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  • 09 Jun 2022 9:46 AM | Vija Xiong (Administrator)

    "Follow the money" is a catchphrase popularized by the 1976 docudrama film All the President's Men, which suggests political corruption can be brought to light by examining money transfers between parties.

    While the term was popularized in the 1970’s, the premise behind the statement has been around for a century. In Latin, the term Cui bono? means "to whom is it a benefit?"

    The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (FFATA) was signed into law on September 26, 2006. The legislation required that federal contract, grant, loan, and other financial assistance awards of more than $25,000 be displayed on a publicly accessible and searchable website to give the American public access to information on how their tax dollars are being spent. In 2008, FFATA was amended by the Government Funding Transparency Act, which required prime recipients to report details on their first-tier sub-recipients for awards made as of October 1, 2010.

    The Department of the Treasury (Treasury)—which runs the site—has taken steps to provide transparent information and foster accountability to the public on government spending. In 2014 the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of (DATA Act), was signed and Booz Allen Hamilton, teaming with Kearney & Company, was brought on to build a new USASpending.gov site designed to give Americans a clearer understanding of how their tax dollars are spent.

    https://www.usaspending.gov/

    As of fall 2018, there were more than one hundred million records, including contracts, grants, and other types of spending in our database. Yet in survey of four thousand federal managers, 92% said they had not heard of USASpending.gov

    The website enables searching of federal awards from FY2008 to the present. Data is uploaded directly from more than a hundred federal agencies' financial systems. Data is also pulled or derived from other government systems. For example, contract award data is pulled into USASpending.gov daily from the Federal Procurement Data System Next Generation (FPDS-NG), which is the system of record for federal procurement data; Financial Assistance award data is loaded in from the Financial Assistance Broker Submission system (FABS). In the end, more than four hundred points of data are collected.

    Every agency has a Senior Accountable Official who must officially certify that the quarterly financial data submitted by their agency is accurate and complete. The agency's data is published on USASpending.gov only after it has been certified.


    At this point you may be asking, “who cares?” If you have a desire to win governments, the answer is YOU!

    There are several ways to use USASpending.gov to help grow your government contracting business, here are just a few:

    • Search by NAICS code to determine which agencies spend the most money in your industry.
    • Search by NAICS code for which prime contractors are winning contracts in your industry.
    • Search by Type of Set-Aside to learn which set-aside contracts have been awarded.
    • Search by PSC Codes to narrow the spending to specific areas of a NAICS code.
    • Search by location of contracts, especially of your business is location dependent.
    • Search who is winning disaster emergency funds contracts.
    • Search for awards using Simplified Acquisition Procedure to find agencies who prefer this vehicle.

    When you start combining these searches you have a nearly unlimited number of searches you can use to help grow your government contracting business.

    When was the last time you visited USASpending.gov?



  • 05 May 2022 10:39 PM | Richard Brooks (Administrator)

    On December 27, 2021, President Biden signed the FY22 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, authorizing more nearly 800 billion in defense spending.

    The national defense total in the 2022 omnibus spending bill is $782 billion, a 3.9 percent increase over the administration’s request for 2022 and a 5.6 percent increase over the 2021 appropriations. This includes 13.6 billion for emergency military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine as Russia’s deadly war on that country continues.

    Good news for small business, the NDAA orders the Pentagon to report on the effects of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) framework on small business concerns.  (Sec. 866).  The report must detail estimated costs of compliance, expected changes to the number of small businesses in the defense industrial base, and efforts to mitigate negative effects.  This provision is a big win for small businesses since it forces the Pentagon to consider the ripple effects to the lower-tiered small businesses as it revamps the CMMC program. 

    This is important because the Department of Defense (DoD) is planning to release an Interim Rule on the CMMC framework by May 2023, according to Stacy Bostjanick, director of the CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) program for the DoD. 

    By July of 2023, CMMC requirements will start appearing in DoD contracts. Businesses now have about one year to earn their CMMC certification to be able to bid on DoD contracts.

