal quality: Quality proposals that are always compliant, responsive and compelling.
- Winning culture: Winning culture with good work/life balance.
January 9, 2012 by cs
When considering how to enter the government marketplace, most business people first think about doing business directly with federal, state or local government agencies.
Contracting directly with a government entity involves many steps, and likely involves the requirement that you have years of established experience. In fact, there are many major considerations for doing government business as a prime contractor, including:
- Thorough knowledge of all applicable procurement regulations and laws.
- Registration in numerous vendor databases and keeping them up-to-date.
- Comprehensive market research to identify upcoming work.
- Skills necessary to analyze government solicitations, and then prepare detailed and responsive offers.
- Ability to secure bid, performance and payment bonds, if required.
- Ability to finance what may be a multi-million dollar job for at least 60-90 days until the first payment arrives.
- Established relationships with agency, including buyers and end-users.
- Track record of relevant experience.
If your business lacks the wherewithal to support all this, you may want to consider an alternative.
The Alternative to Doing Business Directly with the Government
For less experienced and smaller businesses, there may be a simpler, faster, and less burdensome way to break into the government market — subcontracting. The subcontracting route allows a company to do business with the government indirectly — through a prime contractor — on smaller pieces of work and involving fewer requirements. A subcontractor is answerable to a prime contractor, not the government, and the prime contractor is held responsible by the government for overall work performance.
Prime contractors are responsible for meeting all government contracting requirements. Primes must be able to finance the job, bond the job, and complete the job on schedule.
Primes also are held accountable for meeting any socio-economic small business goals associated with the contract. Because of this requirement, prime contractors working on government contracts are always looking for talented small businesses to meet their needs. For federal contracting, this involves small businesses that are owned and controlled by women, minorities and other disadvantaged groups, and veterans, including service disabled veterans. Small businesses located in historically underutilized business zones (HUBZones) also are preferred by prime contractors. Individual state and local governments also may have preference programs involving particular small business categories.
Relationships always matter, and relationships with prime contractors are no exception. Small firms seeking to do business with a large prime must develop a strategy to introduce themselves and inspire the large firm to award them a small job in order to establish a reputation. Most small firms who have satisfactorily performed work for a government prime contractor report that they have received repeat business.
Preparing To Be a Subcontractor
So, what are the starting points for pursuing the subcontracting path? Here are a few suggestions:
- Gain at least a general knowledge of the government marketplace.
- Identify any areas of the government market where you have particular insights.
- Look for work areas where you may fulfill a specialty requirement or a niche.
- Familiarize yourself with the government’s various small business preference programs and how you can qualify.
- Create and polish a presentation about your firm’s capabilities and strengths.
- Pitch your credentials to prime contractors.
The Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) can help you with most of these steps. By attending GTPAC classes regularly, you’ll learn lots of details about the government market, how it works, and who the players are. We can identify all the small business preference programs and how you might qualify. GTPAC also can provide you with templates for presenting your experience and expertise. We also can identify successful government prime contractors and trade shows where you can meet them.
Help That’s Available
If subcontracting is the route for you, and you want to receive GTPAC’s assistance, we suggest you take the following steps:
- Attend our “Introduction to Government Contracting” class or our “Fundamentals to Working with the Government” briefing. By attending either one, you’ll learn the essentials of the government marketplace. Sign up for these at http://gtpac.ecenterdirect.com/Conferences.action.
- Sign-up and become a GTPAC client. You’ll learn how to do this by attending either of the seminars listed in step #1.
- Attend our class entitled “Subcontracting with Large Prime Contractors.” You’ll gain insights into the various types of partnering arrangements possible in government contracting and how to best position yourself.
- Make a commitment to continuous learning. Even subcontracting requires keeping yourself up-to-date with developments in the government marketplace. Attend GTPAC classes regularly, and consider professional education such as the courses available through The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech.
- Request a template from a GTPAC Counselor for putting together a “capabilities statement” on your company. Use this as a way for putting together an impressive presentation of your credentials. While you’re at it, ask for an “elevator speech” template so you can practice how to make an impressive introductory statement about yourself.
