Category Archives: IoT

5 Steps to Stand Out From The Government Contracting Crowd In 2018

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Small Business Standing Out in a Crowd

“WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY” By Mark Amtower

“How can they stand out from the crowd to get some of those precious government contract dollars?

Several things come to mind but these five are usually at the top of my list. I have included a reference for each to a previous WT article.”


“Networking

We all understand that this market is driven by relationships: who you know, who knows you, what they think of you and you of them, and what you might be able to do together or for one another.

In the summer of 2012 I wrote an article on networking, which is a big part of the relationship puzzle. Where you choose to spend your time is critical. You have limited time and there are always many venues where you can network. Picking the venues which yield the best return on investment, where you can meet prospects, customers, partners, media and others, is a key component to help you stand out where it matters. You must be seen. Here is my column.

Strategy

I have been in numerous meetings where an executive will have goals, sometimes nebulous, sometimes well-defined, but they lack a strategy for reaching the goals. Knowing your goals is important, but without a game plan you will likely go nowhere and you will certainly not stand out. Read more here.

Differentiate

Clearly enunciate what you bring to the table. This can be a combination of things that make you and your company unique, or it can one really strong area of competence.

Combinations can include technical expertise, deep relationships with an agency, SMEs, owning a spot on preferred contracts, set-aside status and more.

The more you can differentiate in terms that appeal to government buyers the more you stand out. Read more.

Agency (account) based marketing (ABM)

I wrote about this back in November, but it is worth repeating.

Since the mid-1990s I have been advising companies to maximize their presence in agencies where they are known before they try to migrate to “greener pastures,” which are often pastures where they are not know. If you are selling in a cabinet level department to one or two divisions, why not expand to other divisions within that department? This is often a saner approach than migrating to another cabinet department or independent agency.

It is much easier to stand out when you are doing more business with your best customer(s).

Social selling

This is another recent column topic. Social selling is an adjunct to traditional selling, leveraging social networking platforms to start and manage relationships with customers, prospects, partners and others.

Social selling is the process of finding buyers and influencers on a social networking platform (I prefer LinkedIn), getting on their radar and sharing information that will make you and your company stand out from the competition. There are many social selling tactics that you can use, depending on who you are trying to influence.

LinkedIn is pervasive in the government contracting community and by adding valuable insights on social media you will most definitely stand out.

You can’t stand out by being part of the herd.”

About the Author

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn. Find Mark on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/markamtower. 

https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2018/01/17/insights-amtower-2018-strategy.aspx

 

 

 

 

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Forecasting Disease From Space

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Geospacial Disease Forecasting

Photo Credit: World Health Organization (WHO)

“TRAJECTORY”

“Disease forecasting remains an imperfect science, but as it is refined to a point of repeated, reliable accuracy, it will play a more significant role in containing and responding to dangerous disease outbreaks.”


“In May 2017, hydrologist Antarpreet Jutla and a team of civil scientists used predictive algorithms to forecast an outbreak of cholera in Yemen. Cholera, a waterborne bacterial disease, primarily blooms during hot and dry seasons in coastal, developing countries lacking sophisticated sanitation and water infrastructure. To identify areas where these conditions are prevalent, Jutla’s team used satellite imagery to monitor temperature patterns, water storage, population migration, regional topography, and precipitation throughout Yemen. That data was fed into a processing algorithm that predicted areas most likely to experience an outbreak in the near future—particularly cities in West Yemen along the Red Sea.

Less than a month later, the model’s predictions rang true. Because the algorithms were built and tested using data from other regions, such as the Bengal Delta in South Asia, the team did not anticipate such accurate results in Yemen and chose not to preemptively warn local officials of the model’s predictions. In June, highly populated cities along the country’s West coast (including Al Hudaydah, Hajjah, and Taiz) saw tens of thousands of inhabitants suffer moderate to severe cholera symptoms.

The epidemic confirmed the model’s effectiveness beyond the team’s expectations. The refinement of such a system to a near-certain level of accuracy would offer huge advantages to hospitals and medical professionals, such as the ability to prepare treatment facilities and appropriately allocate supplies and vaccinations.

