From the Executive Director

At the end of May, NDIA Iowa – Illinois Chapter hosted the 11th Annual Midwest Government Contracting Symposium (previously called the Small Business Symposium) in Moline IL across the river from Rock Island Arsenal (an active U.S. Army facility located on a 946-acre island in the Mississippi River, between Davenport, Iowa and Rock Island, Illinois)

Some comments from the event:

  • The Army is interested in new ideas – but will not consider anything with an increased cost – do MORE with LESS or the SAME. Areas of interest include modernization, war-gaming, talent management, and training.
  • For the Army – small business must be able to support READINESS and ability to SCALE UP – it is critical. If they cannot, work will go to large business.
  • Expressed commitment to internal talent and training development
  • Year-end dollars are available – committed to support of readiness
  • A priority – to increase use of metrics and operations to more quickly support the soldiers needs
  • Additional concepts of importance – enterprise wide contracts, source selection, category management, scrubbing of policy layers to increase overall efficiencies
  • Of course 252.204-7012 was a point of discussion. Comments were made by a couple of primes that if their subcontractors cannot certify to the current cyber requirements, they will be removing them their supplier databases (including question on compliance in supply chair registrations).   Other considerations in this area include protest (non-compliance of competitor), appropriate flow down and application of clause (specific vs broad), depth of supply chain compliance.  It is anticipated that compliance will become an evaluation factor in proposals.   If your business needs assistance in this area please contact Marc Violante at marcv@wispro.org or 920-456-9990
  • DOD representatives encouraged industry to educate the CO’s on changes where appropriate and needed. Also encouraged industry to share with government their feedback on impact regulatory or other changes have on their ability to contract.
  • STRONGLY encouraged responding to Sources Sought and RFI – they are asking. Suggested responding in the negative if the requirement could be improved or is in some way not realistic.  Looking for industry feedback.
  • Use of LOGCAPS, EAGLE, CHESS, OASIS and other government wide contracts
  • SubNet– some of you may remember SubNet – it has been around for a while with limited success. It is a database of subcontracting opportunities posted by large contractors looking for small businesses to serve as subcontractors.  https://eweb1.sba.gov/subnet/client/dsp_Landing.cfm.  Currently it has limited use, BUT an enhanced site is scheduled for release on September 20, 2018 with the ability to post events scheduled for December 2, 2018.

From the Executive Director

On May 15, the US VA VISN 12 and WPI hosted the 6th Annual US Department of Veterans Affairs Business Conference in Milwaukee.

This conference focused on procurement procedures and business opportunities for veteran owned businesses with the Department of Veterans Affairs, VISN 12 area consisting of Milwaukee, WI; Madison, WI; Tomah, WI; Chicago, IL; Danville, IL; and Iron Mountain, MI with eight medical centers, 38 outpatient clinics, eight nursing homes, and six domiciliaries, providing health care services to the 700,000 Veterans who reside within its four state (Illinois, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, and Northwest Indiana) area. Overall, the Department of Veterans Affairs spends over $23 billion annually.

I would like to share some updates and “words of wisdom” that were shared by the presenter at the event:

  • Businesses interested or are currently contracting with the VA, must be aware of the Veterans First requirements and the CVE verification. https://www.vip.vetbiz.gov/  Note:  the site is currently suspended for website transitioning.
  • Answer SOURCES SOUGHT – and answer specifically to the requirement. SOURCES SOUGHT are posted at fbo.gov .  The responses impact set aside decisions.
  • NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK
  • Read – really read – the solicitations you are considering and if you decide to respond, be responsive. If you are not responsive to the requirement and do not understand what the evaluation factors / basis of the award will be, you will not get the award.
  • Understand small business programs – how they apply, their benefit AND the concept of affiliation – the federal, state and local programs differ.
  • Get quick access to the National Acquisition Center, including the Federal Supply Schedule(FSS) Service and National Contract Service(NCS) and the programs they offer such as MedSurg Catalog and Pharmaceutical Catalog products and services.

We want to extend a special thank you to Steve.

If you have questions or need assistance on contracting with the Department of Veterans Affairs, please contact Carol Murphy at carolm@wispro.org or 414-270-3600.

