This is just one of the ways the Council and its members were able to G.I.V.E. (Gift, Impact, Value, and Elements) in 2021.
GIFT. The Gift that keeps giving is the 2 Congressional Hearings held by the House of Representatives Committee on Small Business. The Madison Services Group (MSG) worked with the Council to orchestrate, identify, and coach HUBZone members to give critical Congressional testimony.
  • Victor Holt for the Subcommittee on Contracting & Infrastructure Hearing: Growing the Small Business Supplier Base in Government Contracting (Category Management (CM))
  • Michael Dunbar for the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations Hearing: Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) Implementation and What it Means for Small Businesses
IMPACT. Just the mention of CMMC caused HUBZone businesses to shutter. The CMMC manual was over 400 pages with a price tag as high as 100K to implement. The MSG understood this outcry and worked with the Council to eliminate this major barrier to advancing contract equity in 2021.
The President CEO of Ryzhka International, Michael Dunbar received overwhelming bipartisan support from the subcommittee. He later stated to the Council “…I was touched by the sincere support that I received from both Democrats and Republicans each determined to work together to fix the problem that would impact the small business community. These leaders were willing to back a streamlined cybersecurity approach to successfully secure the Nation’s Defense Industrial Base”.
Mr. Dunbar on behalf of the Council made the following recommendations to improve the rollout of CMMC:
  • Increase cost transparency and put guardrails on rising compliance costs for small
  • businesses.
  • Establish clear communication on CMMC efforts.
  • Streamline new and existing standards for contractors.
  • Create a system for proper oversight and an equitable rollout.
Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN) -
Subcommittee Chair; Michael Dunbar - CEO (Ryzhka International) HUBZone Council; and Representative Beth Van Duyne (R-TX) - Ranking Member
Victor Holt – CEO (V-Tech Solutions, Inc.)
Additionally, the Council along with the MSG has been highlighting the detrimental impact of CM to HUBZone businesses. In October 2021, CEO Victor Holt (V-Tech Solutions, Inc.), testified to Subcommittee on Contracting & Infrastructure on “Growing the Small Business Supplier Base in Government Contracting”. One of his most memorable quotes to the U.S. House of Congress was “…category management also does not achieve the law’s stated goal of utilizing small businesses to the “maximum practicable extent possible,” and will make reaching government-wide small business goals even more difficult. The utilization of HUBZone companies already poses a problem for the government – it has never reached the 3% goal. Further limiting contract competition to utilize only multiple award contracts will have a devastating effect on small business participation in federal contracting.”
VALUE. The testimonies given by Mr. Dunbar and Mr. Holt had a major impact on how the government modified guidelines, regulations, and laws. The impact was reflected in:
  • CMMC—In November & December, the Department of Defense (DOD) indicate that they planned to retract the CMMC 1.0 and replace it with a simplified, streamlined 2.0. Industry meetings resulted in dramatic changes (CMMC 1.0 suspended; Levels 2 and 4 discarded; Possibility of waivers). Most importantly, resources for small businesses were made available including a tool designed to help businesses assess their cybersecurity and determine improvements (Project Spectrum). The new CMMC process has been streamlined and is less expensive, while still protecting sensitive information.
  • CM—In December, the Government announced, “Reforms to Increase Equity and Level the Playing Field for Underserved Small Business Owners”. Major changes were made to the federal government’s use of “CM” In order to boost contract opportunities for underserved small businesses based on the analysis of CM spending (socioeconomic firms such as HUBZones received a proportionally lower share of contracts). To address this unintended consequence and increase support for these businesses, the OMB issued revised guidance on the use of category management to help federal agencies conduct more equitable buying practices.
ELEMENT. With regard to CM and CMMC here are some of the major changes:
  • CM: Gives agencies automatic “credit” under category management for all awards made to socioeconomic small businesses, beginning in FY 2022.
  • CM: Ensures that the use of “Best in Class” solutions is balanced with decentralized contracts and other strategies that increase diversity within agency supplier bases.
  • CM: Strengthens the voice for small business equity considerations in category management governance by making the SBA and the Department of Commerce voting members of the Category Management Leadership Council.
  • CMMC: Modified CMMC framework requirements and limited the assessment scope lowering the barrier for attainment.
  • CMMC: Created the ability for many contractors to perform self-assessments.
Content Produced by Build-IT-Up, LLC
HUBZones Care – Kentucky & Arkansas Tornado Disaster Relief
As HUBZone advocates, we know how important grassroots efforts are in rebuilding communities, whether the devastation was immediate or over time. Let’s support these communities that were impacted by this disaster by providing resources making a difference to the people that need them the most. As always let’s show the nation that HUBZones Care about all communities, not just ours.