Govmates – Government Matchmaking

govmates

About Govmates:

This video features Govmates matchmakers as well as co-founders Stephanie Alexander and Katie Bilek, and they talk about meeting your perfect match in government contracting. 

Govmates has assisted with more than 30,000 matches from their system of more than 4,500 government contractors.  They are experts in creating valuable relationships within the federal sector.

Govmates is a technology scouting platform.  They merge the best practices of technology as well as the human element to promote non-traditional defense contractors within the federal community.  Govmates is providing amazing new resources and relationship development opportunities via their partnership with OT Consortia Management firm ATI.

DIB Tech Talk Episode:

Have you ever wanted an unlimited Rolodex of resources?  What about hand-picked matches to help grow your government contracting business?

We discuss the way they’re providing assistance to large and small federal contractors as well as providing a matchmaking platform.  This enables government agencies to connect one-on-one with small and non-traditional defense contractors.  Federal Contractors use this support for small business outreach, market research, sources sought, and supplier diversity initiatives.

Collaborative Compositions:

We work closely with world class partners like Govmates and we deliver valuable resources and helpful information.  Our goal is to help drive enterprise as well as defense innovation throughout the country.

More about the Strides Agency:

The Strides Agency is a digital marketing and communications agency and you can find out more about the Strides Agency at Strides.Agency

Stay tuned for more interesting DIB Tech Talk episodes coming soon!

Democratizing Deep Tech to Drive Defense Innovation

Have you ever wondered how the defense innovation ecosystem works with venture capital and the everyday entrepreneur to drive the commercialization of defense and dual-use technologies? In this DIB Tech Talk interview, I talk with Principal of FedTech Mike Bynum about how he works with entrepreneurs, start-ups, and even established contractors to drive the democratization of Deep Tech. We discuss the role of venture capital in defense technology development, how FedTech helps facilitate an entrepreneur-driven innovation ecosystem, and how the defense community benefits from these efforts.

About FedTech: Backed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), FedTech is a unique private venture firm commercializing deep tech across DoD, NASA, DoE, universities and other national labs. FedTech builds startups around breakthrough technology from the world’s most advanced research facilities.

About Mike: Mike leads the Defense Innovation Accelerator to empower entrepreneurs by facilitating the co-development of startups around breakthrough technologies. Prior to FedTech Mike lead the Sports Tech and Esports focused Global Accelerator at Stadia Ventures and was on the boards of The BALSA Foundation and the Esports Trade Association.

Collaborative Compositions works closely with world class partners like Mike and FedTech to deliver high value resources and helpful information to drive entrepreneurialism and defense innovation throughout the country.

More about the Strides Agency:  The Strides Agency is a digital marketing and communications agency. Find out more about the Strides Agency at Strides.Agency

Stay tuned for more interesting DIB Tech Talk episodes coming soon!

Copy of Government Use of Other Transaction Authority (OTA) in 2022

2022

A growing buzz term in Government Contracting over the past several years has been Other Transaction Authority (OTA) or Other Transaction (OT). Chances are if you work in the government contracting industry you have heard the term. Since the 2015 and 2016 NDAAs Congress has made several adjustments to clarify and expand the use of OTA. For example, in FY 2018, Congress enacted a law requiring the DoD to prefer the use of OTs for science and technology and prototype programs.

Most of the OTs the public will see are run with a consortium-based model, in which an intermediary third-party firm (consortium manager) forms a consortium usually focused on a specific technology focus area and acts as the facilitator for the government-industry interactions. These consortia are marketed as a more efficient and lower barrier to entry way to work with the Department of Defense and Civilian Government agencies.

A comprehensive list of all the OTA consortia is hard to come by, but this list by MITRE’s AiDA (Acquisition in the Digital Age) is typically up to date. Benefits for small businesses participating in these consortia can include increased visibility with government and prime customers, faster funding, more teaming opportunities, and cost share requirements that incentivize large prime contractors to work with non-traditional small companies.

The increase in spend on OTs is not surprising considering an OT approach allows government to get money out the door faster than traditional FAR contracting and gives the government substantially more flexibility when forming business arrangements with industry members. Jon Harper summarized the explosion of growth in the use of OTAs in a 2019 article in National Defense Magazine 

“The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act expanded their application. OTAs are now available for basic, applied and advanced research projects and for prototype projects and follow-on production, noted the Govini report titled, “Evaluating the Innovative Potential of Other Transaction Authority Investments.”

