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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

DOD Revamps Source Selection Process

Image: DAU.dodlive.mil
“WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY” By Bob Lohfeld

“New source selection procedures (SSP) on March 31 rescind the previous policies issued five years ago.

The new procedures will have a significant impact on proposal evaluations in DOD and specifically on how they handle best value tradeoffs and lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) procurements.

If you would like to read the full 40-page memorandum and its three appendices, it is available on our website.

Redefining the best value continuum

DOD added a new source selection approach to the best value continuum for use as a standalone evaluation approach or in combination with the previously defined best value subjective tradeoff or LPTA tradeoff. The new approach is called Value Adjusted Total Evaluated Price (VATEP) tradeoff, and it allows the source selection authority (SSA) to include monetized adjustments to an offeror’s evaluated price based on specific enhanced characteristics proposed in the offeror’s solution.

In traditional best value subjective tradeoff evaluations, bidders may exceed minimum contract requirements, but no guidance is provided about how much the government is willing to pay for performance above minimum performance requirements. In subjective tradeoff procurements, the evaluation team must carefully document instances where a bidder offers to exceed a contract minimum requirement, and the SSA has to subjectively weigh the benefits of each feature in evaluating the offeror’s proposal and trading off these benefits against price.

In the new VATEP approach, the government will clearly identify minimum (threshold) and maximum (objective) performance requirements in the RFP and identify how much it is willing to pay in terms of price increase (either percentage or dollars) for measurable performance above the threshold.

This approach quantifiably links value and cost in such a way that a bidder can make an informed decision whether it should propose to meet or exceed threshold levels.

For example, if speed is a performance requirement, the government will clearly state what it is willing to pay for increased speed above the threshold level up to the objective level. If it costs 10 percent more for the offeror to increase speed from the threshold to the objective performance level, and the government is willing to pay 20 percent more to achieve this higher performance, then proposing the higher performance level would be a good decision.

On the other hand, if the government is only willing to pay 5 percent more, and the offeror would have to raise its price by 10 percent to achieve this higher performance level, then the offeror would be better served to just propose performance at the lower threshold level.

In VATEP procurements, it is expected that the offeror will meet all threshold performance levels but will receive monetized evaluation credits for performance above thresholds. For performance above thresholds, the SSA will reduce the offeror’s evaluated price (for evaluation purposes only) by the amount of the credit the RFP assigns for performance above the threshold.

The government may assign an affordability cap to set an upper limit on how much the government will pay in total for all performance enhancements. Exceeding the affordability cap would make the offeror ineligible for award.

Any enhancements proposed above the threshold will be incorporated into the awardee’s contract.

Standardizing rating methodology and terminology

For all negotiated procurements (FAR Part 15), major system acquisitions (FAR Part 2.101), and task orders greater than $10 million on multiple award contracts, the new SSP standardizes evaluation terminology using five color ratings or adjectival ratings. These are:

  1. Blue (Outstanding) = a proposal with an exceptional approach and understanding of requirements that contains multiple strengths.
  2. Purple (Good) = a proposal with a thorough approach and understanding of requirements and contains at least one strength.
  3. Green (Acceptable) = a proposal with an adequate approach and understanding of requirements and has no strengths.
  4. Yellow (Marginal) = a proposal that does not demonstrate an adequate approach and understanding of requirements.
  5. Red (Unacceptable) = a proposal that does not meet the requirements of the solicitation and thus contains one or more deficiencies and is unawardable.
The above definitions apply when the government decides to consider performance risk as a separate evaluation factor. If performance risk is combined with the technical evaluation, the five color scores remain the same, but the definitions are slightly modified to include performance risk.

Clearly, to score well in highly competitive bids a proposal will need to have multiple strengths associated with each evaluation factor.

Neutral past performance rating may not be neutral

Past performance evaluations consider each offeror’s demonstrated recent and relevant record of performance in supplying products and services that meet contract requirements.
Relevancy is unique to each solicitation but may include, but not be limited to, similarity of product/service/support, complexity, dollar value, contract type, use of key personnel (services bids), and extent of subcontracting/teaming. 

Ratings are generally adjectival and are typically scored as Very Relevant,Relevant, or Somewhat Relevant. For example, very relevant would include present or recent past performance of an effort that involved essentially the same scope, magnitude, and complexities as those in the solicitation.

