What are your odds of getting a security clearance?

Is it easy to get a security clearance? It depends on who you ask.

Among the uncleared population there sometimes is a misperception that anyone can get a clearance, based on the millions of clearance-holders out there. In 2013, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper criticized the size of the cleared workforce in a memo that called for reducing the number of individuals with access to intelligence. Recently released figures show a 12 percent decline in the size of the cleared workforce.

Those who have gone through the security clearance process understand the significant headaches involved in both the initial background investigation as well as periodic reinvestigations. Obtaining a security clearance is no easy task, and not everyone who applies will be granted access.

To see a full-size infographic on the value of a security clearance, visit: http://www.clearancejobs.com/files/infographic.html.
To see a full-size infographic on the value of a security clearance, visit: http://www.clearancejobs.com/files/infographic.html.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/excellence/promising-practices/2015/05/what-are-your-odds-getting-security-clearance/113362/

Forgot password? Don’t worry, new service enables single login to multiple gov’t sites

A new service lets users access multiple government websites using a single login – no password required.

MyUSA, a product of the General Services Administration’s 18F, is an account MyUSAmanagement service that consolidates interactions with government websites, according to an announcement last week.

Signing up with MyUSA also lets users track what they need to do with agencies, such as renewing a business license, and receive notifications about things they need to do, such as applying for a loan.

“In short, MyUSA is your one account for government,” the announcement states. “MyUSA appeals to a diverse group of users, each of whom seeks different information from the federal government and therefore visits different websites. Most people can find value in using MyUSA.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/forgot-password-dont-worry-new-service-enables-single-login-multiple-govt-s/2015-05-21

4 steps contractors should take now to prepare for new security requirements

In October 2011, President Obama signed Executive Order 13587, “Structural Reforms to Improve the Security of Classified Network and the Responsible Sharing and Safeguarding of Classified Information.” The order established the Senior Information Sharing and Safeguarding Committee to develop and implement government-wide policies and minimum standards. It also created the National Insider Threat Task Force to develop a government-wide program for deterring, detecting and mitigating insider threats.

More Change on the Horizon

The National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, known as the NISPOM, is the bible for any defense NISPOMcontractor supporting classified government programs. The Defense Security Service is responsible for administering the NISPOM to protect U.S. and foreign classified information and technologies held by cleared defense contractors. The NISPOM was last updated in 2013 with Conforming Change 1.

Now there is a new version on the way. Conforming Change 2, slated to be released later this year, will include updated mandates related to insider threat. But instead of waiting for these updates, facility security officers can take a number of steps now to address insider threat and stay ahead of the coming modifications.

Keep reading this article at: http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2015/05/08/insights-velez-security-requirements.aspx

Reverification process is not as simple as advertised for veteran-owned firms

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans First Contracting Program continues to attract more and more veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs).

CVE badgeIndeed, the ability to gain access to VA contracts set aside for VOSBs and SDVOSBs remains an incredibly popular tool among small businesses in the veteran contracting community. Much to the dismay of many potentially eligible firms, the process of applying to the VA, Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) to be verified as an eligible VOSB or SDVOSB is still not a cakewalk, and for good reason.

The VA has a legitimate interest in ensuring that VOSB and SDVOSB set-aside contracts are awarded to firms that are eligible to participate in the Veterans First Contracting Program, and eliminating fraud and abuse requires that VOSBs and SDVOSBs be thoroughly vetted by CVE.

Nevertheless, previously-verified VOSBs and SDVOSBs, i.e., firms that have already undergone a complete CVE examination, are finding CVE’s reverification process to be no less cumbersome than the first go-around.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/the-cve-reverification-process-is-not-45973/

Who won April’s biggest contracts?

Contract activity slowed down a bit in the fourth month of 2015, but April still saw several giant procurements come to market with ceilings in the billions of dollars.

Washington Technology covered 41 awards during April, compared to 58 in March. But not only did we see a drop from March to April, but April 2015’s number of contracts awarded paled in comparison to April 2014’s  69 awards.

This continues a trend that began in January with year-over-year comparisons not quite holding up.

Keep reading this article at: http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2015/05/07/top-contracts-april-2015.aspx

WOSB sole source contracts — one step closer

Women-Owned Small Business sole source contracts have moved one step closer to becoming a reality.

