Trouble With Procurement Site

Following article appeared in Bloomberg Government  March 23, 2023

From SAM to SCAM? Trouble with Procurement Site
Author:  Chelsea Meggitt

The alert read, “March 8th Emails Not Malicious.” Chelsea Meggitt talks about the strange emails that went to contractors from the government contracting web site in the most recent saga of technology woes.

The latest hit to the troubled, or System for Award Management (SAM) Government Point of Entry (GPE), came when masses of users recently received suspicious emails that appeared to be phishing attempts from that email address.

The evening of Mar. 7 and the morning of Mar. 8 were much like every other moment since the launch of—frustrating. For several weeks leading up to the incident, users had been reporting errors when trying to renew entity registrations, a task that should take minutes for a small business to perform but has plagued the site from the beginning.

In this roughly 24-hour period, it was widely reported that users were experiencing intermittent outages, an inability to access data, and some reported entities were missing entirely from their work spaces. The subtle alert banner at the top of SAM, which is far smaller than the initial banner that warns users of the consequences of misusing the system, informed users of the widespread issues. The banner displayed a brief explanation for the errors: “Issue under investigation, software issue suspected.”

The warning was ominous and vague. For many super-users of SAM, it seemed all too common and cause for concern if any “issue” arose. Count me in that group. As a registered government contractor, I maintain an active registration, and I’m familiar with the system. I’ve had a front-row seat for the troubles that (now SAM) has seen since its launch.

I wasn’t surprised when a client called in mid-February and let me know that they could not see their entity registration on the site. Fortunately, I had downloaded their entity information not two weeks before and could confirm it didn’t expire until June. I eased my clients’ fears and let them know I would keep them updated. I decided I would log onto the website myself to see if I could duplicate the issues that my client reported.

I knew the client’s entity was active and wouldn’t expire until June. It should have been there. But when I logged in, I couldn’t see it. I directed the client to the subtle warning banner at the top of the page which stated software issues were to blame for the challenges users were facing.

These issues aren’t uncommon. Users are familiar with a host of annoyances with the system. I assumed this one would get resolved in a matter of days, and if it didn’t, the government would step in with a waiver. I thought back to the entity validation process that caused such an overload on last year that the Defense Department had to extend entity registrations to allow the General Services Administration time to resolve the issue.

Fast forward Mar. 8 of this year, when users wake up to a legitimate looking email that claimed their entity had been assigned a new point of contact. For those who noticed it, the email immediately raised red flags. Although my note came from a domain, the entity referenced wasn’t mine and the body of the email contained links that appeared to be from a .jp Japanese domain.

It wasn’t the first time I had received a scam email from an entity purporting to be, but those usually don’t make it through the spam filter. This email appeared to have come from the official domain. Without clicking any of the email’s suspicious links I promptly navigated to to see if there were any changes to my record. My heart sank. My entity was now missing from my work space as well.

Within hours, GSA said repeatedly that the emails were not the result of a hack or breach but a benign software issue. Having been a government contractor for my entire career, I’ve had plenty of exposure to cybersecurity regulations, suspicious emails, and software issues. I was unable to think of a time when a software issue resulted in fraudulent emails being sent from an official domain.

Upon checking with a couple of contacts, I realized the issue was bigger than just me. It didn’t take long to determine that the same email had been sent to hundreds, if not thousands, of users.

Even I could see this was most likely a hack. The clues were in the body of the email. It had references to an entity I had no connection to, suspicious links, and an authoritative reference claiming action was taken on something I value—my company. I knew better than to click on any of the links in the email, but would others?

Claiming the email was caused by a software issue would give GSA more time to investigate the actual causes behind the problem, but would it also abate industry vigilance? The likelihood of ongoing security attacks and data exploitation is substantially higher in the time immediately following a security incident. Does GSA save face by downplaying the issue or take a credibility hit by not acknowledging the situation for what it clearly seems to be?

In any event, it’s clear the SAM’s struggles aren’t over yet.

Subscribers can find related content at Bloomberg Government.



The Collab is thrilled to announce our first official member, Parabilis.

Reach out to Parabilis, they provide a truly unique financial capability for small businesses that offers an alternative to traditional means of financing for government contractors. They are a fantastic partner and can enable growth where otherwise wouldn’t be available.

Contact Chelsea Meggitt, CEO Collaborative Compositions, for more information for this and other resources and services we provide to help you win government contracts.

