September 19, 2011 by cs
A proposed Defense Department regulation, if implemented, will substantially change how contractors hire, oversee and track certain former civilian and military personnel. As proposed, it will also establish a new suspension and debarment risk for contractors that hire former personnel.
On June 6, the department issued a proposed rule — DFARS Case 2010-D020 “Representation Relating to Compensation of Former DoD Officials” — to require all offerors to submit a representation, upon submission of the offer, that all employees who are former Defense Department “covered officials”
(defined in DFARS Clause 252.203-7000), to the best of the offeror’s knowledge and belief, comply with:
- Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 203.171-3 that
states that covered Defense Department officials must have received or requested
an ethics opinion on post-government employment restrictions;
- 18 U.S.C. 207 and 5 C.F.R. Part 2641, which is the statute and regulations
affecting post-government employment of ex-government civilian personnel and
military officers; and
- Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 3.104-2, which implements the
Procurement Integrity Act.
This proposed rule would likely have the several effects. For example, it will share responsibility for compliance with post-government employment laws and regulations between ex-government personnel to defense contractors. Current post-government employment laws impose criminal and civil liability on ex-government personnel violations.
It will also require defense contractors to implement new compliance measures. To ensure compliance, defense contractors must establish systems and processes to identify, track, educate, and obtain periodic certifications from all employees, consultants, and others who receive compensation and who are former “covered officials.”
The new requirement will burden both smaller contractors that must establish a new compliance program to meet this requirement, as well as larger defense contractors that must levy the requirement on subsidiaries, joint ventures and affiliates, even those entities that are non-government contractors. Any new compliance system obviously will increase contractor overhead costs, which often are passed on to the government.
It will also impose on defense contractors a new liability over which they have no control. Because the proposed regulation does not limit the certification to the activities of the former “covered employees” on a Defense Department contract or even related to employment by the contractor, the contractor will be required to certify compliance of its employees even as to their personal, off-duty activities.
Consultants and part-time employees working for other companies or organizations may violate their restriction in pursuit of other activities wholly unconnected to the certifying contractor. For example, an ex-military officer employed by a contractor may violate her representational restrictions under 18 U.S.C. 207 by contacting the government on behalf of another company for which she is consulting, or even as a volunteer for a civic,
charitable or scouting organization.
The proposed regulation may also deter smaller companies from bidding on Defense Department contracts. Smaller commercial contractors with less sophisticated employee screening and tracking systems may view this requirement as too costly to introduce across their enterprise in order to seek new defense business.
Another result may be that contractors will be deterred from hiring ex-military and Defense Department personnel. The proposed rule imposes both a new risk of non-compliance, which could lead to suspension and debarment or liability under the False Claims Act, as well as a new requirement for a compliance system to mitigate the risk. Thus, defense contractors likely will be deterred from hiring ex-military and department personnel. Ironically, this proposed rule red flags former department personnel — including Title 10 reserves and National Guard personnel — as potential burdens for Defense contractors.
The proposed regulation applies only to “covered officials,” but the difficulty in identifying who qualifies as a “covered official,” may cause defense contractors, especially smaller contractors, to simply close the door to all former department personnel.
Another potential consequence is that it may deter civilian federal employees from working in the Defense Department. Since the restrictions apply only to former department personnel, civilian employees, especially procurement and senior program managers who qualify as “covered employees,” may choose to serve in other federal agencies instead of Defense, if they envision post-government employment in the commercial sector. This obviously would frustrate Defense Department efforts to build a world-class acquisition work force.
The bottom line is that the proposed regulation offers several dysfunctional, expensive, and possibly unintended consequences that the Defense Department hopefully will address as it considers whether it should be implemented.
– by Steve Epstein, chief counsel for ethics and compliance at The Boeing Company. The views expressed are solely those of the author. Published by National Defense magazine, October 2011 at http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2011/October/Pages/DefenseDepartmentContractorsMaySeeNewHiringRegulations.aspx
Serious about learning everything about government contracting? Interested in learning about contracting from a federal contracting officer’s point-of-view? Looking for an opportunity to learn government contracting in a comprehensive and interactive way?
If you answered “yes” to these three questions, then “Mission-Focused Contracting” – a two-week course offered by The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech — is the place to be.
