DoD’s small biz office didn’t know about availability of cybersecurity resources

Hackers pummel small companies because they are easy targets, with poor security hygiene and network access to big business partners, say security specialists. That logic applies to small military contractors, too.

GAO-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-SealBut the Pentagon’s Office of Small Business Programs has resources to help protect the little defense businesses – it just didn’t know it. That was the finding of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit released Thursday.

The office “had not identified or disseminated cybersecurity resources to defense small businesses that the businesses could use to understand cybersecurity and cyberthreats,” Joseph Kirschbaum, GAO director for defense capabilities and management, said in the report. Office employees “were not aware of existing cybersecurity resources such as those we identified when we met with them in June 2015.”

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Here are some cybersecurity training resources available to businesses:

Proposed rule clarifies contractor requirements for counterfeit electronic part detection and avoidance

On September 21, 2015, the Department of Defense (DOD) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would amend the Department of Defense FAR Supplement (DFARS) to DFARSfurther implement Section 818 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 regarding counterfeit electronic parts (Proposed Rule).   (See Detection and Avoidance of Counterfeit Electronic Parts–Further Implementation, 80 Fed. Reg. 56,939.)

The Proposed Rule adds clarity on key issues under the current counterfeit electronic parts rule, DFARS 252.246-7007, Contractor Counterfeit Electronic Part Detection and Avoidance System, which was implemented in May 2014.

Comments on the Proposed Rule are due on or before November 20, 2015.

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HUBZone redesignations looming on October

The next batch of redesignated HUBZone areas is set to lose HUBZone status as of October 1. HUBZone-certified firms located in an expiring HUBZone will be decertified from the HUBZone program unless they have moved their principal office to an eligible HUBZone by October 1.

hubzoneHUBZone boundaries are fluid, with changes driven by census data and other statistics that are regularly updated. When new information causes a HUBZone location to lose HUBZone status, that area will no longer qualify for the HUBZone program. To soften the blow for HUBZone firms operating in a redesignated area, SBA permits the location to remain HUBZone-eligible for three additional years.

There has been some talk of extending this so-called “grandfathering” period by a few additional years, but right now it stands at three years. Therefore, the locations that are set to expire from the HUBZone program on October 1 actually lost HUBZone status three years ago—it is the three-year grandfather period that runs out as of October 1.

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Nonmanufacturer rule: Large manufacturers OK’d for certain simplified acquisitions

In a small business set-aside simplified acquisition of $25,000 or less, small business offerors may propose using large business manufacturers while still complying with the requirements of the nonmanufacturer rule.

SBA sealIn a recent decision, the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals held that an apparent ambiguity contained in the nonmanufacturer regulation for certain simplified acquisitions should be resolved in favor of exempting offerors from the requirement that the manufacturer be a small business concern.

OHA’s decision in Jamaica Bearings Co., SBA No. SIZ-5677 (Sept. 3, 2015) involved a DLA small business set-aside for bearings, rollers and tape. The procurement was to be conducted under simplified acquisition procedures.

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DoD contractor to pay $4.6 million to settle false claims at Fort Benning and Fort Bliss

L-3 Communications Corporation, Vertex Aerospace LLC and L-3 Communications Integrated Systems LP (collectively L-3) have agreed to pay $4.63 million to resolve allegations that they inflated labor hours for time spent by independent contractors at the military’s Continental U.S. Replacement Centers (CRC) in Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Bliss, Texas, preparing to deploy to overseas posts to support U.S. military operations abroad.  The CRCs prepare individuals for deployment by providing orientation briefings, training, health screenings, payroll processing and addressing other administrative matters.

Justice Dept. seal“The Justice Department is committed to vigorously pursuing all those who knowingly submit false claims under government contracts,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Contractors that seek taxpayer funds must be scrupulous in their billing, and invoice only for work and amounts permitted by their contracts.”

L-3 performed rotary aviation maintenance and support services for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Kuwait under contracts with the U.S. Air Force.  The United States alleges that from 2006 through November 2011, L-3 knowingly overcharged the government for time their independent contractors spent at the CRCs by billing for each individual not based on the actual time that individual spent at the CRC, but based instead on the earliest arrival or latest departure time of any other individual who also processed through the center that same day.

“Contractors owe a duty to the taxpayers to accurately bill the United States for the actual work performed,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn of the Northern District of Georgia.  “This settlement demonstrates our commitment to hold contractors accountable for false billing and restore wrongfully taken funds to the military.”

“This collaborative investigative effort reflects the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s commitment to protecting American taxpayers’ interests by ensuring integrity and accountability throughout the Defense contracting system,” said Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Southeast Field Office.

“Today’s settlement is a testament to the hard work of our special agents and also highlights the importance of the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act,” said Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.  “In this particular case, a concerned citizen wasn’t afraid to speak up, alerted the proper authorities, and helped save the U.S. government millions of dollars.”

