Consolidation of Schedules: GSA’s New Vision

The General Service Administration operates 24 Multiple Award Schedules with schedules being organized under industry or type of service. However, GSA has recently announced that it will change the current schedule and consolidate all 24 MAS to one schedule. This announcement will affect all contractors with this type of schedule contract. In addition, it will alter the process by which contractors apply for and government stakeholders buy from GSA schedules. Currently, GSA uses MAS for more than 10 million products that appear on GSA schedules. Reports indicate that an estimated $31 billion is spent each year through MAS contracts. The current system requires vendors to comply with different terms and conditions depending on the products or services they offer. This leads to a confusing and complicated system that frustrates the vendors. The new system that GSA is proposing would streamline the current process and allow vendors to consolidate their purchases to one schedule. GSA has not yet issued a timeline for the consolidation but they say that the consolidation should be anticipated to occur within two years. A GSA representative in a press call explained that the process will be down in two phases. The first phase will be completed in the fiscal year 2019 and existing contractors will continue to sell through their existing contracts while new contracts will be established on the new schedule. In the second phase, GSA will move existing contractors on the new consolidated schedule. This is not a new concept since the idea has been in the works as mentioned in June 2018 at Industry Day. At the moment GSA has not addressed what sort of impact consolidation would have on vendors with multiple contract schedules but what is clear is that this reform to GSA’s current system seeks to lessen GSA’s perception as excessively complicated. Whether this consolidation would be effective remains to be seen. More details would emerge during GSA’s Federal Marketplace Initiative Industry day on December 12 2018.

Government Shutdown Imminent?

The government is reaching a deadline to reach an agreement over seven outstanding appropriation bills. Currently, the deadline for these bills is December 21. Congress was able to pass brand new spending bills for various government organizations but were not able to finish the last seven bills before the midterms. As a result, Congress decided to package all seven bills together into a short-term continuing resolution that was set to expire on December 7th. The biggest issue with these bills is the funding for President Trump’s border wall. Trump has said that he’d allow a government shutdown if the spending does not include the 5 billion for the wall. The Democrats have compromised to allow $1.67 billion for enhanced border security.

The impact that this shutdown may have on federal contractors is tough to say. Going by the previous shutdown in 2013 only certain agencies were affected. The ones that were most affected were any agencies involved in disaster recovery, government research, and federal office buildings. For a federal contractor, the shutdown would affect them depending on the requirements and details of their contract. A shutdown can be seen as a nuisance by federal contractors unless the shutdown lasts for weeks. The longer the contractors are off work the more money their company will lose money. The scope of the shutdown will affect all contractors in different ways. Some will go about their day while others would be told to stay home. Essential personnel and federal programs will keep operating due to reserve funds and the Justice Department, which is reviewing the Mueller investigation, would continue operation. However, agencies like national parks would be affected. In the last government shutdown in 2013 the Republicans in the House protested against funding Obamacare. Potentially the shutdown might not occur due to Nancy Pelosi and Charles E. Schumer met with Donald Trump on Tuesday to discuss funding the government. The possibility of a government shutdown seems to be unlikely since Tuesday’s meeting can lead to a compromise. In addition, there is a risk for Trump to antagonize the public if he were to allow a government shutdown. Whatever the case the shutdown overall will not affect vital federal institutions.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/12/03/everything-you-need-know-about-possible-government-shutdown-that-may-be-coming-this-month/?utm_term=.edaf7f26f506 https://wtop.com/government/2018/01/federal-contractors-government-shutdown/ https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/politics/government-shutdown-faq/

