Archive

Author Archives: BizEvangelist

GAO does not administer the requirements to stay award or suspend contract performance under CICA. 31 U.S.C. secs. 3553(c), (d); 4 C.F.R. sec. 21.6. The only time we consider an agency’s override of a CICA stay is in the context of recommending a course of action where we sustain a protest, see, e.g., Exelis Systems Corporation, B 407111.5 et al., May 20, 2013, 2013 CPD ¶ 123 at 14-16, but we have made no conclusions on your protests at this point. Otherwise, whether or not to suspend or proceed with contract award or performance is left to the procuring agency’s discretion under CICA. See 31 U.S.C. secs. 3553(c), (d).

Pedro Briones, as stated to Mssrs. Bob Freeman of Nexagen & Michael Lin of LinTech regarding the GSA override of CICA Stay provision on B-408685.15 & B-408685.17. A ruling on both Protests by GAO is expected in late July.

Two firms, Nexagen, Inc. and LinTech Global, Inc., have filed Procurement Integrity Act (PIA) Violation Protests at GAO, B-408685.15 & B-408685.17, alleging un-redacted source selection material was released publicly by GSA OASIS contracting officer Tommy Thomas. These firms have posited that it was as a result of GSA’s disclosure that several firms became apparent awardees.

They are requesting that GSA cancel solicitation no. GS00Q-13-DR-0002, and all awards made to date, in order that the solicitation may be re-competed.

Yet, according to its website post dated June 25, 2014: : https://interact.gsa.gov/document/gsa-issues-notice-proceed-oasis-small-business-sb , On June 20, GSA issued the Notice to Proceed (NTP) for OASIS Small Business (SB).

The Procurement Integrity Act, 41 U.S.C. § 423(a) (2006), prohibits any present or former official of the United States, with respect to a federal agency procurement, from “knowingly” disclosing contractor bid or proposal information or source selection information before the award of a federal agency procurement contract to which the information relates. The statute defines source selection information to include bid and proposal prices, source selection and technical evaluation plans, technical and cost/price evaluations of proposals, competitive range determinations, rankings of bids/proposals, and reports/evaluations of source selection panels, boards, or advisory councils. 41 U.S.C. § 423(f)(2). Ref Case(s): Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc., B-400787.2; B-400861.

The Voice of Small Business in America (VSBA): http://linkd.in/OneVoice has confirmed that both Protesters did file not later than 10 days after the basis of the protest is known or should have been known or within 10 days of debriefing as required by 4 C.F.R. § 21.2(a)(2).

Under CICA Stay, 31 U.S.C. 3553(c) and (d), an Agency may not award a contract after notice of pending protest, and the Head of Procuring agency must notify GAO if it intends to override the Stay.

Apparently, neither the GAO nor the GSA advised the Protesters of this intent to override.

Stay tuned, more to come.

Submitted to:
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee

I am a small business and government contracts consultant dedicated to helping small firms successfully navigate the federal marketplace. In addition to providing small businesses with guidance on complying with the Federal Acquisition Regulation and other key government contracts rules, my firm, Aljucar, Anvil-incus & Co. prepares and manages teaming, joint venture and mentor-protégé arrangements with large-cap firms. As a result of the above stated, my firm sometimes must defend its interest by GAO bid protest.

SUMMARY OF INQUIRY

The GAO is not a court of law. Therefore, by what [specific] legal or regulatory authority is the agency able to establish legal precedent? [NOTE]: This same inquiry was made to the Office of the Comptroller General on June 3, 2014 without response.

BACKGROUND

The GAO has presumed to create “impromptu” rules to supplement the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §21 by virtue of its case precedent. I am requesting your assistance in determining on whose specific authority and/or by what specific law or regulation citation the GAO is able create impromptu rules to supplement the Code of Federal Regulations §21 by virtue of its own legal precedent in doing so. We have combed the laws incepting the agency and those governing its operations, and can find no requisite anywhere in CFR §21 that authorizes GAO attorney’s or management to append regulation and create rules by virtue of legal precedent.

Examples of rule supplements by GAO include the filing of “Motions” and the requirement for “Comments” on an Agency Report during a bid protest proceeding.

MOTIONS – GAO regulations [explicitly] state that [n]o formal briefs or other technical forms of pleadings or motions are required. This is all consistent with Congresses ‘mandate that the Comptroller General “provide for the inexpensive and expeditious resolution of protests” to “the maximum extent practicable.” However, federal agencies consistently file “Motions to Dismiss” during bid protests which are accepted and acted upon by GAO.

COMMENTS – It has been confirmed that there is no federal law or regulation that defines “comments on a report” in the context of a GAO protest by the agency’s Chief Quality Officer, Mr. Timothy Bowling and its Head of Procurement Law, Mr. Ralph White (see attached). However, according to Mr. White:

“The [definition] of “comments on a report” is not based on a specific regulation, but rather on long-standing [legal] precedent in connection with bid protests before GAO.”

The GAO has taken this position despite the agency NOT being a court of law. Indeed, the agency does not employ procedures that include discovery and evidentiary rules; it does not employ appellate review; and, it does not have the power to enforce its judgments.

