GSA Schedules – Opinions Change

Originally posted on Creative Contracting:

For so long, the common belief among my government colleagues was that GSA is inappropriate and took “work” away  from contracting offices for the procurement of services.  Primarily, those services offered on Schedules like LOGWORLD, MOBIS, PES, and IT 70 were routinely purchased outside of GSA.  I remember when I worked for the Air Force that even the mention of using a GSA Schedule to procure engineering services was met with scorn and dirty looks.  The Industrial Funding Fee and the fact that GSA wasn’t in line with Air Force contracting principles were the two arguments most commonly heard.

Over time, some agencies have been more open to using GSA Schedules than others. These same agencies have also procured certain products and services using Schedules, more than other products and services.  As time moved on, companies arose (and we have blogged on this topic before) convincing every small business in site that they NEED a GSA…

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Scammers are savvy – Don’t be fooled~

Don’t take the hook, line and sinker – sneaky email about an “Incomplete SAM.gov registration” has been spotted in inboxes across the country:

ImageHave you recently received an email starting with “Subject: SAM Expiration – [YOUR NAME] Call 888.299.8266?” Then, the email starts to draw you in with, “[Your Name], we would like to speak with you regarding the SAM Renewal for Company ABC  with CAGE code  xxxxxx set to expire on 6/3/2014. FBA’s Quick Start Program is designed to get Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates’s registration renewed, make sure it stands out above your competition, can easily be found, and makes a great impression in order to effectively compete for Contracting and Grant opportunities.

Let me guess – the answer is YES.

Well, hopefully you’ve already figured out that this is spam/phishing by the  “FBA”, which really stands for FedBiz Access - A PRIVATE LLC – NOT A GOVERNMENT ENTITY. This is simply a company trying to lure you into thinking you need their services to get found by government purchasing entities (which is  not guaranteed by the way).

There have been several complaints filed with the BBB over the past few years – a simple Google search of “FedBiz Access complaints” will turn up some interesting results. I’ll let you decide on the legitimacy of the company; meanwhile, I’ll review their email for accuracy:

The following statement is nearly completely false, and a key hint about the fact that this is spam: “Did you know that a high percentage of companies in SAM have errors which can negatively impact their success?  Most SAM profiles do not have a Capabilities Narrative, Effective Keywords, Qualified References, and other Critical Information. We can help…” Then, they follow with a quote from a person at the GA Tech PTAC which makes their previous statement seem qualified. The quote from PTAC will most likely be true, but the statement above that the company places before the quote it is not entirely accurate.

Now that they’ve reeled you in, let’s debug their “hook” part if the email so that you don’t swallow the “sinker”:

1. Errors in SAM are not sent to you by some random email from some random company. The email will come from an official account and won’t have “we can help…” at the end. If you have an error, you will know it. If you’re not sure, just go to http://www.SAM.gov and click on “Search Records” to look up your company.

2. Qualified references??? There isn’t even a spot for this information. There IS a place to put in contact information. Just remember that this information is public – if you only want to put a phone number here, you may (so you can lessen the spam of which we are currently discussing). 

3. Effective keywords? What is this – the federal government now uses SEO to search for companies??? No, not here. Just make sure you “describe” your business with the right NAICS codes. For a list of NAICS codes, go to: http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/

4. SAM.gov is simply a place to register your business so that the government knows it’s legit and to record any exceptions (think flaws on a company record). If they are searching for your services, you can bet this is NOT the place they will find you.

SAM.gov cannot be enhanced in any way. In one, short and sweet sentence here is what SAM.gov IS:
SAM.gov is company info that is certified. 

So, why is this company asking all this information and scaring small business owners into calling them? Because they are hanging on to that tiny hope that you, the small business owner, is so wrapped up in day-to-day dealings, that they can play off of that always lingering thought in the back of your head that you’ve either missed something important, or that the government space is so confusing that you just can’t help but maybe believe them and let them handle things.

Okay, so if I’m not being “found” by government agencies via SAM.gov, then how can I become more visible?

