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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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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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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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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A look at the numbers: 2015 government contracting annual report

Some very interesting data, trends, and analysis of government contracting, which should be of interest to government contractors, was published in a recent report by the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) and Bloomberg Government (Bloomberg).

NCMA logoSome of the data should come as no surprise to firms seeing how U.S. government contracting dollars continue to be declining. According to the report, titled “Annual Review of Government Contracting, 2015 Edition,” contract spending will likely continue to fall due to budget caps and the continuing military drawdown in Afghanistan.

The report contains some other interesting data. Of all of the states in the country, Virginia has experienced the most federal contract spending, increasing to nearly $1 billion in 2014 over 2013, despite the decrease in federal procurement dollars. California, Texas, Maryland and the District of Columbia were second, third, fourth and fifth, respectively. On the contractor side, Lockheed Martin remains the number one contractor, followed by Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman. Nine of the top ten are DOD contractors, according to NCMA/Bloomberg.

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View the “Annual Review of Government Contracting, 2015 Edition” at:—ncma-annual-review-of-government-contracting-2015-edition 

SBA: White House focus, SES visibility help agencies meet small business goals

The government’s success in meeting mandatory small business contracting goals two years running is due largely to White House focus and new requirements that program managers in the Senior Executive Service pay greater attention to the acquisition process, the Obama administration’s small-business development chief said on Tuesday.

SBA logo smallMany call set-asides for small business “not a handout but a hand-up, but I say it’s a matter of survival for the federal government as a whole,” said John Shoraka, associate administrator of government contracting and business development at the Small Business Administration (SBA). He spoke to contractors gathered for American Express OPEN’s all-day summit with agency acquisition officials working with small businesses that are women- or minority owned or economically disadvantaged.

Outlining the government’s efforts to institutionalize the success of meeting the goal of steering 23 percent of contract dollars to small business, Shoraka said, “I’ve told my staff I could write a book saying that America’s secret weapon is small business procurement — when small business is engaged, the industrial base is preserved. It’s win-win, because companies hire employees, which has impact on the economy.”

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Georgia-based firm agrees to pay $4.9 million to resolve DBE fraud allegations

HD Supply Waterworks – Atlanta-based and the nation’s largest supplier of water, sewer, fire protection and storm drain products – has agreed to pay the government $4,945,000 under the False Claims Act to resolve allegations that it participated in a scheme designed to take advantage of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program in order to obtain subcontracts on federally-funded projects.

DBE Fraud HotlineThe U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have regulations intended to provide opportunities for businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals to perform work on projects financed, at least in part, by the federal government. Those agencies administer DBE programs that require state and local governments receiving federal funding to establish goals for the participation of DBEs on federally-funded projects. A contractor may claim credit for DBE participation on a project only if the DBE serves a “commercially useful function.”  A DBE does not serve a commercially useful function if its role is limited to that of an extra participant to a transaction through which funds are passed to create the impression that one or more members of a historically disadvantaged group worked on a project.

In 2008, authorities began investigating prime contractors that claimed to have conducted business with the now-defunct American Indian Builders & Suppliers, Inc. (AIB), a Native American-owned company certified as a DBE in New York and in other states. The investigation revealed that several prime contractors listed AIB as a subcontractor that had worked on or supplied materials for federally-funded projects when it did neither. Instead, a third party that would not itself qualify as a DBE performed the work or supplied the materials, and received much of the financial benefit. For its role, AIB would collect a small percentage of the subcontract amount as compensation for the fraudulent use of its name and DBE status.

The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that HD Supply Waterworks enabled several prime contractors to represent falsely that AIB had performed a commercially useful function on federally-funded contracts by negotiating price and other terms of sale when, in reality, the prime contractors had negotiated such terms with Waterworks and used AIB as a mere pass-through.

HD Supply Waterworks acknowledged in the settlement agreement, released August 14, 2015. that AIB served as a pass-through by collecting invoices from HD Supply Waterworks, transferring the information from those invoices to AIB’s own invoices, adding a markup, and passing the AIB marked-up invoices on to the prime contractors. The government alleges that the conduct described above enabled prime contractors to certify falsely that AIB supplied materials when the parties – i.e., HD Supply Waterworkss, AIB, and the prime contractors – knew that was not the case, resulting in the submission to government entities of false or fraudulent claims for payment from federal funds.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, HD Supply Waterworks “enabled prime contractors to certify falsely that American Indian Builders & Suppliers served as a subcontractor on government-funded projects, thwarting the program’s objective of creating a level playing field for legitimate minority and women-owned businesses to compete fairly on such projects.” According to the statement, the DOJ “will vigorously pursue unscrupulous contractors who engage in schemes to divert grant funds away from those for whom the money was intended.”

“Disadvantaged Business Enterprise fraud like that perpetrated by HD Supply Waterworks harms the integrity of the DBE program and law-abiding contractors, including many small businesses, by defeating efforts to ensure a level playing field in which all firms can compete fairly for contracts,” said Douglas Shoemaker, regional Special Agent-in-Charge of the DOT Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG). “Our agents will continue to work with the Secretary of Transportation, the Administrator of Federal Highways, and our federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial colleagues to expose and shut down DBE fraud schemes that adversely affect public trust and DOT-assisted highway programs throughout New York and elsewhere.”