Therefore I am respectfully requesting to know if this is truly Congress’ intent and if so by what [specific] law or regulation this authority to establish enforceable legal precedent is codified. Your time in consideration and response to this inquiry is greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Rudy Sutherland

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

It is rare that an industry peer accuses a competitor of unethical behavior, on the border line of fraud; but that is exactly what happened this week. PaySimple (www.paysimple.com), established in 2005, was called out by Wells Fargo Bank executives for its questionable business practices towards Small Businesses in the processing and remittance of credit payments. It seems the company makes a practice of:

  1. debiting Smalls bank accounts without notice and sending invoices weeks later,
  2. charging and escalating fees without notice, and
  3. holding customer credit-card remittances in order to make money on the Federal Reserve overnight rate.

Wells Fargo has stated that it does not use nor recommend this company and its affiliates (discussed below).

PaySimple, whose competitors are PayPal™ and Authorize.net®, is a Denver, Colorado-based financial services provider that supplies merchant accounts along with several other services. The company specializes in providing merchants an integrated system that allows them to send electronic invoices and collect payments via credit/debit card, e-checks, and ACH transfers through customizable payment pages. In short, the company is a software company, NOT a credit card processor.

It would appear that PaySimple is a glorified software developer “front” for the credit card processor, North American Bancard or “NAB” (www.nabancard.com) a large merchant account provider based in Troy, Michigan that has an unusually high number of complaints filed against it by Small Businesses. At the recommendation of some in our group membership, we used the services and software interface of PaySimple with controversial results.

Although the software is very intuitive and user friendly, this did not mask the less than scrupulous business practices of NAB, its credit card processor. NAB has a long history, upon cancellation attempts, of trying to take money out of Small Business customer accounts with claims that they “never received” a request to cancel and putting extended holds, sometimes up to 21-days, on credit card payments for no apparent reason whatsoever.

Furthermore, our research has shown NAB has extensive complaints filed against it at the Federal Trade Commission by Small Businesses and a multiple of Attorneys General across the country. Because of this fact, we fully understand why the company needed a front like PaySimple to mask its poor business practices. This stated, and while PaySimple may be a very attractive and intuitive front-facing interface, we strongly encourage our membership to consider its competitors, PayPal™ and Authorize.net®.

We sincerely hope that PaySimple and NAB recognize the simple fact that, no matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, at the end of the day – it’s still a pig.

Change your business practices or face certain extinction.

One Voice…

R. Sutherland | http://linkd.in/OneVoice 

May 28, 2014

Two firms have filed Procurement Integrity Act (PIA) Violation Protests at GAO, B-408685.15 & B-408685.17, alleging un-redacted source selection material was released publicly by GSA OASIS contracting officer Tommy Thomas. These firms have posited that it was as a result of GSA’s disclosure that several firms became apparent awardees.

They are requesting that GSA cancel solicitation no. GS00Q-13-DR-0002, and all awards made to date, in order that the solicitation may be re-competed.

The Procurement Integrity Act, 41 U.S.C. § 423(a) (2006), prohibits any present or former official of the United States, with respect to a federal agency procurement, from “knowingly” disclosing contractor bid or proposal information or source selection information before the award of a federal agency procurement contract to which the information relates. The statute defines source selection information to include bid and proposal prices, source selection and technical evaluation plans, technical and cost/price evaluations of proposals, competitive range determinations, rankings of bids/proposals, and reports/evaluations of source selection panels, boards, or advisory councils. 41 U.S.C. § 423(f)(2).

Ref Case(s): Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc., B-400787.2; B-400861.

More to come.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

TIMELINESS

On September 21, 2013, Aljucar, Anvil-Incus & Co. (AA-I & Co.) filed a timely protest with U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO), which raised a number of arguments in our protest including that the solicitation did not allow newly-formed joint venture offerors to satisfy the experience requirements through the experience of the individual members of the joint venture; that the RFP improperly provided for an initial pass/fail evaluation of experience; that issuance of two OASIS solicitations would not provide meaningful opportunities for small businesses; and, that using two separate solicitations for set-aside versus unrestricted competitions was improper since the scope of work for the two solicitations was the same. Due to precedent at GAO, the Agency only addressed the argument regarding the RFP not allowing newly-formed joint ventures to satisfy the solicitation’s experience requirements through the experience of individual joint venture members, while the remaining arguments were considering abandoned without address. Thusly, on January 2, 2014, GAO denied the protest. The apparent awardees for GSA OASIS Unrestricted were released to FBO.gov on May 19, 2014 ref: https://www.fbo.gov/notices/9894b0308c12f4ede7ccb259264473e3 . Because this protest filing will be within 10 days of this public release; it will be timely.

INTERESTED PARTY

Summary

AA-I & Co. is a Protestor wishing to bring about a re-solicitation on which it intends to bid and therefore has the necessary status, even though it failed to bid in response to the original solicitation but did protest before the close of the proposal period for the original solicitation. Protester expected to bid prior to the close of the solicitation period, but was prevented from doing so on the basis of improper agency action. AA-I & Co. would be a prospective bidder on a re-solicitation and, therefore, is an interested party. See IHS Global, Inc. v. United States.