Sales on Small Business Saturday

The Great Recession of the 2000s and early 2010 took a major toll on small businesses in the United States. Post-recession and small businesses are still struggling to support themselves. In response, American Express launched Small Business Saturday in the early 2010s. This special event takes place in between the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday rush. The event encourages Americans to shop at local retailers. As a benefit, American Express cardholders can get double credit points as an incentive. To aid and organize the local communities, American Express created a concept called Neighborhood Champions. These are “business associations, state and local chambers of commerce, small businesses, and other community organizers” who are tasked with rallying the community during that day. According to data from American Express, the number of Neighborhood Champions has grown from 1,400 to 7,200 (from 2013-2017). In support for this event, the US government passed a resolution supporting the event influencing businesses across the country to join the movement. Participating businesses are eligible to receive materials and resources free of charge from American Express to help drive business on the day and year-round. American Express also included participating businesses in shopping recommendations which are emailed to American Express cardholders. They estimated that Americans have spent $85 billion at independent retailers and restaurants since Small Business Saturday was released.

Small Business Saturday benefits small local businesses by encouraging consumers to support their local businesses through deals and perks. Businesses are able to receive benefits and customers from American Express. For the rest of that weekend, these businesses are able to make a profit due to the increase in consumers. In addition, this event allows communities to support their local businesses in a more tangible and meaningful way. Hopefully, for future Small Business Saturdays, the number of consumer and business participants will increase.

http://fortune.com/2018/11/23/small-business-saturday-2018-american-express/

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/small-business-saturday-on-track-to-reach-3-billion-in-online-sales-for-the-first-time-2018-11-24

Federal Government: Amazon’s Possible Biggest Customer

Cloud hosting is the procurement of computing resources from a cloud computing provider or facility to host data, services and/or solutions. Amazon’s cloud hosting business, is preparing to secure a lucrative federal contract. Amazon holds a number of federal contracts however their most important opportunity is valued at 10 billion. Interestingly, the company is also trying to serve as the portal for all government purchases. As result Amazon would be able to charge fees while serving as a government portal. The issue with this potential contract award is that Amazon could easily push out competition with their dominance in both the government and civilian sectors. The opposing argument is that Amazon would also increase efficiency and save taxpayers money.

Founder Jeff Bezos realized that housing data in a physical warehouse was less efficient than storing it on the internet. It took a while for Amazon to get federal contracts. In 2010, the Obama administration began urging federal agencies to put their data in the cloud to reduce government spending on data centers. Since other tech companies were still providing the government with software and data centers, Amazon had the advantage. The other tech companies would have to overhaul their processes to move into the cloud business. Amazon was able to assist the Obama administration in moving the website of “The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board” to AWS cloud. In 2013, Amazon won a $600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency which solidified Amazon’s expertise and security.

By now you’ve probably heard of the Defense Department’s massive winner-take-all $10 billion contract dubbed the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (or JEDI for short). Oracle had challenged the Pentagon’s “single-cloud” strategy for the contract in early August, long before contractors had submitted bids. The protest argued that the Pentagon’s initial contract for JEDI should have more than one winner. Oracle and others have said that Amazon Web Services has an inside track to the contract. The online retail giant’s cloud computing unit is largely viewed as a front-runner because of its experience handling classified data for the CIA, part of an earlier $600 million contract. IBM submitted its own bid protest just days before bids were due Oct. 12. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is reviewing that protest with a decision expected by Jan 18, 2019.

In summary, the JEDI contract can result into a big break for Amazon. It would provide them with the experience and trust needed to maintain a strong relationship with government agencies. However, their expertise could potentially bring about a monopoly that could push out their competitors. If Amazon became the primary procurement portal, it could not only charge fees to suppliers, but also compete against them with its own generic or branded products, as it does currently in its consumer retail business.

