Small businesses make up more than 99 percent of companies in the United States, but because of their size and scale, many have constraints not experienced by most larger organizations. With a small business, the margin for error is small, so they have to be extremely flexible, lean and thrifty with every resource. While their larger counterparts typically have access to a multitude of business development professionals, small businesses are limited in the time they can invest in identifying personnel, building a network, developing relationships and finding partners.
AFCEA Small Business
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is taking innovation in-house as it strives to change the way it contracts with large and small businesses. The agency has instituted a number of programs that include actively seeking alternatives to contracting processes from companies seeking to do business with the revenue service.
Small businesses that lose a federal bid should take part in every applicable activity after the contract is awarded, including protests, if applicable. In many cases, these would set up the firm for a better chance to win their next bid. And, in some instances, a successful protest could overturn a contract award to a company’s favor.
These points were outlined by Josh Duvall, founder and managing partner of Matross Edwards LLC. Speaking to the AFCEA Small Business Committee, Duvall outlined several major points for firms that did not succeed in their bid proposals.
The newest governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) for both Defense Department and civilian agencies across the government is designed to fill a gap that previously left some small businesses at a disadvantage, according to private sector analysts. Known as Polaris, the governmentwide small business information technology (IT) services contract offers many opportunities for small businesses but also poses some pitfalls for companies that are not careful with their bids.
The Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 4 (CIO-SP4) governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) is adopting a new approach to information technology contracting that could be a boon to small businesses, according to the acting director of its contracting agent. The NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC), the federal executive agent for four GWACs covering information technology services and commodity solutions, has issued a draft request for proposal (RFP) for CIO-SP4 that could be worth up to $40 billion over its lifetime.
Companies, especially small businesses, need to mix Best In Class contracts in their business development quiver if they hope to stabilize and grow in today’s government acquisition environment. Although it’s valuable to be on large contract vehicles, if for no other reason than to list them on a corporate website, small firms must be careful not to depend only on them for steady business income.
Rapid changes in technology create new security vulnerabilities that require small businesses to expend resources to remain compliant. Lack of guidance, definitions or policies place these companies in positions that require them to make security investments without fully understanding the need or outcome of the resources they are spending.
While government information technology firms are better staffed from a security perspective, those that provide other services often do not have enough employees or the expertise to operate their internal computer systems at a high level of security. This situation makes them ideal targets for adversaries.
Many U.S. small businesses possess capabilities and technologies that are ideal for supporting overseas emerging economies, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is striving to arrange matches that serve both parties’ interests. The agency spent more than two-thirds of its nearly $17 billion FY 2018 funding on assistance, with the rest in acquisition. Overall, 14.6 percent of USAID awards worldwide go to small, disadvantaged, women-owned, service-disabled, veteran-owned and HUBZone small businesses.
Developing partnerships with diverse companies, especially to gain niche capabilities, is one of the ways small business can be competitive, even on prime contracts. But when small businesses do partner with multiple subcontractors, experts recommend certain steps, not only to protect the business but also to be seen in a positive light by acquisition officials.
Sharing their recommendations, a panel of small businesses and contracting officials came together at AFCEA TechNet Augusta to provide their advice on building and maintaining successful partnerships.
A simple piece of wraparound electronic hardware that shields a mobile phone’s sensors from hackers emerged as the top technology in the final competition of AFCEA International’s small business innovation shark tank. The technology allows its user full access to a phone while blocking the smartphone’s cameras and masking surrounding audio.
Developed by Privoro, an Arizona-based startup, the technology is known as SafeCase. Mike Fong, company CEO, described to the audience at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington how a user simply places his or her iPhone into the SafeCase unit, and then chooses the degree of jamming desired.
The General Services Administration’s current 8(a) STARS II, a small business set-aside governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC), expires in July 2021, and acquisition experts believe the competition for the follow-on contract should begin this year to avoid a lapse in ordering periods.
“Because there will be hundreds of bids to evaluate and there may be protests, the GSA should issue the request for proposal for 8(a) STARS III by July 2019 in order to ensure that there’s no break between STARS II and STARS III,” says Stephanie Mitchell, a U.S. Defense Department and federal government acquisition specialist with BD Squared LLC.
Small businesses are underutilizing a mentor-protégé program that streamlines their access to the federal marketplace, say government officials. Known as the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program, or ASMPP, the effort provides small businesses with a new avenue into federal contracting.
AFCEA International has received the 2018 Best of Small Business Award as the Best Non-Profit and ranked 16th in the Small Business Top 100. The Small Business Expo presents these awards to recognize America’s preeminent small to midsize business visionaries.
The Best Non-Profit Award honors nonprofit organizations that specialize in supporting small businesses and small business owners with workshops, business counseling and guidance. The SB100 Award recognizes the top 100 small to midsize businesses in the U.S. and celebrates their growth and accomplishments in the previous year.