Prospective Offeror

The Federal Circuit’s long-standing and well-established interpretation of § 1491(b)(1) that an “interested party” under that provision may be either an “actual or prospective bidder” applies here. Moreover, “when the government’s actions wrongfully prevent a bidder from qualifying for or bidding on a solicitation, the government cannot use the contractor’s failure to qualify or bid on the solicitation as grounds for finding a lack of standing.” Reilly v. United States, 104 Fed. Cl. 69, 76 (Fed. Cl. 2012) (quoting KSD, Inc. v. United States, 72 Fed. Cl. 236, 247 (Fed. Cl. 2006)); see also, e.g., Infrastructure Defense Techs., LLC v. United States, 81 Fed. Cl. 375, 385 (Fed. Cl. 2008); accord Science Applications Int’l Corp. v. United States, 102 Fed. Cl. 644, 650 (Fed. Cl. 2011) (the prejudice component of standing requires only that a bidder “ha[ve] been prevented from bidding or proposing due to some infraction other than the terms of the solicitation itself … or [be an entity that] would be in contention absent the … violation of applicable procurement regulations”) (quoting Textron, Inc. v. United States, 74 Fed. Cl. 277, 285 (Fed. Cl. 2006)). Protester expected to bid prior to the close of the solicitation period, but was prevented from doing so on the basis of improper agency action.

AA-I & Co. would be a prospective bidder on a re-solicitation and, therefore, is an interested party. See IHS Global, Inc. v. United States.


Public input is welcome at http://www.boston-warwick.com/

PURPOSE OF THE PETITION:

To create a Public Law that establishes the Small Business Administration Advisory Committee on Small Business Affairs to serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Congress, the President and other US Policy Makers.

If you are interested in being part of this once in a lifetime effort, please email your firms name in support to: bizevangelist@vsbaonline.com. The actual online petition will be published to the Voice of Small Business in America | http://linkd.in/OneVoice  NLT April 15, 2014.

BACKGROUND:

I have been actively advocating for small business government contractors for more than a decade now and am convinced that we are a fragmented lot by a design that we neither created nor signed up for.

It should come as no surprise that there are 10’s maybe 100’s of small business government contractor advocacy organizations all across the nation. While each of these organizations pursues its own agenda on individual issues, none is ever able to reach critical mass at a meta-level and none has the ability to represent the consensus of what the small business government contractor community wants. Indeed, by virtue of the very model which makes the not-for-profit, membership organization possible; ‘divide and conquer’ becomes an institutionalized profit generating tool for large corporations to exploit at will. In capitalism, as in any competitive venue, the few can always conquer the many when the many operate in a chaotic manner.

The net result of our fragmented approach to date is the perpetuation of the following:

Large businesses are receiving small business procurement awards and agencies are receiving credit for these awards; misleading data has created the false impression that agencies are meeting their small business subcontracting goals; agencies know there are problems with the data reported by large contractors but do not take adequate corrective action; agencies award noncompetitive 8(a) contracts to ANC firms and these firms in turn subcontract with large companies; many Smalls are grown in a “farm system fashion” by larger businesses and win contracts while no longer meeting small business size standards – with no penalty; on multiple award contracts, task orders intended for the smallest contractors are issued to larger, agency incumbent contractors… then, there is bundling and consolidation…

All the while, the SBA’s oversight has fallen short including not adhering to a legislative and regulatory requirement to ascertain whether Smalls, are likely to suffer, a substantial unfair competitive disadvantage within an industry; but focusing rather on the hawking of debt in the form of loans on Smalls as if somehow economic infusion can counterbalance a lack of legislative will and institutionalized bias. In sum, right now, our collective Voice is faint and waning, and without stronger oversight, there is potential for continued abuse and unintended consequences to our collective detriment.

SOLUTION

Therefore, I propose that we petition the Congress and the White House to create a Public Law that establishes the Small Business Administration Advisory Committee on Small Business Affairs to serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Congress, the President and other US Policy Makers.

This Advisory Committee will be fashioned in the same manner as the one formed for Veterans in Public Law 106–50, SEC. 203.The Committee shall be composed of 15 members, of whom eight shall be small business concerns (within the meaning of the term under section 3 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 632)); and seven shall be representatives of small business organizations across the country.

We are now 15,000+ strong, let’s make it count.

One Voice… R. Sutherland

Although we have been trying to support those in our membership who had the misfortune of not being awarded contracts due to regulatory deadlines for their recourse; this in no form or manner should detract from our congratulating those firms that were awarded.

Although several are still in the process of demonstrating financial capacity, we are quite confident that all should be able to do so. Now, as discretion is still our most potent weapon while we forge forward in the full & open tract – we offer sincere congratulations for your accomplishment and look forward our future successes together.

——————————————–

http://teaming-exchange.com/

Image

 

“ [FACT] 29 contractors won seats on GSA Alliant because of the filing of bid protests!”

GSA OASIS Small Business awards were announced today on FedBizOps @ https://www.fbo.gov/notices/46fc6e79adf8ac198bf4656cc0efe913

If you WERE NOT awarded and don’t agree with the decision of the GSA OASIS contracting officer or agency regarding the awarded contracts to Small Business, regulations provide you with ways to make your voice heard – most commonly, with an award protest.

Since a successful protest allows your company to get back in front of the procuring agency and be re-considered for award, protests are clearly an important business capture consideration on such procurements. Assisting our membership with this prospective option is a large part of our current pre & post-award protest strategy at the GAO.

To file a protest, you must be an “interested party.”  This means that you must have direct economic interest in and would potentially be affected by the contract award or by the failure to award a contract. If your protest were sustained, you could be in line for an award.

Protesters can challenge anything from the acceptance or rejection of a contract award or proposed award of a contract to defective solicitations. Some examples of bid defects are restrictive specifications, omission of required revisions, or ambiguous evaluation factors. You can even request a contract’s termination if you allege that it was awarded based on improprieties.

