FBI warns of online scams posing as government services websites

From May 2012 to March 2015, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received complaints regarding criminals hosting fraudulent government services websites in order to acquire Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and to collect fraudulent fees from consumers.

FBIAlthough the volume and loss amounts associated with these websites are minimal to date, the victims are having their PII data compromised which may be used by criminals for any number of other illicit activities, ranging from the creation of fraudulent IDs and passports to fraudulent loans and tax refunds. The PII can include the victim’s name, address, phone number, e-mail address, social security number, date of birth, and mother’s maiden name.

This is how the scheme usually happens: victims use a search engine to search for government services such as obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or replacement social security card. The fraudulent criminal websites are the first to appear in search results, prompting the victims to click on the fraudulent government services website. The victim completes the required fraudulently posted forms for the government service they need. The victim submits the form online, believing they are providing their PII to government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, or similar agency based on the service they need. Once the forms are completed and submitted, the fraudulent website usually requires a fee to complete the service requested. The fees typically range from $29 to $199 based on the government service requested. Once the fees are paid the victim is notified they need to send their birth certificate, driver’s license, employee badge, or other personal items to a specified address. The victim is then told to wait a few days to several weeks for processing. By the time the victim realizes it is a scam, they may have had extra charges billed to their credit/debit card, had a third-party designee added to their EIN card, and never received the service(s) or documents requested. Additionally, all of their PII data has been compromised by the criminals running the websites and can be used for any number of illicit purposes. The potential harm gets worse for those who send their birth certificate or other government-issued identification to the perpetrator.

Follow-up calls or e-mails to the perpetrator(s) are normally ignored and many victims report the customer service telephone numbers provided are out of service. The FBI recommends that consumers ensure they are communicating or requesting services/merchandise from a legitimate source by verifying the entity. When dealing with government websites, look for the .gov domain instead of a .com domain (e.g. www.ssa.gov and not www.ssa.com).

Below are some consumer tips when using government services or contacting agencies online:

  • Use search engines or other websites to research the advertised services or person/company you plan to deal with.
  • Search the Internet for any negative feedback or reviews on the government services company, their Web site, their e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, or other searchable identifiers.
  • Research the company policies before completing a transaction.
  • Be cautious when surfing the Internet or responding to advertisements and special offers.
  • Be cautious when dealing with persons/companies from outside the country.
  • Maintain records for all online transactions.

As a consumer, if you suspect you are a victim of an Internet-related crime, you may file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.

Source: http://www.ic3.gov/media/2015/150407-2.aspx

Here are the Georgia companies who won federal contracts in March 2015

Ever wonder who’s winning federal contracts in Georgia?

Wouldn’t this information be helpful if you are looking for subcontracting prospects?  Or when you’re trying to figure out who your competitors are?  Or when considering who might be a good partner on an upcoming bid proposal?

Federal Contract Award Winners in GeorgiaEach month, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) compiles and publishes a list of federal contracts awarded to Georgia businesses.  The list comes complete with point-of-contact information on the awardees, the name of the awarding agency, the dollar value of the contract, and much more.

Download details on Georgia federal contract award winners for March 2015 right here: FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – MARCH 2015

Georgia contract award winners who won federal contracts in the first two months of 2015 are listed below:

To see award winners in calendar year 2014, see: http://gtpac.org/2015/01/here-are-the-georgia-companies-who-won-federal-contracts-in-2014 

Price realism evaluation: Only if solicitation says so

An agency awarding a fixed-price contract can only evaluate offerors’ proposals for price realism–that is, determine whether offerors’ proposed pricing is so low as to be unrealistic–if the solicitation calls for a price realism evaluation.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO confirmed that when a fixed-price solicitation does not advise offerors that a price realism evaluation will be conducted, the agency is not permitted to reject an offeror’s proposal because of unrealistically low pricing.

The GAO’s decision in ERIMAX, Inc., B-410682 (Jan. 22, 2015) involved a NOAA RFQ seeking the establishment of a BPA for acquisition and grant management services.  The RFQ called for vendors to submit fully-burdened hourly labor rates for labor categories provided by the agency.  Once labor rates were entered, the agency’s spreadsheet would automatically calculate total prices using the rates provided by the vendors.  The RFQ stated that proposed prices would be evaluated to determine whether they were fair and reasonable.

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/gaobidprotests/price-realism-evaluation-only-if-solicitation-says-so/

 

5 steps for winning more federal business in 2015

Congress will increase discretionary spending beyond Budget Control Act caps in fiscal year 2016 but below the seven percent requested by President Barack Obama, Bloomberg Government (BGOV) analysts said at a symposium last month.

Also at the event, a panel of corporate executive officers said they see the federal procurement market stabilizing in FY 2016 after sharp declines in FY 2014 and 2015.

The remarks were made at a symposium on the outlook for federal contractors in FY 2016. The Fairfax County, Va., Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event.

Head of BGOV Don Baptiste said contractors are most concerned about the federal budget. “No one believes we will exceed the budget caps by seven percent in the 2016 budget, but we are optimistic on flat budgeting,” he said.

BGOV Senior Budget Analyst Cameron Leuthy agreed that Congress will not approve a seven percent rise in discretionary spending in FY 2016 as requested by President Obama.

“Republicans are unfriendly to tax increases” and “Democrats don’t want to cut entitlements,” he said. “That makes it tough to grow discretionary spending.”

Leuthy said the Ryan-Murray budget deal marginally increased spending. “We think that is most likely this year and next,” he said.

