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Virginia PTAP Announces Tetra Tech as Gold Sponsor of Veterans International Small Business Conference

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November 3, 2015

Fairfax, Virginia: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is partnering with the Virginia Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) at George Mason University (GMU) this year to host the 2nd Annual Veterans International Small Business Opportunities Conference (VISBOC).  The VISBOC conference is specifically designed to benefit Veteran owned small businesses.  This conference will take place on November 10, 2015 in Arlington, VA.

We are proud to announce that Tetra Tech signed on as Gold Sponsor for the VISBOC Conference. We appreciate their commitment to supporting veteran-owned small businesses,” said Virginia PTAP Director, Anna Urman.

Tetra Tech has been a leading provider of consulting, technical assistance, engineering, program management, staff support, and capacity-building services to the U.S. government since its founding in 1966. They operate in more than 100 countries and territories, with approximately 13,000 employees, over 300 offices worldwide (including several in the National Capital Area), and an annual revenue of over $2.5 billion.  Tetra Tech has a strong record of supporting USAID’s mission in steady-state, austere, contingency, post conflict, and high threat environments for nearly 40 years.  For more information on their international development assistance, please visit http://www.tetratech.com/en/international-development, and this link will provide information on becoming a partner or vendor http://www.tetratech.com/en/suppliers-and-partners.

Tetra Tech also has a strong history of assisting small business and veteran-owned small businesses. As Jan Auman, President of Tetra Tech’s International Services Division, notes, “We are proud of our relationships with small business and veteran-owned small businesses.  Over the past five years, we have subcontracted roughly $1.25 billion to small businesses, with more than 10 percent going to veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. We are also increasingly subcontracting to many of the same small businesses who are more frequently serving as a prime contractor. Sponsoring events like VISBOC is another way we are able to help give back to veterans, support the growth of small business, and support USAID’s efforts to facilitate the development of more veteran-owned small business implementing partners.”

This year, VISBOC will draw over 200 participants, including small businesses, large primes, and several government agencies that operate in the international space, including USAID, Department of State, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

To register for the conference, please visit http://vaptap.ecenterdirect.com/ConferenceDetail.action?ID=1464

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Virginia PTAP Announces Chemonics as Gold Sponsor of Veterans International Small Business Conference

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November 2, 2015

Fairfax, Virginia: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is partnering with the Virginia Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) at George Mason University (GMU) this year to host the 2nd Annual Veterans International Small Business Opportunities Conference (VISBOC).  The VISBOC conference is specifically designed to benefit Veteran owned small businesses.  This conference will take place on November 10, 2015 in Arlington, VA.

“We are proud to announce that Chemonics International signed on as Gold Sponsor for the VISBOC Conference. We appreciate their commitment to supporting veteran-owned small business.” Said Virginia PTAP Director, Anna Urman.

Owned entirely by employees, Chemonics is an ISO-9001 certified international development company. For nearly 40 years, they have partnered with local and international organizations to promote social and economic change around the world.  Chemonics’ experience in more than 150 countries implementing successful projects that range from agriculture and private sector development to health and education will be a welcome and valuable addition to the VISBOC Conference.

Chemonics President and CEO Susanna Mudge said, “We are honored to be gold sponsors at the Veterans International Small Business Opportunities Conference and meet with veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. Chemonics is committed to providing meaningful partnership opportunities to small businesses and working together to build lasting relationships.”