In addition, “EPA OIG will continue to work to ensure that the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise programs are used for their intended purposes,” said Thomas Muskett, Special Agent in Charge for the EPA Office of Inspector General’s Washington Field Office, which covers the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States. “Our agents are pleased to have contributed to the successful resolution of this investigation.”



‘Sources Sought’ notices are on the rise

The number of federal agency Sources Sought Notices for small businesses appears to have increased dramatically in recent years.

Sources Sought notices for small businesses referenced on the Federal Business Opportunities website rose to 2,610 in fiscal 2014, more than quadruple the 565 counted in fiscal 2004, according to an analysis by Set-Aside Alert.


That is good news for small business owners, because they are often advised to search for, and respond to, Sources Sought Notices that match their capabilities in order to get a foot in the door early in the process as opportunities are developing.

“We are seeing an explosion in Sources Sought Notices,” Gloria Larkin, government contracting consultant and president of TargetGov, said at a recent industry conference for small business federal contractors.

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For more information about “Sources Sought,” see:

As GSA’s FAS struggles to reinvent itself, contractors suffer

The last year has been a tough one for the General Services Administration’s Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program.  The Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) – the GSA agency charged with administering the MAS program – has struggled to re-invent itself and its contracting vehicles in order to ensure they both stay relevant in an increasingly competitive federal marketplace.  The byproduct of this struggle has been mostly negative for Schedule vendors.

GSA Schedule ContractIn an effort to demonstrate the value its contracts bring to federal customers, FAS has pursued an unrelenting crusade aimed at reducing prices at all costs.  It is no longer enough for a vendor to give the Government a great deal vis-à-vis its commercial customers (a determination historically made through a “vertical pricing” analysis).  Now vendors also must charge less than their competitors – a determination made through a “horizontal pricing” analysis.  While FAS contracting officers are supposed to consider factors that may explain a price differential as part of their price evaluation, in practice, COs pay little heed to such “trifles.”  The concept of value rarely enters into the equation any more.

Time and again, vendors are told to lower prices or remove products from their Schedule because another vendor offers the same product at a lower price.  So what that the other vendor offers no customer service, no phone support, no warranty, and is run by two guys out of a garage in Glenwood.  Price is king, and that’s all FAS seems to care about nowadays.  (We mean no disrespect to the good people of Glenwood by the way.  We just couldn’t resist the alliteration.)

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Business owner sentenced for fraudulently obtaining $2.6 million in government contracts

Yogesh K. Patel, age 48, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, was sentenced August 3, 2015 to 21 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $2.6 million in federal government contracts through a Small Business Administration (SBA) program designed to assist disadvantaged businesses.  Patel also was ordered to forfeit $554,541.07.

SBA logo smallAccording to his plea agreement and court documents, Patel owned 91% of United Native Technologies, Inc. (UNTI), which purported to perform information technology services to the government and commercial clients.  In 2005, Patel applied for and was granted certification as a socially and economically disadvantaged owned business under SBA’s program.  In addition to a broad scope of assistance from SBA, participants in the program can receive sole source government contracts that are reserved for socially disadvantaged owned companies.

In 2007, Patel met co-defendant Wesley Burnett at a business conference in Costa Rica. Burnett, who was not a member of any economically or socially disadvantaged group, had experience constructing and maintaining barriers at military and government installations.  Patel and Burnett agreed that they would use UNTI to bid on SBA set aside contracts for barrier-related work. Burnett would perform the work under the contracts and would pay Patel 4.5 percent of the value of the contracts. In preparing a bid for a contact at Andrews Air Force, which was ultimately awarded to UNTI, Burnett and Patel exchanged emails in June 2011 in which they made statements indicating that they knew this arrangement was illegal.

In 2011, Patel met another individual identified as N.P., and they agreed to a fraudulent pass-thru arrangement similar to the one Patel had entered into with Burnett.

From October 2010 to July 2013, UNTI was fraudulently awarded $2,682,430 in set-aside U.S. government contracts.

In 2011, 2012 and 2013, Patel falsely certified to the SBA that no outside entity or individual provided financial support to UNTI when in fact Burnett and N.P. provided financial support to UNTI; and that Patel ran UNTI full-time, when in fact he did not because he was receiving disability compensation from the Social Security Administration in each of those years.

From November 2012 to October 2013, Patel received $973,407.37 in government funds under the fraudulently obtained set-aside contracts.  Patel kept a portion of these funds and turned the majority of them over to Burnett.  Prior to November 2012, payments under contracts went to Burnett, who provided a portion of the funds to Patel.

Wesley Burnett, age 46, of Hermosa Beach, California, previously pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme.  Burnett was sentenced to 42 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $694,893.99.

The National Procurement Fraud Task Force was formed in October 2006 to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs.  The Procurement Fraud Task Force includes the United States Attorneys’ Offices, the FBI, the U.S. Inspectors General community and a number of other federal law enforcement agencies. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Task Force, demonstrates the Department of Justice’s commitment to helping ensure the integrity of the government procurement process.

The SBA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and the Department of the Interior’s OIG participated in the investigation.