    If there are no changes to the rule making, Level One will include 17 practices and companies will be allowed to self-certify. While this is good news, it also comes with a warning. In the past businesses were allowed to self-certify, unfortunately many companies did not implement proper cyber security measures and government information was compromised.

    With the new changes to CMMC, the DOJ recently announced a new Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative using the False Claims Act (FCA). If a company self-certifies and has a security breach, they will be investigated. If it determined they did not properly implement CMMC standards, they will be prosecuted. There is also an initiative to pay whistle blowers to tell the government if companies are not implementing, and maintaining, adequate cyber security requirements.

    The DoD also lowered the maximum number of practices from 171 to 110 for the levels two and three. These levels will require a third party to certify your business meets CMMC requirements. Less than 100 businesses will need Level 3 certification. Most businesses will only need Level One, but if your business handles Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), you will need Level Two

    If you are currently winning contracts, or want to win contracts, with DoD now is the time to start the process of completing your CMMC certification.

    Within the next few years, the majority of federal government agencies will require CMMC certification.

    If you have any questions about your next steps, please email us at CMMC@govcontractors.org.

    Written by Guy Burns, CSP, CCM, RP, Executive Vice President of Training and Business Development Government Contractors Association.

  • 19 Apr 2022 9:51 AM | Abraham Xiong (Administrator)

    Use this checklist to quickly assess your business to be contract ready.

    Free checklist with video tutorial.

    20 Point Checklist: 
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/eci2upaeubg10i6/20%20Point%20Pre%20Assessment-Template.xlsx?dl=0

    YouTube video Tutorial:
    https://youtu.be/DXdw_oYdizs

  • 30 Mar 2022 10:42 AM | Richard Brooks (Administrator)
    70% increase in eligible industries will expand contract opportunities for certified women owned businesses

    As we wrap up National Women’s Month, let’s review the program designed to level the playing field for women business owners.  The government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting program.  This program facilitates contracts for specific industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Some contracts are restricted further to economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs).

    The U.S. Small Business Administration has published an updated list of eligible industries for the WOSB Federal Contracting Program (WOSB Program). Congress requires SBA to conduct a study every five years to identify industries in which small businesses owned and controlled by women are underrepresented in the federal marketplace.  Based on the recently commissioned study, the SBA is increasing the number of eligible industries from 444 to 759, an increase of 315 industries.

    Joining the WOSB Federal Contracting Program makes a business eligible to compete for federal contracts set aside for the program. Firms can still compete for contract awards under other socio-economic programs they qualify for.

    The list of eligible NAICS can be found at https://www.sba.gov/document/support--qualifying-naics-women-owned-small-business-federal-contracting-program

    Congratulation to the top ten WOSB certified companies who won contracts in 2021. The number one WOSB was Tapestry Technologies!


    Even though Department of Defense was third on the list of contracting dollars spent, behind Health and Human Services and the Social Security Administration, they were, by far, the agency that awarded most dollars to WOSBs.


    If you own a woman-owned business that is not wining government contracts, maybe it’s time for you to start getting your fair share of the dollars that are set-aside for you!

    If you know any woman who are businesses owners, do them a favor and share this information with them.

    Sources:

    SBA.gov, USASpending.gov.

    About the author:

    Guy Burns, CSP, CCM is the Executive Vice President of Training and Business Development for the Government Contractors Association.


  • 23 Nov 2021 10:21 PM | Richard Brooks (Administrator)

    GCA recently released another training episode in its Governese YouTube channel.  If you are formulating a strategy to get your share of the $1.2 Trillion in infrastructure spending, you may want to check out this webcast.  It provides the latest details on the spending and provides insights that could enhance your strategy to obtain your slice of the pie.  (Click below to download the slide presentation)


    Click the image to start the video.