Keep reading this article at: http://about.bgov.com/5-steps-winning-federal-business-2015/

Here are the real reasons why contract award protests are on the rise

It’s no secret that more contract awards are getting protested. But it might be a little too simplistic to chalk it up to desperation among contractors that see opportunities dwindling.

Don’t get me wrong, that is one reason why the numbers are increasing — by 5 percent in 2014, as I reported in November. But a panel of procurement experts pointed to a couple other reasons: more missteps by a more inexperienced government acquisition workforce, and the disintegration of the “protest stigma” that once existed in the industry.

In the case of the former, John Lubratich, chief financial officer at Herndon-based ViON Corp., noted one example where an award was supposed to be sole sourced to single company, only to morph into a competition among select companies that held contracts under a specific procurement vehicle. Multiple companies protested, arguing they should’ve been given an opportunity to compete, and the agency opted to take corrective action and start over.

“It was a bait-and-switch,” Lubratich said Wednesday at a panel discussion hosted by the Washington Business Journal and Baker Tilly.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2015/02/call-the-lawyers-hereare-the-real-reasons-why.html

Contracting success in a changing government environment

Behind many contracting issues today is the implied topic of who is or isn’t winning contract awards. In the private sector, it’s rare to attribute lack of business success to the customer. Certainly in a commercial market, industry success and failure is usually laid at the feet of company management and its ability to understand and meet market needs. Not so in government contracting.

Along with well-structured protest procedures, industry can and does appeal to government legislative representatives, investigatory bodies, contracting managers, trade groups, and agency leaders concerning any real or perceived unfair treatment before, during, or after contract performance. One regularly hears rationale that the buyer, not the seller, was at fault for lost business and revenue. It’s common practice, if not encouraged by government, for industry to openly critique customer policy, processes, strategy, requirements, and staff. These critiques include time of awards; market conditions; workforce training; communication; sensitivity to private sector concerns; selection methodology; risk mitigation; receipt of external advice (program, technical, incumbents, business, legal, trade groups, etc.); past performance criteria; and more. That’s the nature of an open and fair process.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/blog/2015/02/25/contracting-success-changing-government-environment/23993719/

Here are the Georgia companies who won federal contracts in Feb. 2015

Ever wonder who’s winning federal contracts in Georgia?

Wouldn’t this information be helpful if you are looking for subcontracting prospects?  Or when you’re trying to figure out who your competitors are?  Or when considering who might be a good partner on an upcoming bid proposal?

Federal Contract Award Winners in GeorgiaEach month, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) compiles and publishes a list of federal contracts awarded to Georgia businesses.  The list comes complete with point-of-contact information on the awardees, the name of the awarding agency, the dollar value of the contract, and much more.

Download details on Georgia federal contract award winners for February 2015 right here: FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – FEB. 2015

Georgia contract award winners last month are here: FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – JANUARY 2015

To see award winners in calendar year 2014, see: http://gtpac.org/2015/01/here-are-the-georgia-companies-who-won-federal-contracts-in-2014 

GAO: ‘Mechanical’ cost realism evaluation was improper

An agency’s cost realism evaluation was improper because the agency “mechanically” compared an offeror’s proposed staffing to an undisclosed government estimate.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that it was improper for the agency to apply its own estimates for labor hours and costs without considering the protester’s unique technical approach.

The GAO’s decision in CFS-KBR Marianas Support Services, LLC; Fluor Federal Solutions LLC, B-410586 et al. (Jan. 2, 2015) involved a Navy procurement for base operations support services.  The solicitation contemplated the award of a cost-reimbursement contract, which was to be awarded on a “best value” basis.  Among the evaluation factors, the Navy was to consider offerors’ proposed staffing and resources.

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/gaobidprotests/gao-mechanical-cost-realism-evaluation-was-improper/

Deadline for comments is Feb. 27 on proposed rule affecting small business federal contracts

Are you a small business owner doing business with the government?  As previously reported here, the Small Business Administration (SBA) recently published a proposed rule to implement Section 1651 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA), proposing to change several key areas that could impact you:

  • The performance requirements applicable to small business and socioeconomic program set aside contracts and small business subcontracting.
  • The nonmanufacturer rule and affiliation rules.
  • The performance requirements for joint ventures.

From the SBA’s point of view, the proposed regulations should benefit small businesses by allowing small business concerns to use similarly-situated subcontractors in the performance of a set-aside contract, thereby expanding the capacity of small business prime contractors and potentially enabling small businesses to compete for and win larger contracts. SBA also believes the proposed rules will strengthen the small business subcontracting provisions, which may result in more subcontract awards to small business concerns. The proposed regulations also seek to address or clarify issues that are ambiguous or subject to dispute, thereby providing clarity to federal contracting officers as well as small business concerns.

Have comments? Visit the Federal Register online for information and to submit your comments by February 27, 2015.

Task order size status based on proposal date, not award date

A contractor was eligible for award of a small business set-aside task order because the contractor was “small” as of the date of its task order proposal–even though the contractor outgrew the size standard by the time the task order was awarded.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that a contractor may qualify for the award of a set-aside task order based on the date of its initial proposal, even in cases where the agency is prohibited from taking small business credit for the award.

The GAO’s decision in Research and Development Solutions, Inc., B-410581.2 (Jan. 14, 2015) involved a Navy task order solicitation for technical and engineering services.  The solicitation was issued as a small business set-aside under the SeaPort-e IDIQ contract vehicle.

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/gaobidprotests/task-order-size-status-based-on-proposal-date-not-award-date/