Sources:

www.cnn.com/2018/11/15/business/amazon-government/index.html

www.techopedia.com/definition/29018/cloud-hosting

fox2now.com/2018/11/15/amazons-biggest-customer-may-soon-be-the-us-government

 

Ransomware attacks hit Small Businesses the Hardest

Datto Incorporated, an American cybersecurity and data backup company, has announced new findings from their third annual Global State of the Channel Ransomware Report, which found that ransomware continues to be the leading cyber-attack experienced by small-to-medium sized businesses. Ransomware is a kind of malware that threatens to make businesses data inaccessible until the ransom is paid. This report surveyed 2,400 managed service providers that provide IT support for nearly half a million small-to-medium businesses. The survey listed many negative impacts these attacks can have on a business. The lists included

  • The average ransomware attack is about 10 times costlier to a business than the ransom itself. On average these attacks can cost a business’s $46,800 and the ransoms averaging to $4,300 per attack.
  • 92 % or managed service providers predict that the number of attacks will continue at current rates or increase. More than 55% of managed service providers stated that their clients experience a ransomware attack in the first six months of 2018, and 35% said that their clients were attacked multiple times a day.
  • MSPs reported that about 85% or ransomware victims had anti-virus software installed. 65% of reported victims had email/spam filters installed and 29% had pop-up blockers.
  • Ransomware attacks on macOS and iOS platforms have increased five-fold.

One of the biggest reasons for ransomware attacks is CEO’s who are not willing to invest in protection. Michael Drake the CEO of masterIT, an MSP in Memphis Tennessee, says that many CEO’s think that they don’t have anything the hackers want so to them it isn’t worth the price. The report also stated that many attacks are unreported, the survey found that 25% of ransomware attacks are reported to authorities. Companies can take to strengthen their IT protection and prevent future attacks. Two of the most prominent ways for businesses to protect themselves is:

  • BCDR or business continuity and disaster recovery technology is the most effective: the report stated that 90% of clients with BCDR fully recovered in 24 hours. Additionally, businesses should create a response plan that includes detection, communication, cause assessment, recovery, and prevention.
  • Additional training for employees can help employees stay vigilant. Many ransomware breaches are successful through phishing (fake emails), malicious websites, web ads, clickbait etc.

The lessons that can be taken from this report is that the long-term investments will pay out in the future. If business owners only see from a short-term perspective i.e. cost of protection, the consequences will be catastrophic and damaging. Stealing has evolved over the years to become sophisticated and instantaneous. In the same vein much like how a business would lock up their building to prevent theft, a business needs to have proper IT protection to lock up their information.

Source:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20181113005016/en/Datto-Global-Survey-Reveals-Ransomware-Significant-Cyber

Sabre88 Salutes their Service and Sacrifice

On July 28th 1914, one shot became a catalyst for one the largest and bloodiest conflicts the world has ever seen. For four long years stretching from Europe to the Middle East young men fought in the worst conditions imaginable and against deadly new weapons. From machine guns to poison gas young men sacrificed their lives and bodies in service of their country. However, on November 11th 1918 the last shot was fired and the front became quiet. An armistice was signed that day ceasing all military operations on the frontline. This Armistice marked the end of hostilities and lead to the end of the Great War. On November 1919 about a year after the armistice President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th as Armistice Day in order to remember the men who sacrificed their lives fighting in World War 1. Fast forward to 1954 and Armistice Day was officially changed to Veterans Day by President Eisenhower. Today American citizens regard Veterans Day as a time to reflect and remember those who have lost their lives in past and present military operations. As citizens we are indebted to our veterans knowing that they have volunteered to risk their lives and wellbeing for the sake of their country. However, in addition, our veterans have made personal sacrifices for the betterment of the United States. For some they may have sacrificed opportunities or family obligations in order to commit themselves to their duty. For many they have sacrificed their youth and education in order to serve their country.

Veterans come from all over the country from all walks of life. Yet the common binding fact is that these people were willing to make the sacrifices necessary. Here at Sabre88 we acknowledge and honor the sacrifices our veterans have made past and present. Sabre 88 takes pride in having veterans be a part of the corporate structure of our company. Their discipline and experience allow us to only provide the best service. Our own Business Development Manager Jim Hansel uses his experience in the United States Navy to not only provide advantages in our efforts but provide wisdom and knowledge necessary to improve ourselves not only as a company but as people. The veterans of Sabre88 have made many sacrifices and provided insights that allow us as a company to grow. Whether it be through advice, business negotiations, or reports the veterans at Sabre88 continue to inspire us every day.  We would like to thank veterans like Jim Hansel, Ron Oliver, Howard Johnston, Jerome Gummin, Taylor Collins, Brian J. Schweikert, Bruce Conte, Robert Lightfoot, Scott Roe, and Nelson Cardone for being not only great role models for use to follow but also being dependable coworkers and great friends. From the bottom of our hearts here at Sabre 88 we thank you all for your efforts and sacrifices that you’ve made for your country.