    Presentation download: 

     


  • 08 Nov 2021 10:29 AM | Richard Brooks (Administrator)

    By Sarah Hutchins and Michael Goldsticker


    The U.S. Department of Justice is targeting federal contractors and grant recipients who fail to adhere to cybersecurity requirements in their agreements and who violate their obligation to monitor and report ransomware attacks and other types of cybersecurity breaches. 

    “For too long, companies have chosen silence under the mistaken belief that it is less risky to hide a breach than to bring it forward and to report it,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a press release announcing the Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative last month. “Well that changes today. We are announcing today that we will use our civil enforcement tools to pursue companies, those who are government contractors who receive federal funds, when they fail to follow required cybersecurity standards — because we know that puts all of us at risk.”

    Under this initiative, the principal tool the Department of Justice will use to pursue these contractors is the False Claims Act, which imposes liability on companies and individuals who defraud federal government programs. False Claims Act cases may be brought not only by the U.S. government but also by private citizens who serve as whistleblowers. Lax cybersecurity measures often go undiscovered until a breach or other catastrophic event.  In light of the financial incentives for private whistleblowers and plaintiffs’ attorneys to bring False Claims Act lawsuits – including automatic attorney’s fees and up to 30% of the government’s recovery in a successful action – DOJ’s policy initiative could encourage internal whistleblowers to bring cyber concerns to light and may result in a proliferation of False Claims Act litigation. 

    The Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative comes at a time when False Claims Act litigation has already been sweeping up contractors that are, in fact, providing the contracted-for service but fail to comply with one of the other myriad requirements applicable to government contracts. These “implied certification” cases are premised on the notion that a contractor commits fraud by submitting a claim to the government for payment while failing to disclose its noncompliance with a separate statutory, regulatory, or contractual requirement. The company’s signing of the contract serves as an implied certification that it has met all the applicable requirements.

    Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Escobar ruling in 2016, False Claims Act disputes have often turned on whether the requirement at issue was material to the government’s decision to pay. In prior False Claims Act cases involving a failure to comply with cybersecurity requirements, contractors have argued that the violation was immaterial to the government’s payment decision, insofar as the contract concerned services unrelated to information technology or cybersecurity.

    While that argument has had mixed results, it now is likely to be viewed with skepticism, particularly in light of the Biden administration’s express focus on cybersecurity. For example, the Department of Defense stated last year that it intended to make its standard contractual terms relating to cybersecurity more robust. And after the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline this year, President Biden issued an executive order focused on how government contractors detect, prevent, and remediate cyber threats, including the need for broad cyber-incident reporting requirements and the creation of standardized, and likely more stringent, cybersecurity requirements for federal contractors.

    Federal contractors who are not following the latest cybersecurity best practices may face substantial legal exposure because the False Claims Act holds liable contractors who merely act recklessly towards applicable requirements, such as cybersecurity regulations. 

    In addition, the initiative is the latest example of how cybersecurity and data privacy regulations – and the penalties associated with them – continue developing at a rapid rate. Lawmakers in the Carolinas and more than 10 other states introduced sweeping data privacy bills this year. Virginia, California, and Colorado have already passed their own.

    Bottom line, the downside of failing to comply with best practices on cybersecurity and data privacy continues to get steeper. DOJ’s recent emphasis on cybersecurity, when combined with the expanding web of federal cybersecurity regulations, creates sizeable legal and financial pitfalls for unwitting government contractors. Government contractors – and businesses in general – should carefully assess the cybersecurity terms in their contracts and consider conducting an enterprise-wide assessment of their data practices and risks, in order to avoid financial exposure from both a business and legal perspective.

    Sarah Hutchins and Michael Goldsticker are attorneys at law firm Parker Poe. They can be reached at sarahhutchins@parkerpoe.com and michaelgoldsticker@parkerpoe.com.

  • 27 Oct 2021 6:13 PM | Richard Brooks (Administrator)


    In June 2021, the Biden administration announced its plans to increase the percentage of Small Business contracting by 50% over the next 5 years.  To meet this goal, the administration has proposed $30B in new SBA initiatives that would reduce barriers to small business ownership and success.  The new SBA initiatives will focus on increasing access to capital with new direct loans to small businesses, new loan products for clean energy businesses and manufacturers, and will establish a new Small Business Investment Corporation that will make early-stage equity investments in small businesses with priority for SDBs. 