A similar disease forecasting effort in fall 2017 predicted malaria outbreaks in the Peruvian Amazon. NASA has partnered with university researchers who leverage NASA’s satellite fleet to identify areas where popular breeding grounds for the anopheles darlingi mosquito (the species most responsible for spreading malaria) overlap with concentrated human populations, leading to high infection rates. Using the Land Data Assimilation System (LDAS), NASA can pinpoint warm temperatures and calm waters like ponds or groundwater flooding—ideal conditions for darlingi to lay eggs. Regional models analyze this data and jump forward 12 weeks to predict where malaria is most likely to erupt. Health ministries are then encouraged to administer preventative treatment, bed nets, and other resources to specific health posts throughout Peru.”

http://trajectorymagazine.com/forecasting-disease-space/

 

Why Artificial Intelligence (AI) Is Not Like Your Brain Yet

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AI Not LIke Your Brain Yet

Image: ZOHAR LAZAR

“WIRED”

“AI resembles the gray matter in your head about as much as a pull-string doll resembles a rocket scientist.

These systems have only a few million “neurons,” which are really just nodes with some input/output connections. That’s puny compared to the 100 billion genuine neurons in your cranium.”


“Here’s a fun drinking game: Every time someone compares AI to the human brain, take a shot. It’ll dull the pain of such mindless metaphorizing—and serve as a reminder that you, an at-least-semiconscious being, have an actual brain that can make real decisions like “Drink!” in the first place. Contra the hype of marketers (as regurgitated by credulous journalists—for shame!), AI resembles the gray matter in your head about as much as a pull-string doll resembles a rocket scientist. There’s a similarity in shape, ish: So-called neural networks are software programs inspired by neuroscience. But these systems have only a few million “neurons,” which are really just nodes with some input/output connections.

That’s puny compared to the 100 billion genuine neurons in your cranium. Read it and weep, Alexa! We’re talking 100 trillion synapses. Or 200 trillion. (Of course, cognition is still pretty incognita itself—which means we’re “modeling” AIs on something we barely even comprehend.) The truth is, tricks like beating people at Go or diagnosing melanomas owe more to brute-force computing power than to any higher sentience. It’s just basic pattern matching under the hood. Yes, a “deep learning” system running on 16,000 processors taught itself to identify cats—with 75 percent accuracy—after analyzing 10 million images. A toddler can nail that on a walk to the playground. So all this Muskian/Hawkingian/Singularitarian talk of “summoning the demon” and “existential threats” to our “survival”? Eh, let’s just worry about that tomorrow. For now, we’re human, and we’re here to drink.”

https://www.wired.com/story/why-artificial-intelligence-is-not-like-your-brainyet/

 

 

 

Booze Allen Contractor to Plead Guilty in 23-Year-Long Largest Ever Theft of Classified Data

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Booze Allen - Here we go again

“WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY”

“The saga of a government contractor who allegedly stole more classified data than anyone else in history might be coming to a close.

Harold Martin III, who is accused of stealing terabytes of information, has told the U.S. District Court in Baltimore that he will plead guilty to a single charge of willful retention of national defense information on Jan. 22.”


“A plea agreement has not been filed yet, so it is not clear what punishment is being proposed or what will happen to the other 19 counts that were filed against him.

Court filings state that Martin will not be sentenced until all the other counts are resolved.

That single charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and three years of probation. He also could be fined up to $250,000.

Over a 23-year period, Martin worked for a series of contractors serving customers in the intelligence field. His security clearances gave him access to a broad range of information.

During that period, Martin took copies of documents and software programs home. This includes data from the National Security Agency, U.S. Cyber Command, the National Reconnaissance Office and the CIA.

When the FBI searched his home in August 2016, the bureau said they found the biggest stash of classified documents ever uncovered. Computers and storage devices were found in his home, his car and a shed in his yard. There were boxes and boxes of paper documents as well.

Still not clear is what Martin did with the data he allegedly stole. There is no allegation that he sold the information or distributed it.

At the time of his August arrest, Martin worked for Booz Allen Hamilton. But he worked for at least seven companies over the 23 years he had taken government secrets, according to the indictment.”

https://washingtontechnology.com/blogs/editors-notebook/2018/01/harold-martin-guilty-plea.aspx

 

 

 

Key Processes for Winning Proposals

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Writing Winning Proposals

“WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY” By Matthew McKelvey

“Don’t be fooled, winning proposals are created, and do not simply materialize from some magical force. It’s not magic, but a disciplined process.

