Sterling Design Finds Contracting Success with a Little Help from a Friend

April 27, 2015 in Success Stories

Sterling Design, Inc., a small business located in Oceanside, California, has found success in prime contracting with a little help from a local small business resource program, the San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center (SDCOC).  Since 2007, Sterling Design has been awarded numerous prime contracts from the Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Air Force and most recently received its first contract with the Army to deliver displays for the Abrams Main Battle Tank.

The company has designed, manufactured and repaired constituent electronic assemblies for U.S and NATO weapon systems for 25 years. Having significant experience as a DOD subcontractor already, the company became a client of SDCOC in 2007.  Sterling Design was seeking  assistance in locating federal contracting opportunities and bidding as a prime contractor, since the market for new designs had shrunk significantly in size.

"Sterling Design is a avid user of SDCOC's bid match software system. Additionally, the Procurement Advisors, specifically Tim Warren, are an immense resource for mentoring me on critical issues of federal acquisition rules and practice. Tim and others are experienced, knowledgeable and approachable. They have rendered Sterling Design invaluable advice through the years", states Dick Kessler, President.

"Our most  recent contract award with the Army is illustrative of the active involvement of SDCOC's Procurement Advisors and their invaluable advice", further explains Dick Kessler. After winning the contract, the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) required a preaward survey audit. Despite having 25 years of successful performance, the DCMA representatives deemed Sterling Design not qualified to perform the contract.  As a result, the Army Contracting Office requested that the company obtain a Certificate of Competency (COC) through the U.S. Small Business Administration, a process that allows small businesses to obtain a "second opinion" audit of sorts by submitting a rigorous amount of performance and financial documentation to a SBA review team.

SDCOC staff then provided Sterling Design with advice and tips on how to obtain a successful outcome with the Certificate of Competency (COC) process.  Dick Kessler explains, "The advice of Tim Warren was concise and vital...give them everything they ask for and more. He was right!  And we were finally awarded the contract. SDCOC is not only your friend and advisor, they are also your partner in success".

New Public Works Contractor Registration Effective March 1, 2015

March 2, 2015 in News

Here's a reminder to our construction clients that beginning March 1, 2015, all contractors and subcontractors must be registered with the Department of Industrial Relations in order be qualified to bid on or be listed on a bid for a public works job pursuant to new Labor Code sections 1725.5 and 1771.1. This registration requirement also applies to all contractors and subcontractors performing work on public works jobs awarded after April 1, 2015.

Contractors and subcontractors can register online here. The registration process requires contractors and subcontractors to pay a $300.00 fee and certify that they meet the following minimum qualifications:

  • Maintenance of workers' compensation coverage.
  • Licensed with the Contractors State License Board, if applicable to trade.
  • No delinquent unpaid wage or penalty assessments owed to any employee or enforcement agency.
  • Not under federal or state debarment.
  • No prior violation of the registration requirement; provided, however, one violation in the preceding 12 months can be cured with a penalty payment of $2,000.

Under the new law, a prime contractor's bid may not be accepted nor any contract entered without proof of the prime contractor's registration to perform public work.

Prime contractors are also required to make sure that all subcontractors listed on their bids or with whom they enter a subcontract are registered. Contractors can check to see if another contractor or subcontractor is registered online here.

If subcontractors are not registered as required by law and are inadvertently listed on a bid, they may still be able to work on the project if they are: (1) registered before the bid opening; or (2) register and pay a penalty registration fee of $2000 within 24 hours after bid opening.

More information at

United Support Services Receives Contracts with USAF & Department of Treasury

January 8, 2015 in News, Success Stories

United Support Services (USS), an 8(a) certified, HUBZone certified, Small Disadvantaged, and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Business located in Oceanside, California, has received recent prime contracts awarded from the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Treasury.

The $417,000 contract with the U.S. Air Force, Space and Missile Command was awarded in August 2014 to provide art, graphics, and animation services in support of major multimedia projects. Additionally, USS provided over $1M of software, hardware and technical warranty support to the Department of Treasury in 2014, including a recent $615,000 contract in September 2014 to supply data center systems.

With SAIC as a teaming partner, the company has also been successful in obtaining work on a contract with the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Emergency Communications to design technology-based training and education programs using a variety of Interactive Multimedia Instruction (IMI) technologies.

USS provides a full range of Information Technology (IT) Support, Custom Software Design, Online Education and Training Programs, Cyber security Personnel, IT Systems & Network Engineering, Administrative and Professional Services to clients in government and commercial sectors.

Since United Support Services began working with the San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center (SDCOC), the company has received technical assistance on a variety of topics, including locating government business opportunities, updating government certifications and registrations, marketing strategies for government customers, developing a capability statement for government customers, and partnering/teaming strategies.