SBA logoOn May 1, 2015, the SBA issued a proposed rule implementing the WOSB sole source authority contained in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.  The relative speed with which the proposed rule was issued suggests that WOSBs could begin receiving sole source awards later this year.

The proposed rule provides that EDWOSBs may receive sole source awards in industries designated by the SBA as “underrepresented” by women.  WOSBs may receive sole source awards in industries designated as “substantially underrepresented.”  The industry-by-industry limitations are the same as those applicable to competitive EDWOSB and WOSB set-asides.

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/women-owned-small-business-program/wosb-sole-source-contracts-one-step-closer/

WOSB self-certification elimination: The SBA weighs in

In this article, attorney Steve Koprince explains the current status of the federal woman-owned small business (WOSB) certification program.

The SBA has acknowledged that Congress eliminated WOSB self-certification in the 2015 NDAA – but suggests that WOSB self-certification may continue until the SBA adopts a regulatory framework for a formal certification program.

sba-logoIn a proposed rule released May 1, 2015, the SBA adopts a pragmatic approach that nonetheless may be legally problematic given that Congress did not authorize a continuation of WOSB self-certification pending SBA regulatory action.

The SBA’s proposed rule focuses primarily on the new WOSB sole source program.  However, the SBA also acknowledges that the 2015 NDAA eliminated WOSB self-certification.  The SBA writes:

SBA recognizes that Section 825 also created a requirement that a firm be certified as a WOSB or EDWOSB by a Federal Agency, a State government, SBA, or a national certifying entity approved by SBA. This statutory requirement appears to apply to both sole source and set asides under the WOSB Program, and may require substantial resources. Establishing a certification requirement and process will require a more prolonged rulemaking before SBA can establish such a program. In our view, there is no evidence that Congress intended to halt the existing WOSB Program until such time as SBA establishes the infrastructure and issues regulations implementing the statutory certification requirement. Instead, we maintain that the new WOSB sole source authority can and should be implemented as quickly as possible, using existing program rules and procedures, while SBA proceeds with implementing the certification requirement through a separate rulemaking.

certifiedI admit that I am sympathetic to the SBA, which may have been caught off-guard (as was I) by Congress’s elimination of WOSB self-certification.  As I noted in my December post on the topic, the WOSB self-certification provision was not included in the original NDAA bills passed by either the House or Senate.  Instead, it was adopted at the last minute, and with little or no debate, as part of the final conference version of the 2015 NDAA.  The SBA is also correct that it likely would require substantial resources to adopt a SBA-run WOSB self-certification program – which I believe would be the best approach over the long run.

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/women-owned-small-business-program/wosb-self-certification-elimination-the-sba-weighs-in/

Here are the Georgia businesses who won federal contracts in April 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 April 2015 right here: FEDERAL CONTRACT AWARDS IN GEORGIA – APRIL 2015

Georgia contract award winners who won federal contracts in the first three 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 

Follow-on contract to competitive 8(a) award can be sole sourced

An 8(a) contract was properly awarded on a sole source basis to a tribally-owned entity, even though the contract was a follow-on to a competitive 8(a) set-aside award.

In a recent decision, the GAO deferred to the SBA’s interpretation of the 8(a) program regulations–which, according to the SBA, allow such sole source awards.

GAO-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-SealThe GAO’s decision in Agency Management Concepts, Inc., B-411206, B-411206.2 (April 21, 2015) involved a Department of State procurement for lock and lock services.  Beginning in 2003, DOS generally procured the requirement through the 8(a) program.  The most recent contract for the services (before the award at issue in this protest) was procured as a competitive 8(a) set-aside.

Advanced Management Concepts, Inc. was an active 8(a) program participant.  After learning that the incumbent contractor had graduated from the 8(a) program, AMC contacted DOS to express its interest in the requirement.  AMC was informed that DOS intended to make a sole source award to a tribally-owned concern, and that the SBA had accepted and approved the sole source offering letter.

AMC then file a GAO bid protest.  AMC alleged that DOS was required to compete the requirement among 8(a) program participants, rather than award it on a sole source basis.  AMC cited several sections of 13 C.F.R. § 124.506, an 8(a) program regulation, in support of its protest.  AMC contended that these regulatory sections prohibit the SBA from accepting a requirement on a sole source basis when that requirement has previously been competed among 8(a) program participants.

Keep reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/gaobidprotests/8a-program-follow-on-to-competitive-award-can-be-sole-sourced/

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