This year, VISBOC will draw nearly 200 participants, including small businesses, large primes, and several government agencies that operate in the international space, including USIAD, Department of State, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

To register for the conference, please visit http://vaptap.ecenterdirect.com/ConferenceDetail.action?ID=1464

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Common Federal Procurement Acronyms

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Download: Common Federal Procurement Acronyms

ATO – Authority to Operate
B&P – Bid and Proposal
BAA – Broad Agency Announcement
BAFO – Best and Final Offer
BD – Business Development
BDO – Blanket Delivery Order
BOA – Basic Ordering Agreement
BPA – Blanket Purchase Agreement
CA – Cooperative Agreement
CAC – Common Access Card
CAS – Cost Accounting Standards
CDRL – Contract Data Requirements List
CFR – Code of Federal Regulations
CLIN – Contract Line Item Number
CO – Contracting Officer
CONUS – Continental United States
COR – Contracting Officer Representative
COTR – Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative
COTS – Commercial Off-the-Shelf
CPAF – Cost Plus Award Fee
CPFF – Cost Plus Fixed Fee
CPIF – Cost Plus Incentive Fee
CRADA – Co-operative Research & Dev’t Agreement
DFARS – Defense FAR Supplement
DLH – Direct Labor Hour
EDI – Electronic Data Interchange
EDWOSB – Economically Disadv. Women Owned Small Biz
FAR – Federal Acquisition Regulation
FAS – Federal Acquisition Service
FFP – Firm Fixed Price
FOIA – Freedom of Information Act
FOUO – For Official Use Only
GFE – Government Furnished Equipment
GFM – Government Furnished Materials
FFP – Firm Fixed Price
GFP – Government-Furnished Property
GOCO – Government Owned, Contractor Operated
GWAC – Government-wide Acquisition Contract
IDIQ – Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity
IFB – Invitation for Bids
IG – Inspector General
LOE – Level of Effort
LPTA – Lowest Price, Technically Acceptable
MATOC – Multiple Award Task Order Contract
MILSPEC – Military Specification
MOA – Memorandum of Agreement
MOU – Memorandum of Understanding
OCONUS – Outside the Continental US
ODC – Other Direct Costs
OIG – Office of Inspector General
OSDBU – Office of Small & Disadv. Business Utilization
PCO – Procuring Contracting Officer
PEO – Program Executive Officer
PII – Personally Identifiable Information
POAM – Plan of Action and Milestones
RFI – Request for Information
RFP – Request for Proposal
RFQ – Request for Quotation
SAP – Simplified Acquisition Process
SBLO – Small Business Liaison Officer
SBU – Sensitive but Unclassified
SCIF – Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility
SDLC – Software Development Lifecycle
SDVOSB – Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Business
SIC – Standard Industrial Classification Codes
SIN – Special Item Number
SOW – Statement of Work
SSN – Sources Sought Notice
TS – Top Secret
TS/SCI – Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmented Information
T&M – Time and Materials
WOSB – Women Owned Small Business

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Virginia Procurement Technical Assistance Program

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Visionary Consulting Partners, LLC

Virginia Procurement Technical Assistance Program

Founded in 2008, Visionary Consulting Partners, LLC provides a diverse range of consultative services designed to enhance and support health care providers, community based organizations, and public health agencies through its talented team of 52 employees. Visionary also provides innovative staffing support and personnel augmentation services for its diverse client base by utilizing its national and international network of resources. Visionary prides itself on its ability to take inventory on a company’s current employee capacity, assessing the needs of a specific contract, and filling the required positions with experienced, knowledgeable and capable bodies.  In short, by applying industry best practices, proven business methodologies, and real world experience, Visionary excels at crafting custom solutions that meet the individual needs of each and every one of its clients.

Through Visionary’s consistent self-evaluation to achieve greater and learn constantly, they realized an obstacle or problem was improving its win rate. After speaking with the Virginia PTAP about its desire to improve its overall proposal response process, Visionary sent its Business Development Executive – Derek Hall – and also its Lead Proposal Writer – Paolo Bocao – to the PTAP sponsored course, “Responding to RFPs” taught by Robert Gahagan.

The course provided Visionary with a better understanding on how to improve its business processes in order to enhance their ability to respond to RFP’s (Request For Proposals).  The course also informed Visionary on the sources of where RFP’s are publicized, improved Visionary’s RFP analysis process, and made Visionary more knowledgeable about Government specifications and the federal market.

