White House wants agencies to prioritize emerging tech in next year’s budget

The White House plans to prioritize emerging technology and big data in the fiscal year 2017 budget, according to a memorandum published last week.

ombWhen submitting budget requests to the Office of Management and Budget, federal agencies should “prioritize investments in enabling technologies that benefit multiple sectors of the economy, such as nanotechnology, robotics, the Materials Genome Initiative, and cyber-physical systems and their application to smart cities,” the memo said.

General topics mentioned in the memo include “advanced manufacturing and industries of the future,” and “information technology and high-performance computing,” in addition to other science-related subjects such as climate change.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2015/07/white-house-memo-fy-2017-budget-prioritize-big-data-emerging-tech/118075

How this venture capital firm wants to help start-ups, with no government experience, navigate Washington

Yanev Suissa, a venture capitalist formerly with New Enterprise Associates, wants to invest in startups that could eventually snap up government contracts.

His approach, he admits, is unorthodox: to invest in startups who have so far had nothing to do with the public sector.

A former senior investment officer under the Bush and Obama administrations, Suissa recently founded SineWave Ventures, an early-stage investment fund aiming to back commercial startups and help guide them through marketing to local, state and federal governments.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2015/07/q-how-venture-fund-aims-push-startups-federal-contracts/118018

Illustration courtesy Harvard Business Review - https://hbr.org/1998/11/how-venture-capital-works
Illustration courtesy Harvard Business Review – https://hbr.org/1998/11/how-venture-capital-works

Why are government contractors cutting their cybersecurity budgets?

Government contractors reduced their spending on cybersecurity in the past year, despite several high-profile data breaches, a new survey shows.

American Flag 2About 52 percent of businesses reported a slight decrease in cyber spending in the past year. About 17 percent said their cyber spending increased dramatically, while 31 percent said it increased slightly, according to a new survey from contracting analysis firm Deltek.

“We’re surprised that over half of the companies . . . had experienced decreased spending in cybersecurity,” Deltek Vice President Kevin Plexico said during a call discussing the results. “Our best guess is that the ones that are decreasing are probably not the ones that have had breaches.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2015/07/government-contractors-not-waiting-around-federal-spending-new-survey-shows/117877/

Yes, there will be a federal spending spree this fall

Federal agencies typically squeeze much of their contract spending in at the end of the federal fiscal year, and that trend is expected to continue this fall, analysts and agency officials said Wednesday.

Federal BudgetSince 2009, agencies have spent an average of 32 percent of their annual contract dollars in the last three months of the fiscal year, which ends in September, Bloomberg Government analysts said at an event sponsored by the company. The event, called “The Race to the Finish,” was aimed at companies seeking to increase their government contracting opportunities.

Much of the late-stage spending is on large multiple-award contracts, especially for information technology purchases. For example, about half of the spending under NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-wide Procurement vehicle — which is available to all federal agencies for purchasing IT products — occurs in the the fourth quarter.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2015/07/yes-there-will-be-federal-spending-spree-fall/117829

To see the top 100 federal contractors in FY14, click here: Top 100 Contractors Report_FY14

Fast acquisition and fair competition tough to balance

As agencies face a changing threat environment and any number of crisis and emergencies, federal managers must strike a balance between how they respond with rapid contract awards while adhering to regulations for full and open competition.

Rapid acquisition should be the norm in government for both emergencies and routine procurements, given the rapid pace of technological change. With that model, agency officials have to anticipate emergencies, putting in place competitively awarded contracts that can be used in the event that a crisis occurs.

“You have some cases during a natural disaster or terrorist attack where you don’t have the time to go out to the marketplace to do a full competition. The most important thing is to provide relief for the situation,” said Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council, an advocacy group for the government contracting community.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/longform/government/acquisition/2015/07/14/acquisition-speed-fair-competition/30103679/

DoD CIO to industry: Do your homework

Defense Department Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen said that a recent trip to Silicon Valley reinforced the fact that the department will be looking to industry to drive innovation for the nation’s military. Not only will a closer partnership require DoD to move more quickly, it will require vendors to better understand DoD’s needs, he said.

US DoD logoHalvorsen said DoD will have to speed up acquisitions if it wants to work with some of the up-and-coming companies that work in a venture capital environment.

“Six months is a really long time for them,” said Halvorsen July 9 at the DoD CIO Mobility Industry Day, hosted by AFCEA’s Washington, D.C. chapter

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/dod-cio-industry-do-your-homework/2015-07-13

Can small, innovative companies break into D.C. contracting scene?

Sharath Mekala’s two-person tech startup isn’t a textbook government contractor.

Village Defense, spawned through a startup incubator called 1776, develops a free app that lets neighbors send real-time alerts to one another if they notice suspicious activity. A premium version, which costs $125 a month, is designed for homeowners associations.

technologyA Washington area native, Mekala recently uprooted from Atlanta and returned to D.C., in part to market Village Defense to behemoth potential customers: the Defense Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Education Department. He says President Obama’s public safety initiative, which includes a blueprint for improved community policing, creates an opportunity for apps like Village Defense.