SDCOC Celebrates 20 Years by Helping Small Businesses Win $58 Million Dollars in Contracts during FY 2014

December 2, 2014 in News

San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center (SDCOC) celebrates twenty years by helping small businesses win $58,335,797 in contract awards during Fiscal Year 2014. This equates to nearly 388 jobs, assuming that $150,000 in sales is needed for each job reported. During this period, SDCOC provided 1,561 initial and follow-up counseling sessions to 596 clients, totaling 1,657 hours; 303 of these clients were new clients of the Center. Additionally, SDCOC sponsored and/or participated in 82 workshops and outreach events, reaching 5,715 participants.

"The outcomes we achieve every year are a direct result of the support our sponsors provide our program. It is an honor to work with partners that share our passion for helping small businesses. We really could not do it without them.", explains Rachel Fischer, Director.

Since 1994, SDCOC clients have attributed more than $775 million in government contract awards to the technical assistance provided by the SDCOC. Over 5100 jobs have been created or retained as a result of these awards.

San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center (SDCOC) is an economic development program of Southwestern College, with a mission to assist San Diego small businesses in how to do business with federal, state and local government agencies. As a Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), the program is funded by local sponsors and the Department of Defense.

Be Careful What You Pay For: Government Contracting Registration is Free

November 18, 2014 in News

The below article was provided by the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC).

The first step in pursuing government contracts is registering in the federal government’s vendor database, known as the System for Award Management (SAM).  Some agencies, such as FEMA, have their own vendor databases as well. Potential small businesses contractors also sometimes seek special certifications, such as 8(a), Woman-owned, Veteran-owned and/or HUBZone, or they may wish to explore the possibility of a GSA Schedule contract.

There is NEVER a fee to register as a government contractor.  Repeat – there is NEVER a fee to register as a government contractor.  And there is free and low-cost help available to get you through the process.

A number of commercial enterprises target small business owners unfamiliar with – or confused by – the various government registration and certification processes.  They market their services energetically, sending official-sounding emails directing small business owners to sign-up for their services to be registered/certified, etc – for a hefty fee, of course.  Commercial websites (.com websites, in other words) are just that — commercial. When a commercial website advertises to help you with the process of registering to do business with the government, there’s almost always going to be a fee involved. By contrast, government websites (designated as .gov) offer free advice and registration.

One commercial website recently ran an aggressive advertising campaign directed at businesses, soliciting vendors to fill out a “FEMA Contract Registration Form.” Once the form was filled out and submitted on-line, applicants received the following message: “Thank you for submitting your information. We will be in contact with you shortly. Click below to make a payment of $500.00 for this service.” By clicking on the “Buy Now” button, they were directed to a site to pay $500.00 via a PayPal account for “FEMA Registration.”  Other marketing campaigns by similar outfits have targeted Veteran business owners and those seeking SAM registration using information gleaned from these government databases.

Please know that SAM and FEMA do not charge any money to register as a vendor. And neither does any other federal agency.

Many business owners can navigate SAM, FEMA and other registrations quite successfully on their own.  For those who’d like help with registrations, certification applications or any other government contracting issue, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) provide free and low-cost expert assistance, offering classes, one-on-one counseling, bid-matching services, advice on proposal preparation, matchmaking/networking opportunities and much more. Many PTAC counselors have backgrounds in government acquisition offices or prime contractor government contracting departments, so they bring real world experience to help you.  For those companies that need more basic business assistance, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) provide the same kind of hands-on, personalized help for general business operation topics.  Because small companies must make every dollar count, it’s smart to leverage these services that are provided through non-profit, federal-local partnerships for the specific purpose of supporting small businesses.

Of course there are circumstances in which it makes sense for a small business to pay a consultant for specialized legal or financial help or for intensive project development, and there are many qualified professionals to choose from.  As with any business decision, thorough research into qualifications, costs and realistic expectations and deliverables are key to determining the right solution for your business.  Never let yourself be pressured into a hasty decision or enticed by an “easy fix”.  Careful due diligence is always the best investment you can make.

Success in government contracting requires a long-term strategy and ongoing commitment.  The U.S. government wants the government marketplace to be accessible to all capable small businesses and has put in place resources to help you.  There is NEVER a fee to register as a government vendor.

To receive assistance with any aspect of vendor registration with any government agency at no cost, please feel free to contact a PTAC near you.

CIC Research, Inc. Awarded Additional Task Orders from DOC

October 26, 2014 in News, Success Stories

CIC Research, Inc., a veteran and minority-owned small business and client of SDCOC, has received additional task orders from the Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) to continue administering OTTI's survey of International Air Travelers, a monthly survey of resident and non-resident international air travelers.  The company originally received the contract in the amount of $950,000 in January 2013, however, the total contract amount has now increased to $1,900,000 with the additional work. 