Quality of product or service as a separate rating is not required, however, a separate confidence assessment is required based on the overall record of recency, relevancy, and quality of performance.

Confidence ratings have five adjectival levels—Substantial, Satisfactory,Neutral, Limited, or No Confidence.

A neutral confidence rating occurs when there is no recent/relevant performance record available or the record is so sparse that no meaningful confidence rating can be assessed. 

When a neutral rating is received, the offeror’s past performance may not be evaluated favorably or unfavorably, however, the SSA may determine that another offeror with a substantialconfidence or satisfactory confidence rating is worth more than a neutralconfidence rating in a best value tradeoff as long as the determination is consistent with the stated evaluation criteria.

In LPTA procurements, an offeror with a neutral rating is given a passing score, so offerors are not penalized for lack of past performance.

LPTA procurement requirements defined

The new SSPs clearly state when an LPTA procurement is appropriate and emphasizes that this approach is appropriate when the products or services being acquired have:

  1. Well-defined requirements;
  2. Minimal risk of unsuccessful contract performance;
  3. Price has a dominant role in the source selection process; and
  4. There is no value, need, or interest to pay for higher performance.
Well-defined requirements mean technical requirements with acceptability standards that can be articulated by government and clearly understood by industry.
Appendix C to the new SSPs cites acquisition of commercial items or non-complex services or supplies as acquisitions that are appropriate for LPTA evaluations. This guidance is consistent with DoD’s Better Buying Power initiatives.

Small business participation

The government will evaluate the extent of small business participation proposed. Small business participation may be a standalone evaluation factor or a subfactor under the technical evaluation.

The requirement for small business participation must be clearly stated in the RFP as percentage goals for small business participation with the applicable breakdown of goals for various categories of small business concerns.

Proposed small business participation will be rated as either acceptable orunacceptable or scored using the same five color scores used for evaluating the technical proposal. When color scores are used, a Blue (Outstanding) rating is defined as “a proposal with an exceptional approach and understanding of the small business objective.”

The procedures do not say that in order to earn a Blue rating the offer must propose to exceed small business participation goals.

Mandatory use of discussions

Discussions are now mandatory for all procurements with an estimated value of $100 million or greater.
The procedures acknowledge that awards without discussions on large procurements are seldom in the best interest of government. Awards without discussions on complex, large procurements are discouraged.
Discussions, as a minimum, must include:

  1. Any adverse past performance information to which the offeror has not had an opportunity to respond; and
  2. Any deficiencies or significant weaknesses that have been identified during the evaluation.
The Procuring Contracting Officer (PCO) is encouraged to discuss other aspects of the proposal that could enhance the offeror’s potential for award such as evaluation weaknesses, excesses, and price, but is not required to discuss every area where the proposal could be improved.

There is no requirement to discuss all weaknesses in an offeror’s proposal even when undiscussed weaknesses may be determinative in the award.

Selecting the Source Selection Authority

The new procedures continue the practice of requiring the agency head to designate, in writing, someone other than the PCO as the source selection authority for procurements with values greater than $100 million (including options and planned orders). For these larger procurements, the SSA must establish a Source Selection Advisory Council (SSAC) to provide functional expertise.

When established, the SSAC’s primary role is to provide a written comparative analysis of the offerors and provide an award recommendation to the SSA. In the absence of an SSAC, the Source Selection Evaluation Board (SSEB) does not prepare a comparative analysis or recommendation for award since this task is the responsibility of the SSA.
The Source Selection Decision Document (SSDD) provides the rationale for award, and a redacted version can be provided at the debriefing.

The establishment of an SSA other than the PCO and use of the SSAC on larger procurements moves the selection decision solidly toward the organization needing the products, systems, or services being procured and away from individuals on the procurement side of the organization that may be more inclined to choose price over performance.

Final thoughts

The new source selection procedures, just like the previous, provide excellent guidance to improve DOD evaluation practices. I believe this procedure will serve DOD and industry well in the coming years and will help industry write better, more competitive proposals."

DOD Revamps Source Selection Process


BobLohfeld_150

About the Author

Bob Lohfeld is the chief executive officer of the Lohfeld Consulting Group. E-mail is robert.lohfeld@lohfeldconsulting.com.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Nimble Large and Small Business Teaming


WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY"

"Smaller players and the larger contractors work together in a new model of agile programs.
With successful mentorship and partnership programs, larger contractors gain access to contracts for which they would otherwise be ineligible.