By adhering to key principles and steps, such as: careful planning, time management, attention to detail, and assembling a team of experts, your organization can create your own recipe for success.”


“The often lengthy and detailed process involved with developing winning proposals for new government opportunities can sometimes seem almost mythical.

You decode a requirements document that is hundreds of pages long and identify a combination of recommendations from limited or conflicting information, past performance experience which doesn’t necessarily match the current opportunity exactly, and somehow propose a price you will have to live with for five years or more.

The bottom-line is that, while writing cost proposals requires following a basic formula, it is critical to develop a multi-level, detailed plan to include all data points and requests to ensure a timely turnaround and delivery. Following a process ensures your proposal is compliant (meets all of the government requirements) and accurate (no mathematical, grammatical, or presentation errors). Failure to be either compliant or accurate is a sure way to lose — regardless of how great your solution is.

Here are some ‘pro tips’ from our experts to take the guesswork out of your cost proposal development process:

Arm Yourself with Tools for Success- Key Processes for a Winning Approach

From the get-go, it is essential to begin a proposal response approach that will result in a consistent, repeatable new business approach that wins time and again.

In a RFP review, for example:

  • Always be sure you read the full document up-front and ensure you have all of the relevant information required to respond accurately and comprehensively.
  • Document key questions right away, as well as identify areas where you’ll need more detail. Also, remember that the best time to meet the client, gather information, develop your team, and plan the proposal response is before the RFP is ever released.
  • Assemble your team and develop your production schedule that highlights key milestones and backs into known due dates. At this stage of the game, it is critical to involve your pricing team right out of the gate and before the RFP drops (at the capture process). This is a critical step because of the potential impacts your teammates and sub-contractors can exert on your cost decisions.
  • Always create a Compliance Matrix. The best proposal is often eliminated from consideration all because of a minor compliance error. To avoid this happening to you, put together a matrix to organize all steps, responsibilities, activities, deliverables, and team members so you can keep your eyes on the prize (that finished response!) and track progress at-a-glance while keeping communication lines open. The matrix should list everything the RFP requires so nothing is missed, and it also makes it easy for reviewers to check off the boxes to ensure you hit all necessary points.
  • Determine the Cost Schedule right away. This includes an assessment of indirect rates, using a model to calculate inputs and additional costs beyond RFP requirements, calculate your wrap rate, and analyze basis and pools, as well as ceiling impacts.

Tricks of the Trade – The Secret Sauce

  • Get Started Early. Particularly with cost decisions, time is a critical factor to be sure your data is accurate. Building in the over-communication and transparency among your team members is important to finishing the response in a timely manner, but also to allow for early intervention and mitigation of any roadblocks that may arise.
  • Develop a production framework and strategy early, and use it often. Implement a phased, targeted structure to your cost meetings during a response development process. Doing so early on makes it much easier to adjust for changes in requirements or information as they come up as you already have your framework established.
  • Master Excel. Consolidate data entry onto single tabs for easy management and recall, use color coded values as opposed to formulas where possible, check formatting, data validation, and perform independent quality checks on your model as you go to ensure everything is on track.
  • Manage your Sub-Contractors Effectively. Create templates for key deliverables and document responses to distribute to subcontractors, helping to ensure a consistent work product – and less editing, formatting, and merging later on – while establishing a structure of regular communication and status updates throughout each project stage.
  • Own the Narrative. Refer back to your compliance matrix regularly, create an outline based on the RFP, and create your narrative early in the process so it can grow and evolve as the process unfolds. The narrative is where you sell your price and clarify all bases of estimates.
  • Determine Labor Rates and Support Your Proposed Cost Elements. Typically, the distributor of the RFP will tell you what they are looking for. You’ll need to know early on what exactly you’ll be proposing to address this need. To do this, you’ll need to gather as much data as you can up-front and map requirements from the RFP against company, prime, and labor categories.

Remember- especially in the government sector, you are not just making a case about what is needed to address an identified objective, you are also selling what the associated costs will be.

Having a strong and competitive cost strategy for each of your cost estimates (staffing, direct labor, subcontractors, other direct costs, indirect rates, and fee/profit) is key to increasing win likelihood.

Doing this right, with compelling support, will ensure you are able to successfully defend your case in your response and demonstrate that your proposed solution – and the associated costs – are realistic and reasonable.