“I think the government is trying to keep up with [technology]… earlier on you’d have to push your way in,” Mekala says.

Federal procurement, once largely unapproachable by startups, could be transforming to let small, creative tech companies in.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2015/07/startup-shakeup-can-small-innovative-companies-break-dc-contracting-scene/117640/

This story appears in the July-August issue of Government Executive magazine. 

Ban on contractor campaign gifts is Constitutional, says circuit court

A 75-year-old prohibition on campaign contributions by individual federal contractors was upheld on Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Circuit, a ruling favoring the Federal Election Commission’s position over two contractors for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

FederalElectionCommissionIn Wagner v. FEC, the appeals judges meeting en banc determined that the government has an interest in such a ban to “prevent corruption and the appearance thereof and, in so doing, to protect the integrity of the electoral system by ensuring that federal contracts were awarded based on merit.”

Plaintiffs Lawrence Brown and Jan Miller, longtime USAID employees who left and were hired back to write a report on science and regulation, wanted to exercise their free speech rights and give money to candidates, political parties and traditional political action committees in the 2012 elections. They cited the First Amendment, equal protection and due process.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2015/07/ban-contractor-campaign-gifts-constitutional-says-circuit-court-panel/117307

Owners of phony disadvantaged business to pay $7.8 million to settle false claim allegations

LB&B Associates Inc. and its principals, Lily A. Brandon and F. Edward Brandon, have agreed to pay the government $7.8 million to resolve allegations that they made false statements to obtain contracts through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) 8(a) Business Development Program for Small Disadvantaged Businesses, the Justice Department announced July 6, 2015.   LB&B is a North Carolina corporation headquartered in Columbia, Maryland.

Justice Dept. seal“The purpose of the 8(a) Program is to assist small disadvantaged businesses to compete in the American economy,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division.  “The Justice Department is committed to making sure that those who participate in 8(a) contracts do so honestly and fairly.”

“The basic purpose of this federal program is undermined when contractors falsely claim to be a small or disadvantaged business,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Vincent H. Cohen Jr. of the District of Columbia.  “This $7.8 million settlement demonstrates our commitment to protecting the integrity of this important program.  Working with relators and federal investigators, we will do all that we can to act against those who illegitimately bill the American taxpayers.”

The government alleged that in seeking certification under SBA’s 8(a) Program, LB&B falsely represented that Lily Brandon – who satisfied the criteria for a socially and economically disadvantaged person under the program – controlled the operations of LB&B, when she did not.  Securing 8(a) certification allowed LB&B to obtain 8(a) set aside contracts from various government agencies.  Throughout the performance of these contracts, Lily Brandon allegedly failed to exercise actual control over LB&B’s operations, a key component to qualifying for the set aside contracts.

“This case shows the lengths we will go to protect the integrity of SBA’s 8(a) program,” said General Counsel Melvin F. Williams Jr. of the SBA.  “Both the Justice Department and SBA are prepared to do what it takes to make certain that the program helps folks who are really disadvantaged, and for whom it is intended to assist.”

The civil settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by Steven O. Sansbury and James T. Buechler, former employees of LB&B, under the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act, which permits private parties, known as relators, to file suit on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery.  The act permits the government either to intervene in and take over the whistleblowers’ suit, or to allow the whistleblowers to pursue the action.  In addition to alleging LB&B’s improper receipt of 8(a) set aside contracts, Mr. Sansbury and Mr. Buechler alleged that LB&B made false claims in connection with contracts it obtained pursuant to the SBA’s Mentor-Protégé Program, which allows participants to obtain set aside contracts following LB&B’s graduation from the 8(a) Program.  The United States intervened in the whistleblowers’ 8(a) claims but not the Mentor-Protégé claims.  The settlement resolves both claims, and Mr. Sansbury and Mr. Buechler will recover a total of $1.5 million of the settlement.

The settlement with LB&B was the result of a coordinated effort among the Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia, the SBA’s Office of Inspector General and SBA’s Office of General Counsel.

The civil lawsuit was filed in the District of Columbia and is captioned United States ex rel. Sansbury, et al.  v. LB&B Associates, Inc., et al., No. 07-cv-00251 (D. D.C.).

The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

Source: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/lbb-associates-inc-agrees-pay-78-million-alleged-false-claims-related-small-business

Georgia purchasing office announces ‘convenience contract’ for purchase of autos made in state

In support of the Automobiles Manufactured in Georgia Initiative program, the Georgia Department of Administrative Services (DOAS), State Purchasing Division, has announced the implementation of a new statewide contract for Automobiles Manufactured in Georgia.

GA DOASThe contract number is 99999-001-SPD0000122.  This is a “convenience contract” and is available for use by all State, City & County public entities within the State of Georgia. The contract term is from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2025. Users of this contract may purchase using their P-Cards.

This contract is currently established within Team Georgia Marketplace™. Contract information, including the Information Sheet, Benefit Sheet and Ordering Instructions, can be found on the Supplier’s Contract Summary Page located within Team Georgia Marketplace™.

Questions may be submitted to the issuing officer, Billy Gilbert, at billy.gilbert@doas.ga.gov or 404-657-4277.