2020 Government Contracting Trends

The pandemic has been the major focus of 2020 in all areas of our lives and the government contracting market was not exempt. These are unprecedented times; every market has been affected by COVID and its presence has forced all of us to adapt. This year in government contracting seems to be yet another record year as far as spending. With the year not quite over yet, it would be premature to declare this feat, however, with 2019 spending exceeding $600B and marking a fourth-straight year of spending increase, 2020 has a shot at a fifth. After all, we the people played a huge part in responding to the demands of the virus, and the government spent a lot of money and sought the help of contractors in its attempt to mitigate.

The federal contracting market has seen some trends this year that are worth noting, some related to COVID and others not. Below are some of said trends provided by Washington Technology:

  • Incumbents Remained Entrenched – With the pandemic, many government agencies were reluctant to move contracts away from incumbents this year. This resulted in less opportunities for small and medium sized companies to expand to new client spaces. It remains to be seen if this trend will continue into 2021 especially given the changing administration.
  • Pricing Became More Competitive – As federal agencies worked through budget constraints, the need for price competitive bids increased in 2020. This forced companies to “prune and tune” throughout the year in an effort to remain at price points that were often tight to begin with.
  • More of a Focus on Best in Class Vehicles – For a few years now, the federal government has been pushing agencies to access best-in-class (BIC) government-wide acquisition contracts (GWACs) to increase their buying power and access to pre-vetted industry partners. In general, this has been a positive for mature small businesses and should continue to expand in the coming year. OASIS, STARS III, CIO-SP4, Polaris and a multitude of other vehicles are becoming more prevalent in federal contracting.
  • New Business and Networking Became Harder – This was mostly due to the pandemic. Meeting prospects and providing capability briefings was much harder in 2020 as there was little opportunity for in-person meetings. It is much harder to make new connections and provide a clear view into company culture and compatibility through Zoom or Google Meet.
  • The Importance of Being “Employee-Centric” – It is no secret that talent is at a premium in today’s federal contracting market. In 2020, employers offered flexible work schedules, increased benefits and telework to attract and retain top employees even before COVID hit hard in March. These benefits certainly help attract qualified candidates. However, a more “employee centric” work environment is key for employee satisfaction. This can include processes and procedures that ensure open communication and positive feedback. It also means offering flexibility in terms of schedules and projects that a team member is assigned. This is a trend that will continue going forward.
  • Teaming was on the rise – There was an uptick in teaming and joint ventures as smaller contractors looked to market collective capabilities and large primes saw more attractive opportunities in the set-aside arena. Teaming arrangements have been becoming more popular over the last several years in federal contracting, and for good reason. Teaming helps contractors gain access, minimize risk, increase knowledge and offer a more competitive price point. In fact, small businesses often find that teaming is the most effective way to compete and thrive in the federal market.

Author: Paul McVeigh

Source: https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2020/12/08/insights-barnes-2020-contracting-trends.aspx

NDAA 2020 Small Business Implications

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a one-stop-shop for legislation and provisions pertaining to all agencies. These range from cybersecurity to acquisition to management. Congress passed the 2021 NDAA conference report December 3, 2020.

The NDAA is enormous, so let us look at how small business contractors will be affected by the new legislation. There are several provisions that attempt to improve the procurement environment for small businesses. The NDAA included a provision requiring training of contracting officers and others in the acquisition community on best practices for buying goods and services from small firms and ways to avoid conflicts with the requirements of the Small Business Act.

Lawmakers also officially transferred oversight of the service-disabled veteran-owned small business certification requirements to the Small Business Administration from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The NDAA requires this transfer to happen within two years.

Congress continues to give joint ventures of small businesses more power. In Section 868 of the NDAA, lawmakers said agencies should consider the past performance of these efforts as first tier subcontractors. The move to use first tier subcontractor experience has long been a goal of small business advocacy groups. This seems like a first step in an important change.

Author: Paul McVeigh

Source: https://federalnewsnetwork.com/reporters-notebook-jason-miller/2020/12/policy-winners-and-losers-in-the-defense-authorization-bill/

DOD taking renewed interest in blockchain amid COVID-19 pandemic

Midst the COVID-19 pandemic, health executives in the Defense Department are once again looking at the potential use cases for blockchain. The distribution ledger technology has seen pockets of implementation in federal health agencies. On Wednesday, Bruce Doll, the assistant vice president for technology research and Innovation at DoD’s Uniformed Services University, said that the Military Health System should consider blockchain for everything from credentialing providers at clinics to tracking the distribution of a COVID vaccine as part of Operation Warp Speed.

Doll said on Wednesday during a virtual health IT conference hosted by Federal Computer Week that “You certainly want to be in a situation where you are able to track, whether it’s from Pfizer or Moderna, all the way to delivery to the patient, what is actually the quality of that series of steps.”

By using machine learning and AI, Doll said defense health agencies could clean and evaluate its fitness for use to reduce the risk of bad data making its way into the blockchain. “The idea of identifying friend or foe is elemental to environments that we work in, and then those identifications may only take seconds before a decision has to be made,” Doll said. “Having blockchain operating in that environment, so that you can actually have commands that can be conveyed forward in the field and then evaluated for correctness… would be a great advantage.”

The report proposed the DoD consider using blockchain to reduce single points in failure on the battlefield or in emergency decision-making situations. The commissioned report also recommended that DoD consider blockchain to improve the efficiency of its logistics and supply chains.

The Department of Health and Human Services has pioneered the use of blockchain in government. HHS in 2018 gained the first authority to operate an a blockchain and AI-powered tool called HHS Accelerate.