How To Develop a Tight Production Machine

At the top of the list is to always plan ahead! The enemy of timely production and accurate completion of tasks is rushing to the finish. It’s a good idea to dedicate at least three days for review – whether in soft copy or printed.

It is also a good idea to conduct your pricing reviews ahead of the last minute to allow for time to correct quality control issues, formatting (which is a compliance issue), and others. Allow five days here in your production schedule, ideally.

Other tips? Color code everything on your spreadsheet documents- this allows you to keep things organized, but also to know on the cost side which sheets are to be printed and submitted, and which stay with you.

Leverage all of the power of your team here as well; they are often your best proofers!

The Bottom-Line

Overall, the secret to a winning proposal process and cost structure is not a mystery. Proposals take time and effort – maximize both by ensuring you plan early, assemble a strong team, develop a compliance matrix, create a tight production schedule, use your narrative to sell your approach, and make sure you provide a compelling cost story. Remember – compliance and accuracy are key.

Adhering to these principles will ensure your cost proposal isn’t just a mix of ingredients. Instead, it is a well-formed recipe which produces a very tempting choice for the government.”

About the Author

Matthew McKelvey is the president of the McKelvey Group, a financial consulting firm in Gaithersburg, Md.

https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2017/12/21/insights-mckelvey-no-magic-proposals.aspx

 

 

 

 

Government Law and Regulation Compliance Fatigue Syndrome is Real

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Compliance Fatigue Synderome

“NATIONAL DEFENSE MAGAZINE” By Brian D. Miller

“A values-based compliance program seeks to encourage leaders and employees to follow a set of core values that should result in more effective compliance.

The culture of the organization is so internalized that employees are automatically asking: “What is the right thing to do in this situation?” This is better than relying on a memorized rule.”


“Forget chronic fatigue syndrome. A more serious ailment may be compliance fatigue syndrome. Which is more ruinous? Hint: One may result in time spent in a federal correctional institution.

In modern slang, is compliance fatigue syndrome even a thing? Unfortunately, it is a thing, but arguably it is a confused thing. Worse yet, if there is talk of it in an organization, it’s a red flag — a big red flag. It means that the state of affairs is far worse than you believed.

What is compliance fatigue syndrome?

Urban Dictionary defines it as “a state of chronic fatigue induced by having to constantly maintain compliance with the ever-increasing variety of rules, regulations and processes created by middle management bureaucrats in both public and private organizations.”

This frustration does not arise from an issue of whether to comply with legislation and regulations that have been lawfully passed and promulgated. This kind of frustration is with lawmakers and regulators who may be guilty of overregulation, which is ultimately a political issue.

Compliance fatigue syndrome is a misnomer in this situation. It is one thing to be frustrated at the increasing regulatory burdens placed on contractors and therefore “fatigued,” but it is quite a different thing to be frustrated with compliance itself. The bottom line is this should not be called “compliance” fatigue but rather overregulation fatigue.

However, there may be resentment of time and money spent on compliance. In effect, this translates into the belief that compliance is a money pit with no benefit to the organization — a revenue drain rather than a revenue maker.

Budgets are tight in today’s organizations, and money spent on compliance means that money won’t be spent on revenue-producing programs. A manager might want to maximize spending on an important programmatic budget than on what may be considered “overhead.” Unfortunately, that perspective betrays a culture that puts very little confidence in compliance.

Instead of viewing compliance programs as strengthening the organization, this attitude views them as just an obligation with little or no benefits. The proper attitude is to see how compliance is an outworking of the corporate culture that places great value on doing things right and making ethical corporate decisions. In the long run, an ethical company will gain a competitive advantage and will avoid devastating investigations and their consequences.

Resentment of the authority of compliance professionals is another symptom of compliance fatigue syndrome. Managers, workers, lawyers and auditors may resent having to take time out of their regular projects to deal with compliance officers who need information quickly. Additionally, managers may resent workers saying things in confidence or beyond their control.

Sometimes functions previously handled by other offices may now be controlled by the compliance office. For example, human resources may have dealt with all employee complaints and interviewed all employees, but certain complaints must now be handled by the compliance office. To be sure, how compliance professionals work with others will either contribute to this kind of fatigue or prevent it. However, in all cases, this type of internal power struggle fails to recognize the bigger picture and how the organization will benefit from effective programs.

