Tech Mod Fund Already Active

Tucked inside last week’s House Appropriations Committee bill, was a $25 million line item adding to the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF). The TMF was created in fiscal year 2018 with $150 million aiming to help agencies with IT projects deemed critical; it is intended to make a significant impact on agency services and quickly deliver a return on investment. Although funding has faltered several times already, it appears the House will continue to add it as a line item until it is passed.  (Nextgov January 22, 2019)

Six different projects have been awarded, or loaned, under the original $150 million. Agencies have five years to pay back these amounts. (ibid) Included are the following receipts:

  • GSA received $15 million
  • Agriculture $5 million
  • Labor $3.5 million
  • HUD $45 million

Funding is provided via TMF board approval. The board consists of seven federal tech leaders, who weigh proposals through a two-round application process before voting on which efforts to approve and fund. (ibid)

Want to know more about which agencies are seeking funding and how to get positioned to bid?  Give us a call at 301-913-5000.

 

Dancing the Limbo … Still

The government shutdown is now the longest in US history, costing around $200 million per day or nearly $1.5 billion per week. This just compounds as the days and weeks drag on. (Nextgov January 15, 2019)

Business size makes the difference in the shutdown’s effect on employees.  Large companies with government contracts generally have the ability to shift employees around (with agency approval), give them training opportunities, or allow them to take vacation time, personal time, or sick leave. All with the knowledge that they will have jobs once the government doors reopen. (ibid)

Unfortunately, though, contractors large and small cannot maintain payrolls when their customers fail to pay, and employees feel the brunt with layoffs. These employees will likely have a hard time finding work, even after the government reopens. It’s the smaller government contractor that will have the hardest time holding on, and the longer the shutdown continues, that harder it gets.

Planning for the future during the shutdown also seems dire because RFPs without functioning agencies languish. This bottleneck stalls the process, task orders stop, and ultimately everything comes to a complete standstill. Hurry-up-and-wait turns into wait-and-wait and, again, layoffs can be the only answer for the small government  contractor. We, with you, hope for the shutdown to end. Now.

Do you have questions about which agencies are open for business and what you can expect? Give us a call at 301-913-5000 and we will help you out.

Shutdown Shakeup

Nearly 10,000 companies currently hold contracts with the federal government, at an average value per week of a whopping $200 million! (Washington Post January 16, 2019)

While larger companies’ deep pockets and ability to reassign employees provide some cover, smaller companies affected by economies of scale find themselves in a more vulnerable situation. If four of your ten employees work on government contracts that aren’t paying, you may not have the bandwidth to reassign them, leading to lay offs. Even if you can reassign those employees, their work completed for the contract after the shutdown may not be recoverable.

To give you an idea of government contractor work: product purchasing accounts for 20 percent of government spending, and 80 percent is for services, i.e. contractor work. Government agencies use contractors to supplement the federal workforce, which allows them to scale for demand. Contractors keep bathrooms clean, empty the trash in government buildings, compile data for and perform research so that that informed decisions are made, and provide security. Most of this comes to an abrupt halt when the government is closed. (ibid)

Even with federal contracts not officially suspended, a company can become mired in shutdown-related complications. For instance, government background checks stop, Federal Register notices aren’t published,  federal employees can’t approve completed contracted work or make payments, issue an export license, or approve new contract workers. Contract employees who work alongside government employees can’t go to work even if they want to if the building is shuttered. (ibid)

We know this is a tough time for our clients, and we’re here to help in any way possible. Give us a call at 301-913-5000.

809 Panel Contracting Shake-Up

Often, the Department of Defense has the need to make “real time” purchases, in the same way as corporations in the commercial world. With a procurement process in place that can be lengthy, the solutions provided may not always be the most technologically advanced. Congress took this knowledge and commissioned the Section 809 Panel.

The Section 809 Panel streamlines and codifies acquisition for DoD and addresses issues with the way DoD purchases warfighter equipment. The panel released their third report this week, with the final report (tying all findings together) expected to be released in mid-February.

Among its recommendations to mirror the commerical marketplace are the following:

  • A more streamlined approach for purchases, which includes halting publicly advertising procurements and small businesses set asides. (Federal News Network January 15, 2019)
  • Dividing DOD purchases into three groups:
    • Goods readily available -acquisition officials could buy items on a fixed-price basis worth up to $15 million — or higher with senior official approval — via direct solicitations or price quotes. This includes no public advertisement or small business set aside requirements.
    • Goods readily available with some modifications – would follow similar principles as goods readily available, but allow for slightly more government contract stipulations, oversight, and transparency. For example, those contracts covering most of DoD’s services spending would require public solicitations if they’re worth more than $15 million. And losing bidders would be able to file both pre- and post-award GAO protests.
    • Defense unique procurements -the panel acknowledged that DoD and Congress had already done significant work to develop alternative acquisition approaches that could deliver systems more quickly. (ibid)

The Section 809 panel will be disbanded this summer, expecting its study to live on in perpetuity. The report’s final recommendation is for all of the panel’s records to be transferred to a proposed Center for Acquisition Innovation at the National Defense University’s Eisenhower School. (Federal News Network January 2019)

It’s about time “Hidden Figures” get a little love

Although the government has met their small business spending goals over the past five years, women-owned small business contracts continue to lag far behind. In fact, women-owned small business contracts make up less than 5 percent of the total government contract expenditures, according to ChallengeHER, a national initiative to boost government contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses.

Candace Waterman, president, and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) said her group advocates for women-owned businesses on the Hill. But now, working through ChallengeHER, she has a forum to help educate women. SBA specialists from the agency’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) help train women via ChallengeHER on how best to enter the federal marketplace. (Federal News Network January 2, 2019)

Antonio Doss, SBA’s Washington, D.C. metro area district director, feels that in the DC area female small business owners have found particular success in the IT field.“We have women business owners who are excelling in that area, proving support to agencies like NASA and the Department of Energy, DoD facilities and very technical, scientific, STEM-type disciplines,” he said. (ibid)

Along with agency-to-business contracting, subcontracting opportunities abound. Questions? Call us at 301-913-5000.