This very comprehensive course is being offered on the Georgia Tech campus over a two-week period, November 7 through 18, 2011. (Please note that there will be no class on Friday, November 11 in observance of Veterans’ Day.)
Mission-Focused Contracting is the capstone course for Level I contracting professionals and all non-contracting personnel who play a role in the acquisition process. This class is applicable to both government and industry purchasing and engages participants in the entire government acquisition process, from meeting with the government customer to completing the contract close-out process. Throughout this course, participants have the opportunity to learn and apply problem-solving and negotiation skills.
The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech (The Academy) is an approved equivalency training provider to the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) and provides continuing education training to acquisition and government contracting professionals as well as to business professionals working for government contractors or pursuing opportunities in federal contracting.
How You Will Benefit:
By attending this course, participants will learn how to:
- Complete market research to identify procurement sources
- Develop a bid or proposal package
- Evaluate proposals and award contracts
- Monitor contractor performance, apply remedies, and make proper contract payments
- Modify contracts, exercise options, and complete the contract closeout process
Business people taking this course have the unprecedented opportunity to sit side-by-side with government contracting personnel to learn the ins and outs of federal contracting. In addition, many of the principles of federal contracting apply to state and local government procurement.
To learn more about this course — and to register– please visit: http://www.pe.gatech.edu/courses/con-120-mission-focused-contracting.
The government will be paying some small businesses in half the time under a new proposal by President Barack Obama.
Obama announced his new “QuickPay” plan on Sept. 14. It requires agencies to cut checks in 15 days, instead of 30 days, after they receive a valid invoice. The 15-day payments apply only to prime contractors.
“Today I’m ordering all federal agencies to make sure those small-business owners get paid a lot faster than they do now. In many cases, it will be twice as fast. So that puts more money in their pockets quicker, which means they can hire folks quicker,” Obama said Sept. 14 in Raleigh, N.C.
The plan goes into effect immediately.
The administration decided getting cash to companies is necessary in these economic times and moved the payment deadline under the Prompt Payments Act, Jacob Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a memo released Sept. 14.
“When small contractors get their money in 15 days instead of 30, it results in a permanent infusion of cash flow into their businesses,” Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills said in a statement. “Their financial footing gets stronger — permanently.”
Lew is also telling agency officials that by November, they must tell OMB officials when they began paying small businesses in 15 days and the name of the federal official responsible for it.
The government awards nearly $100 billion annually in federal contracts to small firms, and sending money out quickly would help those companies in tough times, officials said.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the House Small Business Committee, applauded the president’s new plan.
“Small businesses bring more competition and reduced prices to federal contracting, so we should make sure the federal government pays them in a timely manner, especially considering most of them are operating on tight profit margins and trying to do more with less,” he said.
On Sept. 8, Obama said the government could help struggling small-business contractors by sending payments more quickly.
Joe Jordan, associate administrator of government contracting and business development at the SBA, said the 15-day mark benefits small businesses the most while not forcing agencies to change or modify their automated systems or processes.
“It really has a great confidence component,” he said.
“By taking actions that will enable these payments to be made as promptly as possible, we will improve cash flow for small businesses and provide them with a more predictable stream of resources,” Jeffrey Zients, chief performance officer and deputy director for management at OMB, wrote in a new post on OMB’s blog.
About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Washington Technology. Published Sept. 14, 2010 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2011/09/14/small-business-15-days-paid.aspx?s=wtdaily_150911
“Critical function” is now the controversial term as agency officials interpret new regulations on what work only federal employees should be doing and could be used to increase the insourcing of contractor jobs.
“Inherently governmental function isn’t the big problem,” said Robert Burton, former deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP). “It’s the broad category called ‘critical function.’”
A new policy letter from OFPP defines critical function as work that is “necessary to the agency being able to effectively perform and maintain control of its mission and operations.” Beyond that, the letter tells agency officials to decide case-by-case if work should be done by their own employees or by contractors.
If a contractor is doing the work, agencies must have employees who know the job and who would be able to manage the contractor who is doing the work,
according to the policy letter, which was released officially Sept. 12.
The policy holds an agency responsible for making sure it has an adequate number of positions filled by federal employees with appropriate expertise and
experience. Those employees need to understand the agency’s requirements and be able to formulate alternative options, if needed, while also monitoring any contractors supporting the federal workforce, thr letter said.