Another indicator of compliance fatigue is resentment of stale and repetitive programs. Just as a lecture on nutrition doesn’t cause overweight people to lose weight, ethics training alone won’t prevent employees from making ethical mistakes. Dietary lectures may be helpful, and even necessary, but they are not sufficient for effective weight loss. Likewise, compliance and ethics lectures alone, however brilliant, will deter very few ethical lapses. This is especially true if the same lecture is repeated year after year. Compliance professionals need to work hard at making training fresh and relevant.

How can compliance fatigue syndrome be prevented?

A compliance program that encourages compliance with the law and regulations is a good start. The most effective programs, however, change the culture of the organization and the people in them.

They have a set of core values that are clearly communicated and modeled by organizational leaders.

This sort of ingrained attitude results from modeling leaders and managers within the organization who know that compliance will lead to more business success.

A values-based compliance program meets and exceeds what is required by federal authorities. The Federal Acquisition Regulation and other rules require a contractor to “promote an organizational culture that encourages ethical conduct and a commitment to compliance with the law.” This is how to effectively prevent talk of compliance fatigue syndrome.

In conclusion, to the extent that compliance fatigue is viewed as legitimate and is voiced, trouble will follow. It may be a veiled threat to effective compliance. It could be a way to undercut effective transformation of the corporate culture; undermine the authority and effectiveness of compliance officials; or gain an advantage in an internal corporate power struggle.

In contrast, employees in healthy corporate cultures are asking how to do the right thing in all circumstances and are grateful for help in doing so.”

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2017/11/28/compliance-fatigue-syndrome-is-real

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brian D. Miller is a shareholder with Rogers Joseph O’Donnell, PC, http://www.rjo.com, specializing in government investigations, government contracts and suspension/debarment. He also serves as corporate monitor. He was formerly inspector general for the General Services Administration. He can be contacted at bmiller@rjo.com.

 

 

 

Everyone Can Now Explore The Government’s Real Estate Portfolio.

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Federal Real Property Management System

“FEDERAL NEWS RADIO”

“The Veterans Affairs Department owns a historical hotel at 49 Rue Pierre Charron, in Paris. There’s a Ben Hur Road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the Agriculture Department owns a few labs and warehouses along it.

1100 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest is the address of the Old Post Office Pavilion, owned by GSA and leased by the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.”


“Thanks to the General Services Administration’s publication of Federal Real Property Profile Management System [FRPP MS] data, everyone can explore the obscure, interesting and ordinary aspects of the government’s real estate portfolio.

“GSA is proud of the work completed, in concert with our partners at other federal agencies, to make this data public for the first time,” said Giancarlo Brizzi, acting associate administrator for GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy. “Expanding the number of federal agencies reporting detailed data beyond the 24 Chief Financial Officers Act agencies to more than 50 federal agencies and making that data available for review by lawmakers, stakeholders and the American public is a big step forward in increasing the transparency of the federal government’s real property footprint.”

The data set is made up of fiscal 2016 data, and follows requirements set by the Federal Assets Sales and Transfer Act of 2016 [FASTA]. The law sets up a mechanism where the administration can identify underused or vacant federal property. It establishes a Public Buildings Reform Board, which will recommend specific property to consolidate, reconfigure or sell.

GAO reported earlier this year that, according to GSA’s FRPP database, in 2015, 23 agencies reported more than 7,000 excess or underutilized properties.

The “Freeze the Footprint” policy, which required agencies to freeze their real property footprint, cut 24.7 million square feet from the inventory between 2013 and 2015, saving the government about $300 million in rent, and operations and maintenance costs.

In 2015, OMB released a National Strategy for Real Property, which requires agencies to implement a five-year rolling planning process that sets annual square foot reduction and disposal targets and prioritizes the disposal of unneeded and inefficiently used properties.

A Reduce the Footprint (RTF) companion policy also was introduced.

“Publicizing this information on 300,000 federal assets will make it easier to identify property that can be disposed of, sold or repurposed,” Brizzi said in a statement to Federal News Radio. “GSA looks forward to continuing to work with our partners in other agencies, Congress and the American public to ensure this data is as accurate and useful as possible as we carry out our mission to provide the facilities federal agencies need to carry out their important work at the best value to the taxpayers.”

The data represents the government’s inventory as of Sept. 30, 2016. 2017 data is scheduled for publishing in spring 2018.

