Tag Archives: small business

COVID – 19 Adversarial Capital Threat to Defense Industry Small Business

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FCW

“Adversarial capital” is the latest buzz phrase used to describe the security problem that can occur when foreign rivals, especially China, take advantage of the relatively open U.S. investment marketplace.

“We simply cannot afford this period of economic uncertainty to lead to loss of American know-how on critical technologies,” – Jennifer Santos, DOD’s deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy.”

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“The Defense Department is hoping steadily engaging small businesses will help shield them from shady foreign investments during the global COVID-19 crisis.

[At risk are] nascent technology firms whose work may have security applications but don’t yet fall under the aegis of the cross-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

“We simply cannot afford this period of economic uncertainty to lead to loss of American know-how on critical technologies,” Santos said during an April 28 webinar on coronavirus supply chain challenges hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

Additionally, DOD has been hosting teleconferences multiple times per week with industry trade associations and continued to host virtual Trusted Capital Marketplace events to help ensure companies have access to “clean capital” and avoid foreign investment conflicts.

Ellen Lord, DOD’s acquisition chief, warned in March that the defense industry base, their technology, and intellectual property were vulnerable to “nefarious” foreign investors.

As the coronavirus pandemic worsened, DOD has struggled with multiple plant closures — 93 out of 10,509 prime companies with 141 that closed and reopened and 427 out of 11,413 vendors, with 237 that have closed and reopened. Those closures have significantly affected aviation, shipbuilding and small space launch supply chains.

Santos said several companies in Mexico have “impacted our major primes” and DOD is working to identify those companies and work with the Mexican government supporting various technologies, including airframe production.

But foreign investment remains one of the more pressing priorities in defense acquisition, Santos said, adding that suspicious transactions in vulnerable areas are mitigated or blocked if a risk is found regardless of the pandemic.

That is an acute problem for small manufacturers, Lord said.

“Typically the most problematic areas we have now are some of the smaller manufacturers who, maybe from a dollar value, don’t do huge numbers but they are providing critical components across aircraft and naval applications. That’s where my biggest concern is; sort of the weakest link in the system,” Lord told reporters April 30.

The acquisition chief also worried some smaller companies “might end up with some significant financial fragility” and is looking across interagency and in the Trusted Capital Marketplace, a partnership that links private investors with defense companies, to keep those with “critical technology, talent, and facilities together with those investors.”

Lord’s concern extends overseas, as well, particularly in Europe, regarding what Lord called “nefarious” mergers and acquisition, where shell companies have known U.S. adversaries as beneficial owners. To protect against that, the Pentagon wants stronger foreign legislation from Congress to make the CFIUS process more stringent, Lord said.

In addition to pursuing stronger legislation, DOD has bolstered and expanded national security investment reviews, which can take 45 days and are reviewed by the Director of National Intelligence, and increased engagement with businesses using the newly stood up industrial base council.

Santos said the council helps address the industry base’s existing gaps and risks by aligning their priorities with DOD’s, identifying authorities that can be used to solve any issues, and drawing up policy as needed.

“We need to protect our industrial base from what could be adversarial capital and during COVID, we maintain the same due diligence,” Santos said, “It’s what keeps me up at night most nights.”

https://fcw.com/articles/2020/05/04/dod-adversarial-capital-williams.aspx?oly_enc_id=

A Framework For Federal Government Service Contracting Small Business Systems

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Image: “Smalltofeds”

SMALLTOFEDS” By Ken Larson

INTRODUCTION 

Waiting for a contract award to achieve a government contracting business process is not advisable. A win may not happen at all without addressing the structure and process requirements in your proposal to convince the customer you understand his business environment.

If you are not prepared in advance and you are fortunate enough to win, then in a very short time frame you will have to evolve your business system to perform on your contract and submit a billing.

This article will discuss a framework for a small enterprise to develop a business system in service contracting, which is the most frequent venue utilized to enter the government market.

The above diagram depicts the major elements of a suggested integrated template.

If you are a small startup organization, your process and automation may be quite rudimentary and simple in addressing the above structure and functions. If your company is in a high growth mode with many transactions, projects and details your processes and computerization will be more complex.

The point to remember is the need to overlay the above on your existing company for the unique products and services you provide, and then address how to fit, supplement, or accommodate the necessary adjustments to support contracting to the government.