“The more important the function, the more important that the agency have internal capability to maintain control of its mission and operations,” the
However, Burton said officials can argue that any job is critical to meeting their agency’s mission and also decide the adequate number of federal employees
they need to do it, under this policy.
“We’re missing the elephant in the room,” said Burton, now a partner at the Venable law firm. “What this policy letter does is institutionalize insourcing
in the federal government.”
He said these critical functions are the jobs agencies are already insourcing, often to the detriment of small businesses.
The policy letter goes into effect Oct. 12, and, because it came from the OFPP, it is more than guidance. It will be added to the Federal Acquisition
Regulation. These will be rules to live by.
The term “critical function” came from the fiscal 2009 National Defense Authorization Act, which told the administration to draw up a single definition of “inherently governmental function” and also lay out criteria for a critical function. OFPP drafted the definition in 75 pages.
As deputy administrator from 2001 to 2008, Burton said the issue isn’t necessarily with writing the policy. It’s how the agency officials apply it.
“The challenge of so much of this is the interpretation,” he said.
Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, said the policy must have clear guidance for interpreting the intent correctly. He has raised
concerns in the past about making agencies prove that their choice to insource work is a good deal.
“As such, it is vital that clear guidance be given to the agencies on how to conduct their cost comparisons to ensure the right outcomes for the American
taxpayer,” he said Sept. 9 in a statement.
Burton also said the OFPP missed two important points in the policy. It should have required agency officials to talk with small businesses about the effects that insourcing would have. And it should have required agencies to share their cost comparison data with, at least, the company who faces the loss
of its work.
It’s often too late to use the Freedom of Information Act to get the data, he said. By then, the insourcing is completed.
About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Washington Technology. Published Sept. 12, 2011
September 14, 2011 by cs
The Robins AFB and the Air Logistics Center will be holding its annual “Requirements Symposium” on Nov. 15-17, 2011 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter, Perry GA.
This is a unique 3-day event where senior leaders and managers at Robins Air Force Base share their current and future business requirements and organizational vision of the future. This insight into requirements at Robins AFB and the Air Logistics Center allows aerospace industries and businesses to appropriately plan for capabilities to support the needs at Robins AFB and the Warfighters they service.
The base and WR-ALC spend approximately $4.1 Billion dollars each year. By attending, you can see if you can help provide what is needed.
The agenda looks like this:
- Tuesday, November 15 – Optional Golf Tournament at Robins AFB Golf Course
- Tuesday, November 15 – Pre-symposium registration at Museum of Aviation Century of Flight Building
- Tuesday, November 15 – Contractor Vendor Booths, Century of Flight Building
- Tuesday, November 15 – Evening Social, Century of Flight Building
- Wednesday, November 16 – Thursday, November 17, 2011 – Symposium at Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter
Archives of the past five years’ of Symposium events may be found at: http://www.wrcoc-aic.org/Page9.aspx, including lists of attendees.
September 13, 2011 by cs
The 2011 MacDill Air Force Base Conference & Expo for Small Business, with emphasis on service disabled veteran owned small businesses and veteran owned small businesses, will be held December 7-8, 2011 at the Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, Florida.
The conference is being hosted by 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill AFB, in partnership with United States Special Operations Command, University of South Florida, the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), St Petersburg Pelican Chapter.
The event will feature plenaries, educational workshops, an exhibit hall, as well as business matchmaking sessions. Last year, there were 180 exhibitors and over 1,100 attendees, including representatives of all levels of federal, state, and local government agencies, the small business community, large/prime contractors, minority educational institutions, and many more.
Program details may be found at http://www.macdillsdvosb.net/conference/program-schedule.
More information about exhibit booth sign up, exhibit booth packages, sponsorships and registration are available at http://www.macdillsdvosb.net/.
Early bird registration has been extended to Sept. 30, 2011.
New features of this conference for 2011 include:
- 1-Day Expo Passes - A 1-day Expo Pass for Thursday, December 8, 2011 is available at only $125. Please note: Expo Visitors will have access to the Exhibit Hall only during regular show hours on December 8 and will include lunch.
- Exhibitor Packages now include conference Registration(s) – Depending on the size of booth chosen, a minimum of one conference registration is included.