Source: https://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp

Why Mental Health is Important for Businesses

When, it comes to the well-being of an individual people will immediately think of a physically fit person. This makes sense since one’s physicality indicates how healthy a person’s body is and how the look on the outside. Yet recently there are more studies indicating that a person’s physical health can attribute to a person’s mental health. In article for Forbes Magazine titled “How to Prioritize Mental Health at Your Business”, it details the methods that employers can use to produce an environment that is beneficial for their employees mentally. The article details a survey made by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans which states that “two-thirds of employers said mental health and substance abuse issues have contributed to absenteeism and tardiness at their organizations” (Forbes). Additionally, the survey also states that more than 60% percent of the survey’s respondents say that these issues can also affect physical health, job performance, focus, and productivity.

The next part of the article describes six business owners who have dealt with mental health and implemented policy to combat mental health within their businesses. Three of the examples is r Elizabeth Falconer, Joe Burton, and Samia Reichel who detailed her experience dealing with mental health issues. After experiencing the death of her father, mother, and two grandmothers all in the span of 14 months she found herself unable to work and made the decision to take time off. What she discovered was that her time off allowed herself to decompress and come to terms with the passing of her family members. That experience translated into her business practices where she tries to provide more flexible with work times and provide “downtime” for those experiencing personal crisis. Joe Burton founder and CEO of Whil explained that his time as a COO for another company was extremely stressful with 14-hour days and constant travel. Unfortunately, he herniated his back and lost two siblings to drug and suicide. This caused him to reach a crisis point and he decided to always prioritize stress management. Now he tells his employees to take 5-10-minute mental breaks every 50 minutes and has his employees hold mindfulness meditation at 3 pm each day. Samia Reichel the VP Escrow of Fidelity National Financial prioritizes self-management through promoting good physical health. Additionally, through meetings they discuss what tasks needed to be completed and what deadlines needed to be. The meetings allow employees to redistribute work if an individual is struggling in to keep the individual on track.

The commonality between all of these business owners is a willingness to put in the time and effort to organize and provide resources for their employees. Each business owner committed themselves into providing spaces where their employees can either take a break or discuss issues that they are facing. For business owners that are noticing mental health issues among their employees is worth the time and effort to provide the outlets and services needed for their employees to be productive and healthy. In the short term it definitely will require time to formulate and enact new policies geared towards positive mental health but in the long term it will ensure the longevity and productivity of their company. Employees to a business owner is their most important asset and if the owners do not care for their employee’s well-being it can only get worse from there.

Source:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rhettpower/2018/10/28/how-to-prioritize-mental-health-at-your-business/#61c488b649a7

Bid to Bring Amazon HQ2 to Newark

Amazon is expected to announce the location of its second Headquarters “HQ2” by the end of the year, and Newark, NJ is a contender. The HQ2 project was announced on September 7 2017, and 238 bids were submitted by the deadline of October 19, 2017. Currently, the final round of the contest includes a list of 20 cities, and Newark hopes to be the socially responsible pick.

In its Request for Proposal (RFP), Amazon indicated what they are looking.