The lessons learned in the Virginia PTAP course improved Visionary’s RFP production process, and also the quality of their submitted proposals. This resulted in Visionary being awarded three (3) defense contracts within the Defense Health Agency (DHA) in 2014 that totaled to approximately $12M in revenue.

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FAR Changes to Implement Adjustments to Acquisition-Related Thresholds

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Effective October 1, 2015, one final rule amends the FAR to implement inflation adjustments to acquisition-related thresholds. Changes include:

  • The micropurchase threshold of $3,000 is increased to $3,500.
  • The commercial items test program ceiling is increased from $6.5 million to $7 million.
  • The cost or pricing data threshold is increased from $700,000 to $750,000.
  • The prime contractor subcontracting plan floor is increased from $650,000 to $700,000, while the construction threshold remains at $1.5 million.
  • The threshold for reporting first-tier subcontract information, including executive compensation, is increased from $25,000 to $30,000.
  • The cost or pricing data threshold and Cost Accounting Standard threshold are raised from $700,000 to $750,000.

The simplified acquisition threshold of $150,000 is unchanged, as are FedBizOpps preaward and postaward notices, which remain at $25,000. A proposed rule published November 25, 2014, is adopted without change. However, some final thresholds are lower due to a lower rate of inflation than projected at the time the proposed rule was published.

Source: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/06/26/2015-15668/defense-federal-acquisition-regulation-supplement-inflation-adjustment-of-acquisition-relatedhttp://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/councils/marc/

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The scarcest resource in government contracting

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This is the time of year for grand plans, resolutions, and strategy. An opportunity to lay out your year, set your course for some big goals, and… bury yourself in email, get overwhelmed by FBO notices, stay up til midnight answering data calls. And in December you’ll wonder where the year went, again.

So this article isn’t about market research strategies or secrets of getting ‘in’ with the Tier I prime contractor, not exactly.  Instead, let’s talk about one resource of tremendous value – and how you need to use it wisely to ensure that your government procurement pursuits are a good investment, instead of a throwaway lottery ticket.

1. YOUR time.

Is your company effectively pursuing the opportunities that you are uniquely suited to win?  Or are you chasing everything in your NAICS code?  Somewhere in between? Here’s how you can make your business development more effective:

  • Develop your “Unique Value Proposition”, also known as a differentiator.  What does your company do that no one else does?  If your reply is ‘cheap, fast, good customer service’ – start over, those are not differentiators, those are common denominators, because everyone expects that you will deliver at a good price, on time, and with good customer service.  Your uniqueness can be in the way you do business, in proprietary processes, in your team or experience, and even in your knowledge of your customer’s industry.  If there isn’t a niche, create one! That will make you appear that much more unique, and relevant.
  • Get to know your customers.  Meet with potential clients, teaming partners, and primes.  No one buys from strangers, not when they are spending large amounts of highly visible taxpayer dollars.  The point of the competitive and methodical acquisitions process is to lower the government’s risk with every buy.  Awarding a contract to a company they’ve never heard of before is a high-risk proposition.  Sure, they can call on references; they can check past performance.  But if there are bidders in the mix with similar proposals that have more familiarity, they will win most of the time. This isn’t nepotism, this isn’t unfair. It’s prudent.  What’s stopping you from identifying your buyers, talking to them at conferences, participating in their LinkedIn groups, sending them an email, asking for a meeting?
  • Develop the right opportunities. If the work you seek is not coming out on FBO, that does not mean you just respond to whatever *is* being posted.   This is where knowing your buyer starts to pay off. Once there is a relationship, you have an opportunity to find out how they buy the products and services that you are selling. Maybe it’s through Simplified Acquisitions. Perhaps it’s through GSA Schedules. Or reverse auctions. Or BPAs… all perfectly legitimate procurement avenues, none of which will appear on FBO. So if that’s the only place you’re looking, you’re missing out.

