COVID-19 actually helped small businesses do business

Due to the pandemic, the federal government has expanded remote network access to assist a dispersed workforce. This in turn has motivated reforms to the procurement system.

According to Roya Konzman, acting division director for solutions development at General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), “suddenly there was a need for new hardware, software and network access security, so we advised our Small Business Administration, Department of Veteran Affairs and Social Security Administration on their procurement strategies. GSA empowered its contracting officers to expand its rated orders authority. These orders are issued in accordance with the defense priorities and allocation system, and rated orders applied to IT capabilities included teleworking and health care solutions such as VPN accounts, virtual desktop infrastructure solutions, laptops, and mobile devices, and also covered personal protective equipment such as medical products hand sanitizers and disposable gloves.” (GovernmentCIO Media & Research April 6, 2021)

A national emergency allows the use of rated order authority. It authorizes GSA to prioritize a solicitation on behalf of an agency to buy goods and services. If a contractor receives a rated order, the contractor must prioritize that order ahead of other orders in the queue. (ibid)

There were so many rated orders issued to large contractors that individual suppliers often had a hard time meeting demands within the allotted timeframe. The result was federal agencies looked to enlarge their contracting base to include specialized smaller and mid-sized contractors. (ibid)

Because smaller firms do not have the “red tape’ that larger firms have, they can often change directions quickly. This makes smaller firms extremely valuable during times of national crisis. (ibid)

The federal government invested in video conferencing software and remote connectivity during the pandemic. This affords vendors the opportunity to demonstrate their products to various procurement offices. Additionally, agencies can quickly evaluate a large range of potential contractors. Which helps potential contractors who might have otherwise been overshadowed by larger vendors with preexisting relationships. (ibid)

Do you have a specialized product that the federal government needs? Give us a call.

 

NIST looking for a Small Cybersecurity Business – Do you qualify?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is looking for a small business to assist with the creation of privacy and cybersecurity standards that will apply to federal agencies. Additionally, NIST hopes to gain assistance with the development and modeling of software and applications for various tools, including the National Vulnerability Database.(Nextgov March 29, 2021)

The sources sought notice posted on beta.SAM.gov states, “with a new and re-energized national emphasis on information security, the NIST Information Technology Laboratory’s (ITL) Computer Security Division (CSD) is uniquely positioned to ensure that new technology initiatives are selected, deployed, and operated in a manner that does not increase the risk to organizational missions, individuals and the Nation.” (ibid)

“NIST expects the requirements of its mission to expand and anticipates the need for support in meeting these requirements. The support needed to ensure a successful mission ranges from internal programmatic support to technical expertise and research consulting in a wide range of cyber and information security areas.” (ibid)

Do you qualify for the cybersecurity SINs? Give us a call.

Higher federal procurement standards for IT providers – Are you ready?

The White House is spearheading an interagency endeavor concentrating on software development that will determine federal procurement of information technology (IT). In the coming weeks, vendors can expect to see new IT security standards, governmentwide. This comes after many tech companies complained that the effort under the Trump administration limited the import of information and communications technology from “foreign adversaries.” While leaving the definition of the term “foreign adversary” up to the Commerce Secretary. In addition, the rule as it stands today is broad and raises concerns over due process.

The SolarWinds breach will ultimately raise the bar on vendor security, banning tech from many countries, not just China. It also focuses on vendors and the possibility of vulnerability disclosure policies that encourage reporting weaknesses in their products. Ultimately, vendors providing IT products and services to federal agencies must have the proper level of cybersecurity in place.

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Acting Director Brandon Wales said agencies are working together to ensure consistency in the government’s approach to supply chain security across the Commerce Department rule, an executive order aimed at removing foreign adversaries from the bulk power sector. Wales also said, “the administration is counting on higher federal procurement standards to elevate security across the private sector as well.”

Are your IT products compliant? Give us a call.

 

 

Relax a Little – Expiring SAM Deadline Extended

GSA just announced a 180-day extension for organizations with expiring SAM website registrations. Those with registrations expiring between April 1 and September 30, 2021, will automatically be granted an extension. The extension is an effort to alleviate some of the burden during the implementation of the American Rescue Plan Act. (GSA Interact March 29, 2021)

GSA will send an email from samadmin@sam.gov with the subject line “180-Day SAM.gov Extension Granted for [Entity Name/DUNS/CAGE]” to those affected. The extension will not affect first-time registrants. The updated records will be stored within entity management extracts in SAM.gov and available through web services after the records are extended. (ibid)

Need help with your registration? Give us a call.

$355M for Women Owned Small Businesses

Over the past 20 years, the government has aimed to award at least 5 percent of contracts to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs). In FY2020, WOSBs received $561.7 million in contracts. However, GSA has only set aside $354.9 million for WOSB contracts in FY2021. (ExecutiveGov, March 4, 2021)

According to GSA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, 10.47 percent of the total FY2020 contracting obligations for women-owned vendors were prime awards. To lend a hand to these vendors, GSA provides support through training resources and Forecast of Contracting Opportunities. These tools and other activities earned GSA a grade of A+ from the Small Business Administration in FY2019 for their work to support small businesses. (ibid)

Are you a Small or Woman-Owned Small Business looking to prime or sub on an upcoming procurement? Give us a call.