January 15, 2013 by cs
The Obama administration plans to help small businesses access new markets quicker by giving them better access to technology developed in federal laboratories, as well as by expanding grant programs.
As part of its recently updated small business cross agency priority framework, the administration says it wants agencies to take steps to streamline the process for private-public research partnerships so that startups can access research and development grants 50 percent faster.
Keep reading this article at: White House to expand small business access to federal innovation, grants – FierceGovernment http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/white-house-expands-small-business-access-federal-innovation-grants/2013-01-08#ixzz2Hb2FbXP6
December 3, 2012 by cs
May 24, 2012 by cs
The Obama administration still holds out hope of avoiding the across-the-board budget cuts required under the 2011 Budget Control Act, but it is nonetheless instructing federal agencies to begin preparing their fiscal 2014 budget requests assuming a 5 percent cut in discretionary spending.
Acting Budget Director Jeffrey Zients in a memo to agency heads on Friday said the coming spending plan will build on the Budget Control Act and the fiscal 2013 document’s framework, and hence “must continue to cut lower-priority spending in order to create room for the most effective investments in areas critical to economic growth and job creation, including education, innovation, infrastructure, and research and development.”
Keep reading this article at http://www.govexec.com//management/2012/05/agencies-told-assume-worst-budget-requests/55865/?oref=govexec_today_nl.
May 22, 2012 by cs
The Georgia Institute of Technology is presenting a one-day workshop on the development of a sustainable domestic industrial base for lightweight, energy-efficient systems. The workshop will bring together acquisition leaders from the U.S. Government, academia, and industry that have common interests in supply chain analysis and advancing the availability of domestic sources for lightweight material solutions for Government systems.
Senior leadership and staff representing the interagency Defense Production Act Committee (DPAC) have been invited to participate. The DPAC is a Congressionally-established body comprised of 17 Department and Agency heads who advise the President on ensuring the U.S. industrial base can meet essential government needs. Proceedings of the workshop will help advance the analysis of a new DPAC effort dedicated to lightweight materials.
The availability of advanced lightweight materials is a cross-cutting requirement that is crucial to improving the performance of many systems in areas such as energy-efficiency and performance. This technology has applications to current systems, such as automotive and aircraft light-weighting, while also acting as an enabler for innovative platforms, such as alternative energy sources. However, some of the resources for stronger, lighter, and more energy efficient materials, originate outside of the U.S. The long-term robustness of those resources currently produced in the U.S. have not been systematically examined across the entire spectrum of the Federal programs. Should any of these suppliers fail to deliver key goods, the U.S. becomes strategically vulnerable.
The workshop’s primary goal is to ensure closer alignment and coordination among all stakeholders – Federal agencies, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s), suppliers, trade associations, technical societies, and academia – to achieve a robust industrial base for lightweight, energy-efficient materials. The following topics will be discussed:
1. The current limitations of conventional materials and the need for
2. Define the supply chain requirements for meeting lightweight,
high-performance, energy-efficient targets within Federal programs;
3. Identify underdeveloped industrial bases and examine why these
gaps/deficiencies exist; and
4. Advise DPAC on a way forward for the development of domestic
The conference will commence with keynote and guest speakers, followed by a panel comprised of representatives from academia, Government, and industry who will discuss the need for domestic sources of lightweight materials. Two breakout discussion sessions (in the morning and the afternoon) will occur:
1.) Technology Development & Transition
2.) Workforce Development
3.) Supply Chain Vulnerabilities
4.) Policy Gaps
4.) Emerging Materials
The workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, June 5, from 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. in Georgia Tech’s Global Learning Center. A networking lunch will be served at 12:15 p.m. Poster sessions will also be held throughout the day.
Fees and Registration
Registration is $80.00 per person – Registration deadline: Thursday, May 31, 2012. The registration fee includes all workshop materials, conference presentations, refreshments, and the Luncheon on June 5. Workshop seating is limited to 125 participants, so please register early!