Government contracting regulations require that you use your best efforts to resolve matters with a contracting agency before you file a protest. Open conversations are encouraged between you and the agency’s contracting officers; this helps promote a fair and diligent resolution of matters.

If things can’t be resolved through open conversation and you submit an award protest to GSA, you can expect an informal and procedurally simple resolution to the protest that may involve another agency’s personnel, third-party neutrals or alternative dispute techniques.

If the bid protest or award protest is received prior to the award of a contract, the contract typically will not be awarded pending the outcome of the protest.  There are some exceptions to this rule — for example, if the government is in dire need of the products or services.  If the GSA receives the protest 10 days after the award of the contract, the contract performance will be halted until the protest is resolved.

If you cannot resolve your protest with the contracting agency, you can file the protest with the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO).

We can help you, however, the first thing you need to do is devise a debrief strategy. Please contact Karen ASAP to schedule a telecom to discuss your specific circumstances as soon as possible at admin@boston-warwick.com.

Boston Warwick Law | http://www.boston-warwick.com/

Saturday, January 04, 2014

REF: B-408936 | Aljucar, Anvil-Incus & Co. @ www.gao.gov

We are in the process of filing a Request for Reconsideration with the GAO, but believe it will ultimately be necessary to file in the Court of Federal Claims (CoFC) – for which we are currently preparing. The risks of Joint Venturing is controlled by the free-market and by virtue of sound Operating Agreements, not by the government picking winners and losers… although it may be at their discretion, there is nothing reasonable about the GSA’s position and we believe the CoFC will indeed find that it does not pass the logical scrutiny test.

Besides subcontracting, Joint Venturing is the only way in which small and mid-tier firms can compete with Bigs in a free-market capacity – so we must press on.

The current GAO ruling seems contrary to certain executive guidance back to 2009 from the White House and OMB over standards to be considered in increasing competitiveness, in particular Public Law 111-240 (also known as the JOBS Act), SEC. 1312, which requires that all solicitations for multiple award contracts above an agency’s “substantial bundling threshold” (currently $5.5M for GSA, see FAR 7.104(d)(2)) include a provision “soliciting bids from any responsible source, including responsible small business concerns and teams or joint ventures of small business concerns.”

Neither I nor the attorneys we’ve engaged see that those standards were expressly applied by the agency or GAO in determining the adequacy of the market research cited. The ruling also seems to be directed to a non sequitur in regard to the proper scope of traditional competitiveness inquiry that the allowable “discretion” ought not cover. Nevertheless, we plan to vigorously pursue this matter on behalf of ourselves and those too big to be small and too small to be big.

Upon our filing with the Court of Federal Claims, the entire library of filings by both us and the government will be published to the Teaming X-change | www.teaming-exchange.com for public review once we receive the ruling on the request for reconsideration.

The post will include the actual business case and interviews conducted by GSA with agency personnel, Large and Small business owners. We are confident that the record made public will show that GSA, and particularly the GSA OASIS Deputy Director Todd Richards, fabricated the results in order insure that Bigs have a clear runway on the Unrestricted version without interference from Smalls or Mid-tiers.

One Voice…

R. Sutherland

www.teaming-exchange.com

 “We are dedicated to our customer’s satisfaction. We have a genuine interest in learning about the customer’s goals and a commitment of time in considering their particular and unique needs/challenges when developing a solution rather than applying unaltered boilerplate solutions.” – R. Sutherland

FUNDAMENTALS

For 2014, we are taking the next step in our evolution beyond GSA OASIS.

Using a shared services back-office model to scale marketing, finance, administration, operations, and human resources; the Teaming X-change leverages the disparate past performance and collective capacity of its members to competitively pursue opportunities that are both Small Business set-aside as well as Full & Open at the federal procurement level.

Our primary goal is to create new and lucrative revenue streams together through cross promotion of expertise, increased geographic foot-print, creation of new and innovative products and services to grow our member businesses strategically. Our members have deep capability and past performance in the following diverse and complementary disciplines and business sectors:

  • Accounting
  • Architect
  • Construction
  • Editing
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Graphic Design
  • Information Technology
  • Legal
  • Marketing
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Program Management
  • Quality Management
  • Staffing
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Transportation
  • Travel Management
  • Waste Management

The X-change portfolio management team has many years of experience in crafting collaborative strategies to help teams of business owners, at various sizes and scales, achieve their goals through innovative joint ventures. And, although governance normally follows equity, we do not require that our members contribute assets to teaming and venture vehicles to give up control of those assets. In all ventures structured through the X-change, shared governance is the prevalent element. Furthermore, the X-change is structured with the flexibility to allow joint venture member firms to participate in projects and contract opportunities according to their individual capability and availability.

For more details on our expanded model, and to create or insure that your current company profile is up-to-date, please visit and login at www.teaming-exchange.com

R. Sutherland, Founder

“Remember, upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all” – Alexander the Great

After a very restful Thanksgiving and football binge (did you catch the Alabama / Auburn game?) – right now, I must say that I am having a ball, as Head of Practice for Boston Warwick / Anvil-Incus & Co. and founder of the Voice of Small Business in America; it is good to be the boss.

What could be better than having the honor of working through the first leg of the crisis (this all picks back up in Jan. 2014 folks…) with such a great group of people? I have no delusions and fully recognize that I am only as good as the people I associate with, so I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge our strategic legal and financial partners who have truly stepped up in the last couple of months.