    Further, the SBA will offer technical assistance programs to 8(a) firms, reinforce the American subcontracting network to create pathways to prime contracting, encourage Fortune 500 firms to diversify their procurements, and bring more socially and economically disadvantaged businesses into federal research and development programs. These investments would include an innovative new $1 billion grant program through the Minority Business Development Agency meant to help minority-owned manufacturers access private capital (More details on the American Jobs Plan here: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/biden-announces-50-percent-increase-in-1989148/). 

    The Legislative Update: According to the National Law Review, the House of Representatives approved a $3.5 trillion budget resolution in late August.  This triggered a reconciliation process that House Democrats are using to include components of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.  They are working to have a legislative package completed by the end of September.  Then the bill will still need to be approved by both the House and the Senate.  (Beltway Buzz, August 27, 2021: America Jobs Plan and US Budget https://www.natlawreview.com/article/beltway-buzz-august-27-2021-america-jobs-plan-and-us-budget).  It is still to be determined which aspects of the American Jobs Plan will be included in the final legislation.  Now is a good time to talk to your congress person to request his/her support for the American Jobs Plan initiatives.



  • 03 Oct 2021 8:46 PM | Richard Brooks (Administrator)

    On September 20-21, 2021, the Government Contractors Association (GCA) in cooperation with Korean SME and Startups Agency, Living Tree, GovBridge Capital and KAIST College of Business conducted a trade mission to Washington DC.  The purpose of the trip was to facilitate new connections for GCA members with South Korean representatives and manufacturers. 

    GCA members on the delegation trip were:

    GCA members were able to attend Korean manufacturers’ presentations of some very unique products which could help GCA members establish new niches for selling both to the government and to commercial clients.  GCA members provided feedback on the commercial viability of the various products.

    We want to send a special "Thank You" to President Hak Do Kim and the whole KOSME/KOTRA delegation for helping make this a successful and collaborative event.

    GCA also engaged two DC based government contracting specialists to provide their insights into doing business in Washington DC.  Judy Bradt, CEO of Summit Insight and author of “Government Contracts Made Easier,” delivered an insightful presentation on developing relationships for success in government contracting.  Judy did a really amazing job of breaking down exactly who contractors should target and how best to approach key decision makers and get engaging responses. 

    Attendees also were treated to a presentation from Marvin Hamlin, Principal Consultant with Accounting Integration and Management Solutions LLC.  Mr. Hamlin is an accounting professional with more than 30 years of experience supporting government contractors.  He provided a presentation focused to help businesses go “Beyond the Plateau.”  The plateau represents a point where businesses experience little or no growth following a period of progress.  Mr. Hamlin specializes in preparing companies for acquisition or sale and was able to provide valuable insights into why companies find it difficult to go beyond the plateau.  He also fielded questions on business strategy, preparing for DCAA audits, and the initial motivations for and the success or lack of success for some of the mergers and acquisitions he had worked on.

    GCA thanks all who participated in the DC Trade Mission.  We look forward to the assisting you with your new supplier and teaming agreements. 

    For those who were not able to participate in this trade mission, there will be other opportunities in the future.


  • 10 Sep 2021 3:51 PM | Richard Brooks (Administrator)


    We are now in the period during which agencies become sharply aware that they need to deploy any remaining budget before the end of the fiscal year or risk losing that funding in the following year.  During this period, Federal agencies have historically committed approximately 31% of all contracting dollars.  Contracting officers will be looking for qualified contractors to provide needed products and services.  Contractors who have diligently engaged contracting officers throughout the year, even if they have not yet won a contract, may be uniquely positioned to take advantage of the coming opportunities, but their work is not done.  Here are just a few suggestions for your end of year business development.