Please read the following articles on the highlighted topics for details that may assist in evolving your unique business processes to support government contracting:

Long Range Planning

Should You Consider Small Business Federal :Government Contracting?

Provisional Indirect Rates

Teaming in Government Contracting

Protecting Intellectual Property and Proprietary Data

Human Resource Planning

Generic Contingent Hire Agreement

Contracts and Pricing
Proposal Preparation

Pricing
Project Planning

Earned Value Management Systems

Contract Baseline Management

Cost Centers, General and Administrative , Operations, Job Cost Records

The “Past Performance” Challenge

Establishing FAR and CAS Compliant Small Business Systems

DCAA Audits and Small Business Job Cost Accounting Systems

Customer Relations

Customer Relations and Government Personnel Roles

What Small Business Should Know About the FEDBIZOPPS Web Site

Multiple Front Marketing In Small Business Federal Government Contracting

Small Business Set-Aside Designations

SUMMARY

You may wish to download the free book and related documents at the “Box Net” cube in the right margin of this site for further information and live examples:

https://www.smalltofeds.com/2009/09/federal-government-contracting-small.html

Remember, small business federal government contracting is not rocket science – it is taking what you do well in the commercial environment and applying it in a slightly different manner from a business perspective to accommodate the way the federal government does business.”

https://www.smalltofeds.com/2009/09/federal-government-contracting-small.html

GAO Report: Contractors Hid $875 Million In Fraud Through False Company Ownership Shells

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(Illustration: CJ Ostrosky / POGO)

PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT

“DOD has not historically considered contractor ownership structures in the responsibility determination process, nor has the agency been aware of the extent to which such structures could pose a range of risks.”

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“Contractors using shell companies to hide their ownership are ripping off the Pentagon and endangering national security, according to a sobering report the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released last month.

The report’s focus is U.S. defense contracting, but it deals with a subject that has become a worldwide concern. The problem of companies using what the report calls “opaque ownership” schemes to hide their beneficial owners (the people who actually benefit financially from the company) is an international problem. Opaque, or anonymous, corporate ownership facilitates not only government contracting fraud, but also money launderinghuman trafficking, and terrorism financing.

The GAO reviewed 32 court cases resolved between 2012 and 2018 in which Department of Defense contractors provided false information about their ownership or corporate structure and were accused or found guilty of a litany of misdeeds: price gouging; providing poor-quality goods and services; abusing programs intended for small businesses owned by “service-disabled veterans, women, minorities, or economically and socially disadvantaged individuals;” and improperly disseminating sensitive military information. In typical GAO fashion, the report doesn’t name names. However, from the details it provides, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) was able to track down what appear to be the companies and individuals involved in 21 of the 32 cases. With this information, POGO annotated the case summary table featured in the report:

[See complete report at]: https://www.pogo.org/analysis/2019/12/contractors-use-shell-games-to-hide-owners-cheat-taxpayers/

For instance, one case the report looks at is that of an “ineligible foreign manufacturer that illegally exported sensitive military data and provided defective and nonconforming parts that led to the grounding of at least 47 fighter aircraft.” This appears to reference Allied Components LCC, a military hardware supplier whose owner pleaded guilty in 2013 to providing F-15 fighter aircraft parts that were not only defective but also made in India even though the contract required the parts to be U.S.-made, and to passing along information about nuclear-powered submarines to India without the required government approval.

Altogether, four of the 32 cases involved contractors using U.S.-based shell companies to conceal that the work was really being done by a foreign-based company. Concealing beneficial ownership in this manner increases the chance that “adversaries seeking to act against the government’s interests” will gain access to sensitive government information or installations, according to the report.

A case the GAO cited as an example of contractors inflating prices by concealing their ownership and control of subcontractors is apparently that of Supreme Foodservice, which pleaded guilty in 2014 to major fraud against the United States and paid a total of $434 million in penalties. And the unnamed contractor executives who admitted to “creating fictitious, inflated bids that were not from actual businesses” and fraudulently inflating invoices is an unmistakable reference to Glenn Defense Marine Asia and the massive “Fat Leonard” Navy contract corruption scandal.

The most rampant form of abuse documented in the report—accounting for 20 of the 32 cases—is contractors falsely posing as being eligible for contracts set aside for small businesses owned by “service-disabled veterans, women, minorities, or economically and socially disadvantaged individuals.” The report describes what POGO determined is likely a recent case involving a Kansas City, Missouri-area construction company owner who was sentenced to 18 months in prison last year for falsely claiming the company was managed by a service-disabled veteran in order to win more than $13.7 million in contracts.