When the government shutdown became imminent, I issued a call for more law firms, attorneys, accountant and financial analysts to come together for the purpose of providing subsidized support for many client VSBA members during the crisis. Many of these members required risk planning and strategic advice regarding the economic effects of the shutdown on both their current contract portfolio and go-forward sales pipelines as well as financial liquidity.

Our folks stepped up without hesitation.

What we’ve always know, but has been revalidated by these struggles for survival, is that although most GovCon contractors are small hard working businesses; we know what we need to do, but don’t always have the time and money to do it. Our strategic partners helped provide economies of scale at this time of need, the power of a group who share a common interest; and I am forever grateful. Come what may after the first of the year, we have a formula that works.

Finally, as we prepare to go into calendar year 2014, my challenge to you all is “Speak Up!” Get involved and stay involved. Start a meaningful discussion thread in our group about an issue you are passionate about, champion an issue locally that helps the small businesses closest to you, and above all, let Congress know you have a pulse! Stick your neck out and get of your comfort zone.

You will be pleasantly surprised at how many of your brethren share your convictions, and the rewards to you personally and your small business will most certainly follow.

R. Sutherland | www.boston-warwick.com | www.anvil-incus.com

September 14, 2013

While we prepare our case moving forward, I cannot personally answer all of your inquiries. However, on the subject topic I will respond for public record.

***

Although our case, win or lose, may help firms who do no get selected in their post award protest arguments; that is not our intent. This is an act of public service to help Smalls and Mid-caps grow and compete in federal contracting on equal footing with Bigs in the only manner successful to date; through Joint Ventures.

While subcontracting to Bigs should be applauded, we all know that all subcontracting goals are inconsequential. That is, they are not mandatory. Essentially, these goals are as toothless as the word “may” in legislation in comparison to the word “must”; remember the “Parity” fight? Furthermore, we all know that Subcontractor past performance has a lesser exchange rate than Prime contractor past performance… apparently GSA agrees with this position, because subcontractor past performance is not weighted at all for OASIS.

Now, recently the GSA has gone on record stating:

“GSA has maintained the position that, while it welcomes proposals from Joint Ventures, those entities must demonstrate a successful track record of working together to supply the complex, integrated professional services that are the heart of the OASIS program.   This position effectively treats Joint Ventures equally with all other Offerors with regards to relevant experience, which GSA considers fair to all parties.”

Well folks, just because GSA says it doesn’t make it so…

In his business case (the real one none of you received), GSA Deputy Director, Todd Richards stated, and I quote:

“Integrations [former name for OASIS] will be structured to comply with CTAs as defined in FAR Subpart 9.6 as prime/subcontractor arrangements. It is not expected that joint ventures will be allowed as there are numerous issues surrounding liability associated with non-performance.” See A1 – GSA INTERNAL APPROVED BUSINESS CASE at 25.

He admitted as much during Oral Hearings, so who’s trying to fool whom here? It’s all media-spin folks – using our tax $$$$ to boot.

Additionally, GSA has also gone on record stating:

“OASIS is intended for large dollar volume, complex service acquisitions.”

But, exactly what “complex services” is the agency looking to procure? The Agency is not procuring services for itself, and based on its own records it only has Four (4) agencies that signed up as first-adopters. In fact, at neither the time of the solicitation release, nor response receipt from industry, will the Agency know exactly what the definition of “complex services” is or “will be” under OASIS – nor does it know exactly what it wishes to purchase.

NOWHERE IN THE ENTIRE OASIS SOLICITATION IS THE TERM “COMPLEX SERVICES” MENTIONED OR DEFINED.

Its all “smoke & mirrors”… the definition of “complex services” in the form of a requirement will not (and cannot) be known by the Agency at the time of the solicitation competition. Rather, the requirements for complex services will be exactly known at the level of task-order competition; … and each definition will be unique in comparison to any requirement before or after it. 

Lastly, you may recall that the GSA made the same argument about “high-dollar” task-orders almost 10-years ago with Alliant. But, in the final analysis, it has been proven that rather than the $44.3M lauded by the GSA media-spin machine, the actual avg. task-order awarded in the [Unrestricted] track was only $15.1M in comparison with $13.4M for Smalls; a difference of only $1.7M. Just another boogeyman to scare Smalls away from the table.

So again I ask, who’s trying to fool whom here? Just because GSA says it doesn’t make it so…

One Voice…

R. Sutherland

www.gsa-oasis.info

On Thursday, May 23, 2013, Jim Ghiloni submitted a blog post titled “Exploring OASIS – The Myth of the Perfect Score [https://interact.gsa.gov/blog/exploring-oasis-myth-perfect-score].” In this post, Jim explains how in various hypothetical situations, firms that objectively score themselves as “average or below” using the criteria established in the initial draft RFP, should not fret and submit proposals anyway. Further, he goes on to say these firms are “encouraged” to not be concerned about their score, that the only real question that remain are, and I quote:

“Among the pool of potential bidders, is my score in the top 40, and is my pricing in line? I know we all like to get an “A” and you might be dismayed to see that your score is only 70% of the maximum, and thus potentially a “C.” Fear not. We’re grading on a curve here, folks.”

Well, Jim is a nice enough guy; but this is as akin to a Freudian slip as ever was one. Folks, let me qualify what I am about to say before I say it; if you play the lottery for any purpose other than sheer entertainment or believe in the Easter Bunny, please do not read any further.

