New regulations will change business for Government contractors

The Administration has been active in promulgating Executive Orders (E.O.) that affect the stakeholders in the Government contracting process.  On July 31, 2014, the President signed Executive Order 13673, “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces.”  The E.O.states that it “improve[s] the federal contracting process.” But it will create a burden for prime contractors, subcontractors, and their agency customers. It will place increased importance on avoiding any type of adverse ruling involving an employment-related or safety-related claim.

Dept. of LaborAs all Government contractors are aware, a contract may be awarded only after a federal agency determines that the prospective contractor is “responsible” in accordance with Part 9 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Under this E.O., a company’s compliance with 14 federal labor statutes, as well as unnamed state labor statutes, will now be a factor that agencies and prime contractors must consider prior to awarding a contract or subcontract over $500,000.

The FAR Council issued a proposed rule (FAR Case 2014-025) on May 28, 2015, amending the FAR to implement E.O. 13673.  80 Fed. Reg. 30548. On that same day, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued extensive “guidance” on the E.O.  80 Fed. Reg. 30573.  Comments on the proposed regulations were originally requested by July 27, 2015, but that deadline has been extended twice and is now August 26, 2015. Your company, or an association representing your industry, may have already filed comments on the proposed regulation; regardless, it is very important that your company focus on the requirement and take immediate steps to prepare for its implementation.

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Innovative proposals sought by DARPA to thwart DDoS attacks against networks

The Pentagon’s research arm wants better, more innovative defenses against distributed-denial-of-service attacks on networks that will “enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems.”

DARPAThe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently issued a solicitation for what it’s calling the “Extreme DDoS Defense,” or XD3, project that focuses on three broad concepts for improving defenses.

“In general, the program aims to thwart DDoS attacks by dispersing cyber assets (physically and/or logically), disguising the characteristics and behaviors of those assets, and mitigating the attacks (especially low‐volume attacks) that still penetrate the targeted environment,” according to the DARPA solicitation document that was posted on on Aug. 14, 2015.

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Ten bid protest trends and tips

It is no secret that federal procurement spending has dropped considerably in recent years. With less dollars being spent and fewer procurements, government contracts are increasingly turning to the bid protest process for a second chance to compete for, and hopefully win, new contracts, and preserve their incumbent contracts.

GAO-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-SealThe statistics bear this out. Bid protest activity at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has steadily increased year-over-year, with a record 2,561 protests filed in fiscal year 2014 alone. But more filings has not meant more sustained protests; the GAO sustain rate in 2014 fell to its lowest recent level of only 13 percent (though this does not account for voluntary agency corrective actions, which have remained steady).

These statistics, and the new federal procurement reality, reinforce the need for contractors to think carefully about effective protest strategies and emerging issues to maximize their chances to successfully protest procurements (or defend contract awards).

See ten key trends and tips to keep in mind:

Civilian agencies could face nearly $2 billion in spending cuts due to sequestration, OMB says

Federal civilian agencies will face nearly $2 billion in spending reductions if Congress doesn’t rollback sequestration cuts for fiscal 2016 or set spending levels under Budget Control Act caps, according to an Aug. 20 Office of Management and Budget report.

20131112_194600Sequestration was canceled for the last two fiscal years because of a bipartisan budget deal that was struck in Dec. 2013, but the cuts are scheduled to go back into effect in fiscal 2016 unless Congress cancels them again.

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Fraud alert: Beware of unsolicited purchase orders and other possible government scams

What would you do if you responded to a request for quotation, received an order, and shipped products — only to later discover that the entire transaction was fake?

This is what happened recently to a businesswoman who reported to the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) that she received purchase orders from two out-of-state public universities, one located in Mississippi and the other in Minnesota.  She responded by shipping goods, and sent along her invoice.

It turns out that the purchase orders were bogus.  This small business now finds that it will not receive payment and may not be able to recover the equipment that was shipped.

What are some of the lessons you can learn from this unfortunate experience?   Here are six tips:

  1. An unsolicited order from a governmental entity (e.g., agency, city, county, school) is a virtual impossibility.  If you didn’t submit a bid, chances are you won’t receive a purchase order.
  2. When you receive a purchase order, make sure it identifies the government official placing the order and is signed.
  3. Never assume that any purchase order is valid.  Call the point-of-contact (POC) listed on the order to make sure it is legitimate.  Be alert to the possibility that the phone number on the order might be bogus too.Fraud Waste Abuse
  4. Even if the order appears to be legitimate, conduct an Internet search for the purchasing office of the government buyer to see if the location and contact information line-up with what’s on the purchase order. If the contact phone numbers are different on the order and on the web site, call the buyer to inquire about the order — and be sure to call the buyer at the phone number listed on the government entity’s website.
  5. Also pay attention to the “ship to” location.  If it looks suspicious (i.e., it’s a location other than the government entity’s location), ask the buyer why it’s different.
  6. If, after checking, you suspect the purchase order to be fake, report the incident to the real government organization as well as to appropriate law enforcement authorities.