Conversely, smaller contractors that lack the resources for federal procurements can break into this competitive marketplace by teaming with larger providers.

In today’s post-sequestration business climate, government contractors are continually challenged with shrinking margins, strong price competition and flat or decreased agency spending.
At the same time, new acquisition reform efforts aimed at streamlining and improving technology procurements are helping to ensure that agency CIOs are more involved in the process, and are responsible for the success or failure of all IT projects at their agency.

For the agency, the combination of these developments creates greater demand for technology collaboration and agile solution development.  With increased CIO involvement and improved agency coordination, programs should benefit by sharing common capabilities through inter-program collaboration.  At the same time, with a shift towards smaller, agile application solutions, as opposed to traditional grand-scale programs, agencies can lower the risk of cost overruns and schedule slippage.

For the large contractors supporting the agency, increased collaboration and more agile development increases the need to team with smaller innovative tech firms in emerging IT areas and then share those capabilities across programs.

For example, with the increasing need for sharing geospatial data across not only the Defense Department but also civilian agencies, contractors can help CIOs leverage their existing geographic software and imagery with available commercial-off-the-shelf solutions from smaller software companies, as opposed to developing custom applications.

When customization is required for success, the same small software companies can help large contractors fill highly specialized capability gaps without the need to directly acquire the innovation. Ultimately, with the right teaming arrangement, program outcomes are optimized which benefits all industry partners.

However, there are always challenges when it comes to developing the right teaming relationship. According to the Washington Technology Insider Report 2015, there is often a lack of transparency and mistrust in the majority of teaming relationships.

Many of these challenges come down to a lack of communication, and a misunderstanding of what each side brings to the table. For smaller specialized companies, it is easier to show their value propositions to both the government customer and the larger primes.

In today’s rapidly evolving government IT arena, these unique value propositions can be anything from spatial data management to mobility to the Internet of Things (IoT) to specialized cybersecurity offerings. These are the new innovation areas that are moving away from being “talked about” to actually being implemented.

In particular, spatial data collection and visualization is fundamental to decision support for all federal agencies.  There will never be a shortage in the need for insightful, actionable data for helping government become more responsive and effective. Government will always need on-demand decision support data about a wide-range of subjects – including disaster recovery, income levels, air quality, disease patterns, environmental incidents or population trends.

For larger contractors, it may be difficult to build out or acquire these types of capabilities in a rapid fashion.  Furthermore, with acquisition reform efforts like FITARA giving agency CIOs more input in the procurement process, it’s even more important for larger contractors to demonstrate greater value with the right teaming arrangements.

Ultimately, we all want successful business outcomes produced by the unmitigated success of our customer agencies. This can be achieved through nimble teaming relationships where the smaller players and the larger contractors work together in a new model of agile programs."

Need for agility drives need for new technology partnerships

Friday, April 1, 2016

Feds Add 92 Industries to Women-Owned Business Contracting Program

Image:  Chambercoalition.org

Judy Bradt on Linked In









"The Federal government has just expanded the industries included in the Federal Women-Owned Business Contracting Program!
As per the 3/316 Federal Register notice, effective immediately, 92 new NAICS industry groups are eligible for Federal contract preferences under to WOSB program. Is your business affected? Check  here
“SBA”
“At the request of the SBA in 2015, the Office of the Chief Economist, at the U.S. Department of Commerce, conducted a new study on the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program. The study reevaluated the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industry groups in which WOSBs are underrepresented and substantially underrepresented in Federal contracting. As a result of the study, the SBA has determined changes will be implemented to the WOSB Federal Contracting Program. These changes will provide expanded opportunities for WOSBs to pursue set-aside and sole source federal contracts.
As set forth in the Federal Register notice, the SBA has authorized the use of 113 new NAICS Industry groups for WOSB and EDWOSB set asides. WOSBs will now be eligible for contract participation in 92 NAICS industry groups. EDWOSBs will now be eligible for contract participation in 21 designated NAICS industry groups, along with the 92 NAICS industry groups identified for WOSB. The effective date per the notice for use of these new NAICS is 3 March 2016. ”

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

New Tax Law – Instant Depreciation for Small Businesses

Business Management Daily

“NEW YORK TIMES”

“Nearly all small businesses, even the very tiniest, should consider taking advantage of the deduction.