Now that the room is cleared and only the sober remain > for your small business, this is not an academic exercise; this is business. The fact that – based upon the hype, the anemic number of solicitations out for bid right in the federal market, and the sheer potential of the opportunity; – the majority of professional services companies in the country are planning to submit proposals on OASIS gives it a lottery persona. That is, one in which the herd theory applies because Smalls are hungry.

When this happens, you get a large noise quotient in your market equation for success; and as a result everyone’s probability of winning is reduced significantly. And, who benefits for this type of mass hysteria you ask? The GSA does of course. The reason is, because this is a new contract instrument; the GSA does not have a legitimate government estimate – and they desperately need one. In short, whether you win or not; your pricing is going to help the GSA build its own price curve – and this curve is going to be used to negotiate down the prices on yet to be awarded task-orders.

What is the significance of this to you, you ask? Well, those of you who realistically know that you have average or sub-par quals are probably going to try to over-compensate this weakness with lower pricing than the market will bear. You’re so low on Maslow’s Hierarchy that you’ll do anything for a crumb. But guess what, you’re not going to win – the only thing you will do is insure that if you ever get on a team, the margins will be so low you and your partners will be eating sardines as a result. It will be the GSA Schedule wars all over again…

FLASH-BACK –> remember how the GSA in the 80′s incrementally beat everybody down to a 90% or lower price point the best price they gave their best private sector customer? Don’t be stupid.

So in sum; if you score yourself at anything less than the 85th percentile; don’t submit a proposal and contaminate the pool, team afterward instead. And, if you score in the 85th percentile or above, don’t low-ball your pricing. Many of you don’t realize how important this initial baseline is going to be in determining whether there is a middle-class for this contract vehicle or just the working poor. Hold the line and stay unified, as with all new vehicles; Smalls will never have this opportunity again.

Remember, Smalls are the middle-class of federal contracting, and don’t you ever forget it. One Voice…

Rudy Sutherland

the Secretary of Defense for Small Business

http://lnkd.in/GcWHf6

———————————————-

When we were kids, our Mothers told us we could be whatever we wanted to be. Well, while this may be true, there are some things that are out of our control. When you went to your Dad, and said, “I want to be a Center in the NBA”, he may have said something akin to – “the average height in our family is 6’ so, unless you experience a tremendous growth spurt; you’d better reassess your career prospects.” This same rationale applies to those of you who aspired to be Mick Jagger growing up, and while you now find yourself successful in commerce, you’re most certainly not living the life of a 60 year old rock star. The same sobriety must be applied to pursuit of GSA OASIS.

Sure, there are GSA Proposal companies; Capture Management companies; and everything in between that is willing to say anything in order to get your business. “You can win if you only…”; “we’ve got a $$$$%%%% client win-rate…”; and “we did DNA enhancements for Bill Walton….” Here’s the sober truth: at some point, you gotta grow up and recognize who you are, and start there.

Now, taking on the practicality of many of our Fathers (and a few Old Spice commercials); look carefully at that GSA OASIS evaluation checklist in the RFI; now look at your company; now look back at the checklist… you either are what it says you need to be or you’re not. There is simply not enough time for you to morph. So you realize now that your trying out on American Idol, while exciting, is probably not going to change your career path. You have 3 choices now:

  1. be a romantic and go after the impossible,
  2. develop an alternative strategy to still be part of the game, or
  3. quite. I am not much for quitters, so if chose option 3, you should stop reading now.

Now, this time; look carefully at that GSA OASIS RFI overall; now look at your company; now look back at the RFI… ahhh, yes, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King. You noticed that there is an embedded value proposition that you possess which you missed the first time around. It is one that is unique to each and every federal contractor – Relationships. You see, Rock Stars don’t make money without a fan base – they just as well might still be playing in their parents’ garage. What you know for certain is this: the folks that buy from you now do so because they like you. And, that is your ticket to getting backstage at the concert. Right now, you should be completing a response to the RFI – not for the purpose of competing, but for the purpose pre-selling GSA OASIS to your current clients and subsequently to the eventual Rock Stars to become a glorified Rodi.

But you have another problem… the Rock Stars don’t know who you are.

Well, we can help with that; the “Teaming Exchange” was incepted and formed for the practical purpose of meeting folks where they are, and helping as many Smalls to monetize this contract vehicle as possible – while mitigating risk for all involved. While we may not end up with every Rock Star on the planet; all we need is one U2, perhaps a Led Zepplin, and maybe a Foo Fighter; we won’t make all of the money – but we’ll certainly carve out a noticeable chunk.

To determine if our framework may work for you, forward your completed GSA OASIS RFI checklist for scoring; mailto: contracts@anvil-incus.com by May 10th for urgent consideration – after that, no guarantees on review prior to the final RFP.

If you don’t stand a chance, we’ll tell you; if you’re a Rodi, but not Rock Star material, we’ll tell you that too. But whatever you are, we will meet you “where you are” and help find a way to get you a job at the concert – being a Rodi, and making money, beats the hell out of being a Groupie, and getting pimped, any day.

For more information on the GSA OASIS Teaming Exchange Business Case, visit: http://bit.ly/gsa-oasis

Join OASIS Teaming Group on LinkedIn @ http://linkd.in/ZZMbk7

Now, this is a true story. Let me qualify what you are about to read by saying I personally have assisted many 8(a) firms in transition to full & open. However, there is one firm owned by a gentleman so unassuming that you could easily presume him inconsequential. But, when looked at from the lenses of true scalable operations, sound management, leadership – and did I say performance? This firm’s record can only be declared as phenomenal.

