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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.

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http://teaming-exchange.com/

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“ [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.

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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

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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.

Right now, there are many very nervous small business government contractors, that provide a primarily services footprint, who don’t know which particular programs are going to be cut within the federal agencies they currently contract, due to budget cuts and the potential sequestration, and thus can’t do much in terms of proactive decision making.

At the same time, due to the highly variable cost structures and declining task-order availability, many firms are considering the prospects of what used to be a viable means of restructuring, Chapter 11 bankruptcy. However, this may not be the viable option that it once was. The rules have changed significantly over the years. Today, if your firm goes into Chapter 11, the odds of you keeping the business are much lower.

The Supreme Court’s 1999 LaSalle decision has given unsecured creditors a huge advantage, and the result is the cost of bankruptcy has gotten so high that the ability to continue your firm under current ownership has reached almost zero. The key issue is the expansion of the ‘363 sale’. As many of you may be aware, the 363 sale was originally designed to allow companies to sell off spoilable product, like fruit. If you were in the grocery business and you filed bankruptcy, it allowed you to sell off assets. The Lionel case expanded that so you could sell major assets, virtually including the whole company. Thus, giving unsecured creditors a very logical reason to avoid a plan of reorganization.

These, and many other changes, say to the world that the chance of your small business surviving bankruptcy is much lower. And if it’s much lower, the banks aren’t going to give debtor-in-possession financing, and rightfully so. The D.I.P. financer gets a priority lien; last in, first out, but the contingency is that your business survives to have the money to pay that super-priority lien. In addition, in Chapter 11, you are required to pay for the attorneys, accountants and consultants of the creditors’ committee; including any investment bankers that may be involved. Essentially, you are paying your creditors to oppose you. In short, Chapter 11 is tilted to the unsecured creditor side of the equation.

Given these facts, Chapter 11 should be an absolute last-resort strategy. A better approach may be to merge your firm with another small business to create one survivable company.

http://www.aljucar.com/

“Government contracting is not for everyone”

A small business should not consider federal contracting if it is looking for the government to save it financially. Contracting can be a long, complex, expensive proposition that can cause a financially struggling concern to go under. Some of the questions that small businesses should consider when contemplating contracting with the government are:

  1. Do you have the financial resources?
  2. Are you stable?
  3. Are you financially healthy?
  4. Can you make payroll and other payments while performing a contract?
  5. Are you committed to investing and applying the resources needed to market to the government?

The point to these questions is that contracting with the government can be very lucrative, but it can also be a significant drain on both resources and finances. The government does not make payments up front, except in extremely rare circumstances, so a business must be able to maintain its day-to-day operations during contract performance. Therefore, government contracting is not for everyone.

In addition to size considerations, a firm must be willing to work within the bureaucratic process and have the patience to deal with the nuances of federal contracting. It must have the necessary technology in place as well as a documented quality control plan.

So, as long as you have answered the above questions honestly and your preparation is in order, go for it – eyes wide open. But, surround yourself with folks who know more than you.

- Rudy

One Voice…

ALJUCAR & Co. is looking for the following personnel to assist in supporting our PMO on several upcoming Proposal Requirements. We have an immediate need for the following:

  1. Technical Writer(s) – Proposal responsibilities include: Corporate Description, Team project experience, staff resumes, and additional sections to be defined.
  2. Subject Matter Expert – IMPORTANT: Must have extensive experience with the Department of Transportation (DoT) and or the agency’s Operating Administrations (OAs). | Proposal responsibilities include: Technical descriptions, Analysis, Management plan, and additional sections to be defined.
  3. IT Solution Architect – Proposal responsibilities include: Innovative solution design, System architecture, Executive Summary, and additional sections to be defined. | Additional support is required for the following: Transition in/out plan; develop integrated plan for the following areas of focus: Program Management, Capital Planning, Integrated Communications, Application Software Management, Infrastructure Support, IT Security, and Customer Service.

If you are a professional, or know of professionals, with expertise in any of the above areas of discipline; please forward your resume/capability vitae and billable-rate requirement to emily.parcell@aljucar.com NLT April 6, 2012.

NOTE: this is a project based opportunity and IS NOT permanent employment. 1099 personnel and firms need only respond.

ABOUT US

ALJUCAR & Co. is a boutique globally-independent business service integration (BSI) firm. We provide contract management and performance reporting services –  and handle compliance responsibilities for populated and unpopulated government contractor Joint Ventures. www.aljucar.com

 

 

“To our VSBA membership: If they’re not CBDC™ certified, do business with them at your own risk.”

