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By Debbie Gregory.

Just because your company does not contract directly with the government does not mean you lose out on the opportunity. Large companies who are hired as the prime contractors more often than not use smaller companies as subcontractors to provide the services they don’t already have in place.

In order to make sure you are in a position to accept a subcontractor opportunities, here are some thing you should prepare in advance:

Have knowledge of your business’s processes, resources, staff and capital. The government is notorious for requiring a lot of paperwork, so having this information at the ready will give you the opportunity to jump in to the process quickly.

The companies working on government contracts also have diversity requirements to fulfill, so if you are a veteran owned business, a woman owned business, a minority owned business, etc., make sure you have the appropriate certification.

Keep current on what contracting/subcontracting opportunities are available. In addition to online sites that specialize in these searches, sign up for VAMBOA membership and you will receive emails whenever we receive requests for proposals from our corporate sponsors.

Reach out to the person in charge of the project to see if you can pre-qualify your services. There’s no point in filling out the paperwork and going through the application process if they require something you can’t comply with.

Speaking of paperwork, it is imperative to provide all information requested, whether it makes sense to you or not. Try to keep all information concise and to the point, and submit it as early as you can. This will give you some leeway to correct any errors or answer any questions prior to the deadline.

Hopefully, you have already reached out to the project manager before submitting your application, so a quick communication to check on the status of your bid helps to further build that relationship. It will also help you receive a status update.

If you don’t win the bid, your contact can possibly help you understand why. Rather than focusing on the defeat, think of it as an opportunity to better prepare for the next opportunity.

If you won, now’s the time to get busy and ramp up. Make sure everything is in place for you to deliver on your promise of performance.

By Debbie Gregory.

An effective marketing strategy is the most important tool in a small business owner’s toolbox. A marketing strategy looks at all of the areas of your business activities and helps each one support the next. Understanding how to create an integrated marketing strategy will help you make better individual decisions regarding specific marketing tactics.

To start, understand that it’s crucial to have a company name, logo, colors, imagery and other graphic elements that help communicate your strategic positioning to your customers.

Those marketing aspects can be displayed on your excellent website. Keep in mind that your website is the business card of today. And the first thing any potential customer will do is Google you and look for your site. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Make it count. Make sure your company website is attractive and easy to use. Keep movement, sounds and flashing graphics to a minimum.

Start thinking about content as the voice of strategy, so all the content that you produce, your web pages, social media articles, blog posts, newsletters and press releases, this is all content. You want to think about the intention that you have for every piece of content, because content today is used to create awareness.

Social media can be a good source of traffic and exposure for your business, but don’t just keep it limited to your company’s; also take advantage of your own personal social media.  Even if you only have 50 or 100 friends on a social media platform, each of them will know hundreds or even thousands of people.

Remember that there is a real world out there, separate from the cyberworld. Don’t miss the opportunity to network with real people offline. Join business groups that help promote each other, including county chamber groups, breakfast business groups, etc.

And last, but not least, don’t be afraid to ask. Ask for reviews, feedback, comments, likes, reposts, etc.

By Debbie Gregory.

The Marine Corps has awarded a five-year, firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract with a maximum ceiling of $29.4 million for the procurement of up to 15,000 M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles (IAR) and spare parts. The contract reflects a savings of more than 50 percent compared with what it has paid in the past for the weapon.

The contract was awarded to Heckler & Koch (H&K) in Ashburn, Virginia. For more than 50 years, H&K has been a leading designer and manufacturer of small arms and light weapons for law enforcement and military forces worldwide. In addition to operations in the U.S., H&K has operations in Germany, the United Kingdom and France

The price tag for the first 5,650 units is $7.4 million, which works out to $1,309 each. Given that the service branch previous paid approximately $3,000/unit, these rifles are a substantially better buy.

The additional M27’s will replace the M4 carbine. Unlike the M4, the M27 IAR is fully automatic to provide a higher volume of fire. It also features a free-floating barrel design for better accuracy.