“To ensure U.S. military advantage, it is imperative for DoD to partner with businesses and academia to incorporate innovative technological advancements into military capability,” the study said. “DoD is increasingly using OTAs to leverage commercial technology for research and prototyping.”

Following the change in the NDAA, obligation totals grew by 122 percent, eventually reaching a total of $3.4 billion in fiscal year 2018, according to the report.”

Rolling into Calendar Year 2022 the trend towards OT use hasn’t changed. In fact, the government’s use of OTAs has skyrocketed going from $3.4 Billion in 2018 to over $7 Billion in 2019 and the global pandemic served to accelerate the trend. Early predictions for OTA spending in 2021 top $12.5 Billion on COVID related expenses alone according to an article in NextGov.

“Congress allocated trillions of dollars to federal agencies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and, in an effort to get that money out the door quickly, the top three spenders awarded more than $12.5 billion using an opaque acquisition method known as other transaction authorities, or OTAs, according to a government analysis.”

With an increased focused on supply chain surety and technological advancements via R&D it’s likely the trend towards OTA spending will increase.

For industry looking to capitalize on the OTA BOOM they’ll have a maze to navigate of various OTA consortia with different managing entities that have different philosophies on what an OT really should be. Most, if not all require annual membership dues of $250 or more and what industry members will find behind the closed access doors of the members only portal varies with the management firm.

To ensure small businesses capture the value available via OTs it’s important they keep their eye on the prize when adding OTs to their contracting portfolios. Here are some tips for picking consortia to join:

  1. Do your research on the Management Entity
    1. What is their philosophy/what role do they take?
    2. What benefits does membership receive?
  2. Make sure the technology focus areas, sponsors (DoD, Civilian, other), and previously awarded technology profiles align with the business’s strategic direction
  3. Check if cross consortia membership is available and supported by the management entity. You want to get visibility with multiple sponsors and ensure cross-domain solutions are realized where appropriate.

Resources: 

https://aida.mitre.org/ota/existing-ota-consortia/ 

https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2019/7/9/ota-agreements–exploding-in-popularity

https://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2021/08/watchdog-covid-19-spending-using-otas-had-less-oversight-transparency-usual/184253/

 

A Biden Small Business Christmas

 

On Thursday December 2, 2021, Small businesses considering entering and already in the federal market got an early Christmas present from the Biden Administration.

There has arguably never been a better time to become a federal government contractor. On Thursday December 2, The Biden Administration revealed several reforms intended to increase federal spending transparency and the number of federal contracts going to small and underserved businesses. The move gives the Small Business Administration (SBA) more oversight of federal buying strategies in a bid to give small businesses a louder voice in federal procurement. According to a factsheet published about the reforms,

 “less than 10 percent of federal agencies’ total eligible contracting dollars typically go to small-disadvantaged businesses (SDB), a category under federal law for which Black-owned, Latino-owned, and other minority-owned businesses are presumed to qualify. Moreover, while women own roughly 20 percent of all small businesses economy-wide, less than 5 percent of federal contracting dollars go to women-owned small businesses.”

To level the playing field for underserved communities and businesses, the White House intends to direct $100 Billion in federal contracting opportunities to Small Disadvantaged Businesses and increase the share of contracts awarded to small-disadvantaged businesses to 15% by 2025. This is consistent with the President’s Day One Executive Order (EO) 13985 which directed agencies to make procurement and contracting opportunities available for all eligible vendors and remove barriers to small and disadvantaged businesses.

In a first step towards meeting that ambitious goal the Biden Administration asked agencies to increase their goals such that government wide spending results in 11 percent of contracting dollars being awarded to small-disadvantaged businesses in FY 2022, a goal that is a little more than double the current small business spending goals of 5 percent.

In response to a recent GAO report that revealed small businesses in the federal market have decreased by sixty percent over the past decade the Administration has tasked agencies with benchmarking the inclusion of new entrants in the federal marketplace and developing strategies for diversifying the supply base. The administration intends to hold Senior Executive Service (SES) managers accountable for meeting small business goals by including progress towards achievement as a performance evaluation factor.