 

From the Executive Director

May 11 2018

I had the pleasure of being at the Society of American Military Engineers briefing yesterday by Frank Grimaldi, Assistant Commissioner at City of Chicago, Department of Aviation.  The City of Chicago and its airline partners have agreed to a $8.5 billion capital improvement plan that will transform O’Hare with the largest terminal expansion ever, adding 25% more gate capacity, modernizing existing terminals and improving passengers’ experience. This investment is central to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s O’Hare 21 vision to improve the airport’s connectivity, efficiency and capacity, and ensure the future success of Chicago’s most important economic engine. This is the first major capital improvement to O’Hare’s terminals in more than 25 years.  Even though we are across the border to the north, some of you that do airport work may find this to be a good opportunity.  Visit https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/doa.html for details.

From the Executive Director

I had the pleasure of attending the MIDWEST AEROSPACE SMALL BUSINESS INDUSTRY DAY hosted by NASA, the Federal Reserve and our IL PTAC counterparts yesterday in Chicago.  All 10 NASA centers were represented as were 6 of NASAs large prime contractors including Boeing, Jacobs, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, SAIC and Sierra Nevada.  Also joining the program was NASA’s SBIR-STTR Deputy Program Executive.  Quite a lineup.  So, what was the message?

Here is what they said:

  • If you want to do work with NASA, you must register in their NASA VENDOR DATABASE https://osbp.nasa.gov/vendor_database.html. This will connect you to their procurement opportunities and requirements.
  • Respond to SOURCES SOUGHT and RFIs – and when you do – respond specifically to the requirement. This is important in the consideration to set aside requirements and consider suppliers.
  • Do your homework – a repeated comment. You are not making a good impression if you do not know who you are meeting with and what you can bring to their table
  • Glenn Delgado is the Associate Administrator of the NASA OSBP. He writes a blog from their website – good reading http://nasaosbp.blogspot.com/
  • Each NASA Center has a specialized mission – do your homework before meeting with NASA representatives
  • The NAICS codes that they use may seem “wrong”. They recommended digging deeper on their requirements to determine if the opportunities actually are a fit.  Only one NAICS code can be used on a requirement – the decision factors may not be obvious.
  • Make sure that you have an “elevator pitch” that includes your NAICS and differentiators and a good capabilities statement
  • Understand the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and the NASA Supplement
  • Attend the Center events – develop relationships at each Center Select OUTREACH at https://osbp.nasa.gov/
  • VERY IMPORTANT to the prime contractors attending – a robust accounting system.
  • VERY IMPORTANT – AS9100 quality system
  • COMMUNICATE
  • Remember that NASA for the most part buys in low quantity – high specialization
  • SBIR STTR programs are both available through NASA
  • NASA has their own Mentor Protégé program – outside of the US SBA program https://osbp.nasa.gov/mentor.html

Wisconsin has a number of NASA contractors including Orbital Technologies, UW System, Medical College of Wisconsin, Plymouth Tube Company, College of Menominee Nations, Madison Cryogroup, Marquette, Industries for the Blind and others.

If you are interested in exploring potential opportunities for your business with NASA, contact me at ainav@wispro.org

Last week, WPI partnered with NCMA – Wisconsin Chapter to cohost the 5th Annual End of Year Federal Contractor.  This event brings together our State’s Federal contracting community (as well as a few from across the boarders) for an update on issues of compliance, contract administration, small business programs and market opportunity.  If you missed it, take a look at the agenda and speaker bios.  We will again be hosting next year (January 2019).

Some highlights:

  • Daryl Zahn, Manager of Contracts and Compliance at DRS Power & Controls Technologies shared information on the initiatives Section 809 Panel established by the 2016 NDAA to improve the Defense acquisition process.
  • DCMA’s new Milwaukee Commander, briefed the group on changes and initiatives of his organization. Also, Jason Rathsack, Chief, Contracting Operations, shared information on issues in contract management
  • William Hughes and Emily Constantine from Husch Blackwell shared their expertise during the Federal case law update – a featured and always much anticipated part of the program
  • As DATA SECURITY is the topic of year, we were honored to have Nate Millsap Jr., Director of Industrial Security for Fincantieri Marinette Marine shared his expertise on data security compliance and implementation in the Defense environment
  • Eric Ness, Wisconsin Director US SBA and Phil Bail shared updates impacting small business from this year’s NDAA and recent past national conference, including changes to the HUBZone program, challenges to the 8(a) program, and acquisition threshold changes

WPI would like to congratulate WEDC on another successful MARKETPLACE event this last December!  WPI facilitated the one on one meetings again this year –  a record number of 782 meetings. MARKETPLACE 2018 is scheduled for December 12 – 13 2018 in Milwaukee at the Potawatomi Conference Center.  Some highlights from the 2017 event are available at the MARKETPLACE WEBSITE.