2. Your TEAMMATE’s time

Everyone wants to land a big teaming partner, because they will pave the way, they will “give you” some work. Why should they?  Don’t attempt to lecture the large primes that they have subcontracting goals to fulfill. In fact, starting a pitch by listing all your socio-economic set-asides is a deal killer.  Your partners want to know how you will help them. They can find other small, women-owned, veteran-owned 8(a) businesses in HUBZones. They haven’t had much trouble meeting their subcontracting goals in the past.  Focus on how you can benefit them – by customer knowledge? Unique expertise? Lower cost? (be careful of being the cheap one! You may get stuck there!)  Consider also pursuing the smaller whales: Tier II, Tier III companies, who are still large enough to have subcontracting goals, but aren’t as well known – therefore have a smaller pool of potential subcontractors. They are also less likely to have all the resources that they need in-house, and thus more lilkely to rely on subcontractors to help augment their offering, in addition to just meeting the subcontracting goals (or lowering their overhead).

3. Your CUSTOMER’s time

Practice your elevator pitch and do your homework.

Your customer doesn’t want to spend their time answering questions you should’ve figured out by looking at their website and strategic plan and acquisition forecast.  Nor do they want to sit through a 15-slide presentation on your resume or capabilities statement.  They want to know how you can help them meet a need they have.  Your face time with potential customers is best spent ‘digging in’ – asking in-depth questions about the projects and programs you are interested in; finding out how they buy; determining if there is a budget; and understanding how you can help them meet their mission and make their lives easier.

4. Your COUNSELOR’s or CONSULTANT’s time

There is help out there for you.  Procurement Technical Assistance Centers are funded by the Department of Defense and local universities nationwide to provide help and guidance to government contracting.  We review capabilities statements, help you with market research, assist in certifications, review proposals and prices, and teach classes on topics from the basics to legal/teaming to ISO certification.  Our counseling is free, and all our training classes are inexpensive.  However, we do expect that you do your homework, show up on time, and invest as much time in moving your business forward.

There are also many reputable consultants in the industry who are terrific resources.  They expect that you take your business and their time seriously, that you know your financials, can succinctly describe your differentiators, and articulate your business goals.

Government contracting isn’t a business pursuit many fall into; in fact, it is a long, patient road that you need to consider carefully, as you will be on it for a while if you want to see success.  Be ready to invest your time, the right amount of resources, and a fair amount of work if you want to succeed.  And we’ll help along the way.

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ICI LLC gets SDVOSB certification renewed

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ICI LLC, an S-Corporation, based in Chantilly, Virginia, was established in June 2010 as Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), and received the Department of Veterans Affairs verification in July 2011.  ICI LLC provides technical and scientific management services and is committed to delivering a high quality service to clients consistent with ISO-9001, ISO-14000 and ISO-21500 standards. During spring of 2015, the company applied for re-verification for SDVOSB certification with the Veterans Administration, Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE). Anticipating a smooth renewal because ICI had not undergone any changes in ownership or management since the original approval, the owners were surprised to learn that during SDVOSB re-verification, CVE determined there was not a clear determination who had control or authority to amend the company’s Operating Agreement. While working to amend the paperwork, ICI’s certification expired! This development put new contract awards at risk – and ICI and was now under a tight deadline to respond with the amendments.

After speaking with Virginia PTAP staff at the about the CVE concerns, Daniel Kirkpatrick, Service Disabled Veteran and Owner of ICI LLC attended a fortuitously-timed CVE Certification workshop taught by director Anna Urman to get a better understanding of the process. Daniel proposed a paragraph rewrite and requested assistance for a sanity check on wording and insertion. Virginia PTAP’s recommendation and vote of confidence was beneficial in a developing a revised operating agreement that met CVE’s requirements. One week after resubmission, ICI LLC received a re-verification letter with a renewed SDVOSB status. The time and assistance provided by the Virginia PTAP team at GMU was greatly appreciated as Daniel continues to pursue new contracts and can rest easy with a re-verified SDVOSB status that doesn’t expire again until June 2017.

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