Small Business Plays Major Role in Federal Contracting Business

Small business set-asides are contracts “set aside” by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that must be awarded to small businesses, in order to help them compete for the $500 billion in goods and services the federal government buys from the private sector annually. Set-asides are awarded across a variety of industries, and disadvantaged businesses are given special consideration.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) works with federal agencies to help ensure that at least 23% of all prime government contracts are awarded to small businesses. This is one way that small businesses can compete with Amazon and the other giants of commerce. There are two main types of small business set-asides: competitive set-aside contracts, and sole-source set-aside contracts.

For competitive contracts, two or more businesses can submit a bit to take on the job. Generally (though not always), this happens automatically when the contract is under $150,000. Some of these contracts are only open to those who participate in SBA contracting assistance programs.

Sole-source contracts are awarded without a bidding process when only a single business can fulfill the contract requirements. These contracts are publicly posted, and potential vendors can still bid on them, assuming the business participates in the relevant contracting assistance programs.

In addition to the government-wide 23% set-aside goal, there are different goals for certain subsets of small businesses:

  • Small disadvantaged businesses (8a program) — 5%
  • Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) — 5%
  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses — 3%
  • Businesses in HUBZones (historically underutilized business zones) — 3%

Not all set-asides are for prime contracts (those directly with a government agency). There are also small business set-asides for subcontracts resulting from a prime contract. For example, if an automotive manufacturer gets a prime contract to build Army jeeps, they could subcontract with a small manufacturer to supply some of the parts. Any qualifying small business has the opportunity to win a set-aside contract. Doing so can open the door to future opportunities, and can be used as an excellent marketing tool for other jobs as well.

Author: Prasanna Patil


Women-Owned Businesses in Federal Contracts

The contracts awarded to Women-owned businesses was approx. $25 billion of total federal contract spending last year – but that figure accounts for less than 5% of total contracts awarded, according to data provided by American Express. The first step for women interested in winning this business is to expand their view of what goods and services the federal government might need. A recent research revealed that 15% of women-owned businesses in the U.S. are health care or social assistance oriented, and that 13% are in the professional, scientific and technical services category. This includes business types such as law or accounting offices, or even public relations. Those services are perfect matches for what the federal government buys. For example, many types of government offices – from Veterans Administration to Social Security facilities – are in need of day care centers.

There are two primary ways to benefit from government contracts, one is becoming a prime contractor. That means the government buys directly from you and pays you directly. That’s a big challenge, because there are legal responsibilities, there are reporting responsibilities.

A less burdensome approach is to become a subcontractor. An easier way to enter the marketplace is often as a subcontractor, where you are essentially working with another company who has the prime contract and then they subcontract with the women-owned firm to provide the services or products that they offer.

The federal government contracting market is one based on relationship-building.  Buyers want to know who you are. They want to trust that you can do what you say you can do. For women, that comes naturally in building strong, trusted relationships. Also, business owners need to be sure to educate themselves before going after contracts. Educating oneself about the financial demands of being a government contractor is an important step to take. Identifying our limitations, targeting doable businesses, building trust of contractors always helps to grow the business.

Author: Prasanna Patil 


5G: Effects on Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Across the broad deployment of 5G mobile network systems could quicken the reception of augmented and virtual reality, although more extensive accessibility isn’t the main necessity for VR and AR to grow with 5G: convincing use cases are additionally required to make these technologies more reasonable and affordable, in spite of the fact that the option of 5G gives engineers a bigger canvas on which to design new experiences.

Why will 5G change the overview of VR and AR development?

The main objective of the 5G network is to provide more efficient, faster internet than 4G LTE and also to lower the latency faced by a typical 4G LTE network. 5G network is helpful for heavy-duty media such as 4K videos, 3D photos, 360° video streaming, etc. But the real benefits of 5G for VR and AR are not yet fully discovered. 5G networks have comparatively low latency than other networks which is a necessity in VR. There should be less response time between a user making a move and VR setup gives feedback of response.

How does 5G impact the availability of augmented and virtual reality applications?

Deployment of 5G network is still in initial stages and still has a lot of room to improvise. AR and VR currently are adding more complications to this. AR is commonly used on smartphones or tablets in museums to present additional content for exhibits, or for interior design, allowing shoppers to virtually place furniture in a room to see how it matches. With 5G, the ability to use AR in live, outdoor environments away from reliable wi-fi signals can influence the types of interactions and integrations that developers can build.

What needs to change in 5G for AR and VR applications to be successful?

The biggest concern right now is the cost of data. 4G LTE has certain cap limits for data usage and after that limit, it switches automatically to the lower version of network service. Typically, that cap limit is 22GB. AR and VR can exhaust that limit within several hours. In order to use AR and VR on a regular basis, we need truly unlimited data and obviously at cheap price.

Author: Prasanna Patil