“In choosing the location for HQ2, Amazon prefers:

  • Metropolitan areas with more than one million people
  • A stable and business-friendly environment
  • Urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent
  • Communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options”

In response, Newark submitted a 200-page proposal entitled “Yes, Newark”. The city boasted its status as the largest city in New Jersey with promising potential. As a transportation hub, it has an international airport, major port, transit system, subways and several highways through and surrounding the city. It is home to an enormous talent pool, with New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers-Newark campuses located in the University Heights neighborhood of the city; it is also close in proximity to several other universities across New Jersey and New York. On the whole, New Jersey is one of the best educated states, so Amazon would have a wide range of talent to choose from. While Newark is located right next to New York City, which is also on the finalist list, it offers lower accommodation costs. Additionally, Newark has been building up its technology infrastructure and has one of the best fiber optics [high-speed] networks in the country.

The Amazon HQ2 move is scheduled to be done in three phases, the first phase being a move into workspaces ready for immediate occupancy, which Newark offers plenty of, in addition to the acres of land ready for construction. The city has proposed six locations for HQ2, including: (1) Gateway Center, (2) Mulberry Commons, (3) Matrix Riverfront, (4) RBH-South Market, (5) Lotus Riverfront, and (6) Washington Park.

With Amazon’s pledge to bring 50,000 permanent jobs and spend $5 billion on construction, Newark is eager to bring HQ2 home. The state of New Jersey, under former Governor Chris Christie, offered Amazon $7 billion in state and local tax breaks in their bid.

With corporate social responsibility a key concept for corporations’ livelihood in the 21st century, Newark hopes that Amazon will consider the immense impact bringing HQ2 would have on the city. Amazon picking Newark would have a great positive affect on the company’s social responsibility image. Supporters of Newark’s bid have publicized such notions, such as Mayor Ras Baraka has expressed.

“When a corporation recognizes their role in transforming a city, that is not only good for their bottom line, but it sends a powerful message to their workforce and consumers who are committed to making a positive social, economic and human rights impact.”

– Ras Baraka, Mayor of Newark

Newark offers everything that Amazon and more, including the chance to significantly bolster the company’s corporate social responsibility. The 20 finalist cities, other corporations, and the general public will be awaiting Amazon’s big announcement, as the final months of 2018 approach.

Source:

North Jersey News: https://www.northjersey.com/story/money/2018/10/02/newark-amazon-we-socially-responsible-choice-hq-2/1492969002/

 

 

 

Alexa for Business: Overview

The release of Alexa for business has provided new avenue for businesses to increase efficiency. Alexa allows for easier communication in the workplace and the removal of mundane corporate tasks like ordering new supplies, turning on video conference equipment, setting reminders etc. Alexa is able to complete those tasks in half the time according to Amazon. The service is a monthly subscription of seven dollars per shared device per month and three dollars per enrolled use per month.

Alexa for business has two categories shared and personal devices. Shared devices can be placed in public locations and can be used by anyone. These devices would be placed in conference rooms, lobbies, and or other company wide spaces. Personal devices have enrolled user with Alexa so it can complete personal tasks like managing to-do lists and setting reminders. Personal devices also have the ability to send messages, conduct calls, access calendars, schedule meetings etc. Personal users can also sync their personal home Alexa with Alexa business. The devices price ranges from $49.99 to $229.99 plus the monthly subscription of $7 per shared device and $3 dollars per enrolled user. Shared devices do not need to be personally enrolled. Alexa can book conference rooms by linking with the calendar provider and give her authorization to enable the room booking feature. Alexa can also check the availability of the room and find out who booked the room. Alexa can be synced with the corporate calendar which allows her to directly turn on video conferencing equipment and join the respective meeting. This eliminates time spent trying to set up equipment using meeting IDs or a conference call number. Alexa also has a dashboard that manages user and devices, add or remove skills, manage video conferencing options, invite new users, and manage corporate calendars.

Alexa for Business can improve work efficiency however the price for the subscription and the price for the device isn’t worth it for some business owners. At the moment not, many business owners are willing to take on extra costs just to make daily tasks easier. Amazon believes that Alexa can bring companies into a more high-tech era but the results may not be totally worthwhile.