- An online version of the Program & Conference Guide – Click HERE to view the 2010 Program Guide. The 2011 Online Program Guide will offer a new feature – a hyperlink to your business website – and will be available online until the 2012 Conference.
See www.macdillsdvosb.net for additional information.
September 1, 2011 by cs
The portion of sales going to small businesses in NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) IV reached 42 percent last year, an increase of 7 percent from the previous year, according to SEWP IV officials. SEWP is a governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC), providing advanced information technology products and related services at fixed prices.
August 16, 2011 by cs
Senior executives at several Cabinet-level departments received letters Aug. 5 that asked why their small-business advocacy offices have not been given the authority the law dictates.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), chairman of the Small Business Committee’s Contracting and Workforce Subcommittee, wants to know why departments’ office of small and disadvantaged business utilization (OSDBU) officials don’t have access to top officials to deal with small-business problems, such as contract bundling and paying firms promptly.
The Small Business Act requires that heads of a department’s OSDBU should “be responsible only to, or report directly to, the head of such agency or to the deputy of such head.”
It’s not happening, according to a Government Accountability Office report from June.
Only nine of the 16 federal agencies that GAO reviewed were in compliance with that part of the Small Business Act. The remaining seven agencies failed to comply with the law. Those agencies’ OSDBU directors reported to lower-level officials or had delegated OSDBU responsibilities to officials who did not meet the reporting requirement, GAO wrote.
Further, these agencies were not in compliance when GAO last examined them in 2003.
In GAO’s latest review, Social Security Administration officials said they fixed the problem. Officials at the Interior Department agreed to re-evaluate their reporting structure.
On the other hand, the Commerce, Justice, State and Treasury departments disagreed with GAO, saying they were in compliance. The Agriculture Department also got a letter because officials delegated the OSDBU director’s authority in a way that was contrary to the law.
Mulvaney wants to know more details about each agencies’ OSDBU, including the assigned functions and budget. He also asked when the OSDBU will actually have access to top officials, in addition to a copy of the new organizational chart. He expects responses by Aug. 31.
The subcommittee is planning a hearing in September to look further into this situation.
August 15, 2011 by cs
Nearly doubling your revenue in one year is remarkable in itself. That 5 AM Solutions Inc. did it in an uncertain economy and with less government contracting dollars is one of the reasons the Reston, Va.-based company holds the No. 41 spot on this year’s Washington Technology Fast 50 list.
Between 2009 and 2010, 5 AM’s revenue rocketed from $7.2 million to $13.9 million, and its compounded annual growth rate over the past five years is 140.29 percent.
“We bring some really unique talent to the field where there’s a lot of opportunity,” said Brent Gendleman, president and CEO of 5 AM. The company develops software for life science and health professionals, and health information technology is a burgeoning field.
“I think our brand of transparent process and high-quality folks and team players has some resonance,” he added. “There’s just a huge opportunity for our government clients to take advantage.”
Good workers are great, but only if there’s work for them to do. Contract wins that put the company in the thick of two of the country’s biggest health IT initiatives have ensured that the 5 AM team stays busy. Since July 2006, the company has been handling software engineering for the National Cancer Institute’s caArray open-source Web-based array data management system, under a $9.25 million contract. The system helps translational cancer research by acquiring, disseminating and aggregating information that can be shared via the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid.
In April, 5AM won a $5.1 million contract to provide software engineering for the National Health Information Network’s CONNECT open-source software, which enables secure electronic health data exchange among health care providers, insurers, government agencies and consumer services.
With those customers and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Office of the Surgeon General established, Gendleman said he is setting his sights on the Veterans Administration and the National Institutes of Health.
“We are hopeful that some of the things that we have learned at the other agencies can be applied there to a very important and direct population that we would love to get engaged with directly,” he said of VA.
Some of those lessons include being transparent to establish trust. “That trust is between not just two individuals but between the company and the client that they’re serving. There’s a partnership – and it really is a partnership – that they’re trying to achieve,” Gendleman said.
Knowing when to quit is also crucial. “You want to fail as quickly as possible,” he added. “The longer you wait, the more expensive it gets and who wants that? Nobody. It’s not everybody’s instinct but failing as fast as possible is absolutely the most important thing to do. When you’re talking about medicine, you want to know if something’s not working now so you can try something different and don’t hurt someone. On the science side, it’s the same thing.”