The set isn’t a complete inventory, as FASTA allows the exclusion of property based on national security and Freedom of Information Act exclusions.

The national security exclusion is a factor the Project on Government Oversight is always concerned about, said POGO Senior Policy Analyst Peter Tyler.

“Not just because it’s maybe hidden behind closed doors, it’s also at times an overused exemption,” Tyler said. “Things do not have to be a national security secret just because it’s Department of Defense property. It often gets lumped in because it’s easier. That’s something we want to watch and double check.”

Tyler said another problem is there’s just missing data in any agency. That’s something the Government Accountability Office highlighted in its High-Risk List, when it said some agencies estimated, rather than determined, actual operating costs for each building, since these agencies don’t maintain information on costs for specific buildings.

“As a result, standardizing data has been challenging since agencies have applied different approaches to collecting data that align closely with their mission but that in some cases are inconsistent with existing GSA guidance,” GAO said.

“That’s one thing that outside organizations should look at with this data,” Tyler said. “Is the data complete and is it accurate?”

That’s not to say this data release isn’t a win for government transparency. According to the High-Risk List, the government’s real property portfolio includes about 273,000 buildings that are leased or owned, and cost billions of dollars to operate and maintain.

“The number one benefit that this provides I think is the transparency,” said Curtis Kalin, spokesman for Citizens Against Government Waste. “The more data that is available for scrutiny, the better.”

Knowing how many properties the federal government owns and leases, where they are located, and how much is being spent on rent, are the first steps toward ensuring taxpayer money isn’t wasted, Kalin said.

Kalin said while an Excel spreadsheet hundreds of thousands of entries long might be daunting for the layman, that’s where third parties like CAGW come in and translate those numbers.

The same goes for POGO. [The Project on Government Oversight]

“The success story of this is that Congress required a publicly accessible data set and they’ve done that, it is downloadable, it’s not just a bunch of pieces of paper that we have to request through the FOIA process, so kudos to them for doing that,” Tyler said. “Could it be better, sure, there’s always better things to be done — more web-based, user-friendly searchablility could be good — but credit where credit’s due. This is a true publicly accessible data base and that’s great.”

Tyler said he was curious what the next steps will be for Congress and how it uses the information to help reduce the federal footprint and dispose of surplus property.

In a statement from House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Penn.), the congressman said the data set “will provide Congress with an important tool in its oversight of the management of federal properties.”

https://federalnewsradio.com/management/2017/12/gsa-releases-expansive-federal-real-property-inventory/

 

The Unaffordable Pentagon Audit

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Unaffordable Pentagon Audit

“THE NATIONAL INTEREST”

“To perform this audit is both expensive and time-consuming, and in many cases duplicates already-existing proven DOD oversight mechanisms.

The audit is larger in scope and size than any other attempted of its kind, dissecting a vast global enterprise of more than two million people.

The total cost of the 2018 audit will be an eye-popping $847 million. That’s a lot for an already cash-strapped Pentagon—the equivalent of eight Air Force F-35 fighter jets.”


 “Who can forget the Pentagon hammer that cost $600? It may be apocryphal, but it has symbolized inefficient spending for more than two decades. And last year a newspaper headline breathlessly shouted, “Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste.”

So seemingly only a heretic would question the need to audit the Department of Defense. But what if a Pentagon audit represents a pyrrhic victory—a quest where the results won’t justify the cost?

The Pentagon is cooperating, having recently announced that it’s ready to undergo a financial audit after years of preparation, with DOD budget secretary David Norquist noting, “It is important that the Congress and the American people have confidence in DOD’s management of every taxpayer dollar.” Norquist went on to describe how annual audits will now become part of everyday life at DOD.

To be sure, DOD is to be commended for the hard work to get to this point. But before going too far down this road, we should assure ourselves that a costly and laborious annual financial audit of DOD, performed using commercially derived strict Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), will result in a better-functioning DOD. It’s not at all clear it will.

Congress was the driving force behind the Pentagon audit, and has long bemoaned the fact that it has never been audited. Starting in 1990, and then again in 2010, Congress passed laws that required the Pentagon to undergo a full financial audit starting in fiscal year 2018.