For more information and to register, please visit: www.marc.gatech.edu/events/dpac
April 6, 2012 by cs
Austerity is here, it’s real and it will be the rule of the road for several years. The president’s fiscal 2013 budget request for defense will likely be about $260 billion less, over the next five years, than the top line projections of just one year ago. The civilian agencies, many of which have been facing fiscal quagmires for several years as a result of a non-stop diet of continuing resolutions, also face real pressures today and further reductions for fiscal 2013, likely in the 3 percent to 5 percent range.
And if sequestration happens, the challenges will be that much more significant. What is not yet clear is what all of this means for both the effective functioning of government and, of course, for the industry that plays such a critical role in supporting it.
Recently, the Professional Services Council, along with the Aerospace Industries Association and the National Defense Industrial Association, submitted to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top DOD leaders a report on the anticipated impacts of the defense spending reductions. They included job losses, reductions in company-funded research and development, investments in people, and the potential loss of key suppliers.
In addition, it is clear that, dosuring the next few years, an already highly competitive market will become even more competitive. With fewer contract opportunities, the number and range of competitors vying for those opportunities will be even greater than they are today.
While the fiscal environment is an unavoidable reality, there are a number of actions companies can and should take to help ameliorate at least some of those impacts. Indeed, these strategies and actions were prominent in discussions with the secretary of defense, the deputy secretary, and the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, following submission of our industrial base impacts report. These strategies also have applicability across the government.
Key among them is an intensified focus on performance—at all levels. This includes not only programmatic performance, which should always be the principal objective, but also a renewed focus on the financial side, such as fostering a proactive dialogue to help customers identify areas for cost savings—even if those savings might impact company revenue—and tightening company overhead as much as reasonably possible.
At the same time, the government customer must also think and act differently. Despite the budget reductions, the government will nonetheless be spending a huge amount of money through contracts for goods and services. To ensure that those expenditures deliver optimal benefits in both the short and long runs, it is crucial that the government, as the DOD and Office of Management and Budget leaders have said, focus on value and other meaningful value discriminators in the acquisition process. Indeed, DOD leadership has said that given the times, they will be focusing more intently than ever on those discriminators.
Unfortunately, the No. 1 issue identified by our member companies in our report was the government’s growing propensity to do just the opposite, even when buying complex services, including those that generate the kinds of innovation that lead to performance improvements and sustainable efficiencies.
Likewise, government teams must be open to eliminating non-value or limited-value contractual burdens. And the government must get away from its habit of using margins—too often arbitrarily set at unreasonably low levels—as a key cost savings tool. Margins should be linked to the complexity and risk associated with the work being done. Here too, a disconnect between the leadership’s objectives and the field’s implementation is clear and must be addressed.
For every company in the federal market, this must be a time of internal and external reassessment. The same is true for our government colleagues. There are some things that are well beyond either’s control. The key is to focus on those things that we can control and to turn an era of challenge into an era of innovation and opportunity.
About the Author: Stan Soloway is president and chief executive officer of the Professional Services Council. This article was published on Feb. 27, 2012 by Washington Technology at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/01/30/insights-soloway.aspx.
March 22, 2012 by cs
Join Georgia Tech for the annual Lean Consortium event and learn about the evolution of lean from the factory floor to human development. This year’s seminar focuses on becoming more competitive by incorporating the Harada method into your organization through linking the development of people to your organization’s success.
Lean Consortium Event Details:
Respect for People
Date: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (registration begins at 9:00 a.m.)
Location: Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway
Keynote Speaker: Norman Bodek
*If you have 5 or more from the same company, the group rate is $240 per seat. Contact Tim Israel to secure multiple seats at this rate.
The Harada Method: strengthening leaders to inspire employees to develop success goals and work out the detail plans necessary for attaining them
Understanding and Incorporating the human side of Lean
Turning managers into active coaches to build a winning team
Benefits of Attending:
Understand ways to grow employees to make your company more competitive
Learn to empower and involve employees in the improvement process
Discover ways to enhance communication throughout the organization
After 18 years working with Data Processing companies, Norman Bodek founded the publishing, consulting, and training firm PCS Press Inc., where he is working to broaden the implementation of lean from the production floor to the entire enterprise. He is an author of over 100 Japanese management books on tools for continuous improvement. Norman is an accomplished presenter, having led numerous seminars, conference sessions, and training events on many continuous improvement subjects. He is also co-founder of the Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence.