Besides adding to its workload, 5 AM plans to add to its employee roster. The company, which has lost only three workers in the past four years, started with two employees in 2003, now has 48 and aims for 70 employees by next summer. Most of the hires will be in the engineering department.
Going forward, federal budget concerns will be the company’s main challenge, Gendleman said.
“People are very reluctant to say ‘Let’s do this initiative or that initiative’ when they don’t know if they’re going to get the funding or not,” he said.
But even that could be an opportunity, Gendleman added. “Sometimes the cuts really do allow for people to take a breath and reevaluate and reprioritize, and sometimes you’re in the plus part of that.”
About the Author: Stephanie Kanowitz is a contributing writer to Washington Technology. Published Aug. 11, 2011 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2011/08/01/fast-50-5am-solutions.aspx?s=wtdaily_120811.
August 5, 2011 by cs
This year is no exception. The companies making Washington Technology’s top 50 list of small businesses (“The Fast 50″) have had extraordinary growth, starting with No. 1 company, SAVA Workforce Solutions, which achieved a five-year compound annual growth rate of 326.05 percent.
The small businesses on this list have shown an ability to adapt and change with the market. Many are taking advantage of various small business programs to build businesses that will stand the test of time.
The types of companies that populate the Fast 50 range from resellers to consultants and IT services providers to research and development firms. The list is entrepreneur heavy with most companies having a founder or team of founders at the helm.
The aggregate value of 2010 revenue for the Fast 50 is $1.4 billion. The No. 50 company NextPoint Group, came in with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 62.49 percent. Not too shabby.
So there is plenty for these companies to celebrate, but as you read the profiles of the Fast 50 we are highlighting here, you’ll quickly realize that these companies, despite their growth, also are facing a tough market and they know it.
Just like their larger brethren in the government market, their customers are facing austere budgets with dim prospects for the rampant growth of the past decade.
The response from these companies comes in several shapes. First, there is a push to control costs because government agencies are putting more and more emphasis on price in the contract bids they evaluate.
That in turn puts pressure on contractors to control their own costs if they want to remain profitable.
“If your overhead rates are low, you’ll stand a better chance of winning,” said SAVA’s general manager David Poirier.
The key is to balance bidding the best people with controlling costs. For Poirier that is the key to success.
In the current budget environment customers are reticent to move on new projects.
“People are very reluctant to say ‘Let’s do this initiative or that initiative’ when they don’t know if they’re going to get the funding or not,” said Brent Gendleman, president and CEO of 5AM Solutions, No. 41 with a 75.17 percent compound annual growth rate.
Another impact of the tighter budgets is increasing competition.
As we see funding streams shift around and priorities shift and certain programs being defunded, companies that can be flexible and agile really gain a sustaining advantage in their ability to compete,” said Dawn Halfaker, president and CEO of Halfaker and Associates, No. 11 with 153.32 percent five-year growth rate.
But the problems of tight purse strings and program at risk of losing funding can create opportunities as agencies scramble to perform their missions with fewer resources.
“Sometimes we’re able to help with that process and perhaps achieve savings,” said Nicole Geller, CEO of GCS Inc., No. 35 with 82.45 percent compound annual growth rate.
“Sometimes the cuts really do allow for people to take a breath and reevaluate and reprioritize, and sometimes you’re in the plus part of that,” Gendleman said.
A paramount focus for these companies is performance, making sure they are delivering value to their customers.
“Regardless of company size, political climate or the budget battle, if you’re good at what you do and have happy customers, I think you’re well-positioned for success,” said Christopher Romani, president and CEO of Integrity Management Consulting, No. 7 with a 188.18 percent compound annual growth rate.
The theme of a customer focus and a dedication to the customers mission is repeated often by the Fast 50 companies. It is both a passion for the market and a survival instinct.
“You have to make sure you’re keeping an eye on what the government is buying and where [government buyers] are spending their money,” said Frank Blair, managing partner of Edaptive Systems, No. 19 with a 105.2 percent growth rate. “Because if you’re not flexible enough to change direction, you’re going to get mauled.”
MORE FAST 50
– About the Author: Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. This article was published 8/1/2011 at http://washingtontechnology.com/Articles/2011/08/01/FAST-50-intro.aspx?s=wtdaily_020811&p=1.