First of all, we should mention that having a SAM.gov registration is required to sell to the government. Your company should have a registration, but if not, watch this video (put together by the SAM.gov web people) prior to getting started so that you have all of the information you need in place: Register a New Entity in SAM to be Eligible for Government Contracts

Once registration is complete, BE PATIENT! “Allow up to 10 business days after you submit your registration for it to become active in SAM and an additional 24 hours before that registration information is available in other government systems. You will receive a confirmation email once the registration is activated. ” Source: SAM.gov

Next, what types of agencies buy your goods/services? Agencies have small business websites where you can register your company as a vendor to allow your capabilities to become searchable by an agency purchaser. For example, NASA has one called the Office of Small Business Programs where you can learn all about doing business with NASA, and where you can register your company as a small business vendor. Here’s a quick list of a few others – *NOTE: this list is not by any means complete – just a quick FYI as examples*

So, you’re now a savvy email scanner and can identify these ploys, right? Also, know that if the government ever wants to get a hold of you, they will.   No one will ask for detailed information that is not already public knowledge via an email. ALWAYS check the email address from which a letter is coming. The .gov extension is limited to government entities. Beware of emails telling you about missing info. without a “.gov”address. Dun & Bradstreet have also had some scammers pose as them and they will email spam you (if they haven’t already). The best way to validate an email is with a quick phone call. These spammers rely on you NOT calling to verify, so calling is a great way to say “gotcha!”

The one take-away to learn today? Always validate the source!

We rely on our trusted partner network. Shouldn’t you?

As much as we would like to say “we can do it all,” we realize that doing a few things exceptionally is far 

more rewarding than doing everything only satisfactory.

 
Our trusted network of partners allows the ability to tap into key resources and aid clients to achieve the utmost professional, and complete service; the total solution.
 
Need a bit of a hand in the areas of HR, timekeeping, wage compliance, or contact strategy and execution? Our partners are here to help:
GHG Corporation

GHG Corporation (Est. 1979): Leading Time and Attendance Solution provider featuring electronic time sheets, leave balance management and online pay stubs. This secure, password protected system is available to employees and management anywhere, anytime from any Internet enabled computer. eTSS easily integrates with QuickBooks as well as 3rd party payroll providers. DCAA accepted.

Wage Hour Consulting
Ms. Patricia Slate - 

With over 35 years of experience as a compliance specialist with the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division, and the National Labor Relations Board, Ms. Slate offer a wide range of consulting services by specializing in federal wage issues governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act, Davis Bacon and Related Acts, Immigration and Nationality Act, Service Contract Act, Family and Medical Leave Act and more. I am available to answer your questions, help you conduct an internal audit or assist you in a federal investigation.

Unanet

Unanet: Unanet’s Professional Services Automation (PSA) software helps organizations that need to reliably plan, track and manage people and projects. Unanet provides resource requesting, resource management, project management, timesheets, expense reports, project accounting, billing and workforce collaboration. DCAA accepted. 

Unanet Professional Services Automation (PSA) software helps organizations that need to reliably plan, track and manage people and projects. Unanet provides resource requesting, resource management, project management, timesheets, expense reports, project accounting, billing and workforce collaboration. DCAA accepted. Unanet offers bi-weekly webinars to introduce the capabilities of their software solution

 
Captiol Steps Consulting
Capitol Steps Consulting: 
A company placing value on proximity to the marketplace is a lot like real estate: location, location, and location. With offices placed in two large federal hubs, Denver Colorado and Washington DC, Capitol Steps Consulting will design and execute a strategy for delivering a company’s product or service to the largest buyer on the globe: the U.S. Government. Simply stated: We turn notion into motion. Project management is our focus, and we cultivate strategies that can be measured – which is the key to long-term success and profitability.
Cura HR

Cura HR - HR consultants with diverse experience in compensation, benefits, HR information systems, project management, leadership development, employee handbooks, small business HR and corporate communications. Small business specialist.

Our partners help us provide the total solution.Contact one of them today to see how they may assist your company and bring you the exceptional government contracting service your company deserves.

Part 4 of 4 – You are now Ready for Government Contracting! Go Get ‘Em!