In the case brought to GTPAC’s attention, the business has reported the incidents to the purchasing offices of both universities.  She furnished them with copies of the documents she received — orders that are on official letterhead and appear to be legitimate.  She also reported the incidents to local law enforcement authorities who are investigating the locations where the equipment was shipped.

GTPAC recommends that all businesses stay alert to possible fraud in the government contracting process and in other government functions.  Here are some tips:

Remember the old saying, “If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.”   Whenever you receive a call, letter, fax or email about something involving government contracting — and it looks fishy — feel free to contact your team at GTPAC.  We’ll be glad to give you any facts we are aware of, along with suggestions about how you might best proceed.




FEMA warns vendors to look twice at privately-operated registration schemes

In addition to registration in the federal government’s vendor registration system — the System for Award Management (SAM) — the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that businesses register in FEMA’s own database.

There’s the rub.

If businesses don’t know how to access FEMA’s vendor database, they sometimes stumble into privately-operated websites which charge upwards of $500 to register.  In actuality, it’s free to register in FEMA’s official database.

Completion of FEMA’s official Vendor Profile Form serves as supplemental market research for the agency — so they have detailed capabilities descriptions on companies — better enabling FEMA to respond in emergencies.  In completing FEMA’s form, vendors are encouraged to be specific about how your products and/or services can support FEMA’s mission.   The official Vendor Profile Form can be accessed at:  Once completed, the Form should be submitted to:

FEMA does not charge any company a registration fee.  FEMA advises that “there are companies that replicate services of Federal Government entities and there are typically fees associated with their services.  Most Federal Government services, if not all, are free of charge.  Always make it a practice to reach out to the appropriate Federal agency first to inquire about the validity of the service, specifically if a fee is associated with it.”

To reiterate: FEMA does not charge a fee to submit a Vendor Profile Form. 

For more information about vendor registration in SAM, please see:

For information about fraud involving government contracting, see our article at:

This is the second time that the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center has written about FEMA registration.  See our July 2014 article at: 

GSA wants industry comments on cybersecurity SIN

The General Services Administration (GSA) is considering adding a special item number (SIN) for cybersecurity and information assurance (CyberIA) to IT Schedule 70, making it easier for agencies to buy security tools and services and giving vendors a central place to offer their wares.

cyber securityGSA released a request for information on Aug. 12 asking for feedback on a CyberIA SIN, primarily from the companies whose product and services would be listed there.

Documents: CyberIA SIN RFI and Response Template

The idea for a cybersecurity SIN has been kicking around GSA for some time, though the CyberIA RFI came sooner than expected, with officials originally unsure if the process would get started this year.

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International tech companies join new Georgia Tech ‘Internet of Things’ research center

The recently established Center for the Development and Application of Internet-of-Things Technologies (CDAIT) at the Georgia Institute of Technology announces that AirWatch, AT&T and Samsung Electronics constitute the inaugural group of founding members. The involvement of these companies reflects their continuing commitment to the advancement of the transformational capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT).

“Internet of Things” refers to the ability for all types of devices to communicate with each other through networks like the Internet, radio frequencies and other forms of transmission. Devices could include the equipment in cars, homes, trucks, cargo, health care, and other everyday objects. This new area of technological innovation is receiving increasing attention around the world because of its potential impact on all sectors of the economy and society.

Together with Georgia Tech and GTRI, the founding members will closely monitor and actively participate in the expansion of the rapidly growing IoT industry. Other leading global companies involved in IoT have indicated their interest in getting engaged with CDAIT.

“Having companies of this stature join Georgia Tech in this effort speaks volumes about what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Andrew Gerber, Georgia Tech Senior Vice President and Director of the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). “We are proud to be recognized as a trusted collaborator in the Internet-of-Things arena. We are eager to harness the unique expertise of our professors, researchers and students throughout the Internet-of-Things value chain.”