In addition, the reforms call for creating direct lines of access to senior leadership for Federal Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSBDUs), which play an important role in increasing contracting spend with small businesses.

It should also be noted that the Government is paying increasing attention to the outcomes of a process that enables agencies to buy as an organized entity rather than thousands of individual buyers. An analysis of “Category Management” spending since 2017 revealed that socioeconomic firms received a disproportionately lower share of contracts under the “Category Management” effort. As a result, the Biden Administration revised guidance for using “Category Management” to help federal agencies conduct more equitable buying practices.

If you’re wondering about how this move impacts the other small business designations including woman-owned small businesses, service-disabled veteran owned small businesses, and HUBZone businesses, spending goals for those categories will also be updated over the course of the next year.

To the small businesses that make up most of the American economy these announcements are the Administration’s warm holiday wishes for a prosperous new year.

 

Resources:

Fact Sheet: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/12/02/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-announces-reforms-to-increase-equity-and-level-the-playing-field-for-underserved-small-business-owners/

Meritalk Article : https://www.meritalk.com/articles/wh-to-direct-100b-in-contracting-opportunities-to-sdbs/

GovExec Article : https://www.govexec.com/management/2021/12/biden-administration-announces-more-actions-help-small-businesses-win-contracts/187241/

 

Increasing Obligations to a Shrinking DIB

Discombobulated

Curiously, the Department of Defense’s contract obligations to small businesses grew from FY2011-2020 but the number of small businesses in the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Shrunk by nearly half.

In a recent report published by GAO it was revealed that the DIB has been rapidly shrinking in numbers since at least 2011. According to their numbers there were 42,723 small businesses in the DIB in 2011 down to 24,296 in 2020. So how does the inverse relationship work when the obligations going to small businesses went from $70B in 2011 to over $80B in 2020? It’s clear to those small businesses remaining in the industry that there are a higher number of obligations going to a lower number of businesses.

In 2019 the DoD published its Small Business Strategy to encourage and facilitate contracting opportunities for small businesses. However, instead of an efficient, effective, and unified approach to implementing the strategy it has essentially turned into a smattering of unmonitored innovation hubs, acceleration stations, and requirements rodeos across the services. If it has appeared from an industry position that the DoD’s implementation of a small business strategy was uncoordinated at best… that’s because it is uncoordinated.

In the same report by GAO, it was highlighted that the DoD lacks plans, policies, or processes to effectively implement, monitor, measure, and continuously improve a small business strategy. Upon release of the strategy in 2019 each branch of the services quickly stood up their own tech entry programs resulting in a flurry of efforts to attract the best tech available in the commercial market. The NavalX TechBridges, AFWERX, AFVentures, & AFRL, Army Accelerators and Federally Funded R&D labs (just to name a few) were all quick to establish alluring small business entry programs.

Ideally these efforts would lower barriers to entry for small businesses, increase the rate of tech transition, and make defense and dual use technology available for anyone in the DoD to acquire. But in true governmental fashion instead of collaborating to distribute technology across the Defense Enterprise these units compete by setting differing expectations for small businesses interested in working with them.

This is not to say these efforts are unproductive or failing to increase the flow of technology into the DoD. Now is arguably as good a time as ever to become a government contractor. These changes are a sign of hope for many small businesses seeking to do business with the DoD. For those who look in the right places there are real opportunities for growth.

“For example, DOD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) aims to accelerate the military’s adoption of innovative commercial technology. Officials told us DIU uses other transaction agreements to make awards more quickly and reduce burdensome FAR contracting requirements, allowing DIU to attract nontraditional defense contractors and keep pace with technological changes. As of 2020, 77 percent of DIU awardees were small businesses. Officials said DIU receives many proposals from small businesses because the requirements to work with DIU are not burdensome.”

DIU is one unit increasing the use of flexible acquisition methods such as Other Transaction Authority (OTA). Often less talked about are individually awarded OT agreements. These are awarded to small or large businesses individually (as opposed to via a consortium). In a February 2020 article by Jon Harper in National Defense Magazine, Director of Strategic Engagement for DIU Mike Madsen said at the time

The Defense Innovation Unit has awarded about 150 contracts to 122 nontraditional vendors. Of those, 66 are first-time suppliers to the military.”