But why, you ask , do I wish to share this story? I share this story for those of you 8(a)’s who believe that if you are the best at what you do; if you do the right thing; if you bring value to the federal agency(s) that you work for while in the program, you will be able to leverage that performance on its merits. Although, it used to be that way in the not so distant past; its not anymore.

The 8(a) program, like SDVOSB, and HUBZone, has become a means negotiated proxy whose value is not measured by performance and value per tax-payer $$ spent; but by favor to firms’ ran by minorities committed to soon to be retired personnel. I write this, not to have you give up, or presume hopelessness – no, not by a long shot. I tell this story, so that those of you who are doing everything right and enjoying the results of your labor, nevertheless, don’t presume to relax and believe that a 50/50 portfolio upon graduation is a sufficient cushion to propel you into the full & open with sustained momentum – it’s not.

You now need to start competing for (and winning) small business set-asides (outside of 8(a)) in years 4 and 5… but back to the story. Once upon a time, an 8(a) started the program with a solid strategy, solid private-sector past performance, and strong agency relationships – or so they thought. As a result and expected, they hit the ground running. Built a portfolio of solid contract vehicles, set-aside and not; and enjoyed 9 years of 8(a) bliss. Management negotiated good faith contract transitions for program off-ramp in a fashion that would be on par with private sector risk management. Again, they did it right.

But, then the fears of post-career unknowns visited upon the relative contracting officer personnel office and Maslow’s Hierarchy was descended by these folks like it was Jacob’s Ladder and all bets were off. For you see, cloaked in the statement “gov’ts best interest” is many times some bureaucrat’s self-interest. Despite stellar past performance over 9 years, forged relationships, and commitments made between Men as men have done for decades in this space; we watched this “example of excellence” be thrown unapologetically under the bus asif it were a form of Cesar reincarnated.

So, I say to you -do not believe, despite past-performance is no longer prologue for positive leverage post graduation. Take all commitments, even those executed in writing, by bureaucrats as having a shelf-life not communicated. Establish a reserve beginning with the your 1st 8(a) win above the line of profit – and title it “fund for defense and claims on portfolio.” Soci-economic programs are now on par with Vegas; the house is not happy to see you leave with any winnings; you may have to fight if you plan on leaving of the front door…

As stated initially, it was never our intent to re-state the obvious where GSA OASIS is concerned; but to look at the “meta” picture for strategic advantage to our members on their submissions. Within this light, our meta-analysis justifies the following statement:

“The GSA (or should I say GSA Incorporated) is using the OASIS contract vehicle as an interview tool to create a virtual sales team for the vehicle. In essence, your firm is attempting to obtain one of 40 sales representative positions. When looked at from this perspective, it becomes much easier to anticipate and respond competitively to the RFP – as well as strategize on the context of the response.”

Remember, the GSA has a very unique business model within the federal gov’t, very akin to being a for-profit-organization. By virtue of the fees it collects and footprint of agency customers; the agency grades its success on revenue generation and profit just like a privately held firm. Thus, OASIS is essentially a means by which the GSA wishes to primarily win back market-share within DoD, which has eroded over the last 10 years or so.

Thus, if you think of the draft RFP in the context of a for-profit sales plan – it makes the utmost sense.

Now, as you are aware; a sales representative’s role is to contact customers and prospects, explain product benefits and features negotiate prices, and close the sale. After the sale, sales representatives aim to build relationships with customers so that they have the opportunity to secure future sales. In a small business, credibility in sales discussion is established primarily by virtue of industry recognized certifications and licenses.

The above definition being our baseline, the GSA is quite savvy in how it intends to mitigate the inherent risks while incentivizing the end-state sales pool.  No cold-calling here; the GSA will use your past performance (and the agencies within which they were performed) as prologue for future sales. The key here is emphasis on Prime vs. Subcontractor performance. The GSA knows very well that it is the Prime that owns the relationship and most likely closed the business in the first place; and thus gives greater weight to it as opposed to the latter.

These are only a few expansions on the key variable measurements employed by GSA, but what should your interpretation of these signals be relative to your ultimate response to the end-state RFP? This shouldn’t be too difficult to discern:  Focus on demonstrating your ability to bring categorically defined business to the contract vehicle by virtue of past successes, while highlighting revenue volumes, and service levels that say these agencies want you back.

Also, you will want to informally demonstrate your ability to see the importance of your role as a sales rep for the vehicle on par with winning these contracts for your own firm. Being good at what you do from a technical perspective does not come close to correlating you and your firm’s’ ability as a Sales Representatives – and the GSA knows this all too well from its experience with first generation “GSA Schedules.”

Regardless of what noise may be loudest right now, these guys are looking to increase their customer base and by extension greater revenue to justify investment in standing up this vehicle in the first place. Sounds like a for profit strategy to me; and you know what they say… if it walks like a duck…

Share your thoughts at: http://lnkd.in/9S6szA

One Voice…

There’s a lot of symptoms being experienced right now by Smalls in federal contracting, but unfortunately the cause of what ‘REALLY’ ales is not part of the conversation; because the folks doing all of the talking aren’t organic to Smalls and thus can’t diagnose. BTW, wasn’t that the reason I created VSBA in the 1st place? Of course, but I digress… regarding that cough…

Here’s the x-ray – thanks to the impact of sequestration, continuing resolution, and the current debt ceiling issues > compounded by the glut of GWACs issued by every procurement agency exec looking to make a name; what Smalls are experiencing is ‘contract vehicle over-saturation with minuscule market demand support’ with a dose of regulatory imperative – a perfect storm or ‘Black-Swan’ event by any other name.