Author: Chandni Mandaviya



Company included in Initiative for a Competitive Inner City

IC 100 Ranking

Newark, December 9, 2020 – The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) announced that Newark’s Sabre88 is a winner of the 2020 Inner City 100 (IC100) award which recognizes the 100 fastest-growing firms in under-resourced communities across America. The winners were picked based on revenue growth and job creation during the four-year period from 2015 to 2019.

Winners were revealed at the 2020 ICIC National Conference held virtually on December 8th. The full list is available here. Sabre88, led by CEO Robert Cottingham Jr., was ranked #46 based on its four-year revenue growth rate of 147.42% and job creation of 36. Sabre88 is the only New Jersey business to make the list.

“This is a proud moment for us to be included on the IC100 list,” said Robert Cottingham Jr. “This is another proof point that what we are doing is working. It is incredibly rewarding to be recognized alongside leaders from so many industries across the county.” 

In order to measure the impact of COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis, ICIC conducted an in-depth survey of winners – gathering information on the companies’ estimated 2020 end-of-year revenue versus 2019, estimated 2020 end-of-year employment versus 2019, and information on a company leader’s approach to leading through the COVID-19 crisis.

Each winner shared stories of how they had to pivot due to the pandemic, from transitioning manufacturing centers to produce PPE, to learning how to sell virtually for the first time, to even holding free office hours with tech experts on a weekly basis – countless examples of innovation, grit, and resilience.

In addition to the survey, ICIC has collected demographic data on all the winners as well as metrics around revenue growth and job creation, included below.

2020 IC100 Winners by the Numbers:

  • Average Company Age: 17
  • Cities Represented: 56
  • States Represented: 29
  • Industries Represented: 25
  • Woman-Owned/Led: 42
  • BIPOC-Owned/Led: 51
  • Veteran-Owned/Led: 7
  • First-Time Winner: 71
  • Hall of Famers (will have won the IC100 for at least 5 times, including this year): 15
  • Average Four-Year Revenue Growth Rate: 310%
  • Average 2019 Revenue: $8,986,862.31
  • Total Jobs Created: 3,230
  • Total Employed by IC100 Winners in 2019 (year-end number): 7240

These numbers bear out some encouraging trends. This year’s IC100 list had the highest number of women-owned/led companies, an increase of eight companies from 2019 and 17 since 2015. The 2020 list also contains the highest ever number of BIPOC-owned/led companies, marking an increase of seven since 2019 and 11 since 2015.

“IC100 companies are forces of economic opportunity, optimism and transformation in their communities, and it’s an honor to recognize Sabre88’s leadership,” said ICIC CEO Steve Grossman. “Especially during this incredibly challenging time, as small business owners reckon with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, these pioneering entrepreneurs have demonstrated a deep commitment to and passion for their local communities.”

IC100 Methodology: Recognizing that concentrated poverty exists within metropolitan areas outside of big cities (and that poverty overall is suburbanizing), ICIC has revised its definition of an inner city (or under-resourced area) to encompass large areas of concentrated poverty in suburbs and smaller central cities as well as the large cities on which it has historically focused. The new inner-city definition that it has developed includes large low-income, high-poverty areas located in the urban and suburban parts of all but the smallest metropolitan areas.  Every year, ICIC identifies, ranks, and awards the 100 fastest growing businesses located in America’s under-resourced communities. In 2020, companies were selected and ranked by revenue growth and job creation over the four-year period between 2015 and 2019.

About ICIC:

ICIC is a national nonprofit founded in 1994 by Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter. ICIC drives inclusive economic prosperity in under-resourced communities through innovative research and programs to create jobs, income and wealth for local residents.

Through its research on inner city economies, ICIC provides businesses, governments and investors with the most comprehensive and actionable information in the field about urban market opportunities. Now in its 26th year, the organization supports urban businesses through the Inner City 100, Inner City Capital Connections, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, and Santander Bank’s Cultivate Small Business program.

Learn more at www.icic.org or @icicorg

DoD to Procure Space Trash Removal

Space Trash is a serious problem. Its mention may induce a chuckle from some, but space trash is indeed no laughing matter. The current estimates provided by NASA regarding the total amount of space debris in Earth-orbit totals 17.6 million pounds or 26,000 pieces satellites, rocks, metal, and other hazardous materials. This debris can cause significant damage to satellites and can be fatal to astronauts. Space trash can also fall to Earth.

From the US government’s perspective, space trash is a threat to national security. Lt. Gen. John Thompson, Space and Missiles Systems Center (SMSC), said, “Space debris is already a national security space issue. You’ve probably heard Department of Defense leaders talk about space not only being contested, but also congested.” With the formation of the Space Force and the completion of the Space Fence, a digital tracking mechanism capable of tracking items 10cm and larger, the DoD is investing in cleaning up space debris.

Leaders of the Space Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (SRCO) and Space and Missiles Systems Center (SMSC) said during an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics event that they are interested in ways the commercial sector can help the military with junk floating around the Earth’s orbit. “I anticipate that in the commercial sector, and in the national security space sector, that orbital debris mitigation will become a huge effort going into the future,” said Lt. Thompson.

Although the list of civilian contractors capable of performing the requirement is currently small, the prospect of profits is space will undoubtedly drive entrepreneurs to look up. After all, the sky is no longer the limit!

Author: Paul McVeigh

Link: https://federalnewsnetwork.com/defense-main/2020/11/dod-wants-industrys-help-in-taking-out-space-trash/