Takes a Village – GovCon

takes a village

It takes a village – a network of trusted advisors and resources – to achieve sustainable growth.  Experienced government contractors know that is the way to succeed in such a complex and bureaucratic market in order to:

  • Simplify the complex regulatory and compliance processes.
  • Identify key stakeholders in new growth markets.
  • Overcome any of the commonly experienced hurdles.

We are proud to announce the establishment of The Collab, our trustworthy network of resources in the government space to help you establish your GovCon village.

Building a village of resources and advocates should be a priority. The take a village approach contributes to organizational social capital, a measure that studies have shown matters to an organization’s performance.

The Collab:

In The Collab we will put our social capital to work for you by introducing you to our network of resources via blogs, podcasts, and live/in-person co-hosted events.

Steep Learning Curve:

Government contracting has a steep learning curve and long contracting cycles. As companies transition and grow out of the available free resources, such as the APEX accelerators and SBA, they begin to require new skill sets and further education which necessitates a more mature village to support them. In a market like government contracting, social capital is all the more important for developing this supporting infrastructure.

Legal, financial, compliance, business development, strategy advisors, and marketing experts are just a few of the resources that businesses might find they need in their village along the path to growth. Along the way, the size and composition of these villages ebb and flow with the stages of growth, but these resources regardless of specialty, cost, or size, all have something in common, trust.

Collaborative Compositions:

Building trust takes time and as service providers, Collaborative Compositions recognizes the value of reducing the time it takes for small businesses to build their resource village by sharing ours with companies at every phase of corporate development. We know we can’t do it all, but we can reduce the time and cost associated with going it alone by providing access to our village.

Contact Chelsea Meggitt, CEO Collaborative Compositions, for more information for this and other resources and services we provide to help you win government contracts.

Keep an eye out for the next addition to The Collab; coming soon!



It’s Better Together With Joint Ventures

joint ventures

The following article appeared in Bloomberg Government November 4, 2022, Author Chelsea Meggitt

There’s a better way for small business to win big government contract money.  Chelsea Meggitt talks about joint ventures, a trending type that small contractors are using to size up the large competition.

Who is the prime, you ask?

“We are” is an increasingly common answer. It might confuse some who are versed in other well-known types of “Contractor Teaming Agreements” (CTAs) such as the prime contractor/subcontractor structure.

There’s another handy teaming tool that’s long been lurking in the shadows. The Joint Venture (JV) is a lesser used CTA that enables the participants to function and maneuver autonomously, a trait that the traditional prime/sub relationship doesn’t offer.

The answer to the question “who is the prime?” isn’t just one company. It’s the entire JV.

The common definition of a JV is an association of individuals and/or concerns with interests in any degree or proportion intending to engage in and carry out business ventures for joint profit over a two-year period, for which purpose they combine their efforts, property, money, skill, or knowledge—but not on a continuing or permanent basis for conducting business generally.

Simply stated, a JV is a group of two or more companies, entities, or individuals that have joined forces under the umbrella of a separate legal entity to pursue work together over a two-year period.

JVs can be formed by any combination of large or small businesses and can include two or more companies. The biggest difference from a traditional prime/sub relationship is that a JV involves the formation of a separate, unpopulated legal entity, often an LLC.

Why Not Just Go With Prime/Sub?

Coming together to form a JV offers measurable benefits over the hierarchical prime/sub relationship, especially for small businesses. Structured like LLCs, the companies participating in a JV are all considered members. They all serve as prime contractor to the government, share the responsibility for ensuring delivery, and reap the benefits of prime contractor past performance.

In a JV, the members are equals. A separate legal entity is established to ensure each member company maintains independent operating authority in the JV and doesn’t rely solely on the JV for work.

Each member company brings its unique offering to the relationship to deliver a complete platform as the JV. The result is a completely modular vehicle that’s cheaper, lower risk, and often delivered faster than the traditional top-down prime/sub system. Utilizing this approach has resulted in some big wins for groups of small businesses teaming up to bid large government contracts.

All Small:

Of course there are nuances. The composition of the JV matters.

If all member companies of the JV qualify as small businesses under the Small Business Administration, the JV itself is then considered small. That means it qualifies for set-asides awarded only to small businesses.

If one of the small businesses has a socio-economic certification that warrants its own set-aside, the JV also holds that designation.