January 11, 2012 by cs
- People: The skills and experience of the people involved in creating proposals.
- Business acquisition process: Business acquisition maturity covering the five stages of business acquisition lifecycle.
- Tools: Proposal infrastructure and personal and productivity tools.
- Management decision-making: Qualification and bid decisions.
- Solution competitiveness: Competitive solution with good features and customer benefits.
- Proposal quality: Quality proposals that are always compliant, responsive and compelling.
- Winning culture: Winning culture with good work/life balance.
December 22, 2011 by cs
Contrary to its name, marketing and communications company LeapFrog Solutions didn’t immediately leap into the government market.
That happened in 2002, when Lisa Martin’s company won three small consulting contracts from the Federal Railroad Administration, Voice of America and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Others modest government awards followed from the Secret Service, National Credit Union Administration and Office of the Currency.
Martin said she quickly realized that, like commercial entities, many federal agencies had websites that were not in sync with their mission statements. Also, activities such as direct mail, trade show appearances and ad campaigns also were disjointed because each operation was the responsibility of a different domain.
So for the government market, she said, “Our very ambitious goal was ‘make the message matter.’ Whether it was online, offline, we wanted to make the message consistent.”
LeapFrog’s big leap into the government arena began in 2008, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency set aside its marketing and communications contracting as a small-business award.
Following Hurricane Katrina and other ensuing natural disasters, FEMA managers in 2010 decided they needed a public campaign to publicize how citizens could protect their homes and possessions from flood damage through government-sponsored insurance.
FEMA then created the National Flood Insurance Program Integrated Marketing and Advertising and Public Services contract.
About 30 small businesses answered FEMA’s request for proposals, which included managing the agency website, its publications, direct mail, conference appearances and advertising.
“We’d been watching for [the RFP] for a while,” said Mark Nelson, LeapFrog’s business development and communications manager, who joined the company in 2010.
“Our challenge was putting together a strong proposal in response to the RFP and corralling all the [partner] elements,” he said. “For example, we don’t do large-scale media buying so that’s why we enlisted Spurrier Media Group out of Richmond.”
And although LeapFrog does some web design, it doesn’t do the more complex back-end coding that is required, so it brought in Blue Water Media as a partner.
This past March the LeapFrog-led team won the five-year, $75 million FEMA contract to publicize and market government-sponsored flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program.
The LeapFrog team of Blue Water Media and Spurrier Media Group also includes Bender Consulting Services Inc. and former incumbents ad agency JWT, once known as the J. Walter Thompson agency, and Ogilvy Public Relations.
Among other tasks, LeapFrog manages the FEMA website FloodSmart.gov and collates the data from the agency’s call center queries.
“If you go to FloodSmart.gov, you can type in your address it will show you what your [flood] risk level risk is and give you a ballpark figure of what a policy would cost,” Nelson explained.
“FEMA actually has done a really good job,” he said. “They’re in the process of redoing a lot of the flood maps around the country using more digital and interactive tools.” Martin’s team also is tasked with spreading the word about FEMA’s flood insurance assistance through trade shows and by disseminating information to local officials, insurance companies, contractors and others.
LeapFrog Solutions is leveraging its work with FEMA at other government assistance agencies including the Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and Interior departments as well as the Office of Personnel Management.
“We’re also working at VA because of all the health care initiatives; also the military heath care system under DOD,” Martin said.
As a result of the FEMA award and its other government and commercial contracts, LeapFrog Solutions has grown to about 25 employees and the company, which began in Martin’s basement in 1996, will be moving into new, larger offices within the next few months.
“We’ve probably doubled [the staff] within the past two years,” she said. “As we’re growing, one of the things that we’re finding is that communications really need to be more and more refined.”
She said the advent of new social media and the growth of a tech-savvy government work force require companies like LeapFrog to be up on the latest technologies and be able to communicate their benefits. That includes keeping abreast of what the young generation of government workers wants and needs, she added.
At the same time, Martin sees health care initiatives becoming a big part of LeapFrog’s future.
“There’s a huge opportunity there,” she said, citing new opportunities at VA, HHS and NIH, where LeapFrog has secured a blanket purchase agreement.