In Washington DC and around the country, hiring independent business development and marketing personnel has become an exercise in fear for small business owners. From exorbitant service pricing to promises made that cannot remotely be kept – small business owners, particularly those new to government procurement, are both confused and unsure about whom they can truly get assistance from. How do we know? – VSBA gets more complaints monthly from our members being duped by business development and marketing professionals than any other subject-matter.

To resolve this issue, VSBA has formed the certifying body for the Certified Business Development Consult™. Our CBDC™ certification process confirms your past performance success and commitment to the highest ethical standards. More importantly, it gives the Small Business gov’t contractor a single point of accountability and recourse for services promised and not rendered.

- OUR THREE APPLICATION STREAMS -

BASIC for consultants with a minimum of 3 up to 9 years of Business Development consulting experience as independent or internal consultants with five satisfactory clients’ evaluations.

EXPERIENCED for consultants with 10 or more years as independent or internal consultants and otherwise meeting the Basic requirements.

MANAGEMENT for high level managers with 20 or more years’ experience with at least 3 years of consulting with clients and accountability for successful completion of projects involving Business Development consultants and otherwise meeting requirements of the Basic track.

- THE PROCESS -

Submit a CBDC™ Application with supporting documentation to VSBA, including three written engagement summaries and provide contact information for five or six clients who will be contacted to verify performance.

- HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE? -

The process can take as little as one month, depending on how quickly your references are submitted and client evaluations conducted.

- WHAT DOES IT COST? -

Your certification fee is determined by your VSBA member status. VSBA awards the CBDC™ to members and non-members. There is no requirement for membership in any professional association or to attend any specific course to apply for the CBDC™. VSBA member rates will apply only if you are in good standing at the time you submit payment. If you join VSBA after being awarded the CBDC mark, member rates will be applicable in the next calendar year.

Initial Certification Application and Assessment

(non-refundable)

- Member $350.00

- Non-member $550.00

Annual CBDC™ charge (prorated first year)

- Member $395.00

- Non-member $550.00

Triennial Certification Renewal (an assessment of your continuing professional development)

- Member $150.00

- Non-member $250.00

WE’RE CERTIFIED NOW WHAT?

Once certified, you and your firm will be listed in our Certified Business Development Consult™ Sub-group where our group membership of more than 7000 small business gov’t contractors will have access to contact and contract with you. You and your firm will also be listed in our VSBA Preferred Vendor List, sent out annually and published for download on our website. Finally, you will be able to include the Certified Business Development Consult™ logo on your marketing collateral to provide externally validated credibility to your professionalism.

Send your request for payment instructions and a Certified Business Development Consult™ application to: BizEvangelist@VSBAonline.com

One Voice…

By Rudy Sutherland

The current macro-economic environment and the way President Obamas’ administration is dealing with it is eerily like when Franklin Delano Roosevelt served as President from March 1933 to April 1945. What is quite striking is that the Republican Party is responding now just as it did (literally) during that timeframe (read the history) with claims and talking-points of ever expanding government, class warfare, etc., etc.

Here’s the rub – the country went into a 2nd recession after the great depression and Roosevelt had to lie to the American public in order for the US to enter WWII against Hitler in order to create jobs. It is widely thought that without WWII, Roosevelt’s tenure would have been on the whole a failure. Moreover, President Roosevelt had three full terms to get the country out that debacle and racked up significant debt to do so – he also alienated the entire commercial class.

President Obama has none of these advantages, but all of the disadvantages ^ plus hyper-speed communication and 24 hour news-cycles to insure his administration can’t pull the wool over the American collective eye. Remember, President Bush took the war option off the table with Iraq; America is now as gun-shy about war as we were in the 30’s and 40’s. So, if you think the crap you’re hearing on cable-TV about the stock market expanding is going to help the unemployed; remember – corporations don’t create new jobs – small business does.

What does this all mean? In my view, the President and his administration are not doing anything bold or new – anyone with a library close by or an internet connection can see that their entire playbook has been lifted from FDR’s tenure in office. It’s sad to me – because, as valuable as the sheepskin is that they possess, it really demonstrates that there are no entrepreneur minded individuals in the current administration… and America at-large is suffering because of it. For the sake of our children, we need real Change – but not that proposed by either party right now – all of which is short-sighted and irresponsible; we need an ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ with fresh ideation to bring us out of this abyss.

Only problem is, that type of individual would only be a fool to go into national politics. Yet I remain hopeful – I’ll be Winston Churchill to your Herbert Hoover any day. If any in our group has the gumption to be that person, please step-up; now more than ever, your Country needs you.

One Voice…

 

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