And in one instance, an individual debarred from federal contracting got around his debarment by creating shell companies under the names of relatives and fictitious people. He was convicted of fraud and sent to prison, but not before selling the Pentagon $2.8 million in defective parts for airplanes. Suspended and debarred contractors getting around their bans through opaque ownership structures has long been an area of concern for POGO.

The GAO estimates the government’s losses from the 32 cases total over $875 million ($200 million of which comes from just one small business set-aside fraud case). In addition, there is the potential nonmonetary harm to U.S. national security, and all of this could be just the tip of the iceberg. As the report states, “There may be additional fraud or other risks and cases related to contractor ownership that are presently undiscovered fraud and are not identified in our report.”

The problem of opaque contractor ownership structures can be addressed by a series of common sense reforms. The easiest one, which the GAO recommends, is for the Pentagon to conduct a systematic “department-wide assessment of risks posed by contractor ownership.”

Performing this assessment would give the Pentagon and the other agencies a greater awareness of the potential harms of anonymous company ownership, which would hopefully cause contracting officials to more carefully vet contractors’ ownership and financial structures during the pre-award evaluation process.

POGO has two additional reform recommendations that will be a much heavier lift. First, the government must revamp the system for reporting contractor ownership information. Companies wishing to do business with the government register in a database called the System for Award Management. However, the system currently doesn’t require the disclosure of beneficial owners; instead, contractors are only required under law to disclose their “highest-level” and “immediate” owners. Subcontractors are not required to register. Any company that receives federal funds—from a prime contractor to the lowest-tier subcontractor—should be required to register and disclose their beneficial owners. And the system must be audited periodically to ensure the data is timely and accurate.

Second, a centralized database of corporate beneficial ownership information would greatly help government contracting officials identify and verify contractors’ real owners. There is currently an effort underway to lay the groundwork for such a database as part of a growing worldwide campaign to impose greater transparency on corporations. The government should do all it can to support this effort.”

https://www.pogo.org/analysis/2019/12/contractors-use-shell-games-to-hide-owners-cheat-taxpayers/

Seven Management Techniques to Achieve That First Government Contract

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Image: Medium

MEDIUM” By Ken Larson

One of the many challenges for a small business in government contracting is achieving that first major contract. 

Try combining a well written business plan with the aggressive marketing campaign approaches here to develop Your Government Contracting Business Plan .

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“A small business entering the field does not have a government contract past performance record to include in proposals to federal agencies. At the onset, the only qualifications that can be referenced are commercial successes and the individual expertise and qualifications of the owner (s), employees and management.
Past Performance Challenge

Here are seven small business management techniques to assist in achieving that first government contract:

1. Contingent Hire Agreements — Recruit prospective employees and associates who have previously worked in businesses that have contracted with the government. Such individuals bring expertise and qualifications with them and lend credibility to your enterprise.

A contingent hire agreement is one way to approach an experienced employee with the prospect of joining your firm at a later time when the business base is there to permit professional advancement. Under such an agreement the prospective employee agrees to contribute time and effort on a proposal for a new contract and is assured on paper by your company of a position on the project when it is awarded to your firm.

Such arrangements are generally recognized by the government as a credible way for new or start-up businesses to grow and agencies will accept resumes of experienced professionals in proposals from small business contractors with signed contingent hire agreements even though the personnel may not yet be on the company payroll.

Prospective employees of this type are often available from the retired or downsized ranks of prime contractors. Be aware that government procurement integrity regulations apply. Individuals should not be considered who have a potential conflict of interest in the project you are bidding due to a former association with the buying agency in a source selection authority role as specified in FAR Section 3.104.

You can download a recommended draft shell for a contingent hire agreement from the right margin of this site at the BOX “References” cube or at the following link: Contingent Hire Agreement

2. Seek government solicitations for taking over incumbent work forces. In some cases the government designates base operations contracts, system support contracts and other service contracts at military installations or federal agency locations as small business set-asides. In certain of these contracts the services may have been performed until now by a large corporation which is no longer eligible to compete due to the small business designation of the current procurement. The employees of this large company become available for recruitment since they will lose their jobs at the location if they do not join the winning company. These individuals have built-in technical expertise on the project and government contracting backgrounds. Acquiring an Incumbent Work Force

3. Build government contract business system infrastructure such as estimating, pricing, proposal preparation, long-range planning and job cost accounting processes. These processes are particularly important if you do not qualify to sell under FAR Part 12, “Commercial Contracting” and you are in the services business. Having these key elements in place enables your company to bid large scale jobs consistently and to forecast, estimate and account for new government business. They also permit the company to pass site surveys and audits by DCAA and DCMAO in connection with proposals and contract awards. Having key infrastructure in place creates a favorable impression to prime contractors and other prospective teaming partners. Framework for Government Contract Business System

4. Team with large business contractors who have experience in the government contracting field. As part of such teaming arrangements they may be willing to trade-off their expertise and assistance for your particular technical skills and your small business participation as a subcontractor on new contracts. Remember large government contracting businesses are required to submit and perform to annual plans or buying from small business to the government. Failure to do so can jeopardize their current government contracts or place in danger the award of a project where a small business plan is required.

You have motivated large business prospective partners available to you in the government contracting community. Protect yourself with proprietary data agreements and insure that your company’s work scope for a given project is well defined in a thorough written teaming agreement. Large businesses will respect you for your professionalism when you demand a formal business approach. Teaming in Government Contracting

5. Submit and negotiate a General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule. Pre-establishing pricing and terms and conditions with the GSA lends credibility to your enterprise. Schedule periods can last from 5–10 years and simplify buying for your prospective government customers They can have confidence that the GSA has reviewed and determined that your rates are reasonable and they can be assured that the terms and conditions of your schedule have met the approval of the GSA. All they need to do is place a funded delivery order request for the supplies or services with the GSA against your schedule, negotiate the technical statement of work and delivery requirements with you and the deal is done. You can read more about pursing a GSA schedule at: Achieving a GSA Schedule

6. Pursue contracts which are set-aside for small business enterprises. If you are a woman-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned or disabled veteran-owned business, seek government business solicitations which have been set aside with these designations. It is more likely that you will be competing against enterprises at that same developmental stage as your company by taking this approach.

If you are a small business with no other set-aside designations, seek teaming arrangements as a subcontractor with minority-owned, veteran-owned or women-owned businesses. 51% of a project (work scope, dollars and hours) must go to such designated businesses under such arrangements, but your part of the program is still significant and earns past performance credit. Your team members will not usually be your direct competitors but will be involved in lines of work that usually complement your business and enable the team to fulfill a scope that is larger than any single member could undertake alone. Teaming arrangements can result in winning larger jobs that can span a number of years in duration and mean good, solid cash flow for all participants.

7. Self-market to federal agencies with your capabilities statement and ideas for government programs. If you are a Minority-owned 8(a) or a Hub Zone-located small business, a government agency can sole source a procurement to you without competition under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Even if you are not an 8(a) or Hub Zone firm, self-marketing has tremendous potential. There are over 50 federal government agencies with facilities, bases, locations and offices housing contracting officers and buyers all over the United States. Find the nearest locations to you via the agency search filters at FEDBIZOPPS and send them a capabilities statement with a request for a meeting with their small business liaison officer. Your Capability Statemenr

Federal agencies are required by statute to meet with you. Once you are there find out the names and contact information of their technical management authorities who define requirements for acquisitions. Determine what the agency needs through research with the technical decision makers and on the web. Most agencies forecast their long range plans at sites available to the public. Define a creative project in terms of meeting your client’s needs and offer it to the agency points of contact as a prospective set-aside contract.

If the agency posts your self-marketed project for competition, you will still be in the driver’s seat during the proposal stage, having developed the concept and positioned yourself well ahead of your prospective competitors in terms of a solution with your customer. You may well have convinced the agency to set the program aside for a small business category in which you qualify Small Business :Set-aside :Designations . That leg up cannot be achieved after a solicitation has been posted to :FEDBIZOPPS.

SUMMARY:

Try combining a well written business plan with an aggressive marketing campaign and the seven approaches outlined above. Your Government Contracting Business Plan .

Entering government contracting as a small businesses is indeed a challenging time, but there are many opportunities awaiting you. Capitalize on those opportunities and win your first federal government contract.”

https://www.smalltofeds.com/2007/01/seven-management-techniques-to-assist.html

About The Author:

Image result for Ken Larson smalltofeds

Ken Larson is the Founder of “Small to Feds” and a SCORE and Micro Mentor Volunteer Counselor

Are You Driving the Tools And Not The Car In Launching Your Small Business?