- Learn about small business preferences that may apply to you, by either attending periodic briefings GTPAC puts on about this subject or by attending instructional workshops conducted by the Small Business Administration and by state and local governments. Once you identify your potential qualifications, apply for appropriate certifications. GTPAC will not prepare certification applications, but our Counselors will be glad to offer you advice and counsel along the way.
- Stay alert to upcoming government-sponsored expos, trade shows, and other forums where you can meet and impress prime contractors. An ideal way to learn about such events is by regularly visiting the GTPAC website; our home page lists many upcoming government vendor events.
- Familiarize yourself with government small business specialists. These officials are housed inside each federal agency’s major offices, and there are many small business advocates with state and local government units, too. If a small business specialist is impressed with your capabilities, chances are they can arrange for a presentation of your credentials to prime contractors. You can learn more about small business specialists, their role, and how to identify them by clicking here.
- Research who’s winning government contracts. You can find tips for doing this at: http://gtpac.org/2010/06/three-tips-for-researching-contract-awardees-and-probable-bidders. Also, you’ll want to obtain lists of government prime contractors to contact. Each month, GTPAC compiles a list of all Georgia businesses that have been awarded federal contracts, and we publish various other government contract lists on our web site. (For example, details on the largest 2011 federal awardees appears here.) These are the the businesses you want to target for subcontracting possibilities.
GTPAC can help you become a successful government subcontractor. You may find that subcontracting is just the spot you want in the overall government marketplace. Or, you may find that subcontracting represents the “foot in the door” to moving on to prime contracting with the government.
© 2012, Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center, All Rights Reserved.
January 7, 2012 by cs
The Center for Advance Logistics Management is pleased to host a two-day conference on Supply Chain Innovations on Feb. 22 and 23, 2012 in Savannah, GA. The conference is an outgrowth of on-going research and education efforts by Albany State University, partnered with Albany Technical College.
The conference will be held at the Marriott Savannah Riverfront. The conference theme is “Leveraging technology for security, resilience and optimization in Defense supply chains.”
Information technology is being leveraged to provide enormous competitive advantage in globally connected supply chains. Technology is a source of innovation and competitive advantage, but it also makes supply chains vulnerable to cyber threats.
Advanced supply chains recognize and manage risk, and build security and resilience while they optimize performance.
IT underpins all of the elements of supply chain management. Sharing of information across processes in the supply chain affect everything from materials extraction and sourcing through manufacturing, transportation, distribution, finance, payments, security and customer relations.
The Department of Defense relies heavily on private-sector infrastructure for its supply chains.
While supply chains move materials through normal distribution channels (air, sea and land-based shipping), supply chain information travels on the Internet. Today we know that security and resiliency in information and communications infrastructures is insufficient, resulting in serious vulnerabilities for supply chains.
The risks and vulnerabilities in an improperly managed supply chain, from counterfeit equipment to malware to other avenues of attack, are real and growing. The Defense Department, through efforts such as the Trusted Foundry program and use of standards like Common Criteria (ISO/IEC 15408) is working to reduce its supply chain vulnerability footprint. This is not a small problem. Some have recommended government measures that mandate significant consequences for having inadequate cyber protections and requirements for reporting breaches and penetrations.
DoD programs that are mission critical or essential to national security or national defense have stepped up the requirements for compliance with DoD directives and Public Law requiring trusted components in the most important defense systems.
Agencies and departments are developing policies to keep a more watchful eye on vendors, partners, and others in their cyber supply chains and adopt best practices for mitigating risks across their systems and processes to protect your system against backdoor access or other deliberate mischief.
Complete confeence information, including registration details, may be found at http://www.afei.org/events/2A08/Pages/default.aspx.
The federal Small Business Program is the subject of a new course now being offered by The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech.