The deduction is essentially limited to small and midsize companies. It begins phasing out when a company spends more than $2 million a year on qualifying purchases, and is eliminated entirely for those that spend more than $2.5 million.

The deduction works like this: If a company has a $90,000 profit and decides to spend $50,000 of it on new computers, the company would normally write off the cost of the equipment gradually, deducting a portion of it each year over the span of the computers’ useful life. But Section 179 allows the business to deduct the entire $50,000 cost at once in the year the equipment is purchased, reducing the company’s taxable profit to $40,000. (The deduction cannot exceed a business’s total net income.)

Section 179 was once a fairly limited tax break, with an annual cap of $25,000 or less. But in 2003, Congress temporarily raised the limit to $100,000, and in 2008, as the recession set in, it raised the cap again to $250,000. In 2010, hoping to stimulate more spending, Congress increased the limit to $500,000, allowing businesses to use the deduction toward expensive items like factory machinery and trucks.

But each increase was a temporary measure requiring annual reauthorization to prevent the cap from returning to $25,000 — and Congress developed a habit of waiting until the very last days of the year to make a decision. In 2012, it missed the calendar deadline completely and passed legislation on Jan 1, 2013, retroactively raising the deduction limit for equipment business owners had purchased the previous year.

“The uncertainty drives my clients up a tree,” said Paul Neiffer, an accountant with CliftonLarsonAllen in Yakima, Wash., who specializes in the agricultural industry. “Not knowing each year if it will be extended prevents a lot of our farmers from pulling the trigger on buying equipment.”

From now on, they will know. Signed on Friday by President Obama, the 233-page tax deal includes in its myriad tax breaks one that permanently sets the Section 179 cap at $500,000, subject to inflation adjustments.

Mr. Kortesmaki said he was confident enough that Congress would once again lift Section 179’s cap to go ahead this year with his planned capital purchases, even before the legislation was passed. But other business owners held off — and this year, the deal came too late for some, Ms. Wuebben thinks.

“You can’t plan to spend that kind of money with just two weeks left in the year,” she said. “We might see some activity this year, but the real benefit for us will come next year, when customers can plan ahead for it.”

Some companies do try to jam in qualifying purchases before the calendar year ends. Last year, Congress raised the Section 179 limit for the year on Dec. 16. The next day, the prices farm machinery sold for at auctions increased compared with just a few days earlier, according to Greg Peterson, the owner of Machinery Pete, a site that tracks equipment auction prices.

“The response is nearly Pavlovian at this point,” he said. “The farm audience had grown so used to this annual silly dance of wait-and-see on our friends in Washington.”
Making Section 179’s higher limit permanent will cost taxpayers $77 billion in foregone revenue over the next 10 years, according to a government estimate. The tax break’s aim is to stimulate spending — but does it work?

An analysis by the Congressional Research Service found that expensing allowances like Section 179 appear to “have a minor effect at best” on how much businesses spend on capital goods. Expectations for future sales growth, not tax considerations, motivates most of the investment in the kinds of assets eligible for expensing.

The main advantage of expensing allowances, the report suggests, comes from simplifying the tax accounting business owners face on their capital purchases.
Still, owners like Mr. Kortesmaki see the tax break as a crucial one for helping their small business grow a bit bigger.

“I’d rather invest that money in my business than pay taxes on it,” he said. “Having this become permanent makes my business planning for the next few years a whole lot easier.”

