January 6, 2012 by cs
The federal Small Business Program is the subject of a new course now being offered by The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech.
The course, designated as CON 260B by the Defense Acquisition University, provides an in-depth review of the Department of Defense’s Small Business Program. This course delves into the intricacies of the associated programs and initiatives that support the Small Business Program and the DoD’s efforts to improve small business participation in prime contracting and subcontracting. Particular attention is focused on the Small Business Managers’ role as a vital member of the acquisition team.
The course is scheduled to be offered several times in 2012 on the Georgia Tech campus in midtown Atlanta. Georgia Tech is an approved Defense Acquisition University (DAU) equivalency provider and offers DAU-equivalent training that will satisfy the FAC-C and DAWIA certification programs. This class is not limited to government employees; individuals representing businesses who wish to gain insights into the federal procurement process are welcome to register and attend.
How You Will Benefit by Attending
Participants will learn how to do the following by participating in this course:
- Conduct market research to the extent needed to maximize small business
participation at the prime and subcontracting levels.
- Select the appropriate acquisition strategy that maximizes small business
participation either at the prime contract or subcontracting levels.
- Describe the SBA’s role in the award decision making process.
- Implement the subcontracting requirements.
- Describe how to provide assistance to small businesses in finding government
contracting and sub-contracting opportunities
A notebook containing the PowerPoint slides, assessment instruments, exercises and supplemental information will be provided to each registered participant.
CEU’s, Cost and Registration
Course participants will earn 2.1 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from Georgia Tech and be eligible for Continuous Learning Points (CLPs) from DAU. The course fee is $750. The course schedule and registration information is available on-line at http://www.pe.gatech.edu/courses/con-260b-small-business-programs.
Who Should Attend
- State, local, federal contracting officials
- Small business advocacy associations
- Prime contractors with AND without government contracts
- Corporate supplier diversity professionals
- Small, mid-size, and large businesses
- Anyone working for a federal agency who interacts with/supports small
- Administrative Information
- Course Overview
- Market Research
- Acquisition Strategy
- SBA’s Role
- Subcontracting Plan
- Conducting Outreach
Feel free to contact The Academy’s program manager Rhonda Lynch at ude.hcetag.ymedacAgnitcartnoCnull@ofni.
January 6, 2012 by cs
The National Veteran Small Business Coalition (NVSBC) is proud to announce the 2012 Veteran Entrepreneur Training Symposium (VETS2012) in Reno, Nevada, June 11-14, 2012.
VETS2012 brings government agencies, industry leaders and veteran entrepreneurs together in an intimate forum to discuss issues affecting veteran-owned companies.
Besides informative sessions and prominent speakers, the event will feature an Exhibit Hall for companies to display their products and services, as well as one-on-one Business Matchmaking Sessions. Throughout the event, attendees are encouraged to strike up conversations with experts in scheduled sessions and beyond. Through connecting with federal agencies, prime contractors, small and large companies from all across the country are able to forge the relationships needed to help them grow.
NCSBC’s Scott Denniston, former director of the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs’ small business office, promises even more opportunities, information, and key players in this upcoming event than at the inaugural event held in Reno last year.
January 5, 2012 by cs
The U.S. Agency for International Development is seeking to increase competition for its contracts and make its programs more accessible to small and disadvantaged businesses as part of a larger agency-wide reform effort.
Concerned that a reduction in contracting staff has led to an increased reliance on a fairly small group of contractors and nongovernmental organizations, USAID has made changes to its procurement program a key part of its reform.
In its plan for change, the agency says it is “falling short” in accessing the full range of talent in both U.S. businesses and organizations and those in developing countries.
USAID has started by promoting more competition within its programs, particularly focusing on setting aside more awards for small and disadvantaged businesses.
The agency has established a review board that looks at ways to make large contracts more accessible to small businesses, such as by splitting them into smaller pieces, said Aman S. Djahanbani, USAID’s chief acquisition officer.
“Broadening our partner base … just makes good business sense, and it furthers sustainable development,” Djahanbani said.
At the same time, the agency is trying to work with more of the organizations and companies that are local to a given country. Littleton Tazewell, senior adviser to USAID’s general counsel for implementation and procurement reform, said the agency often relies on intermediaries — such as U.S.-based contractors or international nongovernmental organizations — to work with local bodies.
“The idea here is to increase our direct engagement with local organizations,” said Tazewell, who said a deeper understanding of local
organizations will help USAID craft better solicitations.
The agency also is seeking to make its regulations and rules less burdensome to encourage more companies and organizations to compete for contracts and grants.
USAID acknowledged that some larger contractors or NGOs may see reduced work as a result of its procurement reform moves.
“Our partners need to realize that there is more competition,” said Djahanbani. “However, they definitely have a role to play — maybe a different role.”
For instance, he said, in some cases a local organization could serve as the prime contractor while an international or U.S.-based organization could function as a subcontractor.
Tazewell said USAID has engaged the companies and organizations it frequently uses as it reforms in an effort to identify their particular problems.
Still, USAID is only about 18 months into what it expects to be a five-year process, Tazewell said.
“We’re going to trip and make some mistakes along the way, but our expectation is at the end of that five-year process we’ll be a much better organization,” he said. “We will have a structure [and a] regulatory framework that allows for a broadened partner base that’s both local- and small business-oriented.”
– by Marjorie Censer – The Washington Post – published December 25, 2011 at
January 4, 2012 by cs
As Defense Department officials consider insourcing work, Congress wants them to notify contractors of their decision to bring the work inhouse.
The fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision requiring DOD to notify companies before insourcing particular jobs. Congress wants officials to give contractors a “timely notification” of their decision.
One expert said the timely notification is a step forward in informing companies that they are losing their contracts. But the provision’s usefulness
depends on DOD’s interpretation of the provision.
“How ‘timely’ is defined determines whether this is of any value or not,” said Robert Burton, former deputy OFPP administrator and now partner at the
Venable law firm.
Having worked with small contracting companies that lose their business because of insourcing, a timely notification may be a six-month heads-up. Still
he said the small businesses often struggle to stay afloat after a decision to insource work.
For the best option, Burton said government officials should talk with companies about the effect of insourcing on their future. Officials should then
consider it as a factor in their decision.
Also in the bill, the provision would add slightly to the blurry term of “critical function.”
A critical function is a duty “necessary to maintain sufficient government expertise and technical capabilities” and “entails operational risk associated
with contractor performance.”
The Office of Federal Procurement Policy this year defined a critical function as work that’s “necessary to the agency being able to effectively
perform and maintain control of its mission and operations.”
Congress also is telling defense officials to give special consideration in taking back these critical functions, as well as acquisition workforce functions
and even work that DOD employees have done at some point during the past decade.
Officials would need to test whether to insource certain functions based on guidance in a memo on comparing the estimated costs of civilian, military and
contractor support. Officials would also have to decide if insourcing a function would be either 10 percent lower or $10 million less expensive than the
contractor’s cost. The choice would not apply to inherently governmental functions, which should only be done by federal employees.
The authorization bill cleared Congress Dec. 15, and now awaits President Barack Obama’s signature or his veto.
About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week. This article appeared Dec.
22, 2011 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2011/12/22/ndaa-timely-notification-insourcing.aspx.
December 30, 2011 by cs
Continuing its push to support small businesses, the White House is reminding agency financial and acquisition officers not to forget small firms when they make credit card micro purchases of $3,000 or less, which are not affected by larger scale required set-asides.
A Dec. 19 letter from Dan Gordon, the departing administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, and Danny Werfel, controller, said the Office of Management and Budget and the Small Business Administration are “working with agencies to improve access by small businesses to the federal marketplace and to increase communications to small businesses about federal business opportunities.” Agency purchase cardholders “should consider small businesses, to the maximum extent practicable, when making micro purchases.”
According to a private study required by Congress, agencies used the General Services Administration’s SmartPay® purchase cards in fiscal 2010 for $6 billion in transactions with small businesses at or below the micro purchase threshold. This amounts to about 30 percent of the total annual government purchase card spending, the letter stated.
The White House asked agencies within six months to “adjust cardholder training as needed to help ensure cardholders continue to place a reasonable proportion of micro purchases with small businesses, consistent with agency mission support needs.”
– by Charles S. Clark – Government Executive – December 22, 2011 – http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=49632&dcn=e_gvet.
December 29, 2011 by cs
Beginning in February 2012, Georgia Tech is offering a series of professional education courses that allow you to better manage both your time and your budget.
Featured, for the first time anywhere, is CON 090-Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Fundamentals, packaged in four modules.
Georgia Tech’s Contracting Education Academy has split-up what is normally offered as a four-week Defense Acquisition University course into four, one-week classes. That means you now have multiple opportunities to complete the entire class throughout the year without the challenge of being away from your job for a month straight.
In CON 090, the Federal Acquisition Regulation – also known as “the Bible” of federal acquisition – is broken down into bite-sized pieces, making all the detail more digestible.
Plus, if you register for all four modules of CON 090 at one time, you’ll receive a discount of $300. (Please contact ude.hcetag.ymedacAgnitcartnoCnull@ofnI or call 855-812-5309 for details on this discount.)
Other courses featured in 2012 are the three-day CON 260B-Small Business Programs and CON 120-Mission Focused Contracting. See http://www.pe.gatech.edu/Subjects/Acquisition-Government-Contracting for details on all courses, including cost and registration.
During 2011, contracting officials and contractors alike attended these two courses. Both “sides of the table” gained new insights into the government acquisition process.
The 2012 course calendar can be viewed at http://contractingacademy.gatech.edu/training. Courses are expected to be added throughout the year. Coming soon, for instance, are COR 206-Contracting Officer Representatives in the Contingency Contracting Environment and COR 222-Contracting Officer’s Representative Course.
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.
November 22, 2011 by cs
Agencies may soon have a smoother and faster process to deal with small-business contracting data. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the Small Business Administration said Nov. 14 in a memo that they are aligning operations.
Each year, SBA sends individual reports to agencies on anomalies related to small-business contracting awards. The reports help officials answer questions about data before SBA releases its small-business contracting scorecards. Then agencies turn in reports to OFPP and the General Services Administration, certifying that their procurement data is accurate and complete.
This fiscal year, OFPP and SBA will begin integrating the two processes. Officials said integrating the small-business data quality reviews will reduce the acquisition workforce’s work and improve acquisition planning. They also said the new alignment will improve accuracy of the data.
For the fiscal 2011 data reviews, SBA will provide agencies with anomaly reports. These reports will be focused on high-risk areas though.
OFPP and SBA want something in return for their changes.
“We ask that you increase the attention given to small-business data quality as part of your ongoing data validation efforts,” they wrote in the memo.
Officials expect agencies to incorporate a stronger focus on small-business data.
To help with that, GSA is developing standard anomaly reports available in the Federal Procurement Data System. These reports use the protocols currently available to agencies. They will be easier to use with a standard form.