“Since the M27 has been fielded, it has proven to be extremely reliable, durable, and accurate,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joel Schwendinger, Combat Development and Integration Gunner.

The Marine Corps Operating Concept identifies the need for “increased lethality in Marine rifle platoons and squads,” he said.

“The M27 provides the Corps with the necessary increase in lethality,” Schwendinger said. “Unlike other infantry specialties that primarily fight with crew-served weapons, such as mortars and machine guns, rifle platoons primarily fight with rifles, and the M27 has proven to be the best overall fighting rifle.”

Although the infantry is fully enamored with the IAR, Marine special operators don’t want it because it isn’t compatible with SOCOM’s low receivers. Adopting the rifle would mean Marine operators would lose the flexibility of changing out various rifle barrels and configurations for a multitude of diverse mission sets carried out by the elite commando force.

The Marine Corps will field the additional M27 rifles to active and reserve infantry platoons beginning in early 2019.

By Debbie Gregory.

The contract for two refrigerator units that were destined for Air Force One has been canceled.

The $24 million contract would have provided two new “chiller” units that would have been installed in 2020. The current Air Force One planes have been in use since 1990, and are scheduled for replacement in 2024. Boeing reached a deal this year to build replacements for those two presidential airplanes for $3.9 billion.

That would have meant that the $24 million dollar chiller units were only going to be in use for four years.

The Air Force and White House Military Office decided to cancel the purchase until the new Boeing Air Force One planes are delivered, according to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. Wilson stressed that if the delivery of those planes is delayed, they will have to reconsider the possibility of replacement.

Technically speaking, any U.S. Air Force plane carrying the president becomes Air Force One, but the moniker usually refers to the two identical planes that have been specifically modified to meet the security and logistical needs of the commander-in-chief and his flying staff.

The refrigerators on Air Force One are required to carry 3,000 meals in order to feed passengers and crew for four weeks in case of an emergency that prevents the plane from landing.

The Air Force has said the refrigerators currently on board Air Force One are based on old technology and were designed for short-term food storage, and are increasingly failing in hot and humid environments.

Rep. Joe Courtney, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services subcommittee on sea power and projection forces, who had inquired about the refrigerator contract, praised the Air Force for terminating it, saying it “didn’t pass the smell test.”

By Debbie Gregory.

Fielding a replacement for the Bradley fighting vehicle is the Army’s top priority for its Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCVs) program.

The Army named NGCV as one of its top-six modernization priorities that will be supported under the service’s new Futures Command expected to reach an initial operational capability this summer. The NGCV will replace Cold War era fighting vehicles with a new, modern design meant to kit out tank and mechanized infantry units.

Army Secretary Mark Esper revealed that the service will focus first on the “new infantry fighting vehicle, which is what the first Next Generation Combat Vehicle will be.” It will feature driver-assisted, 360-degree situational awareness assisted by artificial intelligence, as well as computer-assisted targeting and acquisition capabilities allowing quicker decision making in combat.

“We can’t wait 15 years. We’ve got to pull that forward because I’m looking at the National Defense Strategy, I’m looking at those countries and I know I have to get there sooner,” Esper said.

Manned and unmanned NGCVs will work together on the battlefield, with the larger manned vehicles carrying a tank gun or squad of infantry troops. The unmanned vehicle will be considerably smaller, but still carry a considerable punch. The unmanned vehicle could be used as a scouting vehicle, traveling ahead of a mixed armored task force.

The Army has budgeted $38 million for advanced prototyping efforts across the six modernization priorities in FY19.

By late FY19, the Army will introduce one manned and two unmanned combat vehicles for testing by the service’s Test and Evaluation Command. The 2019 deadline for a manned vehicle means the first generation NGCV will likely be something relatively new but already in production.

NGCV is the Army’s third attempt to replace the Abrams tank and the Bradley IFV. During the 2000s, the cancelled Future Combat Systems program spent $18.1 billion without fielding a single vehicle.

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