Small Businesses Get a Permanent Tax Break on Buying Equipment

Monday, February 1, 2016

U.S. Small Business Administration Offers Help to Veterans


"MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE"
"The U.S. Small Business Administration has resources available for veterans who want to start their own businesses or for small businesses that may have been affected by employees who have been deployed.
The numbers are substantial, according to the SBA: Nearly one in 10 small businesses in this country are veteran-owned; veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans; and businesses owned by female vets have increased 297 percent from 2007 to 2012.
The SBA’s website has collected a list of programs that can offer help, especially in navigating the complexities of returning home for members of the Guard or Reserve after being deployed.
It has information on starting a business, financing, mentoring and training and selling to the government. It can be found on the website Veteran Owned Businesses
One example of a resource is the Military Economic Injury Loan, which provides funds to eligible small businesses to meet operating expenses when an essential employee is called to active duty. The filing period for businesses to apply begins on the date the essential employee is ordered to active duty and ends one year after the essential employee is discharged or released from active duty.
Another aspect to consider are laws that make federal contracting more attractive to veterans, particularly those with a service-connected disability. The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999 established an annual government-wide goal of awarding at least 3 percent of all federal contracts to small businesses owned or controlled by service-disabled veterans.
There’s also Boots to Business, a two-step entrepreneurship training program open to service members and their spouses. The two-day course introduces participants to the opportunities and challenges of business ownership. An eight-week online course allows participants to work through the fundamentals of developing a workable business plan."

Friday, January 1, 2016

Pentagon to Revise Rules for Contracting Private Sector Services




“NATIONAL DEFENSE MAGAZINE”

“The Defense Department is about to introduce a new policy that would bring greater scrutiny to contractor-provided services.

A key theme in this policy is the expectation that any department official who hires contractors for any type of work should receive training on how to write requirements and negotiate terms such as how to reward contractor performance.

The Pentagon’s new approach to the procurement of contractor services will be detailed in the upcoming “DoD Instruction 5000.ac.”

With the Pentagon now spending more than $150 billion a year on private-sector services, there is growing pressure to professionalize the process of hiring contractors and negotiating deals, said Claire Grady, director of defense procurement and acquisition policy.
Grady is a former deputy assistant commandant for acquisition and director of acquisition services for the U.S. Coast Guard, and has taken on a major role at the Pentagon at a time when the department is pushing wide-ranging procurement reforms and coming under growing criticism from industry groups for its business-unfriendly policies.

“We are looking to improve the tradecraft in services acquisition,” Grady said last week at the National Contract Management Association’s annual symposium in Washington, D.C.
The pressure on the Defense Department to tighten up its contractor hiring practices has been building up for years as the Pentagon increased its reliance on contractors for everything from construction work to secret-level research and development of technology.

“It’s different than it was 20 or 25 years ago when I started, when services were a smaller percentage of our expense,” Grady said. “Contractors are an essential element of what we do. And we haven’t always paid attention to services acquisition as we have on major weapons systems.” Services now account for 55 percent of all contract spending.

As service contracting became more widespread, the Pentagon’s highly centralized procurement command structure lost control, and over time it became clear that officials who had little or no experience or training in government procurement were making contractor-hiring decisions. Over the past several years, Pentagon procurement chief Frank Kendall has made services acquisition a higher priority on his reform agenda. The new directive would codify the message that Kendall has been communicating in his “better buying power” guidelines.

Grady said the forthcoming policy emphasizes the need to hold contractors accountable but also is mindful of concerns about excessive bureaucracy. “You don’t want to impose the same discipline on services as you do on major weapon systems but you have to have a balance.” Any service contract above $1 billion will have to be approved by senior acquisition executives.

The directive to make services acquisition training available across the Defense Department is significant, said Grady. Courses will be offered by the Defense Acquisition University in classrooms and online. There could be other vehicles for those who cannot attend DAU classes.

One of the Pentagon’s growing challenges is figuring out how to write contracts for private-sector support in so-called “knowledge based services.” Whereas it is easier to define duties and determine prices for commercial services like mowing the lawns or staffing commissaries at military bases, the knowledge-based category is of greater concern to the Defense Department.

Knowledge based services are tasks that require specialized technical expertise. They range from furnishing professional advice to management consulting and engineering support. The result of these services — which may take the form of information, advice, opinions, alternatives, analysis, evaluations, recommendations and overall support of day-to-day agency operations — are more difficult to articulate in contracts and assess a fair price.

Knowledge based services now consume 21 percent of all Defense Department services contracts. It’s “huge,” Grady said. The second biggest category is research and development, with 17 percent, and construction services at 8 percent.

The Pentagon’s track record in services contracting has been fraught with embarrassments in areas like overseas battlefield support, information technology and logistics systems. Billions of dollars in wasteful spending have been attributed to poorly defined work scopes and a lack of understanding of the marketplace by government officials.

