In an article published by Law360, we examined a report issued by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General on July 23, which summarizes the findings of an audit into the protection of controlled unclassified information (CUI) on contractor networks.

The DoD reviewed nine contractors’ information systems and revealed some deficiencies that do not meet the standards set forth in National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-171. The exposed deficiencies include: not mitigating vulnerabilities on their networks and systems, not scanning their network for vulnerabilities, not mitigating high vulnerabilities identified in the contractor’s management programs and more.


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The Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General recently issued a report summarizing the findings of an audit into the protection of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) on contractor networks.  Based on an in-depth review into nine contractors, the audit uncovered some common practices that fall short of meeting the standards set forth in NIST SP 800-171, which contractors are obligated to follow under DFARS 252.204-7012.

Shortcomings Discovered in DoD Audit

These common lapses include the following, among others:

  • Inconsistent tracking of cybersecurity threats
  • Failure to consistently mitigate network vulnerabilities
  • Uneven use of strong passwords
  • Inconsistent use of multifactor identification


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Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Todd Overman and Sylvia Yi will be presenting on key government contracting issues for small businesses.

We are excited to be presenting on key government contracting issues for small businesses on July 17, 2019 at The Tower at Peabody Place in Memphis, Tennessee. The presentation, titled, “Government Contracting Law Overview,” will discuss the pros and cons of business entity types, requirements of the SBA’s All Small Mentor Protégé Program, protecting partnerships

In an article published on April 9, 2019 in CO—, a new digital platform by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, I provided insight on the process of securing federal contracts for small businesses.

Once a business has searched for contracting opportunities and has completed all the necessary registration requirements, it can begin bidding on contracts. Though before bidding, it is important that the company can handle the job the contract requires and that it can meet all of the regulatory requirements – otherwise the contract could ultimately be terminated. “Don’t overpromise in your technical proposal, that becomes part of your contract and you’re going to have to deliver to those technical specs,” I explained.

Additionally, the proposal should include pricing information and according to Todd, the company will want to be realistic and not overcharge while also keeping in mind that the government sometimes chooses the best value over the lowest price.


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Don't miss the presentation: The Current State of M&A at AMIS Summit 2019’s Government Contract Industry Forum.

I’m very pleased to share that I will be presenting at the JAMIS Summit 2019’s Government Contract Industry Forum. My presentation will focus on the current state of M&A within the industry.

The JAMIS Summit gathers experts within the finance/accounting, program/project management, purchasing, business development, human resources, and executive leadership arenas to network, learn and exchange insight on current trends and industry knowledge.


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Late last month, the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Hearings & Appeals (OHA) issued a decision adhering to its prior line of cases discussing when present effect will be given to an indication of interest (IOI) between a small business and its potential large business acquirer for size determination purposes.  As with prior cases, OHA conducts a fact-intensive analysis to determine whether the parties had an agreement in principle at the time the small business submits its bid on a federal procurement.  The case, Size Appeal of Enhanced Vision Systems Inc., SBA No. SIZ-5978, offers some helpful tips on how to avoid an affiliation finding when negotiating an IOI and still pursuing small business set-aside opportunities.

Background

On October 5, 2017, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Acquisition Operations – Strategic Acquisition Center (VA) issued a small business set-aside RFP for in-home video magnification closed-circuit televisions.  The solicitation had a 1,250 employee size standard.  Proposals were due on December 12, 2017.  Enhanced Vision Systems, Inc. (EVS) timely submitted its proposal and was subsequently acquired by Freedom Scientific, Inc., a subsidiary of VFO Holdings, BV.  The contracting officer notified bidders that EVS was the apparent successful offeror.  In response, FedBiz IT Solutions LLC (FedBiz), an unsuccessful offeror, challenged the awardee’s size arguing that EVS had already entered into negotiations at the time of its initial offer, and therefore should be considered affiliated with VFO, the acquiring large business.  The Area Office sustained the protest, finding EVS and VFO affiliated, and therefore exceeded the employee size standard for the procurement.


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Taylor Hillman and I recently discussed how small Alabama businesses can enter the world of federal contracts. The All Small Mentor-Protégé Program (ASMPP) was established by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to extend business development assistance to all small businesses and help them achieve success in competing for federal government contracts. Only 20 of the 511 approved Mentor-Protégé Agreements had Alabama addresses as of May 5, 2018, despite one of the ASMPP’s top 10 district offices being located in Alabama, showing the potential for growth of the program within the state.

The SBA created an all-inclusive program with the Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses, Women Owned Small Businesses, HUBZones, and others, to streamline and enhance the program. Protégés can learn valuable lessons from mentors, including financial support; assistance in navigating the federal procurement bidding, acquisition and performance processes; business development advice including strategic planning and opportunity identification; and guidance on internal business management systems.
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What are the recent changes in rules that could impact your small business and teaming partners in federal contracting in 2019? The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council have recently finalized and issued proposed rules implementing provisions of past NDAAs that could alter how you team and ensure compliance with set-aside requirements on future procurements.

I will address these issues at an upcoming meeting of the Society of American Military Engineers, as well as highlight some lessons learned from SBA’s All Small Mentor Protégé Program as the program enters its third year.


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