    If you have been working all year long to promote your business, hopefully contracting officers already know who you are and what you offer.  Now is not the time to stop.  Contractors who have diligently promoted their services may finally start to receive some real engagement.  Continue to nurture relationships with your established contacts reminding them of your company’s qualifications and capabilities.  They may be looking for a company just like yours.  Be wary that this is a busy time for contracting officers.  Without being pushy, make it easy for them to engage you.

    It is better to engage a contracting officer about a specific upcoming forecasted opportunity if possible.  Note that some previously listed opportunities may be modified.  Be diligent in monitoring new and existing opportunities and be aware of what is left from the year’s forecast.  Contracting officers may choose different contracting vehicles than originally listed to complete a solicitation.  They may also combine solicitations.

    The nimble contractor will reap the rewards.  Know your teaming partners’ qualifications and be ready to quickly engage new partners as needed.  Contractors should have information at the ready for conversations with contracting officers who may approach them with opportunities the contractor may not previously have tracked.   Being a part of a ready-made contracting community like the Government Contractors Association can make finding partners easier.

    Contractors should make sure your NAICS codes and certifications are up to date both in SAM and on your capability statements.  Make sure to document any GSA Schedules and Broad Agency Announcements to which your company may have access.  Any inconsistencies in your information may give a decision maker pause when considering your company for a contracting opportunity.  Be ready to discuss which Simplified Acquisition Procedures for which your company or team are qualified.  Contracting officers may be looking for efficient ways to make an award.

    Finally, below is a sample email to glean from and modify to fit your specific needs.

    SAMPLE EMAIL: Seeking for Sole Source Contracts

    POC’s first name,

    We met at this event…. (or) I was referred to you by the (SBA, OSDBU, GCA, PTAC, Small Business Specialist, or etc.)

    I want to introduce myself and our company to your agency.

    My name ____________ and our company name is __________________.   Our company is a (SDVOSB, Hubzone, 8a, WOSB, or any other certifications which you may have that is appropriate). 

    We specialize in: (no more than 3 areas)

    • Bullet point #1 (make sure that your skills/services match with the agencies you are contacting)
    • Bullet point #2
    • Bullet point #3

    Should you have any Simplified Acquisition needs, Micro-Purchases or Sole Source initiatives, we can respond very quickly to support your projects.

    Very Truly Yours,

    Your Name

    Your Title

    youremail@yourcompany.com

    www.YourCompany.com

     (???) ???-???? Office

    DUNS#: ?????????

    UEID #: ????????????

    See attached – CAPABILITY STATEMENT


  • 10 Jun 2021 11:36 PM | Richard Brooks (Administrator)


    The Biden administration has announced a new initiative of "increasing the share of contracts going to small disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent by 2026 - translating to an additional $100 billion to small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) over the 5 year period."  These plans were announced on June 1, 2021, the 100 year anniversary of the Black Wall Street massacre in Tulsa, Ok.  The increase in set-aside contracting is one part of a platform of steps the administration is taking to address the racial wealth gap by providing additional opportunities to small minority businesses.  Click here for full details


    What does this mean for you as a contractor?

    The Biden administration is "launching an all-of-government effort to expand contracting opportunities for underserved small businesses across the country." Contractors need to begin positioning themselves for the new or increased opportunities.

     It is time to work on your small business certifications. These will be important to qualify for any new set-aside contracts.  There will surely be new opportunities made part of the 8(a) BD program, but there may be opportunities for companies with other small business certifications through partnerships and subcontracting. 8(a) firms may want to expand their capabilities through new partnerships.  Non-8(a) firms should consider more Mentor-Protege relationships with 8(a) firms.

    Your preparation should continue beyond relationships. Consider getting CMMC certified if you plan to target DOD contracts. Will you need additional funding for potentially larger contracts? Do you need additional bonding capacity? Learn new Capture Management strategies. Monitor any announcements from various federal agencies announcing new contracting opportunities as a result of this new initiative.  Happy hunting!


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