To give back, we’d like to share some government contracting tips and tricks so that you can be the best government contractor possible. Each week, throughout the month of March, we’re have posted 5 tips to celebrate 5 years. Time for the drumroll as we share our last set (for now)…5-years

This week’s post: Government Contracting Tips and Tricks
Part 4 – And not to forget…

#16: Analyze your approach to government marketing. Need help with strategy?

#17: Know your nicheWhy?Trust us – it’s most important in determining direction of efforts.

#18: Know your resources. Did you know you can go to your local Business Development Center and the SBA for resources?

#19: Make sure to reach out to past teammates regularly. Ask about new opportunities.

#20: Don’t get discouraged! The government contracting cycle is LONG. The effort to go after a contract can be exhausting. However, heading the previous 19 tips will really help you become a successful government contractor. As, always, feel free to contact Arrowhead Solutions. Now, go get ‘em!

Don’t forget to follow Arrowhead Solutions on Twitter (@arrowheadllc) for daily tips, too!

Thanks for tuning in! All of these tips will “live” here on our blog for quite some time. We look forward to many more years to come and helping out small businesses in any way that we can.

CHEERS!

Part 3 of 4: Policies and Compliance

As Arrowhead celebrates our 5th anniversary, we realize that we could not have done it ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????without all the support from you – our readers and clients!

To give back, we’d like to share some government contracting tips and tricks so that you can be the best government contractor possible. Each week, throughout the month of March, we’re going to be posting 5 tips to celebrate 5 years. Cheers!

This week’s post: Government Contracting Tips and Tricks
Part 3 – Policies and Compliance

#11: Register on SAM.gov. If already registered, check company information for accuracy.

#12: Perform a health check on company policies. Need templates or assistance?

#13: Make your compliance program effective. Learn how here via our blog.

#14: Make sure your accounting software is up-to-date. Time to clean things up?

#15: Still new to the government contracting space? We’re here to help. Check out these tips on our blog. 

Don’t forget to follow Arrowhead Solutions on Twitter (@arrowheadllc) for daily tips, too!

See you next week!

Part 2 of 4: Government and Marketing

ImageFive Years; time to give back to our wonderful readers! Part 2 of 4: Marketing to the Government

As Arrowhead celebrates our 5th anniversary, we realize that we could not have done it without all the support from you – our readers and clients!

To give back, we’d like to share some government contracting tips and tricks so that you can be the best government contractor possible. Each week, throughout the month of March, we’re going to be posting 5 tips to celebrate 5 years. Cheers!

This week’s post: Government Contracting Tips and Tricks
Part 2 – Marketing to the Government Customer

#6: Update your capability statement. Don’t have one? Get one ASAP.

#7: List the services your company can provide directly on your website.

#8: Do your research: Who’s buying? Who are the competition? How can you compete?

#9: Utilize Sources sought, advance notices and RFI’s to become more visible.

#10: Don’t get scammed! Although sometimes helpful, GSA Schedules aren’t always necessary! There are numerous ways to increase your buying power through networking and public opportunity sites. Beware of anyone asking for an upfront fee, or for a percentage of sales.

Don’t forget to follow Arrowhead Solutions on Twitter (@arrowheadllc) for daily tips, too!

See you next week!

 
 

Five Years; time to give back to our wonderful readers! Part 1 of 4:

As Arrowhead celebrates our 5th anniversary, we realize that we could not have done it without all the support from you – our readers and clients!

To give back, we’d like to share some government contracting tips and tricks so that you can be the best government contractor possible. Each week, throughout the month of March, we’re going to be posting 5 tips to celebrate 5 years. Cheers!

This week’s post: Government Contracting: Tips and Tricks Part 1 – DCAA and Government Accounting

#1: Ask “How would we fair during a DCAA audit?” Not sure? Try a mock audit with Arrowhead’s experts on the other side of the table before there is DCAA in the picture.

#2: Make sure you know what wrap rate means. Need a refresher?

#3: Be familiar with indirect and direct rates. Read On…

#4: Read RFQs carefully – response instructions must be followed exactly as stated.

#5: Make sure to time your GSA proposal right  (if you have one). Not sure? Just call Arrowhead and we’ll help you sort it out. Don’t know if you really need a GSA? You could be right. Not all companies can benefit from being on a GSA Schedule. Arrowhead will also help you sort this out.

Don’t forget to follow Arrowhead Solutions on Twitter (@arrowheadllc) for daily tips, too!

See you next week!

Press Release: Arrowhead Solutions, LLC Celebrates Five Years of Continued Growth

Boulder, CO (March 3, 2014) – Stephanie Mueller Amend, Founder of the boutique consulting firm, Arrowhead Solutions, LLC, announces the company’s five-year anniversary. With specialties in supporting small businesses with the processes and cycles relating to government proposals, GSA Schedules, contracts, accounting, compliance and marketing to the government, .  Arrowhead continues to experience significant revenue growth year over year. Focusing on quality and effectiveness differentiates Arrowhead as a top-rated, government contractor consulting firm. Positive reviews of Arrowhead from current clients are well documented, and continue to lead to the company’s growth supporting clients from coast to coast. Diversification into commercial support for clients and placing emphasis on strengthening client marketing efforts has allowed Arrowhead continued success; even as a recession, funding cuts, government shutdowns, and sequestration nearly paralyzed the industry of government contracting.

Marching with the rhythms of the government has been one key to Arrowhead’s continued success. Slow periods in government spending translate to “focus time” for Arrowhead clients’, as well all Arrowhead’s own, business development; hence the birth of the ArrowBD service and addition of the government marketing division of the business in 2013. Arrowhead’s next major advance, coming in 2014, will continue to propel Arrowhead and their clients forward for years to come.

About Arrowhead Solutions:

Arrowhead Solutions, LLC has been serving Boulder, Colorado area, the Denver Metro area, and clients across the nation since 2009. Stephanie Mueller Amend, founded Arrowhead after seeing a need for assistance in the small-business government contracting arena. Five years later, Arrowhead has fostered the ability to assist in every area of government contracting and grown to support a diverse roster of clients nationwide. For additional information about Arrowhead Solutions, LLC call 303-515-0527, email Lindsy Bentz, l.bentz@arrowheadsolutionsllc.com, or visit the website at: www.arrowheadsolutionsllc.com.

DCAA – Is Your Company Ready?

Most likely your answer to this question is “I don’t know”. It is often the case that a company thinks maybe they could be ready for a DCAA audit, but has little confidence that they would pass. On the other end of the spectrum, are you a company who thinks you are definitely ready for DCAA because you have an expensive or robust accounting and/or timekeeping system? Unfortunately, if you never had DCAA in your office before, then you probably are not ready, regardless of your systems.Image

Contrary to what you have heard, you cannot “buy” a DCAA-approved accounting system. No accounting or timekeeping system has ever, or will ever, receive DCAA’s stamp of approval. As a government agency, they will not endorse a product in that manner. In addition, DCAA never “approves” your systems anyway. Instead, they test your end to end system, policies and procedures and determine if it is “adequate”. In a nutshell, they want to make sure that you walk the talk and you do it according to regulation.

So, how can you be prepared for any of the DCAA audits you may encounter as a government contractor? Test yourself. Internal audits (or as we call them “mock audits”) are an ideal way for you to determine where your gaps are and correct those gaps. They are also great to get you ready for an audit as a sort of practice. Having an outside party review your accounting system, timekeeping system, chart of accounts, policies and procedures, then test your on those, is the only way to ensure you are ready. Without such a test, you are walking into the battlefield blind. 

Arrowhead’s 2014 Calendars: Functional Office Decor

Stephanie Amend:

Looks like yesterday’s link in the post had a case of the Mondays…Not anymore! Download your calendar (for real this time):

Originally posted on Creative Contracting:

Arrowhead’s 2014 calendars are perfect for that quick-glance reference – download them here:

Click on the calendar best for your office decor (downloads will be PDF, letter-size, and landscape oriented for printing):

Block-2014-calendar_PS Blue-2014-calendar
Color-2014-calendar-white Horse-2014-calendar

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