Black-Swans are, of course, those highly improbable but painfully consequential events that strike from the blue. These types of events can cripple, vulnerable Smalls that are caught off guard; destroy financial performance or kill the business outright. Because they are rare and almost impossible to predict, black-swan events normally fall outside the scope of most Small Business risk management programs (assuming a Small has such a program at all).

So, now that we have a prognosis – what’s next? Well unlike the common cold, or the flu, the ‘one shot antibiotic fits all’ mantra won’t work. The remedy for each Small is unique, taking into consideration such variables as industry, size, product/service type, diversity, prior preparation, etc. – you get the picture. And, that is why we are experiencing such a influx of noise from the kabuki theater crowd – the truth is, most of these folks don’t want you to know that they are just as clueless as you right now.

So, if this is familiar – I implore you to get back to the fundamentals of why you started your business in the first place. Time to re-validate; are you still relevant? Does the market still need what you offer? These are boardroom questions that need to be answered. And if you don’t have the stomach for it, then I guess you have your answer – don’t you?

Finally, I have heard some diagnose this time a ‘Black Death’ event as opposed to Black-Swan – but I don’t agree. If this were a Black Death event, all of your fates would be left to chance and determined by your immunity to a single pathogen; but that’s not the case here. You can survive, and indeed thrive, if you recognize or remember your firms’ identity, stay in your lane, and above all watch your 6 o’ clock – cause when some folks run out of food, animal instincts kick in and they/we start eating each other. And, then, my friends – stage 2 Black-Swan will become the Black Death. Stay Frosty.

Smalls gotta learn how to swim with the Sharks

For fiscal year 2013, this is the best graphical summation of the competitive federal procurement landscape that we could put together; no matter how you scratch it, Smalls will need to dive into the deep end to survive. Here’s why…

During FY 2012, civilian opportunities were valued at $12.8 billion and defense opportunities accounted for $5.6 billion. For FY 2013 these numbers have changed dramatically with defense opportunities valued at $9.5 billion and civilian opportunities totaling $2.5 billion.

Also, federal agencies are continuing to procure their requirements through small business set-asides more often than through other small business categories, such as 8(a) and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs).

SUMMARY TAKE-AWAY

  • Small business prime contracting spending has been on the decline.
  • Small businesses are being disproportionately affected by spending cuts.
  • The majority of this year’s top Small business opportunities will be procured by defense agencies.

AGENCY PROCURMENT STRATEGY

By utilizing small business set-asides, agencies can not only get credit toward their small business goals, but it also gives them leeway to award contracts to any category of small business for maximum control over meeting goals.

SMALL BUSINESS COUNTER-MEASURE

The net-effect to Smalls is fewer but larger opportunities, with more varying capability needs. To aggressively adjust to this shift, Smalls must form solution focused joint ventures – maintaining membership in a multiple simultaneously.

Aljucar & Co. | http://www.aljucar.com

The “Voice of Small Business in America (VSBA)” is raising funds in order to continue our fight to stop Dun & Bradstreet from forcing small businesses to purchase their products and services via predatory and misleading marketing practices. See Petition: http://chn.ge/PCriaW . This affects all of us; if you have not already, at some point you will be contacted by DNB with an ‘offer you can’t refuse’, see Nov. 2011 Blog post: http://bit.ly/PCvKq5 .

At this point, it is critical that we press Congress and the relative policy offices to modify the Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FAR) with language to unequivocally prohibit DNB from holding small businesses success hostage by requiring us to purchase the right to manage our own business information. However, as you are aware; ‘Change’ on Capitol Hill takes time, persistence, and money. This effort requires us to consistently engage congressional committees and policy oversight offices including: The Financial Services Committee, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee; Office of Federal Procurement Policy; and, the GSA Office of Government-wide Policy among others.

Donate $20 or more today and help us eliminate the Dun & Bradstreet monopoly. Corporate Sponsors, ALJUCAR & Co. | http://www.aljucar.com/ and Anvil-Incus, LTD | http://www.anvil-incus.com/, will match all donations on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

For more information and to make your donation, goto: http://fnd.us/c/bLtyb  Thank you… One Voice…

-VSBA  Founder, Rudy Sutherland

About Us: Voice of Small Business in America (VSBA): http://linkd.in/OneVoice

For 5-years now, VSBA has worked and communicated with commercial and government small business contractors – online via discussion threads and offline via phone and email – to successfully navigate the industries and federal programs they are part of. Effectively, we have filled the gaps in service that our tax dollars have already paid for form agencies like the SBA. In addition, we have assisted in the collection of debts owed by larger firms to Smalls when our members lacked the resources to obtain outside assistance. Finally, we advocate for our Small Business members to have large contract opportunities unbundled and for sole-source opportunities to be increased for the 8(a), 8(m), and SDVOSB socio-economic programs.

TAX DEDUCTIBILITY

This donation is not tax deductible either as a charitable contribution or as a business expense under section 162e of the Internal Revenue Code, due to lobbying and political activities engaged in by VSBA.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,901 other followers

%d bloggers like this: