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19 Friday, Dec 2014

The most-recent blog posts appear first. For past posts, click on the desired category in the column on the right.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 13, 2014 

It's a little bit early I know but it's never too soon to be thankful. Let me quickly share one of the reasons I enjoy being in this business. A few years ago, I became involved with the Children's AIDS Fund, a non-profit helping thousands of Africans. I never thought I would have the opportunity to apply my 30+ years in proposal writing to help fight AIDS in Africa. However, work with this group has let me travel to countries like Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa to visit AIDS clinics. The highlight of my trips have been the free Proposal Training classes I gave to doctors to help them secure funding for their medical centers. I recently received a thank you note from one of these medical directors, and it reminded me of how much we have to be thankful for.

Thank you to all of our consultants, employees, partners, and customers for creating a passionate and caring proposal community.

Russell Smith, President. 


Letter from Medical Director in Uganda:

Dear Russell,

This is to register my sincere appreciation for the free training we received from you in Uganda at Children AIDS Fund offices in Kampala.

I was able to use the skills acquired to secure funding for an HIV prevention project amounting to about 600 Million Uganda Shillings.

Through the training I was able to understand the proposal process better than ever
before, learn how to write what the donors wants to read and not what I want to write.
Thank you so much.


Dr. Mutabazi Sharif
Medical Director, Bushenyi Medical Centre

APMP Nor'easters Proposal Expo Recap

November 13, 2014

DSC 0026

On November 6, APMP Nor’easters held their central New England premier Proposal, Pursuits, Business Development and Sales event which was attended by over 100 Proposal and Business Development Professionals. The attendees included large companies such as  Philips, Schneider,GE and Siemens. Attendees were presented with great choices of presentations which included: ”Get Real or Don’t Play! Framework for Success by Shipley and Associates,” "5 Choices for Extraordinary Productivity The Time Matrix” by Franklin Covey, and “ Mistakes I’ve made, Lessons I’ve learned” byBJ Lownie . The closing presentation by Ian Levine, former VP Sales, Iron Mountain, “ Personal Marketing in a Web 2.0 World! What, Why, Where, and How to Establish a Brand" left everyone thinking they had work to do beyond their LinkedIn profile.

A wonderful day of networking and learning could not be sullied by rainy and cold New England weather.

Update on VA Medical Appointments Scheduling System (MASS)

November 19, 2014

Veterans Health Administration (VHA) appears to be picking up the pace of the MASS Procurement, a full/open opportunity for VA-Oriented Integrator-Teams. A single award is anticipated, with nearly a billion dollar value.

Procurement Status: The Contracting Office released the Solicitation on November 19. Proposals are due by January 9, 2015. On November 14, the Contracting Office released the remaining answers from the questions received back in September and issued a new Solicitation number. Moving forward, all MASS correspondence will be under Solicitation number VA118-15-R-0715.The procurement has proceeded slowly up until now, with the following completed: MASS Business Blueprint (May), Industry-Day (June), Q&A (July), and Draft PWS (September). Previously the VA indicated an October release of the solicitation, with no mention of a draft RFP. October, 2014 has seen Q&A General Answers (10- 21), and detailed PWS attachment documents, embedded in the previous modification (October 22). We anticipate the release of the solicitation soon.

Technical: VA requires a commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) based MASS system, with an enormous capability to service VHA’s 50,000 user-schedulers, and handle over 85 million appointments a year. Additionally, VA has committed to utilizing the VistA as its EHR system. VA will concurrently enhance, or evolve, its VistA EHR to achieve its interoperability, clinical and technical objectives. VA has committed to utilize and improve VistA, considered to be one of the best EHR systems, due to its medical and professional user-friendliness. It was designed by doctors for use by doctors. Additionally, VistA EHR is vital to VA’s ability to deliver care to Veterans, Service Members, and their dependencies.

MASS is high priority, anticipated to improve the scheduling as it is incrementally integrated with the Evolved VistA (VE). Deployment across the enterprise is anticipated by 2020. The major VE challenge is the VHA development/deployment of interoperable EHR exchanges of computable health information, with DoD and other healthcare partners. Accordingly, VE architecture will need to interface with MASS, as well as adhere to key open architecture tenets, open interface specifications, and a design enabling open/scalable solutions for a combined VE & MASS.

Interested contractors should have concluded their Capture/Black-Hat phase of intelligence gathering, SWOT and competitive analysis. Effective contractors will have already developed their teams, outlined WIN-Strategy and Ghosting themes, and be finalizing their COTS technical-solution.

The post-award notational MASS timeline schedule is shown on the following page.

MASS Notional Timeline






Bidding on a Hybrid Information Technology Services for State II (HITSS II) Contract

November 17, 2014HITSS II

The run up to the HITSS II contract has been like a roller coaster ride for the bidders. On November 13, we learned that this contract is now becoming an IDIQ vehicle rather than a BPA, with NAICS code changes, plus the acquisition tracks are revised. Also, due to technical limitations, the webinar previously envisioned has been changed to an Industry Day meeting at the Department of State, location to be named. The date for the meeting is still to be scheduled . The November 13th FBO Synopsis added the following updates:

1. Revised acquisition tracks and NACIS Code to include: Track 1 for 8(a) Business (NAICS Code 54519) Track 2 for HubZone, SDVOSB and EDWOSB NAICS Code 54519 and Track 3 for Small Business (NAICS Code 517110, size standard 1500 employees.)
2. Change contract type from BPA to IDIQ.
3. Provide the qualifications for the advisory multi-step down-selection process as defined in their Attachment 1.

This long-delayed program is now picking up speed. Although Deltek’s prediction of a November release is probably too ambitious, it will likely come out soon.

Background of HITSS
The HITSS program has helped the Department of State maximize its small business contracting goals by being limited to small business primes. State has increased small business contract dollars from 34% to 38% of domestic spending between 2011 and 2014.

Released in 2006, the HITSS I program was designed for facilities in the United States (CONUS) and abroad (OCONUS) to purchase general IT services from small businesses. State is now preparing the HITSS II acquisition as a small business set-aside. So far, they have missed every schedule date posted to the Federal Business Opportunities (www.fbo.gov) website to move the program forward.

Competitive Structure of the Acquisition
Three acquisition tracks are planned as described above. A down-selection process using an Advisory Multi-Step process (evaluation criteria) will be utilized. These are:
• Small and/or Small Disadvantaged Business Status Certification
• Current GSA IT Schedule 70 contract holder and annual volume for past three years.
• Top Secret Facility and Secret Personnel
• 508 Compliance and Corporate Experience in 508 Testing
• Adequacy of Corporate financial infrastructure

Likely Release Date
• Late 2014 or early 2015
• An Industry Awareness Conference will be held at DOS facilities, but the date has not been set

Where to be before RFP Release
Identify your strengths and weakness to perform this contract. Complete researching the competitive landscape, and have firms with past performance to fill your gaps selected. Obtain a qualified capture manager to help develop your strategy and solution to the Department’s needs. Identify your internal resources that can contribute to the effort. If needed, hire consultants in advance rather than at the last minute when the experienced talent is taken.


HITSS II Bidders: 7 Questions to Think About

HITSS II Questions for Bidders1. Are you “viable”? The VA is discouraging “nonviable entities” from bidding. If your firm cannot strictly meet the small business requirements, the best strategy is to join a team or no bid. Your company must receive 51 percent of contract revenue. Make sure your small business certification will apply during the whole term of the contract.

2. Does your organization have the capacity to provide new technology needs? HITSS II will focus on current pressing needs, such as cybersecurity, mobility, and virtualization.

3. Does your organization have the ability to perform both within CONUS and OCONUS? With over 200 locations globally, can your organization provide support outside of the country? Before saying yes, do you understand the tax laws of each country and the specific insurance, health, and travel requirements that must be met? Do you have the capital up-front to perform? A larger partner already has the capability to preform OCONUS work.

4. Do you have what it takes? Past work performance is the most important factor considered in the evaluation process. What past work have you performed at State? Was the work IT service related? Having a high-performance HITSS I contractor on your team can enhance your ability to meet future requirements.

5. If you are the prime, do you have experience working an IDIQ contract? Remember, it takes more than showing you have won an IDIQ contract. You need to show that you have won task order awards through the contract. Each award can help you support your proof points, such as transition, implementation, performance, scheduled adherence, and close out.

6. Contract performance of similar scope and size. It’s highly likely your offer will receive the highest scores when the work was performed for the Department of State. In terms of dollar amounts or personnel, are your contracts comparable to the work envisioned for HITSS II?

7. Is their a real quality management system in place? Too often, responses are abstract when describing the quality management system that will be used during the performance of the work. Plan a system that provides useful insight and accountability.



Winning a VA Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology Next Generation (T4NG) Contract

October 23, 2014

usa flagThe $22.3B Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology (T4) Next Generation (NG) contract will be one of the most hotly competed programs this year.  Given the high dollar value and the different award categories, the VA will likely receive well over 100 proposals.  The incumbents will be wondering which competitors have figured out an ingenious solution to provide higher value at lower cost. 

The value of having a T4 contract rose considerably when Robert McDonald took over as Secretary of the Veteran’s Administration (VA).  His immense experience as an industry “turnaround specialist” and public recognition of the deep needs at VA combine to enhance the future of this program.  

There is reason to hope that the final solicitation will be released on schedule in November 2014.  So far, program managers have been good about meeting schedule in accordance with the T4NG solicitation timeline in the original TAC APBI on June 11, 2014:  RFI in July, Industry Day in October.  Some industry observers predict a slip to December.

T4NG Industry Day

Information provided at the online Industry Day of October 6, 2014 included the following:

  • Twenty awards are anticipated
  1. 4 SDVOSB awards
  2. 4 VOSB awards (NOTE: an SDVOSB qualifies as a VOSB)
  3. 4 WOSB or HUBZone awards
  4. 8 Full and Open (8 potential large business awards)
  • Term of the contract is 5 years with a one five year option
  • Veterans’ employment is an evaluation factor
  • New flexible on-ramp and off-ramp rules and guidance will be implemented

The “Veteran’s Employment Factor” is important in the evaluation.  This factor relates to the extent to which the prime bidder has a “veteran-rich workforce.”  It will be considered as slightly less important than the Past Performance Factor which is slightly less important than the Technical Factor.  This weighs Veteran’s Employment as third for non-price factors.

The procurement strategy announced at the Industry Day leaves large business the loser.  With a maximum of only eight full and open slots, some large businesses will probably want to re-evaluate their position and consider teaming with small business.

Insight into Winning a T4NG Contract

According to G2Xchange Health industry leaders, the VA approach to source, evaluate, score and rank both large and small integrators will likely be based on the following: 

  • Ability to attract key partners for the T4NG bid – e.g.,  IT health innovators
  • Commercial Healthcare IT expertise with a focus on clinical
  • Leadership team and key hires
  • Federal Healthcare IT expertise
  • Commitment shown to hiring Veterans        
  • Breadth and depth of work at VA today
  • Commitment shown to working at VA and with Veterans
  • Experience winning and managing IDIQ contracts

Now that the spotlight is on the VA, they will want contractors with solid capabilities to avoid the risk of an embarrassment like the Affordable Care website that didn’t work.

Bidder’s progress at this time should be close to a fully executed capture strategy, with most teammates booked, including a significant number of small businesses, particularly SDVOSB’s and VOSB’s if you are either a large or small business.  Significant work on draft writing should be accomplished, particularly that related to “Win Theming” and “Executive Summary” development.

OCI helped one of the most successful contractors on the current T4 program to prepare their winning proposal.

Experienced Proposal Talent Available for Air Force Contract Field Team Maintenance (CFT) Program

October 23, 2014

OCI is offering proposal consultant talent with previous experience in the CFT program.  The Air Force is expected to release the final solicitation for the $11.4 B Contract Field Team Maintenance (CFT) program imminently.  Experienced talent is scarce. Please reach out to John Cook at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  to discuss how we can support your CFT proposal response.

How 2016 Sequestration Hits Procurement

Alan Chvotkin HeadshotOctober 23, 2014

Q&A with Alan Chvotkin, EVP, Professional Services Council                 

Question:  If the Sequestration of 2016 takes effect on Oct 1, 2015, what will the net effect on discretionary spending be?

Answer:  As we saw from the sequestration action last time, there will be two significant impacts. The first will be the mandated reduction in discretionary spending in EVERY budget account. Depending on the timing of the implementation, that could be a small amount if done early in the fiscal year or a larger amount if delayed past the start of the fiscal year. But more importantly than the dollar level will be the short term uncertainty on programs -- and on program releases -- as agencies determine how best to execute the reductions. The disruption to the procurement cycle will be unquestionable but the magnitude will be varied across agencies and programs. 

Rapid Growth in Healthcare IT Continues

From our partners, Aronson Capital Partners

Healthcare IT remains as one of the largest and fastest growing segments of government spending, with both civilian and military agencies issuing contract vehicles and task orders in an effort to structure and stabilize IT systems. Due to an expanding utilization of the cloud and accelerated digitization of records, federal agencies are struggling to meet requirements set by the federal government such as the Managing Government Records Directive.HealthcareIT

Healthcare Motivations

The rapid growth of healthcare IT in the federal budget is being driven by requirements for the improvement of patient care; reduction of fraud, waste and abuse; and overall cost efficiencies through more efficient processes. The digitization of patient records allows doctors and medical professionals to utilize information in order to improve patient treatment. Along with individual treatment, record management creates massive amounts of data that medical professionals can use to analyze healthcare trends.

According to OMB’s “Improper Payments Overview,” federal agencies reported an improper payment rate of 3.5% in 2013. This resulted in approximately $106 billion of incremental costs. Medicare is one of the worst offenders in this group with improper payments of almost $50 billion, while Medicaid generated another $14.4 billion of losses. Reconciliation of these losses could finance nearly all of the major Healthcare IT procurement spending.  The federal government therefore has made it an urgent priority to upgrade the inefficient systems in efforts to reign in the improper payments.

Lastly, next generation healthcare technologies and applications developed by the commercial sector are gaining traction by federal healthcare agencies. Research has shown that the cost of traditional billing is $1.58 per claim opposed to $0.85 for electronic billing. Improved cost efficiency will not only make federal healthcare programs more affordable for the government, but can make healthcare more affordable to the population.

M&A in the Federal Healthcare IT Market

Acquisitions of federal healthcare IT targets have accounted for 7% of all government services transactions in the last 12 months. On the supply side, there are a limited number of targets with F&O revenue streams, since most healthcare oriented agencies rely heavily on preferential awards. On the demand side, both traditional Department of Defense firms as well as Federal Civilian focused buyers are targeting healthcare IT acquisitions. The below exhibit summarizes examples of traditionally focused DoD firms that have acquired healthcare IT firms in efforts to diversify away from declining defense budgets and gain exposure to this more rapidly growing market.

Traditionally DoD Focused Healthcare IT Acquirers


Meanwhile, large businesses with an existing Federal Civilian presence also look for healthcare IT acquisition targets that either provide a new capability, contract vehicle, or customer access, as summarized below:

Traditionally Federal Civilian IT Acquirers


M&A Focus Key Contract Vehicles

Nearly all of the healthcare IT acquisitions have involved targets with a presence on a key contract vehicle. For example, 3 of the 9 small businesses on the $12 billion Veterans Affairs’ T4 IDIQ contract have been acquired by buyers seeking an entrance into the VA’s IT budget, including funding for VistA. The Veterans health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) houses over 2.5 million gigabytes of data around medical and pharmaceutical patient encounters, and makes it available for public analysis. Upon the eventual recompete of the VA T4 contract in 2016, we expect similar acquisition activity by acquirers that are not successful in the initial award. pic-3-e1411504600587

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Enterprise Systems Development (ESD) program was awarded in 2007pic 3 and will provide up to $4 billion for the design, development, testing, maintenance and other IT work intended to advance current data systems. Eight of the nine small businesses with the CMS ESD contract have been acquired.

