Access Smart CEO and VFI Member Dovell Bonnett Presents a Petition to Improve Procurement
The alarm bells are ringing: it is now clear that cybersecurity represents a critical challenge to businesses and government. Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump have all declared that cyberattacks pose a severe threat to our nation.
Yet local, state, and federal government agencies cannot easily turn to the expertise of small tech innovators or SMBs to purchase solutions. If our nation means to get serious about cybersecurity, government must be able to purchase the widest range of solutions and services—and this must include small businesses. In fact, under law, government must work with small businesses—but this isn’t happening when it comes to cybersecurity. Red tape stands in the way.
Why Government Can’t Buy Needed Cybersecurity Products and Services from Small Businesses
The federal government procurement process is a complex system. It is costly and time-consuming for businesses to respond to federal RFIs, RFPs, and RFQs. In many instances, this procurement process prevents many SMBs from competing for federal cybersecurity contracts. The procurement process also drives up the cost the government pays for products. It is a lose-lose scenario for both parties.
For many types of government purchases, a program called “GSA Advantage” streamlines procurement, enabling agencies and businesses to sidestep the RF process. Government agencies can make purchases using thousands of procurement codes, covering everything from paperclips to nuclear reactors.
But here’s the rub: There are no procurement codes for cybersecurity products!
Cybersecurity firms must try to fit their products and services into vague and unrelated codes, such as:
- 561621 Security Systems Services (e.g., burglar alarms);
- 334118 Computer Terminals (e.g., monitors and other hardware);
- 541519 Other Computer Related Services.
Without appropriate procurement codes, many government agencies—especially smaller offices—are not accessing the technology they need to secure their systems. And small technology businesses like mine, who have services and innovations that improve cybersecurity, are essentially locked out of the ability to compete for $9 billion of federal cybersecurity funding.
HELP SOUND THE ALARM… Sign Our Petition Calling for Cybersecurity Procurement Reform
For some time now, I have been working to call attention to this issue. I have met with congressional leaders of both the U.S. House and Senate. I have also personally visited the offices of more than 140 key security representatives to highlight the lack of cybersecurity procurement codes. The Administrations of both Presidents Obama and Trump have heard from me as well.
Now, as a next step, I have worked with Voices for Innovation to write a petition, calling on Congress to urge the GSA to move forward with updating its procurement schedule for cybersecurity. I strongly request you to sign the petition and share it with others. It’s critical for the cybersecurity community to show its support for this initiative.
Reforming procurement practices is bureaucratic and may not sound like a “storm-the-gates” issue, but cybersecurity reform will help our nation improve its defenses. It will also drive cybersecurity innovation and foster growth and opportunities for small IT businesses. Please sign the petition today.
Dovell Bonnett is founder and CEO of Access Smart, a southern California-based IT security consulting firm and solution developer with specialties in multi-factor authentication. You can learn more about Access Smart and its flagship product, Power LogOn®, at access-smart.com.