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“SMALLTOFEDS”  By Ken Larson    https://www.smalltofeds.com

There is a new kind of monkey these days –  the technology monkey. That sucker will bury us if we don’t learn to deal with him.

As a small business counselor I have noticed there seems to be a belief that automation, the Internet and social networking can make the business succeed when in fact the real design of the enterprise itself is lacking (niche, market base, business plan, competitive analysis and financial forecasting).

I hear from many clients who ask, “What Now?” having launched an enterprise that is going nowhere because they are driving the tools and not the car. I take them back to the garage; design the auto to see if it can run and then apply the wrenches retroactively if that is possible. It is usually a traumatic experience and could have been avoided with strategic and business planning before launch. Below is a simple test to develop your potential idea for a business.

1. Do you have a product or service niche in mind?

2. Do you believe you have a market for 1 above and the means to reach it?3.

3. If the answer to the above questions is “Yes”,use the below planning aids to design your business vehicle and the road map you intend to follow on your journey:

General Planning Considerations

Market Research Guidance

Free Sample Business Plans

When you have completed the above definition and planning process you will then be in a position to astutely select the tools you wish to use along the way and apply them successfully.

You will be able to network your vehicle, pick up riders as industry partners, and attract revenue fuel in the form of customers by marketing and social networking based on the thorough definition and content of your business plan.

In short, don’t let technology make a monkey out of you and your idea as well as raid your treasury before you launch.  tech monkey Define your business vehicle and its journey first. Then pick the right technology tools to make a successful trip.

Washington Technology 2019 Small Business “Fast 50”

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Image: INC Magazine

“WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY

“Ranking of the fastest-growing small businesses in the government market puts a spotlight on the diversity of the small business community.

Companies on the 2019 edition of the Fast 50 represent the full spectrum of capabilities, technologies and customers that make up the GovCon market.

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“To be considered for the Fast 50, companies submitted their revenue data for years 2013 through 2018. We then calculate the compound annual growth rates for that five-year period.

Companies are ranked according to their compound annual growth rate, not total revenue.

Explore the list and learn more about these companies. Also look for more analysis of the rankings and profiles of the companies in the coming days and weeks.

CLICK HERE to see the 2019 Washington Technology Fast 50.”

https://washingtontechnology.com/blogs/editors-notebook/2019/10/2019-fast-50-intro.aspx

Small Businesses Sought For Space Accelerator Program

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NATIONAL DEFENSE MAGAZINE

The Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate is reaching out to small businesses to explore space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies.

The organization offers a 12-week program that connects businesses with the military and subject matter experts in areas such as finance and law.

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“The service is looking for companies that can fill technology gaps by working alongside the Catalyst Space Accelerator program, which is a public-private partnership. KiMar Gartman, director of the accelerator, said the research lab is interested in systems such as space-based sensors that can discriminate between different objects.

This [the program] helps companies determine if their technologies would be able to meet the needs of potential customers, she noted. The program will culminate in a demonstration day for vendors to show their products to investors, such as the other military services.

“It just helps them to get an idea of whether or not their technology is relevant to the problem statement — those commercially and in the DoD,” she said. “We try to bring in the Army, the Navy [and] other Air Force units that would have interest in the technology.”

The goal is to have eight companies participate in the upcoming accelerator, which is scheduled for September, Gartman said. The next demonstration day is slated for November. The events are held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which is “one of the hubs of space,” Gartman said.

“We’re able to bring in all of these potential customers from the [military] bases and … [other] entities that are located right in the Colorado Springs area,” she said.

Connections made through the program could potentially result in federal grants, contracts or other transaction authority agreements, she noted.

“These companies can start applying for those [small business innovation research grants] and there seems to be more interest because they’ve gone through an accelerator,” she said.

Past event topics have included positioning, navigation and timing, and resilient commercial space communication, she noted. For the upcoming accelerator, the program will exclude ground-based technologies.

“We figured if we included ground-based, we’re going to get a lot of the same companies that we had in the last two,” she said. “[We] felt it would just be too broad of a swipe.

They were wanting to narrow it down a little bit.”