Some statistics – in FY2017 Wisconsin companies were awarded $3.54 billion dollars in federal contracts – .71% of total procurement dollars.  We ranked 32nd.  More on this topic in the next newsletter.

One of the three key elements of success in the Federal market is ACCESS.

Over the last few months, WPI had the pleasure of working with Congresswoman Moore’s staff and Lockheed Martin’s Small Business representatives in support of the Defense Supplier Diversity Conference, which was held last week at Discovery World in Milwaukee, which focused on getting ACCESS for Wisconsin businesses to large and successful Defense contractors.  Also joining the conference in support of this opportunity was Sikorsky, Leonardo DRS, Oshkosh Defense, Derco, and Woodward.

What was important to these prime contractors?  Several attributes were at the top of the list:

  • Quality – ISO or above (having the actual certifications – not just being compliant)
  • Qualifying as SMALL and / or qualifying for small business programs
  • International Traffic in Arms Regulations – ITAR
  • Capacity

The opportunities are there for qualified contractors – especially manufacturers.

On a side note, a reminder to DOD contractors and subcontractors subject to the requirements of Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 252.204-7012, Safeguarding Covered Defense Information and Cyber Incident Reporting (the clause), the deadline for compliance with the clause’s cybersecurity requirements is Dec. 31, 2017.  These obligations will be satisfied by implementing the standards prescribed by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-171, titled Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Information Systems and Organizations. WPI will be hosting webinars on this topic.  More information contact Ben Blanc at benjaminb@wispro.org or Marc Violante at marcv@wispro.org

AND dates for this year’s Governor’s MARKETPLACE 2017 – have been announced – December 13 – 14.  Pre-sessions will be scheduled around the State to help companies prepare for the event.  The SMALL BUSINESS ACADEMY will again be held the morning prior to the start of MARKETPLACE.

 

First, wishing everyone a Happy 4th of July!

On behalf of WPI, I would like to thank all of the speakers, government buyers, prime contractors, partners, volunteers and Office of Congressman Kind who helped make last week’s 11th Annual Volk Field Small Business Conference a great success.  The commitment of support by Volk Field and Juneau County Economic Development Corporation provided almost 200 attendees from Wisconsin and surrounding States the opportunity to build business relationships and locate opportunities with government and industry.

I would like to highlight several webinars coming up in July and early August that may be of interest to current contractors. These webinars are FREE. Details and the schedule is available at www.wispro.org  Topics for July and August include:

  • DOD Invoicing – WAWF / IRAPT
  • Federal Procurement Data System – FPDS
  • Buy American
  • Government Property

And last and maybe most important – September 30 is the end of the Federal government’s fiscal year.  Why important – end of year spending.  We encourage current contractors to prepare to take advantage of the opportunity.  More on this in the next month, but here are three simple things to make you more visible to buyers:

  • Make sure that your SAM registration is current and if you are a small business, your DSBS is complete
  • Have a current and updated Capabilities Statement ready
  • Reach out to your current customers

Wisconsin currently shows over $1 billion in Federal sales.  This does not include the last 90 days of DOD sales.  How Wisconsin will end the year is yet to be seen.

Last week, WPI hosted and attended a number of events focusing on Federal contracting opportunities – 5th Annual Department of Veterans Affairs Conference, Midwest SBLO meeting and UWM’s MERC.  Some takeaways:

  1. As it applies to veteran owned businesses, the CVE verification only applies to work with the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the FAA. Details on the Verification requirements are available at https://www.va.gov/osdbu/pressreleases/news20131010.asp The US SBA SDVOSB program applies to the other agencies.  More information at https://www.sba.gov/contracting/government-contracting-programs/service-disabled-veteran-owned-businesses
  2. Although not yet implemented, the Final Rule for Credit for Lower Tier Small Business Subcontracting became effective January 23, 2017. Contractors requiring small business subcontracting plans as well as small businesses should be aware of this change and watch for details. The text is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/23/2016-30874/credit-for-lower-tier-small-business-subcontracting
  3. In addition to the Small Mentor Protégé Program, DoD will continue to offer the long standing DOD MP Program. Learn more about this program at http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/sb/programs/mpp/
  4. The Midwest SBLO group hosted their quarterly meeting in Milwaukee. Guest speakers included representatives from Husch Blackwell, Belonger Corporation and Convenience Electronics.  SBLO’s are encouraged to participate in their quarterly meetings – in person or via webcast.  Learn more at http://www.midwestsblogroup.org/
  5. A message from Federal agency representatives at the VA event – respond to Sources Sought and IFB’s. Small businesses need to make sure that the agencies are aware of your capabilities and small business status.   Supporting the agencies efforts to perform market research, can influence a requirement being set-aside under one of the US SBA small business programs.   Businesses should be reviewing opportunities on a daily basis.
  6. Networking is CRITICAL to success – a continuing message to contractors.
  7. The new beta version of the USASPENDING.GOV site is now available for use – https://beta.usaspending.gov/#/ The beta version content will be updated during the summer and then will replace the current site in September.
  8. I had the pleasure of hearing the presentation by Dr. William Regli from DARPA at UWM’s MERC event. Organizations interested in learning more can go to darpa.mil.  Open solicitations are available at www.fbo.gov.  Four focus areas were highlighted – Math, Modeling and Design / Physical Systems / Human-Machine Systems and Social Systems.