There are similar examples of buyers making acquisitions to gain access to the key HCIT contract vehicles at other agencies, including NIH, CDC, and DHA.

Healthcare IT M&A Outlook

We expect buyers to continue to target healthcare IT acquisitions over the next 24 months. Despite rapid growth in healthcare IT, most public acquirers still derive less than 20% of their IT services revenues from healthcare agencies, and often have significant capability and customer gaps in this market.

In addition, there are a number of private equity backed acquirers focused on the healthcare IT space that are effectively executing on roll up strategies to accelerate growth, creating another segment of acquirers with ample access to capital. The main hurdle will continue to be the concentration of preferential awards amongst small business targets, and the lack of well positioned targets that are willing to exit in light of the optimistic outlook for this sector.

Orginal article can be found here: http://blogs.aronsonllc.com/aronsoncapitalpartners/rapid-growth-healthcare-continues/ 

About Aronson Capital Partners

Aronson Capital Partners is a leading M&A advisor to middle-market defense and government technology solutions providers. ACP provides a full range of M&A and corporate finance advisory services to enable their clients to achieve their growth and liquidity objectives. With an exclusive focus on the Government Services and Technology sector, ACP is able to provide clients with a unique industry perspective and access to longstanding relationships with the most active strategic buyers.

OCI Hiring for a Sales/Business Development Manager

Position:  Sales / Business Development Manager
Focus is on selling proposal consulting services to government contractors.   
The role will involve supporting Executive Leadership on client acquisition and retention. Responsibilities include:
• Identification and qualification of new accounts that require Proposal Support Services and retention of existing accounts.
• Manage a monthly and yearly quota based on prior year’s sales with existing clients.
• Warm leads will be provided since there is a successful “inbound” sales model in place, but candidate must have experience in developing, closing and retaining new clients.
• Successful record of lead generation, prospect development, and closing deals
• Presents a polished and professional image/persona.
• Passion for meeting people, giving strategic presentations on the company’s core business to large and small groups
• Good character and personality; multi-tasker, self starter, and  team player
• Strong consulting/advisory and customer relationship management skills.
• Ability to think strategically, and actively participate with client, management and other staff.
• Full lifecycle experience including sourcing, screening, interviewing, offer negotiations and closing of candidates for temporary staffing roles a plus.
• Must be a US Citizen.
• Ability to make initial outside sales calls in person to senior-level and executive prospects, present service offerings, and answer questions from prospects.
• Knowledge of the proposal process and capability / judgment / understanding to effectively staff all standard proposal team positions.
• Professional judgment needed to interview and evaluate candidates for proposal consultant assignments.
• Capability to negotiate the financial rates and terms for assignments with templates
• Capability to handle / solve proposal project problems such as replacement / counseling of consultant personnel, customer complaints, misunderstandings, contract disputes, etc.
Ideal candidate would have:
1. Capability to read a solicitation and prepare an estimate of skills / hours / dollars for a whole proposal / complex assignment.
2. Capability to prepare a statement of work and appropriate contract clauses / disclaimers for a whole proposal / complex assignment assisted by given templates.
• 10 years experience in Federal Contractor Market with a minimum of 5 years experience in sales or Business Development with emphasis on Federal Contractor market. 
• 4-year college degree. 
WORK ENVIRONMENT:  Company provides excellent work environment and personnel policies.  Occasional travel.  In Reston, Virginia adjacent to the Silver Line Metro Station 
COMPENSATION:  $80k-$110k plus commission
CANDIDATES:  Submit your resume by email to Trina Holland at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with Subject Line – Sales / Business Development Manager. No phone calls please. 

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