Candidates for the program are recruited through sources such as social media, websites and conferences, she noted.”

https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2019/8/15/small-businesses-sought-for-space-accelerator-program

DoD Unveils New Cyber Security Certification Model For Contractors

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“FEDERAL NEWS NETWORK

The Defense Department sees its new certification model, which it unveiled to the public this week, as a way to more quickly bring its entire industrial base up to date with best cybersecurity practices.

Every Defense contract will use this scale to determine whether companies are allowed to bid.

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“But the Pentagon also sees this new model as a means to set the stage for a broader, more complex journey to better understand the defense supply chain.

On Wednesday, DoD released a new draft of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), the Pentagon’s most recent to attempt to create a simpler, more consistent framework for the cyber demands it imposes on its contractors and subcontractors.

The department will accept public comment on the certification model through Sept. 25.

“Every company within the DoD supply chain — not just the defense industrial base,  but the 300,000 contractors — are going to have to get certified to do work with the Department of Defense,” Katie Arrington, chief information security officer for DoD’s Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, said Wednesday at the Intelligence and National Security Summit co-hosted by AFCEA and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

Certification model details five levels

The new certification model has been designed with several familiar cybersecurity requirements in mind, but it’s also an attempt to get a better handle on the defense supply chain, Arrington said.

The model covers 18 domains based on five levels.

Companies who achieve certification at the third level, for example, meet all National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) SP 800-171 requirements and have an information security continuity plan. Firms assessed at level five have “highly advanced cybersecurity practices” and can respond at “machine speed,” according to the draft CMMC.

DoD, which has been developing the certification model since March, has partnered with Johns Hopkins University, Carnegie Mellon University, defense industrial associations and members of the Defense Industrial Base Sector Coordinating Council to design the program.

DoD will release the model to a consortium in January 2020, which will help contractors learn the CMMC and the steps necessary to achieve each level of the certification program.
The model will go live and will begin to appear in requests for information next June and requests for proposal later that fall, Arrington said.

“We understand security will be an allowable cost,” Arrington said. “We know what we’re asking for, but if we value security as delivered uncompromised, stated very clearly, the cost, schedule and performance don’t function without security. They’re invaluable.”

Arrington, along with the Department of Homeland Security and members of the Federal Acquisition Supply Chain Council, are reviewing cybersecurity standards and using DoD’s new model as a starting point for broader conversations about the defense supply chain.

“We get everyone on a level-set playing field for cybersecurity, and then we can really start looking at our supply chain, where our most and greatest vulnerabilities lie and how we can work together in a collaborative event with industry,” she said. “With 70%-plus of our data living on your networks, it is no longer a moment. It’s [not] a me-thing or a you-thing; it’s a we-thing.”

But for large defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, the new cybersecurity certification program could, at least initially, look like DoD is piling on yet another series of standards on top of an already growing list of NIST requirements.

Too many scoring methodologies and cybersecurity assessments from individual services and Defense agencies pose too much complexity, said Scott Rush, Lockheed’s deputy chief information security officer.

“We’re seeing a lot of different requirements come across,” he said. “For a large enterprise that, from an unclassified perspective, manages a large IT environment [and] common systems to support multiple programs and contracts, having a different set of requirements becomes very problematic.”

Though Rush said building the maturity model into the acquisition process makes sense, he’s hoping to see more uniform, common cybersecurity standards across the Defense enterprise.

“To bid on a contract or perform you have be maturity level 3 or you can’t perform, we understand that and we think that’s a good thing,” he said. “What we would rather not see happen, because we think it would dampen collaboration, is if it becomes part of the evaluation criteria.”

Arrington acknowledged those concerns. She sees DoD’s new cybersecurity model as a way to move past the array of disparate and scattered requirements and toward an environment that’s focused on protecting the defense supply chain.

“I’ve met with all the services, and they have bought into the CMMC being the one cybersecurity model that they’ll be using for the DoD,” she said. “Hopefully we can convince our partners in the federal acquisition side to adopt it as well.”

Supply chain illumination ‘pathfinders’ picking up steam

Meanwhile, DoD is continuing to explore ways it can realize the full scope of its supply chain.

Lockheed Martin, for example, has been working with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to build a tool that will identify where controlled defense information resides within each “tier” of multi-layered defense contract.

The Missile Defense Agency is reviewing the results of Lockheed’s pilot, which has been ongoing for eight-to-nine months, Rush said.

“We’ve learned a lot in terms of how to roll something like this out in a multi-tier supply chain,” Rush said. “We’ve learned a lot about the requirements they need and they don’t need, and I think it’s really going to inform a path forward from an MDA perspective. [The agency] has been talking… to [Arrington] and others in DoD about how this might apply to broader illumination efforts.”