Aina Vilumsons

Executive Director – CEO

I had the pleasure of meeting Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the US Small Business Administration and the voice of small business on the President Cabinet during her trip to Wausau yesterday.  She spent the morning meeting with city officials and downtown developers.   In the afternoon I joined the roundtable hosted by the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce – good networking and good conversation.

WPI has worked in partnership with the SBA for many years.

Wisconsin is very fortunate to have Eric Ness, WI District Director and Marianne O’Brien Markowitz, Regional Administrator advocating for Wisconsin’s small businesses.

The last scheduled event was a visit to one of WPI’s clients – Applied Fab & Machining (AFM) owned by Tim Sheridan.  Tim gave a tour to the Administrator as well as other US SBA officials and discussed his journey and success.  AMF started as a one man operation and over the last 6 years has grown to 22 employees, over $1 million in federal contracts and work with numerous Federal prime contractors.  AFM is a service disabled veteran owned business (verified federally and for the State of Wisconsin), is ISO 9001 and AS9100 certified and ITAR registered.

Tim has worked hard and is a successful supplier to the Department of Defense and other agencies. We look forward to continuing to work with Tim in his efforts to continue growing his government sales.

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We are kicking off our first Pre-Marketplace workshop on Friday September 16 with the Urban League of Milwaukee.  10 sessions are scheduled across the State.  Find details at www.wispro.org

Marketplace 2016 is scheduled for December 13-14 2016 in Milwaukee.  WPI will again be supporting the One-on-One meetings scheduled for December 14. Federal, Corporate, State and Local buyers will be joining us – we will start posting confirming attendees in October. Additional information can be found at https://premarketplacewi.org/marketplace-2016-buyer-meetings/.

Midwest SAME Small Business Expo/Wisconsin Federal Contracting Forum

For those of you in in CONSTRUCTION, A/E, ENGINEERING, ENVIRONMENTAL AND RELATED TRADES AND SUPPORT FUNCTIONS we recommend a great event for both gaining knowledge and growing relationships – MIDWEST SAME SMALL BUSINESS EXPO 2016 to be held March 9 – 10, 2016 in Northbrook, IL.

Attendees will be able to meet with and learn from a broad range of Federal, State and Local Government Agencies and Prime Contractor Representatives, contracting experts and resources. The keynote speaker this year will be Benjamin Brockschmidt, VP of Policy from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, joining us will also be Ann Kalayil, Regional Administrator, General Services Administration, Marianne O’Brien Markowitz, Regional Administrator Midwest, US SBA, as well as representatives from EPA, NAVFAC, USACE, VA, METRA, Illinois Tollway and many more.

The event will also feature two workshop tracks – one focusing on proposal preparation and compliance, the other on cyber and related topics.

The proposal and compliance track will be of special interest to current contractors. Featured speakers will include:

  • Helen Henningsen, Attorney, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Philip Stavrides, Chief of Construction Section, USACE Chicago
  • Jean Thiel, President, Belonger Corporation
  • Suzanne Ferris, HGA
  • Linda Krysiak, previously with US SBA and Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Carol Murphy, Wisconsin Procurement Institute

Updated information and registration is available at https://sites.google.com/a/wispro.org/same2016/

Also coming up, a call out to businesses interested in attending the Wisconsin Federal Contracting Forum in Washington, DC in April 2016. This year’s program will provide information on spending plans and priorities with a focus on health care, technology and infrastructure. If you are interested, please contact Hilary DeBlois at hilaryd@wispro.org.