Since then, elected officials rarely miss an opportunity to emphasize the importance of the audit. Sen. Chuck Grassley, for example, said in a recent speech on the Senate floor that “26 years of hard-core foot-dragging shows that internal resistance to auditing the books runs deep,” while in April, eight U.S. senators told Defense Secretary Mattis that they were concerned, statingthat “clean audits inherently provide controls that guard against fraud, waste, and abuse.”

Reasonable, right? But at what cost? Norquist also noted that to conduct the annual examination will require a small army of auditors—some 1,200—to examine every nook, cranny and ledger of the Pentagon’s sprawling bureaucracy. Norquist also estimated that the total cost of the 2018 audit will be an eye-popping $847 million. That’s a lot for an already cash-strapped Pentagon—the equivalent of eight Air Force F-35 fighter jets.

Why so expensive? Because, like corporate audits following similar standards, the Pentagon audit looks at much more than financial “books.” It also spot-checks property records and estimated values of millions of pieces of equipment and facilities, such as vintage armored personnel carriers and World War II–era armories, verifies data in personnel records for accuracy, such as marriage certificates and birthdays, and examines thousands of other records and systems.

The audit is larger in scope and size than any other attempted of its kind, dissecting a vast global enterprise of more than two million people. To perform this audit is both expensive and time-consuming, and in many cases duplicates already-existing proven DOD oversight mechanisms.

So why do it? Good question. U.S. corporations by law undergo annual strict financial audits to assure potential investors in capital markets of the soundness of their offerings as described in their financial statements. But DOD is not a corporation, and has no corresponding need.

And, perhaps most significantly, financial audits are not the best tools for discovering inefficiencies, waste or fraud. For those purposes, there are far better methods such as zero-based budgeting, contract or waste audits, strong management and continuous process-improvement techniques. Indeed, the few U.S. companies that don’t have to undergo a financial audit usually avoidit, since it usually does not result in significant reductions in waste or fraud compared to the costs involved.

U.S. taxpayers deserve confidence that the Defense Department operates in an honest and efficient manner. But at a time when our military is deteriorating for want of adequate resources, highlighted daily by ship accidents, crushing maintenance backlogs and munitions shortages, an $847 million annual audit—accompanied by, at best, modest expectations for improvement—is a mistake the Pentagon can ill afford.”

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-unaffordable-pentagon-audit-23784

 

 

 

 

 

8 Lessons Learned from the Government Contracting Marketing Trenches

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GovCon 8 Lessons Learned

“WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY” By Mark Amtower

“As a marketing consultant, it is incumbent upon me to stay current with the market. If I don’t, my value is reduced.

Over the past 33 years, I have noticed some things that remain constant, the immutable laws of our market.”


“RELATIONSHIPS

This is a relationship driven market. The Small Business Administration will tell companies new to the market that subcontracting is a great way to get started- go meet some primes. You go to the small business liaison officer of the prime and expect to be added to a contract. Not gonna happen.

All successful companies in our market have relationships that are critical to their growth. These relationships include other contractors, OEMs, channel players (VADs and VARs), SDVOSBs, HubZones and other small business set-asides, media, research, banking/capital, legal, and more.

Each of us has preferred partners for almost everything we do. Getting on that short list of preferred partners is job #1.

REPUTATION

This is an insular market, so when a person or company does something bad, word gets around. If the miscreant is habitual, it is known by many, if not most.

When someone is laid off, if they have a good reputation, their network will help them land a new position.

I get most of my business by 3 Rs: referral, reputation and return engagements from people I’ve worked with before, often when they move to a new company.

Your reputation as an individual is probably your most valuable asset in this market.

BE KNOWN FOR SOMETHING

Regardless of your role, you need to be known for something. You can be known as a hard worker, smart worker, an expert in a technical area, management skills, and expert on doing business with a specific agency, a whiz at marketing or PR, sales, BD, and on and on.

Average doesn’t cut it. Work hard at being good at what you do and you will be known for something.

EVOLVE WITH THE MARKET

The changes in the market are constant, and often off-the-radar.

Since the early 1990s, computer security has evolved and morphed into literally hundreds of disciplines.

Since I’ve been in business marketing “basics” may look the same, but the venues have changed radically.

How the government buys continues to evolve (some might say devolve) but we have to stay current if we are to continue winning business.

Pay attention to the nuances and adjust accordingly.

NEVER STOP STUDYING

This follows closely to your evolution. Find the information sources most germane to your niche and take time to peruse, with the occasional deep dive.