If each member of an all-small JV holds a different socio-economic certification (like being women-owned, service disabled veteran-owned, or located in an economically underutilized region), the JV retains all of their designations.

In all small JVs, companies can pool their set-aside statuses and compete for bigger contracts as a group while maintaining other operations independently.

Large businesses entering JVs have fewer collective benefits across the board. But they can access set-aside contracts as a large business in a JV by being part of the SBA Mentor Protégé Program. In this way, JVs offer bonus points for large businesses mentoring small businesses in an SBA-approved mentor protégé relationship.

The JV formed between the large company and the small business protégé retains the set-aside status of the small business.

Why Not Use JVs All the Time?

It can be tricky for JVs pursuing set-aside opportunities. If one of the members is a large business, the JV might not be able to pursue set-aside contracts unless the members have an SBA-approved Mentor Protégé relationship.

Also, the rules surrounding the two-year time limit are vague. The two-year period is an arbitrary timeframe put in place to ensure the companies that are entering the agreement don’t intend to rely on the JV alone for revenue.

Even though there is a two-year limit on a legal JV entity, the members can choose to form another legal entity and continue working together. The JV legal entity must be registered in government databases, which means delays in processing registrations can potentially prevent JVs from winning awards.

The two-year time frame can also serve as a helpful exit plan for JV members that have a dispute. Knowing it is only a two-year headache can make unpleasant relationships easier to bear compared to other longer duration, higher commitment prime/subs teams.

The decision to form a JV should be made on a case-by-case basis, but the agreement type offers groups of small businesses flexibility and power of scale. By giving them a chance to play with the bigs, and in some cases compete against them, multi-party JVs are showing the true strength and power that small business collaborations have in the federal market.

Government Marketing Best Practices

Government Marketing Best Practices

Government Marketing Best Practices 2.0:  What You Need to Know for Accelerated Success – Kindle Edition

I am pleased to announce the release of Government Marketing Best Practices 2.0 –  What You Need to Know for Accelerated Success.
Click here to view on Amazon Kindle.

I am proud to have a chapter in this book,  Creating Buzz and Building Relationships Through Events: Chelsea Meggitt

– Chelsea Meggitt –

By Mark Amtower (Author), Sheri Ascencio(Author), Joyce Bosc (Author), Carl Dickson (Author), Stephanie Geiger (Author), Katie Helwig (Author), Larry Letow (Author), Chelsea Meggitt(Author), Chris Parente (Author), Stacey Piper (Author).

Book Content:

The federal government market in the U.S. is the largest market in the world. It is Fortune One. The government buys nearly every product and service imaginable.

It is also one of the most complicated and competitive markets in the world, filled with arcane rules and minutiae, public laws and regulations regarding the procurement of goods and services. These effect the bidding, sales and marketing processes we employ in the arena of government contracting.

Marketing plays a huge role in winning business in the public sector, but marketing here is different and it has to address the market, and the segments of the market, in ways that resonate with buyers and influencers making decisions that impact the lives of citizens and soldiers, civilian government employees and others impacted by the products and services purchased by Uncle Sam.

Government Marketing Best Practices 2.0 is a collaborative effort among several leading government marketing experts. It is designed to provide both the novice and experienced GovCon marketer with strategies, tactics and tips to develop and execute successful marketing plans in the vast public sector arena. It will help all who read it to become better public sector marketers and tom level up your game.

The book does not have to be read sequentially, as each chapter is designed to be a stand-alone work.


– Annual Strategic Planning: Stephanie Geiger
– Corporate Branding: Eileen Cassidy Rivera
– Thought Leadership in GovCon: Mark Amtower
– PR for GovCon: Joyce Bosc
– Association Involvement: Katie Helwig
– Positioning Your Digital Footprint for Growth: Janet Waring
– The Importance of Content Creation — Owned Media: Chris Parente
– Events: Stephanie Geiger
– Webinars: Sheri Ascencio
– Developing a Marketing Campaign: Stacey Piper
– Email Marketing: Stacey Piper
– Pre-Programmatic Marketing: Why it Matters When you Are Trying to Win Government Proposals: Carl Dickson
– Marketing to the Intel Community: Larry Letow
Creating Buzz and Building Relationships Through Events: Chelsea Meggitt
– LinkedIn and Social Selling: Mark Amtower