The course, designated as CON 260B by the Defense Acquisition University, provides an in-depth review of the Department of Defense’s Small Business Program. This course delves into the intricacies of the associated programs and initiatives that support the Small Business Program and the DoD’s efforts to improve small business participation in prime contracting and subcontracting. Particular attention is focused on the Small Business Managers’ role as a vital member of the acquisition team.
The course is scheduled to be offered several times in 2012 on the Georgia Tech campus in midtown Atlanta. Georgia Tech is an approved Defense Acquisition University (DAU) equivalency provider and offers DAU-equivalent training that will satisfy the FAC-C and DAWIA certification programs. This class is not limited to government employees; individuals representing businesses who wish to gain insights into the federal procurement process are welcome to register and attend.
How You Will Benefit by Attending
Participants will learn how to do the following by participating in this course:
- Conduct market research to the extent needed to maximize small business
participation at the prime and subcontracting levels.
- Select the appropriate acquisition strategy that maximizes small business
participation either at the prime contract or subcontracting levels.
- Describe the SBA’s role in the award decision making process.
- Implement the subcontracting requirements.
- Describe how to provide assistance to small businesses in finding government
contracting and sub-contracting opportunities
A notebook containing the PowerPoint slides, assessment instruments, exercises and supplemental information will be provided to each registered participant.
CEU’s, Cost and Registration
Course participants will earn 2.1 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from Georgia Tech and be eligible for Continuous Learning Points (CLPs) from DAU. The course fee is $750. The course schedule and registration information is available on-line at http://www.pe.gatech.edu/courses/con-260b-small-business-programs.
Who Should Attend
- State, local, federal contracting officials
- Small business advocacy associations
- Prime contractors with AND without government contracts
- Corporate supplier diversity professionals
- Small, mid-size, and large businesses
- Anyone working for a federal agency who interacts with/supports small
- Administrative Information
- Course Overview
- Market Research
- Acquisition Strategy
- SBA’s Role
- Subcontracting Plan
- Conducting Outreach
Feel free to contact The Academy’s program manager Rhonda Lynch at ude.hcetag.ymedacAgnitcartnoCnull@ofni.
The National Veteran Small Business Coalition (NVSBC) is proud to announce the 2012 Veteran Entrepreneur Training Symposium (VETS2012) in Reno, Nevada, June 11-14, 2012.
VETS2012 brings government agencies, industry leaders and veteran entrepreneurs together in an intimate forum to discuss issues affecting veteran-owned companies.
Besides informative sessions and prominent speakers, the event will feature an Exhibit Hall for companies to display their products and services, as well as one-on-one Business Matchmaking Sessions. Throughout the event, attendees are encouraged to strike up conversations with experts in scheduled sessions and beyond. Through connecting with federal agencies, prime contractors, small and large companies from all across the country are able to forge the relationships needed to help them grow.
NCSBC’s Scott Denniston, former director of the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs’ small business office, promises even more opportunities, information, and key players in this upcoming event than at the inaugural event held in Reno last year.
The Obama administration solidified an interim rule that requires agency officials to post a government contractor’s work history in a publicly accessible website.
The Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) is a one-stop web site for contracting officers and federal employees to look at the history of companies’ work with the federal government.
FAPIIS includes data from the Performance Information Retrieval System, as well as information from other databases, including the Excluded Parties List System, which lists companies that are suspended or debarred from federal contracting. The overall purpose of FAPIIS is to make it easier for contracting officers to get an overall assessment of a company before awarding a contract by not having to search numerous databases.
A year ago, acquisition officials issued an interim rule making all the information public, except for past performance reviews by agencies.
The final rule took effect Jan. 3.
In the Federal Register notice about the rule, officials recognized the risks about the information going public though.
The final rule gives companies seven days to find any information that should not be disclosed because it should be considered exempt from disclosure. In such a case, officials will remove the information from FAPIIS to resolve the issue.
If the government official does not remove the item, it will be automatically released to the public site within two weeks after the review period began, according to the notice.
About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week. This article was published Jan. 4, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/01/04/fapiis-public-disclosure-objections.aspx?s=wtdaily_050112.