But “it’s not enough just to be able to build and maintain a website. If you have a solution, you really have to show results,” she said. “When we go into an agency, we’re looking at what we can measure. What gets measured gets results.”
About the Author: David Hubler is senior editor of Washington Technology. This article was published Dec. 19, 2011 at http://washingtontechnology.com/Articles/2011/12/19/LeapFrog-FEMA-contract.aspx?s=wtdaily_201211&p=1.
December 20, 2011 by cs
The Department of Defense’s 2012 SBIR solicitation is now open and accepting proposals until January 11, 2012..
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) is a government program, coordinated by the Small Business Administration, in which 2.5 percent of the total extramural research budgets of all federal agencies with extramural research budgets in excess of $100 million are reserved for contracts or grants to small businesses. Annually, the SBIR budget represents more than $1 billion in research funds. Over half the awards are to firms with fewer than 25 people and a third to firms of fewer than 10. A fifth are minority or women-owned businesses. Historically, a quarter of the companies are first-time winners.
In addition, Congress established the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program in 1992. It is similar in structure to SBIR and funds cooperative research and development projects with small businesses in partnership with not-for profit research institutions (such as universities) to move research to the marketplace.
The SBIR/STTR Programs are structured in three phases. Phase I (project feasibility) determines the scientific, technical and commercial merit and feasibility of the ideas submitted. Phase II (project development to prototype) is the major research and development effort, funding the prototyping and demonstration of the most promising Phase I projects. Phase III (commercialization) is the ultimate goal of each SBIR/STTR effort and statute requires that Phase III work be funded by sources outside the SBIR/STTR Program.
During the solicitation period, communication between small businesses and topic authors is highly encouraged. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is not allowed during the Open period when DoD is accepting proposals for each solicitation. However, proposers may still submit written questions about solicitation topics through the SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System (SITIS). In SITIS the questioner and respondent are anonymous and all questions and answers are posted electronically for general viewing until the solicitation closes. All proposers are advised to monitor SITIS during the Open solicitation period for questions and answers and other significant information relevant to their SBIR/STTR topics of interest.
Topics Search Engine: Visit the DoD Topic Search Tool to quickly and easily find topics by keyword across all DoD components participating in this solicitation.
- December 12, 2011 – Solicitation opens and DoD begins accepting proposals
- January 4, 2012 – SITIS closes to new questions
- January 11, 2012 – Solicitation closes to receipt of proposals at 6:00 AM EST
Complete details on DoD’s 2012 SBIR solicitation may be found at: http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/sbir/solicitations/sbir20121/index.shtml.
To be added to the DoD SBIR List serv: ten.ribsdod.vrestsilnull@tsilribs.
December 8, 2011 by cs
There’s a good reason Vangent was named government contractor of the year at the 9th Annual Greater Washington Government Contractor Award gala.
Vangent delivered great results and had a strong brand. Over its fifty plus year history, the Vangent brand grew from a small business unit of NCS, to a $90 million operating division of Pearson PLC, to a $700+ million stand-alone company owned by Veritas Capital that was ultimately acquired by General Dynamics for $960 million on Sept. 30, 2011.
My paramount focus for Vangent’s brand over the past four and a half years was to grow awareness and recognition as a powerful, effective and reliable partner for federal government agencies seeking a services provider to support and answer questions about broad-reaching government programs. These programs included Medicare, military health care, disease control and prevention, student loans and Cash for Clunkers, to name a few.
In today’s government services market, where lowest price and technically acceptable often trumps best value and best solution, and where companies big and small, old and new, are jockeying for a slice of dwindling federal dollars amid an austere budget environment, an effective branding strategy is critical to a company’s success.
Vangent’s growth and market strength were the result of great customer service but also a strong focus on brand value, both internally and externally. Without a strong brand, many government services providers look exactly alike. With a solid and recognizable brand, a government services provider can come to stand for something valuable and important for its employees, customers, investors and the citizenry it serves.