“We need to make sure they do market research, get the requirements right and incentivize outcomes,” Grady said. Many government workers who hire contractors are “people who are not part of the traditional acquisition workforce,” she said. “I want to help people write requirements [without] trying to not be too prescriptive.” Whoever signs a contract must understand the needs of the “end user,” Grady said. “The emphasis should be on the commander’s requirements.”

Congress approved funds for the training initiative in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. Nevertheless, this will be “challenging,” she said. “How do we get training for people that are not part of our acquisition workforce?” Just figuring out who should receive training will be difficult. “These folks are not sitting in a program manager billet, or a contracting officer billet. But we still need to get them trained.”

Learning how to contract for services is quite different than buying weapon systems, which traditionally has been the focus of acquisition training. With services, Grady said, there is a “strong emphasis on getting the requirements laid out upfront.”

In her NCMA speech, Grady also addressed the chorus of criticism by industry groups and contractor executives that the Defense Department is squeezing vendors’ profit margins and wiping out incentives for the private sector to invest in innovative products.

The Pentagon is trying to do better on that front, Grady said. “We are committed to a robust industrial base,” she said. “Industry should be earning a fair profit when they’re performing well.” But while the Pentagon is not deliberately targeting profits, she warned, “We want to do everything we can to align the motivation of industry so we get the outcomes we are looking for.” Her office is promoting the use of “heavier incentives” by procurement officials to reward performance.

A case in point is a new truck procurement for the Army and Marine Corps, the joint light tactical vehicle, or JLTV. The program is now in the spotlight because the losing bidder, Lockheed Martin Corp., is suing the government for inappropriate handling of program data during a protest.

Grady did not comment on the protest. But she cited JLTV as an example of how the Pentagon intends to reward contractors for innovation.

“In source selections we are looking for opportunities to communicate more accurately to industry what’s important to our end users. And what will differentiate a product or differentiate a service that we’re willing to pay a premium for,” she said. “We don’t want to make industry guess. 

We want to communicate what it is that we would place value on.”

In JLTV, the government stated upfront the premiums it would pay for certain features. “You don’t have to guess if it’s worth $1 or $100 to us. We’ll tell you upfront in the source selection,” she said. “That’s a change in the thought process.” For this to work, the industry has to know what the government is willing to pay, so “they know whether they want to spend the additional effort to get that outcome.”

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=2052

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sunday, November 1, 2015

YOUR SMALL BUSINESS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING BUSINESS PLAN



INTRODUCTION

When visiting the SBA website on business planning, there are major topics in the business planning process which, when addressed in a plan, will insure the success of an enterprise and assist  in determining and supporting the amount of funding needed. Such topics as marketing, advertising, competitor analysis and financing are covered there. There are presentations and examples that can be followed to improve a plan or generate an initial plan. The link to the site is below:
SBA Write a Business Plan

Articles on strategic planning and developing a marketing plan are at the “References” Box Net Cube at this site. They address evolving an operations vision for an enterprise showing its potential to present to a banker or to an investor.

Here is a site with free business plan samples:
Business Plan Samples

It may assist in visualizing business growth to look at an example of how someone else addressed a given topic.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

The purpose of this article is to supplement the above business planning guidance with suggestions on principal unique aspects of federal government contracting that will yield a successful plan and more importantly a successful execution of that plan in the federal contracting venue.  

NICHE DEVELOPMENT

Product entrepreneurs all face the same challenges. Those who succeed recognize they need to visualize themselves in the product development business, structuring an enterprise, generating a business plan, protecting intellectual property and then seeking industry partners and investors to bring the product to market.

In the process, copyrights, patents and royalty issues may come into play and development and distribution agreements are formed. Pricing is finalized based on cost and expense projections and competitive factors unique to the company as negotiation results are achieved with industry teaming partners, developers, manufacturers and distributors.


Service contracting to the federal government is a natural venue for small business. It does not require a product with a niche market or capital intensive manufacturing facilities. Service contracting does require skilled management and labor resources capable of performing a scope of work for which the government has identified a need and for which outsourcing to an industry contractor has been selected as the means to fulfill that need. The venue demands strong human resources management, industry teaming and an enhanced business system to price, account and bill on a job cost basis under government service contracts.