A year later DIU was still leading the way in DoD innovation. Their 2020 annual report revealed that in the past 5 years DIU has leveraged more than $11 billion in private investment. In 2020 alone DIU initiated 23 new projects (a 35% year over year increase), received a total of 944 commercial proposals, and saw an increase in the number of proposals by 52% compared with 2019. This is what industry wants to see across the DoD.

After speaking with a representative from National Security Innovation Network  at an October 14, 2021 industry day hosted by the Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition (PNDC) I learned that the number of individually awarded OT contracts has nearly doubled and is closer to 250.

It seems commercial sector common sense is hitting some areas of the DoD like DIU that seems to be finding success in sustaining a small business supply chain and adopting innovation. But hodge-podge disparate systems won’t win the great power competition and it’s not an effective approach to growing the small business defense base. To stay ahead, DoD will have to integrate the lessons learned from DIU and successfully implement, communicate, and monitor a unified management approach for its small business strategy. Currently the lower number of small businesses in the DIB is an opportunity for new entrants to grab a piece of a bigger federal pie. More obligations are up for grabs for those who seek to capture them! As the DoD becomes a more attractive business partner, small and non-traditional businesses will see opportunities for growth in the federal market continue to expand.

  

Resources:

GAO Report: Small Business Contracting October 2021 https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-22-104621.pdf

National Defense Magazine: https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2020/2/11/defense-innovation-unit-shifts-into-higher-gear

https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2021/4/5/commercial-interest-grows-in-defense-innovation-unit

 

 

Government Use of Other Transaction Authority (OTA) in 2022

2022

A growing buzz term in Government Contracting over the past several years has been Other Transaction Authority (OTA) or Other Transaction (OT). Chances are if you work in the government contracting industry you have heard the term. Since the 2015 and 2016 NDAAs Congress has made several adjustments to clarify and expand the use of OTA. For example, in FY 2018, Congress enacted a law requiring the DoD to prefer the use of OTs for science and technology and prototype programs.

Most of the OTs the public will see are run with a consortium-based model, in which an intermediary third-party firm (consortium manager) forms a consortium usually focused on a specific technology focus area and acts as the facilitator for the government-industry interactions. These consortia are marketed as a more efficient and lower barrier to entry way to work with the Department of Defense and Civilian Government agencies.

A comprehensive list of all the OTA consortia is hard to come by, but this list by MITRE’s AiDA (Acquisition in the Digital Age) is typically up to date. Benefits for small businesses participating in these consortia can include increased visibility with government and prime customers, faster funding, more teaming opportunities, and cost share requirements that incentivize large prime contractors to work with non-traditional small companies.

The increase in spend on OTs is not surprising considering an OT approach allows government to get money out the door faster than traditional FAR contracting and gives the government substantially more flexibility when forming business arrangements with industry members. Jon Harper summarized the explosion of growth in the use of OTAs in a 2019 article in National Defense Magazine 

“The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act expanded their application. OTAs are now available for basic, applied and advanced research projects and for prototype projects and follow-on production, noted the Govini report titled, “Evaluating the Innovative Potential of Other Transaction Authority Investments.”

“To ensure U.S. military advantage, it is imperative for DoD to partner with businesses and academia to incorporate innovative technological advancements into military capability,” the study said. “DoD is increasingly using OTAs to leverage commercial technology for research and prototyping.”

Following the change in the NDAA, obligation totals grew by 122 percent, eventually reaching a total of $3.4 billion in fiscal year 2018, according to the report.”

Rolling into Calendar Year 2022 the trend towards OT use hasn’t changed. In fact, the government’s use of OTAs has skyrocketed going from $3.4 Billion in 2018 to over $7 Billion in 2019 and the global pandemic served to accelerate the trend. Early predictions for OTA spending in 2021 top $12.5 Billion on COVID related expenses alone according to an article in NextGov.

“Congress allocated trillions of dollars to federal agencies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and, in an effort to get that money out the door quickly, the top three spenders awarded more than $12.5 billion using an opaque acquisition method known as other transaction authorities, or OTAs, according to a government analysis.”