For Arrington, the supply chain dashboards that Lockheed Martin and others have been piloting show some promise. But they leave a big question unanswered.

“The challenge is: where do [you] maintain that data inside the DoD? That’s a big one,” Arrington said. “That’s our adversaries’ golden egg. It’s a classified system, ultimately, but we also have the visibility within the MDA models.”

Using these dashboards to identify and then share information about potential risks and vulnerabilities on the supply chain with other services and members of the defense industrial base is the next challenge.

“If we can figure out a way to mitigate that risk within the supply chain, and we can buy down the risk and buy up the uncertainty, that’s what we want in these illumination tools,” Arrington said. “We are moving to them. Congress has put money appropriated for them. This is happening. What we’re deciding now are what are the requirements, what are we looking at and what is the value-add and the visibility?”

Small Business Contracting Cuts Coming Amid NBIB Merger

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“The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency is going to be doing significantly less small business contracts after the National Background Investigations Bureau moves from the Office of Personnel Management to DOD.

DCSA — formerly the Defense Security Service — plans to shrink it’s small businesses goal from 65 percent to under 10 percent after the merger with NBIB

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“Elizabeth Mudd, small business program manager for the agency, said during an AFCEA NOVA event Aug. 6, “That doesn’t mean that all the opportunities that are out here that small businesses are doing aren’t going to be there. They’re all still going to be there; in fact, I think you will have even more subcontractor opportunities in that area than we have now.”

Mudd said the intent is to get more subcontractors to supplement the four primes that handle the background investigation services. NBIB is bringing over about $804 million in small business eligible dollars, compared to DCSA’s $73.4 million for fiscal 2019.

“It’s going to take an evolution of contracts to come up for recompete, to do more market research, to go more into what the exact process is” to increase the small business representation, she said.

DCSA will also field two additional training centers — one from the National Center for Credibility Assessment, which does polygraph training, and another from NBIB (previously under the Office of Personnel Management) as the merger completes. DCSA is scheduled to absorb NBIB and its functions by Oct. 1.

“What you’re going to see in the future is end-to-end vetting on the personnel side and on the facility clearance side. And what that offers is a ton of synergy,” Mudd said.”

Fiscal year 2020 is the start of DSCA fully taking over the background mission, Mudd said, while continuing its existing ones. Mudd also said that OPM will continue to provide DSCA with IT services following the merger.

NBIB’s contracting office is also merging with DCSA, meaning that existing contracts stay in place and contracting officers will keep their assignments. Mudd said “all the current employees are coming over to us so if you have a contract with NBIB right now, you’ll most likely be dealing with the same contracting folks you are today.”

Mudd said DCSA also issued its first two other transaction authorities for small businesses this year.

“I don’t know if it was fast,” she said with a laugh, “We’re kind of getting our feet wet with it…Mostly it’s been for the background investigation mission that we’re trying to innovate and see where we can go with it.”

https://defensesystems.com/articles/2019/08/07/nbib-merger-small-biz-williams.aspx?s=ds_080819

GSA Announces STARS III Government Wide 8(a) IT Acquisition Competition

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Image: “GSA Interact”

“FEDSCOOP”

The General Services Administration released a draft solicitation Friday to replace an expiring governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) for small IT businesses.

The 8(a) Streamlined Technology Acquisition Resource for Services (STARS) III GWAC will replace its predecessor, 8(a) STARS II, when that ends Aug. 30, 2021.

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“Agencies will issue task order requests via 8(a) STARS III for information technology services from active participants in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development program for startups.

The contract will primarily allow agencies to procure custom computer programming; computer systems design; computer facilities management; computer-related services like disaster recovery and software installation; data processing and hosting; and emerging technology like artificial intelligence, blockchain and quantum computing. But ancillary support like training and hardware acquisition, including telecommunications infrastructure, will also be covered by 8(a) STARS III.

The contract has a $20-billion ceiling and a five-year base period with one three-year option.

Awardees are guaranteed a $250 minimum for task order work, and prime contractors will periodically be reviewed.

In February, STARS II was included in the Department of Homeland Security’s EAGLE Next Gen portfolio of “best-in-class” contract vehicles being used for services like cybersecurity staffing at its Security Operations Centers.”