For more than a century, AT&T has consistently provided innovative, reliable, high-quality products and services. With more than 120 million wireless customers, AT&T’s mission is to connect people with their world, everywhere they live and work, and do it better than anyone else.

“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Georgia Tech for many years as we share a common commitment to pushing the boundaries of innovation and taking education to new levels,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president, Internet of Things Organization, AT&T Mobility. “The opportunity for IoT is real.  It’s already reshaping industries and solving real business issues for companies around the globe.  We’ve been a leading participant in the IoT space for nearly eight years and look forward to extending our thought-leadership with innovators in our own backyard.”

AirWatch® by VMware® is the leading enterprise mobility management platform. With more than a decade in business, AirWatch continues to develop solutions that empower companies to focus on innovative uses of mobile technology rather than dealing with the complexities of managing mobility.

“AirWatch is a longtime supporter of Georgia Tech innovation, and our support of CDAIT furthers our commitment to collaborate on strategic initiatives,” said John Marshall, senior vice president and general manager, AirWatch. “We see an incredible opportunity for the Internet of Things to redefine enterprise mobility and our daily lives. We look forward to working alongside Georgia Tech on building these transformative technologies of tomorrow.”

Headquartered in Suwon, South Korea, Samsung Electronics seeks to inspire the world and shape the future with transformative ideas and technologies, redefining the worlds of TVs, smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, cameras, digital appliances, printers, medical equipment, network systems, and semiconductor and LED solutions. Samsung Electronics also leads in the IoT space through, among others, the company’s Smart Home and Digital Health initiatives.

“Samsung Electronics is looking forward to working closely with the CDAIT’s outstanding members to drive the IoT research areas and core technologies,” said Jin Wook Lee, Vice President of Software R&D Center at Samsung Electronics. “We will support CDAIT in its efforts toward providing in-depth research into the various aspects of IoT technology.”

Housed at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), the Center for the Development and Application of Internet-of-Things Technologies (CDAIT pronounced sedate) is a global, non-profit, partner-funded center located in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, that fosters interdisciplinary research and education while driving general awareness about the Internet of Things. It aims at efficiently identifying, understanding and solving for its sponsors challenges and problems that may arise along the whole IoT value chain. CDAIT bridges sponsors with Georgia Tech faculty and researchers as well as industry members with similar interests.

“Our center will greatly benefit from having a continuous and close dialogue with premier technological companies of the caliber of AirWatch, AT&T and Samsung Electronics,” said Alain Louchez, CDAIT Managing Director. “With their help, we are looking forward to making significant contributions to the IoT industry.”

Learn more about CDAIT at


Top 4 opportunities at FAA

In all of the Department of Transportation, no agency gets more budget for IT purchases in a year than the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  Out of $3.3 billion requested by the department overall, $2.9 billion is directed to the FAA, essentially because it has the largest IT mission – namely, NextGen, FAA’s initiative to modernize the way in which the United States manages air travel.

NextGen - FAANextGen has been around for more than 10 years, with the aim to revamp the National Airspace System. The goal is to replace the current air traffic system – which relies on radar to track aircraft in flight – with a system that uses satellite and GPS technology, to get a more accurate, real-time view of air traffic in the United States.

Ultimately, the FAA is looking to make better air traffic routing decisions to cut down on travel time, improve responses to potential in-flight emergencies caused by things like bad weather, and reduce the risk of mid-air collisions or other accidents.

It’s a complex initiative that requires considerable investment. Almost 88 percent of the Transportation’s IT budget is projected to fund FAA initiatives. This leaves 6 percent of the IT budget to the office of the secretary and 6 percent to be divided among the other DOT administrations. This is the most skewed share of IT funding for any subcomponent agency in government – all because of NextGen.

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Protest lessons learned: When to challenge corrective action

For Government contractors, it can be a frustrating experience to have your hard-earned contract award sidetracked by a protest – particularly if that protest includes a mandatory performance stay.  More frustrating still is when the agency pulls the award altogether by deciding to take corrective action and re-open the competition.

FY 13 Bid Protest Stats - GAOThis is no time to be passive!  If your contract award is under attack, contractors should get involved and intervene in the protest.  This advice takes on particular importance when corrective action is proposed – the window to challenge a renewed competition closes on the date when revised proposals are due.

Government contractor NVE Inc. learned this lesson the hard way on a recent $70 million janitorial contract for the Navy.  After its initial award was the subject of multiple rounds of protests, the agency made the decision to reopen the competition by engaging in discussions with all offerors.

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See frequently asked questions about bid protests at: