beta.sam.gov Hiccup Hiccup

When FedBizOpps (FBO) migrated to beta.sam.gov, everyone expected a few hiccups. Now three months in, it’s fair to say government contractors have been experiencing more than just a few hiccups. GSA says the number of help desk calls they get is no more than they got with FBO. However, the frustration over beta.sam.gov runs deep.

Last week contractor discouragement came to a head when the Professional Services Council sent GSA a letter airing not only their complaints but also their concerns. The 22-page letter outlined the four areas of greatest concern:

  • Access Challenges;
  • Search Parameters;
  • Capability to receive contract information;
  • Difficulties in how the site displays information. (Federal News Network, February 17, 2020)

At EZGSA, we have found problems with data organization, standardization, and even saving information. GSA seems ready to add new capabilities next month, but should they? Many feel the backend structure should be fixed before the next phase, moving the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation (FPDS-NG) reporting capabilities to beta.sam.gov in March. (ibid)

Large companies are better able to handle the costs associated with down time or lost data. Small businesses that must  spend thousands of dollars on software, just to get what they got before the FBO migration, are at a great disadvantage.

Need help navigating beta.sam.gov? We will do our best to help and take away some of the frustration. Give us a call.

Make a pitch, win a prize

In 2018, the Army acquisition office set up the Expeditionary Technology Search or xTechSearch. The Army has continued to use these pitch days to find small and nontraditional businesses with useful technologies. (Federal News Network, January 16, 2020)

In a pitch search, businesses propose their new technologies and ideas to the government in phases. Phase One is a white paper. Generally, 50 companies make it through the white paper phase and onto phase two. Companies chosen to move onto phase two receive a $5,000 prize which may be used to help defer the cost of engaging with government. The second phase is a 15-minute in-person pitch to a panel. Up to 24 companies can move from phase two to phase three, with the highest-ranking company receiving a $10,000 prize. Phase three participants are invited to a conference and provided exhibit space and asked to provide a proof-of-concept demonstration. Up to 12 participants move forward, with the highest-ranking business plan and proof-of-concept demonstration plan to receive a prize of $120,000. The technology solution and transition plans are presented during phase four, the final phase. Currently, xTechSearch 4.0 is in its second phase.

The grand prize winner will be announced in October at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting in Washington, DC. The grand prize winner receives a prize of $250,000, similar to the size of a Small Business Innovation Research grant.

Want to learn more about pitch days? Give us a call.

CMMC a Plus for Small Businesses?

Katie Arrington, on staff  with the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment believes nation-states are actively targeting small businesses digitally. And, she says, we are losing the battle of cyberattacks. (Fifth Domain, October 8, 2019)

According to Arrington, rivals cost the US an estimated $600 billion per year and 5G will multiply that number exponentially by 2025. As a result, Arrington believes the cybersecurity maturity model certification (CMMC) is actually intended for small businesses. (ibid)

CMMC grades company cybersecurity on a scale of one (least secure) to five (most stringent). Small businesses must comply with a tiered rating structure. So a company offering cleaning services may need only comply with CMMC level one while an engineering firm is held to level four

Arrington says that CMMC levels the playing field. Old compliance standards allowed companies to perform their contracts while working on their plan of action to become technically acceptable. This left sensitive systems that require additional security controls vulnerable and with weak spots. Many small businesses do not have the resources to obtain a high CMMC level, ultimately limiting competition in the marketplace; others fear the costs will be so high, that small companies will be priced out of the marketplace and limit their ability to compete on government contracts. 

The most recent Navy breaches targeted contractors without classified information per se, but taken in total the data disclosed sensitive capabilities. This is exactly what the CMMC framework addresses. (ibid)

Requests for proposals are expected to include CMMC requirements, as early as fall 2020.

Questions about CMMC requirements? Give us a call.

STARS in Your Eyes?

After spending more than $1.6 billion on STARS 2 in 2018, GSA is constructing the third version of the 8(a) government-wide Streamlined Technology Acquisition Resource for services or better known as STARS. The third draft solicitation focuses on IT services. Those services include:

  • Software Development
  • Software Maintenance
  • Emerging Technology such as artificial intelligence (AI)

STARS 3 will be an eight-year contract, with a $20 billion ceiling. All responses to the draft RFP are due September 6, 2019. (Federal News Network, August 12, 2019)

Have questions concerning the STARS 3 draft RFP? Give us a call.

Setting Aside the Small Biz Set Asides

The National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) is moving from the Office of Personnel Management to the Department of Defense (DoD), merging with the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA). Of interest to many of EZGSA clients, sources say the move anticipates plans to significantly diminish small business goals at the agency from 65 percent to 10 percent, according to Elizabeth Mudd, small business program manager. (Defense Systems, August 7, 2019)

Mudd believes that the whopping decline in small business goals intends to promote more subcontracting to supplement the four primes that oversee background investigation services. While this may be true, the bottom lines remains that in this fiscal year, NBIB is contributing about $804 million in small business eligible dollars compared to DCSA’s $73.4 million. (ibid)  Maybe the merger won’t actually change the dollar amount contracted with small businesses in the long run, but we’re not holding our breath.

Want to gripe or discuss strategy? We’re here.