Source:

https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10426-amazon-alexa-business-details.html

Sabre88, LLC Named One of the Nation’s Fastest-Growing Inner City Businesses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

October 4, 2018

 

Newark, NJ Sabre88, LLC Named One of the Nation’s Fastest-Growing Inner City Businesses

Annual ranking by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City published in Fortune

Boston, Massachusetts Oct 1ST & 2nd, 2018 – The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) announced that Newark NJ’s Sabre88, LLC has made the 2018 Inner City 100 list of the fastest-growing inner city businesses in America, based on revenue growth. ICIC, a 25-year-old national nonprofit founded by Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter, promotes economic prosperity in America’s inner cities through private sector investment that leads to jobs, income and wealth creation for local residents.

The list was revealed at the 20th Annual Inner City 100 Conference and Awards in Boston October 1-2.  The full list is available on Fortune’s website. Sabre88, LLC, led by CEO Robert Cottingham, Jr. was ranked #40th based on its growth rate from 2013 to 2017 of 218.81%. Its 2017 revenue was $4,982,269.00. This is the fifth consecutive time that Sabre88 has been recognized by the ICIC.

Said ICIC CEO Steve Grossman, “Inner City 100 companies are forces of economic opportunity, optimism and transformation in their communities. They lead the way in innovation, job creation and economic revitalization and it’s an honor to shine the spotlight on their leadership and accomplishments. In addition to excellence in business, these pioneering entrepreneurs have demonstrated a deep commitment to and passion for their communities, which significantly impact the wellbeing of their local economies”.

 

   

Now celebrating its 20th year, ICIC’s Inner City 100 list has long celebrated urban entrepreneurship. Since its inception, ICIC’s list has recognized 975 companies, which have seen average growth rates of more than 400 percent during a five-year period and have collectively created more than 126,000 meaningful jobs in America’s distressed and underserved communities and neighborhoods.  The Inner City 100 program opens doors for other budding urban entrepreneurs and stimulates inner city business development and job creation through recognition, networking and learning.

“These businesses and their owners are a testament to the impact innovation and entrepreneurship have had in rejuvenating urban areas across the U.S. Companies such as Sabre88, LLC are experiencing revenue growth and increased investment, which are in turn creating more jobs and economic opportunity for citizens in the communities where these companies call home” said ICIC President and COO, Matt Camp.

 

2018 Inner City 100 by the numbers:

 

  • Average growth rate of 436 percent between 2013 and 2017
  • Represent 46 cities in 23 states
  • Employed 10,085 individuals in 2017
  • Created 5,516 new jobs in the last five years
  • On average, 36 percent of employees live in same neighborhood as the company.
  • Average company age is 15 years
  • Average 2016 revenue is $14.8 million
  • 31 percent are women-led
  • 38 percent are minority-led
  • Represent 26 industries

 

CEOs from the winning companies were invited to the Inner City 100 Conference and Awards, two days of robust networking opportunities and educational sessions led by Fortune 500 executives and academics from top-tier universities, including Harvard Business School. Past winners have reported connecting with multi-million-dollar investors as a result of appearing on the Inner City 100 list and attending the Conference.

 

Inner City 100 Methodology: The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) defines inner cities as core

urban areas with higher unemployment and poverty rates and lower median incomes than their

surrounding metropolitan statistical areas. Every year, ICIC identifies, ranks, and awards the 100 fastest

growing businesses located in America’s inner cities. In 2018, companies were ranked by revenue

growth over the five-year period between 2013 and 2017. This list was audited by the independent

accounting firm AAFCPAs.

 

Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC)

ICIC is a national nonprofit founded by Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter. ICIC’s mission is to promote economic prosperity in America’s inner cities through private sector investment that leads to jobs, income and wealth creation for local residents. Through its research on inner city economies, ICIC provides businesses, governments and investors with the most comprehensive and actionable information in the field about urban market opportunities. The organization supports urban businesses through the Inner City 100, Inner City Capital Connections, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, and Santander Bank’s Cultivate Small Business program. Learn more at www.icic.org or @icicorg.