Here are five rules of branding I practiced at Vangent which are essential for any company looking to enter the government services market, expand their market share or to re-position for new growth opportunities:
1) Focus on outcomes, not offerings. You can put a marketing brochure or a website of Company A next to Company B and cover up the names and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Many companies feel compelled to list every capability or skill they offer in a ‘laundry list’ fashion without any context as to what problem or challenge they help their customers overcome. A much more compelling way to communicate what a company does differently is to promote the outcomes or results it accomplishes for its customers – in plain English. Vangent built a successful branding campaign on the fact that “four out of ten Americans connect with Vangent, but never know it.” We combined this powerful and memorable factoid with a unique result it helped its customers accomplish. One example was how Vangent helped a customer enable better information sharing among multiple agencies which saved time and money – reducing processing time from eight months to just one day and shaving 30 percent in operating costs. Using that kind of differentiator will make your company stick out from the rest of the pack and allow you to stake claim to a result which you can build your brand around.
2) Equip your employees with the tools they need to be effective brand communicators. In the government contracting world, employees are your most valuable brand ambassadors. But the reality is that most employees who work for government services providers can barely recite their company’s mission or vision statements, let alone their menu of service offerings. The reason is simple: Mission statements too often are too long and full of over-used industry jargon. Make it easy for your employees by giving them the tools they need to not only memorize the meaning or essence of your company’s brand, but to internalize the brand so that they can effectively explain what your company’s brand represents. When Pearson Government Solutions was rebranded as Vangent in 2007, it created a “brand playbook” given to every employee and helped them understand the importance of branding, the words to describe Vangent’s brand and examples or “proof points” that helped them explain what Vangent’s brand represents. The brand playbook was an essential part of Vangent’s on-boarding program for new employees and was reinforced with a short and impactful video shown to all employees.
3) Create an emotional feeling about your brand. It’s OK, really! Companies marketing products we buy and use every day are masters at creating an emotional connection with consumers. They want you to feel good about buying and using their product. That’s why today’s consumer marketing focuses on how you feel versus how much the product costs or whether you need it. Why can’t we apply that same rule to the government services market? Vangent showcased its experts and thought leaders on video in a series of conversations about some of the most pressing challenges facing its customers. What’s the point in keeping their faces and thoughts hiding behind nondescript bios or ho-hum descriptions of your company’s services? Bring your company to life and create an emotional connection with your target audiences by storytelling. Showcase your company’s talent in rich content, quality photos and compelling videos. You’ll offer your customers, teaming partners and new recruits a glimpse into your company before they‘ve had the chance to meet you in person.
4) Your brand is your culture and culture trumps strategy any day. The first question asked by any new employee is about the company’s culture, not about the company’s strategy. They’ll want to know what it’s like to work at your company, what the environment is like and the opportunities to advance their careers. Many companies in the government services industry struggle in communicating their company culture and instead give employees lists of customers, names of contract vehicles and a list of company locations. Does that really answer an employee’s need to understand the company culture? Hardly. Vangent focused on its six core values and one in particular: We do meaningful work. Employees understood the impact they had on the lives of millions of people every day. This powerful value permeated throughout the company in employee communications, external communications in the forms of media relations, investor relations and marketing and recruiting campaigns.
5) Invest in your company’s brand – no matter how much – and don’t be ashamed about it. The old saying “don’t be penny wise and pound foolish” certainly rings true today in the government services industry where pressure on top and bottom line growth has squeezed out marketing, communications, advertising and branding budgets. During an era of dwindling resources in the federal government where blatant promotion is frowned upon, how do you distinguish your company and justify precious resources? In a down economy like the one we’re experiencing today, it’s more important than ever to up your game and take advantage of new and inexpensive ways to showcase your company. At Vangent, I implemented an integrated marketing program which focused on valuable content and compelling videos. I also used social media tools including Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to drive Vangent’s brand directly to the audiences it aimed to reach. Vangent’s powerful messaging platform was on display at industry events, conferences and trade shows.
Yes, employees, customers and investors do notice which companies have got it going on and which companies are stuck in the past.
About the Author: Eileen Cassidy Rivera is former vice president of communications and investor relations at Vangent, a General Dynamics company. In December, she joined KeeganSilver as senior health marketing strategist supporting Booz Allen Hamilton. This article was published by Washington Technology on Dec. 1, 2011 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2011/12/01/marketing-tips-government-market.aspx?s=wtdaily_021211.