My info feeds include Washington Technology, FedTimes, GovExec, FCW, GCN, Google Alerts, JD Supra, Marketing Profs, Market Connections. Immix blog, Bloomberg studies, listening to WFED while driving, Potomac Tech Wire, daily feeds from LinkedIn, Social Media Today, Google+ LI Expert group, more.

You can’t know it all but you can sure as hell know more than most of your competitors.

FACE-TO-FACE NETWORKING

Networking has always been a key component of this market, and there are many venues for networking including associations, briefings, conferences, open houses, private groups (often these are focused on a particular agency or technology) and more.

You need to select the venues that best suit your goals, and you need to participate as often as you can.

CONNECT THE DOTS

If you read about a key influencer in your niche in FCW, or hear an interview on WFED – what do you do?

I look them up on LinkedIn. I want to know more about them and I want to know if we share connections and I want to know more about their background. I want to map a way to connect.

LinkedIn is the best marketing tool I’ve run across in my career, and it baffles me that so many people use it so poorly.

Use LinkedIn to find and connect with partners, prospects, customers, media- anyone who impacts your niche in the market. It is a great tool for managing the network you build.

HAVE SOME RULES OF PERSONAL CONDUCT

I have three inviolable rules: I don’t do things that are not fun (I only do things I am good at); I don’t do things I can’t tell my wife and children about; and I don’t take crap from things that breathe.

If you don’t have some rules you don’t know where the boundaries are.

FOUR FINAL THOUGHTS

None of us can afford to operate on old information.

None of us can afford to have a bad reputation.

We all need our networks.

Final observation: There are no stars in this market. The market is the star.”

ABOUT MARK AMTOWER:

“I am starting my 34th year as Amtower & Company in a few weeks, will be celebrating starting year 12 on Federal News Radio in February, am starting my ninth year as a contributor to Washington Technology a little later in 2018, and. I am also an adjunct professor at the George Washington University graduate school in the government contracting Master’s program. I also speak frequently at public and private conferences and meetings.

An exec at a small company once told me that if I had time to do all this, I wouldn’t have time for him.

I am compelled to write, interview and speak much in the same way John Steinbeck wrote at the beginning of Travels with Charley: “I set this matter down not to instruct others but to inform myself.”

Putting my thoughts in public gives me the opportunity for feedback that I would otherwise lack. This keeps me close to that cutting edge. We all need something to keep us close to the edge.”

https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2017/12/19/insights-amtower-lessons-learned.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

College Develops Center for Technology Incubator with the Navy as “Anchor” Tenant

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Velocity Center - Sketch

Velocity Center Sketch Artwork: NAWC IH

“NATIONAL DEFENSE MAGAZINE”

“An upcoming facility in Maryland is expected to become a hub of innovation for industry, the Navy and university students. 

The College of Southern Maryland recently announced the construction of its Velocity Center, which will include a research center, technology incubator and education facility for its patrons.”


“It is expected to be 20,000 square feet and will contain features such as a cybersecurity laboratory, space for the university’s robotics team and room for industry. The Navy will occupy about 5,500 square feet and serve as an “anchor tenant,” said Tommy Luginbill, director of the Entrepreneur and Innovation Institute at the college. Luginbill is also the program coordinator for the school’s business management program.

“They were very, very big on the idea of having their own space to do what they want to do [with] their own projects,” he said of the Navy. “They were also big on the idea of having an open field. They wanted tall ceilings and they wanted a wide area in the center of the building so that they could host events.”

The center is scheduled to open sometime in 2018 in Indian Head, Maryland, he noted. The university and Navy would have their own spaces in the center, Luginbill explained, and there would be offices for defense contractors.

This format will allow the groups to collaborate on a variety of projects, he said. However, technology developed in the facility may have “dual usage,” meaning they can be leveraged in both the military and commercial sector, he noted.

“If you get these scientists in there who are the ones creating these things, and you get these students in there who are young and maybe looking at the world a little differently … they might say, ‘Well, your [3D-printed] wrench is a great idea, but have you ever thought about using your … technology for things like fidget spinners?’” he said.

The facility could also help the town retain its young engineers, who may otherwise choose to relocate to urban areas in search of jobs, he noted.

The Velocity Center cost is approximately $1.25 million, according to a news release.”

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2017/12/20/college-develops-center-for-technology-inchoation