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Tag: Defense Department

The SBA & DOD are teaming up to reinforce Small Business Development

On Friday, December 2, 2022, the Defense Department and the U.S. Small Business Administration signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for both agencies to better meet the needs of small businesses in the United States. The goal is to bolster small business development, both nationally and locally. (Executive Gov December 9, 2022)

Farooq A. Mitha, director of small business programs at DOD, and Mark Madrid, associate administrator of SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development, signed the agreement at the Maryland Procurement Technical Assistance Center, a DOD-funded office in College Park, Maryland. (U.S. Department of Defense December 7, 2022 l DOD News)

There are over 90 Procurement Technical Assistance Centers throughout the US. These centers are set up to work with small businesses looking to obtain contracts with either DOD or other federal agencies. The centers are currently going through a rebranding and will move from Procurement Technical Assistance Centers to APEX Accelerators. The goal of the APEX Accelerators is to increase the number of businesses able to participate in the government marketplace. (ibid)

“One of the things that we want to make sure that we’re doing is providing resources and support to small businesses who are looking to do business with DOD, with other federal agencies, with state and local government and really reduce barriers to entry,” said Mitha. “And we can’t do that without our APEX Accelerators. And we can’t do that without a … strong partnership with the Small Business Administration and the [Small Business Development Centers] program.”  (ibid)

At the signing, Madrid said, “Today was about breaking down silos and working together because we’re all in it for the same reason. If you look at DOD [and] SBA, you look at the APEX Accelerators, you look at our SBDC network, we’re all trying to make government, and ultimately opportunities, more accessible to our small businesses at the end of the day. That’s what we achieved today.”  (ibid)

As a result of the MOU, Madrid is certain the DOD and the SBA will find many ways to better integrate training conducted by their APEX Accelerators and SBDCs. Their goal is to jointly conduct at least one national event a year together. (Executive Gov December 9, 2022)

SBA and DOD also launched a joint effort, called the Small Business Investment Company Critical Technologies Initiative, to drive investments in critical technologies that are key to national security. (ibid)

Are you looking to take advantage of one of the more than 90 APEX Accelerators resources and or the Small Business Investment Company Critical Technologies Initiative (SBICCT)? Give us a call.

CMMC in GWACs

GSA is expected to begin applying the Department of Defense’s Cyber Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) at the order level to governmentwide acquisition contract vehicles. (Govconwire, November 10, 2020)

According to Keith Nakasone, deputy assistant commissioner for acquisition in the General Services Administration Office of IT, future Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) will include CMMC requirements, layered in over time. In this video interview, Nakasone explains that the requirements are being added to make sure contracts are within scope for the Department of Defense, the largest GWAC customer. (Government Matters, November 8, 2020)

Nakasone hopes to educate and train industry partners on the CMMC requirements over time. Although he didn’t state outright that CMMC will become part of all future contracts, they are part of the Polaris draft RFP, scheduled for release in December. (ibid)

Need assistance in understanding the CMMC requirements? Give us a call.

Paying for COVID Absences

DoD has been steadily compensating contractors for work they are not able to complete due to the pandemic. According to Ellen Lord, chief acquisition chief for the Pentagon, payments are about to speed up. (Federal News Network, August 14, 2020)

Lord explained, “We have developed a streamlined path forward for low dollar value reimbursements under $2 million, and a path to settle globally at a company or division level that will eliminate the need to have proposals and negotiations on the contract-by-contract basis.”  DoD plans to make payments based on a tiered structure, depending on the size of the payments.

Questions about getting paid during the pandemic, or if you will get paid? Give us a call.

CMMC Coming to Solicitations

Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) requirements may show up in solicitations within six months. (GOVCONWire, May 12, 2020)

A Department of Defense spokesperson expects about 10 DoD RFIs in June to include the new requirements. She said, “As we release the RFIs, we’ll have the certified and trained auditors who will be able to go out to industry and certify companies at the level of maturity required for the work that they’re bidding on.” (ibid)

Additionally, changes to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement 252.204-7012 should be finalized by October. “You will not see the CMMC in any Department of Defense contracts or RFPs until the rule change is completed.” (ibid)

Questions on the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification and whether you can bid on upcoming solicitations? Give us a call.

Government Contracting Automation?

Recent survey results of federal acquisition senior procurement executives and chief acquisition officers provide a window into the world of government procurement and what should occur over the next few years, according to Kraig Conrad CEO of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA), who conducted the survey. (Federal News Network, January 7, 2020)

According to NCMA, the three major findings from the survey are:

  • The role of the contracting officer is changing
  • The business of contracting is changing.
  • The workforce is changing.

The survey found that respondents are looking to shorten the procurement cycle while giving the Contracting Officer the ability to be less restricted and able to focus on providing solutions as opposed to getting mired in the routine administrative tasks. According to Conrad, the acquisition professional should see their role as a solution maker and not a compliance “police” officer, which ultimately limits the Contracting Officer’s impact. (ibid)

One element that threads itself through all of the findings is the need for top cover from agency executives to allow contracting officers as well as program managers the leeway and freedom to try different things and bring new ideas to the table. Conrad gives the example of the Air Force pitch days, in which 51 contracts were awarded to companies that have little or no experience with the military. The service doled out $3.5 million to those small businesses on a Wednesday — each in 15 minutes or less. The first installments of the companies’ contracts were in their bank accounts almost immediately. (ibid)

Conrad noted, “we heard from a lot of our senior procurement executives that in an environment where they feel they have top cover, the risk aversion conversation is easier to overcome. Otherwise, you will go right back to the same old model where everyone is trying to protect themselves. That top cover really only comes when someone in a leadership structure is not afraid to get in trouble. You run into situations where the senior leadership doesn’t feel they are covered or protected. It will take leaders stepping out and leaning over these challenges to be able to open challenges for their workforce.” (ibid)

Another area of impact on federal acquisition is technology. The survey white paper states “Several senior leaders even described a future in which an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules and regulations will be devalued as artificial intelligence further automates their application to acquisitions or incorporates regulatory provisions and requirements into contracting app algorithms.” (ibid)

According to Conrad, “we need to get better at how we train into the workforce. Those that have data science understanding need to tell a really good story with data. How are the contracting officers the solution makers? That really comes down to competency. What is those balance of skills that will allow someone to be competent as a business leader in this function? That is one of the areas, because of technology advances, that the technical components will soon be outweighed by the software skill needs.” Conrad feels the “softer skills” include a baseline knowledge of the actual problem/mission, products, and their related markets. (ibid)

Most senior leaders interviewed expect a shift from tactical to strategic work as technology is used for repetitive or routine tasks. It’s expected that many administrative tasks, for example, contract modifications, will become fully automated. Some senior leaders look to AI to further automate regulatory provisions and requirements into contracting app algorithms. (ibid)

Conrad expects to meet with federal acquisition leaders to discuss the survey results and begin the process of changing the role of the contracting officer.

Wondering if this will affect how you work with a Contracting Officer? Give us a call.