With an increased focused on supply chain surety and technological advancements via R&D it’s likely the trend towards OTA spending will increase.

For industry looking to capitalize on the OTA BOOM they’ll have a maze to navigate of various OTA consortia with different managing entities that have different philosophies on what an OT really should be. Most, if not all require annual membership dues of $250 or more and what industry members will find behind the closed access doors of the members only portal varies with the management firm.

To ensure small businesses capture the value available via OTs it’s important they keep their eye on the prize when adding OTs to their contracting portfolios. Here are some tips for picking consortia to join:

  1. Do your research on the Management Entity
    1. What is their philosophy/what role do they take?
    2. What benefits does membership receive?
  2. Make sure the technology focus areas, sponsors (DoD, Civilian, other), and previously awarded technology profiles align with the business’s strategic direction
  3. Check if cross consortia membership is available and supported by the management entity. You want to get visibility with multiple sponsors and ensure cross-domain solutions are realized where appropriate.

Resources: 

https://aida.mitre.org/ota/existing-ota-consortia/ 

https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2019/7/9/ota-agreements–exploding-in-popularity

https://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2021/08/watchdog-covid-19-spending-using-otas-had-less-oversight-transparency-usual/184253/

 

Government Contracts in 2021 – What’s Ahead?

government contract

Government Contracts in 2021 are much more favorable to new vendors, now is the time to expand your business in this sector.

The Government Spent More During the Pandemic Than it Did Pre-Pandemic:

 According to the data released by Bloomberg Government on October 6, 2020 civilian agencies spent a whopping 17% more in FY 2020 than in FY 2019. At $228 Billion for FY 2020, civilian agencies spent $33.5 Billion more than in FY 2019.

Spending did not increase unilaterally across agencies though. With the pandemic raging, spending increased most in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with the Department of Energy (DOE) also increasing. For HHS, contracting obligations jumped from $26.6 billion in fiscal 2019 to $41.2 billion in fiscal 2020, an increase of about 55%!

If you provide medical supplies, materials, or equipment now would be a great time to look at HHS which accounted for about 44% of the overall increase in civilian spending. 

The Government is Capable of Change, But it is Not as Coordinated as Industry Might Have Hoped:

Thanks to the pandemic we saw the government make some notable changes during 2020. One significant change was the rapid shift from on-site, face-to-face industry days to substantially more virtual industry days.  For many agencies it became clear quickly that there would not be a way to safely invite contractors to their sites for industry days during 2020. As a result, the pandemic really put change management on a stage.

Many agencies shifted their focus to using government compliant platforms to host virtual information sessions instead of asking contractors to fork up the cost of travel to attend industry days. This shift to virtual events paid off for both industry and government with attendance at virtual industry events far exceeding in-person events. According to Melissa Oh with the Department of Homeland Security’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) , virtual industry days are here to stay. Not only do these virtual events make government contracting more accessible for small businesses it also gives the government an opportunity to get familiar with providers throughout the country.

This is a win-win situation that will act as a door opener for businesses that have not previously contracted with the government.

On-Ramps and Best-in-Class Contracting Vehicles

As part of a strong small business government contracting strategy, leaders should be preparing for the onslaught of contracting vehicle on ramps scheduled to happen in 2021.  Contract vehicles slated for release in 2021 include the NITAAC CIO-SP4 solicitation, 8(a) STARS III award, and the SeaPort-NxG On-Ramp solicitation.

In 2020 the most successful small businesses made themselves available to their government customers using numerous Multiple Award Contracts (MACs) to make as many funding avenues available as possible. According to the folks over at TargetGov, “aggressively growing small businesses pursue and win multiple MACS, with the top small businesses holding 13 MACs on average.” 

This might seem like a lot of work for an uncertain reward but making the government customer’s job easier by providing easily accessible funding avenues will pay off. 

Resources: 

https://fcw.com/articles/2020/10/27/virtual-industry-days-here-to-stay.aspx 

https://www.govexec.com/management/2020/12/report-pandemic-likely-dominate-federal-contracting-fiscal-2021/171032/ 

https://alphabrook.com/blog/selling-to-the-federal-government-in-2021