CIC Research, Inc. is a full-service marketing, economics and survey research firm located in San Diego, California.  The company provides expertise in the areas of marketing, economic, land use, financial analysis, survey design, data collection, coding, custom data processing, travel, tourism and events research, and full-service quantitative research. Since CIC Research, Inc. began working with the San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center (SDCOC PTAC) in September 2004, the company has received technical assistance from SDCOC on a variety of topics, including locating government business opportunities, obtaining/completing government certifications and registrations, marketing strategies for government customers, obtaining a GSA schedule contract, and responding to requests for proposals (RFPs) and requests for quotes (RFQs). 

VA’s Vets First Program Receives Local Boost in Resources

October 26, 2014 in News

SAN DIEGO, CA.  Veteran business owners interested in the Vets First Contracting Program, now have local resources to help them apply for the Vets First Verification Program. Although the program is attractive to many veteran business owners, the verification process can be intimidating. “The complexity of government often discourages people from taking advantage of these great programs, “ stated Rachel Fischer, Interim Director of the San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center (SDCOC). “This is the main reason we had four of our staff members trained in the Vets First Verification Counseling Program this year.  These staff members are now certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as Verification Assistance Partners and can help guide applicants through the verification process,” she added.

Approved veterans stand to receive access to set-aside and sole source contracting opportunities, along with subcontracting opportunities through the VA. These are contracts that only verified veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) can qualify for. To participate in the Vets First Program, veterans must first set up a profile in the VA’s Center for Verification VIP system and then complete the electronic Verification application (VA form 0877). The application must demonstrate that the small business is at least 51% veteran or service-disabled veteran owned and controlled.

SDCOC, located in Mission Valley, has a long history of assisting small businesses in how to do business with federal, state and local government agencies. Since 1995, the SDCOC has assisted over 10,000 businesses. Individual consulting is the hallmark of the program and this strategy has yielded impressive results. In the last five years, SDCOC clients have generated over $775 million in contract awards, creating nearly 5,200 jobs.

BPI Plumbing Wins $550,000 Task Order

May 28, 2014 in Success Stories

BPI Plumbing, a service disabled veteran-owned small business serving San Diego County since 1976 and client of the San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center, was awarded a task order via a Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA) with Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest on September 23, 2013 in the amount of $550,000 to replace plumbing fixtures.  Additionally, BPI Plumbing was also awarded a BOA with a maximum order limit of $3,000,000 with the U.S. Coast Guard on November 20, 2013.  BPI Plumbing is 8(a) certified and provides plumbing services to government, commercial, and residential customers.

Since BPI Plumbing began working with the San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center in May 2006, the company has received technical assistance on locating government business opportunities, government certifications and registrations, recommended marketing strategies for government customers, 8(a) marketing tactics, networking with government customers, responding to requests/invitations for bids, and how to create a capabilities statement for targeting government customers.

SDCOC Hosts Industry Roundtable

April 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

The San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center will be hosting an Industry Roundtable on Thursday April 24, 2014 from 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.  This event will discuss teaming opportunities and partnering strategies for federal Information Technology, Defense Systems, and Communication Projects.  Panelists for the event will include representatives from the following federal prime contractors:

  • Computer Sciences Corp (CSC)
  • General Atomics
  • Leidos
  • Northrop Grumman

Join us for an brief panel discussion, followed by networking time with federal prime contractors and learn how best to team with these firms on upcoming federal projects.

Space is limited, so registration is required.

More Information and Registration

Novus Origo Wins $5,000,000 Contract from FRA/Volpe Center

December 23, 2013 in Success Stories

San Diego, CA - On November 20, 2013, Novus Origo, a Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business and client of the San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center was awarded a contract of $5,000,000 from the Federal Railway Administration (FRA)/Volpe Center to provide training, conference and event coordination, and website development services to the FRA’s monitoring and technical assistance services for the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail and Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Discretionary Grant program. Additionally, Novus Origo also recently received a contract award from the Veterans Administration on September 17, 2013, in the amount of $2,500,000, to provide web based training design and development services, as well as an IDIQ contract award from the State of Montana on July 30, 2013, to provide information technology project management services.

Headquartered in San Diego, California, Novus Origo designs innovative strategies, delivers integrated management solutions, implements new processes and technologies, and provides organizational transformation & training services which result in improved operational performance. Their team of professionals have extensive management consulting and training experience, and are responsible for developing the methodologies used by leading consulting firms.  Novus Origo provides consulting services in the areas of; Information Technology (HRIT, Cloud, Cyber Security, SaaS, & ITO), Sourcing & Acquisition, Systems Integration, Operations Management, Organizational Transformation & Training Solutions, Business Process Management (Operations & Human Resources), and Outsourcing (BPO, HRO, RPO, and BPaaS) services.

Since becoming a client in September 2004, Novus Origo has received one-on-one assistance and classroom training on numerous topics, including getting started in government contracting, certifications and registrations, marketing strategies, obtaining a GSA schedule contract, submitting a proposal and obtaining a Navy Seaport-e contract, and teaming with prime contractors.