REGISTRATION

Utilize the below link to register your company.  It provides excellent guidance and background, as well as access to the PDF file on NAICS Codes which are critical for you to choose before you begin the registration process.  Give these some careful thought when selecting them.  If there is a chance your firm may wish to be involved in a field, put the code in your registration.  No one will question your qualifications at this point.  That comes later during proposals. 
Note the requirement for a DUNS number up front.  You may already have one.  If you do - use it.  If you do not, follow the instructions on obtaining a DUNS free at the Dunn and Bradstreet web site.  
When you have completed your registration at the link below you will received a Government CAGE Code, uniquely identifying your firm and its location as a government contractor. 

MARKET RESEARCH

As a small business becomes known in the federal government contracting community, successful marketing of sole source or group-designated business becomes easier, but it is always a challenge due to the need for taking early action in windows of opportunity. 
Find those windows and communicate capabilities to the decision makers and industry team members who can help you.  
If you are eligible for set aside designations make small business set asides or sole source procurements key elements in your marketing plan. 


TEAMING

Be straight-forward and honest with  industry teaming partners.

Do not violate share arrangements, teaming agreements or non-disclosure agreements. Such violations are a death knell for your reputation in the business.

Do not become known as a resource raider by hiring away from other firms with whom you have teamed.

Give it a best shot as a prime or a sub but involve the government contracting officer to resolve industry teaming disputes that may damage a past performance record.

Exclusivity is the practical way to go on any given program. Team early and exclusively and be a winner. 
Reputation is key, ethics count and  customers as well as the industry are observing.


BUSINESS SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT

Waiting for a contract award to achieve a government contracting business process is not advisable. A win may not happen at all without addressing the structure and process requirements in your proposal to convince the customer  understand his business environment is understood.

If one is not prepared in advance and one is fortunate enough to win, then in a very short time frame one will have to evolve a business system to perform on the contract and submit a billing

This article will discuss a framework for a small enterprise to develop a business system in service contracting, which is the most frequent venue utilized to enter the government market.



PROPOSAL PREPARATION

Government contract proposal preparation is time consuming and can be costly. Meeting the agency Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements with a responsive proposal can be well worth the effort if a winning strategy can be formulated. When considering submitting a proposal to a given government solicitation, conduct a bid/no bid exercise.

By going through that process  a company  begins formulating your win strategy or it will discover that it should not bid this job for lack of such a strategy. The elements of the process are discussed below in the form of questions to ask  against topics for key consideration

This article offers guidance as a template to apply marketing operations for accommodating federal government contract proposal preparation. Proposals are special, sometimes exhausting projects, but a necessary part of doing business with government agencies. Like many other aspects of business, the more proposals that are prepared, the more that is learned and the more one can borrow from past practice for the next one.


PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Strategic thinking must be applied to structuring a government service contract project management capability in your company. It must involve long term planning and designing a business system as well as establishing rates and factors to bid new work and control it while interfacing with the customer.

When one plans in detail to define the product or the service one reduces performance risk. 

The project management challenge is not to launch significant and costly resources before the specification for the product is sufficiently defined, obviating the need for costly revisions or abandonment, yet knowing when the product definition and plan are suitable for release.

Good project management starts early.


SUMMARY

Consider the advice herein when developing and maintaining your business plan. Overlay approaches unique to the company against the guidance offered and place it in the standard format for business planning.  It will yield a road map for success and can be further evolved for growth.

For additional  details on these topics and other important information in developing and executing a government contacting plan, download the free books and supplements available in PDF format at the first, vertical “Box” in the left margin of this site.

Seizing the Moment






Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Thank You and 4 Gifts from Ken Larson


PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE
USE "BOX" IN LEFT MARGIN BELOW TO DOWNLOAD YOUR COPIES


Approaching 10 years in volunteer small business consulting, I appreciate the nearly 8,000 individuals who have contacted me for advice. 

You have come from many venues through the Micro Mentor and SCORE Foundations, Linked In and other social media sites.  It has been a pleasure serving small business. 

My work with you has kept me active in retirement, in touch with my profession and engaged in a continuous learning mode as we have followed the world's largest consumer - The US Federal Government. 

Please feel free to download any of the 4 free books available here. 

I plan a 5th Edition of "Small Business Federal Government Contracting" in 2016. 

My best wishes for success to you all. 

Ken Larson