The allegations settled today arose from a lawsuit filed by a whistleblower, Robert A. Martin, a former L-3 independent contractor, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.  Under the act, private citizens can bring suit on behalf of the government for false claims and share in any recovery.  Mr. Martin will receive $798,675 from the recovery announced today.

This case was handled by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia, with the assistance of DCIS, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit and the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

The lawsuit is captioned United States ex rel. Martin v. L-3 Communications Corp., et al., 1:10-CV-1622-CAP (N.D. Ga.).  The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.


Federal rule on pay transparency effective Jan. 11, 2016

OFCCPThe Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has published a final rule implementing President Obama’s executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees for discussing or inquiring about their own compensation or that of other employees. The final rule takes effect January 11, 2016 for covered federal contractors.


On April 8, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13665, which prohibits federal contractors from maintaining pay secrecy policies. This executive order amended section 202 of Executive Order 11246, which requires federal agencies to include an equal opportunity (EO) clause in all government contracts.

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See earlier article on this subject here:

5 things contractors need to know during a shutdown

If the federal government closes its doors on Oct. 1, it won’t be like past shutdowns for one big reason: contractors.

“The 2013 shutdown was different than every other shutdown that had come before it,” said John Cooney, a former counsel for the Office of Management and Budget and current partner at Venable LLP. “Many more government services are delivered through contracts, they’ve been outsourced. There are just that many more functions that are delivered externally and that complicates everything.”

Professional Services Council - PSCCooney was part of a Sept. 21 Professional Services Council panel that spoke on how to prepare for a government shutdown.

And as the threat of a shutdown looms large on Oct. 1, many in Washington are harkening back to their 2013 recollections of the last government closure.

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For more information, visit PSC’s shutdown resource page.

For more information on managing during a government shutdown, see:

Childhood dreamer is latest ‘Face of Manufacturing’ in Georgia

As a kid Nathan Wilmoth was adventurous – he once attempted flight with just a parasail and a tractor! After getting off track during his teenage years and early 20’s, he went back to school as an adult and graduated from Georgia Tech with a 4.0. Now as the Vice President of Operations for M.A. Industries in Peachtree City, GA, he has co-authored six patents, manages a great team of individuals, and gets to tap into his childhood love of design and experimentation every day.

FACESofMANUFACTURINGWilmoth says, “Manufacturing has provided me with a sense of purpose, strengthened my character, enhanced my integrity, and gave me a strong sense of community,” he said. “I owe a lot to manufacturing and manufacturing does a lot for people.”

Read Nathan’s inspiring story at

And view his video as he talks about working in a winery as a teenager, getting rejected from Georgia Tech the first time he applied and then getting his acceptance on his second try, his emotional attempt to turn in his resignation to go back to school full-time, and how manufacturing allows him to relive his childhood every day.

Please share Nathan’s story with your manufacturing connections. Follow GaMEP on Twitter and Re-Tweet the announcement to your followers: – #GAFacesofMfg

Call for Nominations

Nominations for the 2016 Faces of Manufacturing will close on October 31, 2015. Please nominate someone you know or forward the nomination form to HR managers, plant managers, and owners/CEOs of manufacturing companies and ask them to nominate their staff for this award.  Recipients of Faces of Manufacturing have earned local, state, and national recognition for their companies, cities/towns, and counties.

Small business set-aside decisions may include restrictive ‘capability’ requirements

The small business set-aside “rule of two” is not satisfied unless the procuring agency has a reasonable expectation of receiving proposals from at least two small businesses capable of performing the work.

GAO-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-SealAlthough this sounds like a commonsense interpretation of the rule of two, it may give agencies leeway to define “capability” in manner that eliminates small businesses from participation.  In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that an agency appropriately issued a solicitation as unrestricted based on the agency’s determination that there were not two or more small businesses with at least five years of relevant experience. Of concern, the GAO did not require the agency to prove that five years of relevant experience was necessary to render a firm “capable” of performing the contract.

The GAO’s decision in Rice Services, Inc., B-411450, B-411450.2 (Aug. 20, 2015) involved a Department of Homeland Security solicitation for food service at the United States Coast Guard Academy.

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Industry group says OMB cybersecurity guidance too lax

Often, vendor advocates speak out against overly specific regulations that put additional requirements on federal contractors. However, when it comes to cybersecurity, the Professional Services Council believes new guidance from the Office of Management and Budget doesn’t go far enough.

Professional Services Council - PSCIn a recent letter to OMB, PSC leadership decried the agency’s memo on Improving Cybersecurity Protections in Federal Acquisitions as being too lenient to provide good security and too open-ended to be properly interpreted by agencies and companies vying for federal contracts.

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