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  • TRACEFor a second straight year, Echelon Strategies has again been awarded the internationally-recognized TRACE certification for its adherance to and implementation of anti-bribary and anti-corrupt policies. Echelon’s business practices and operations have been vetted and are in full compliance with internationally recognized policies. We are proud to have again earned this certification as it exemplifies our commitment to honor and integrity in all our business activities.

  • SDVOSB Certification

    Posted on June 29 2012 by gjones in Testimonials with 0 comments


    Echelon Strategies receives official SDVOSB certification from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Our official Department of VA Record:

  • On 26 June 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs officially certified Echelon Strategies as a Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). According to the certification, “Echelon Strategies LLC will be eligible to participate in Veterans First Contracting Program opportunities with the VA.” This is a great opportunity for Echelon to have the chance to give back to those who have given the most for us. We look forward to contributing to the success of the Department of Veterans Affairs in their efforts to take care of our Nation’s Warfighters.

    Our official page in the Dept of VA VIP Database:

  • It takes only a handful of tools to green a garden: a shovel, rake, hoe. Greening government requires a considerably greater array of gear. Public sector sustainability demands high-tech support in the form of alternative fuels, virtualized data centers, mobile technologies and sophisticated smart grids.

    In the face of budget crises, public pressure and emerging mandates, federal leaders are pressed to discover more planet-friendly solutions to their ongoing business needs. Agencies are making headway and more innovation is sure to come as technologies mature and new tools emerge.

  • Agencies must report on their progress in steering federal contracting set-asides to specific types of small businesses, according to new direction from Joe Jordan, the recently installed White House chief procurement officer.
    Joined by Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills, Jordan told agencies in a Wednesday memo to meet their statutory goal for contracting 23 percent with small businesses by considering the use of multiple award contracts with an eye toward “maximizing opportunities for small businesses when agencies make small dollar awards, and strengthening accountability for small business goal achievement.”

    The White House is following up on an April interagency working group meeting on compliance with a key section of the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act and a November 2011 addition to the federal acquisition regulation. The set-asides target small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and contractors in Historically Underutilized Business Zones.

    Under the memorandum, agencies are asked to use the threshold definition of a small business to consider requiring order set-asides under multiple award contracts if the agency is not currently meeting its small business goals. Procurement officers should review SBA’s proposed rule providing for consistent enforcement of policy on set-asides published in May in the Federal Register and make sure their acquisition workforce is trained in the topic.

    Agencies are required to document success stories and deliver results to the Office of Management and Budget by July 9.

    Jordan highlighted as a success story in a Thursday White House blog the Commerce Department’s use of a small contractor to lower its costs for desktops and laptops by 40 percent, saving an estimated $20 million to$25 million over the next five years. The arrangement eliminates hundreds of redundant contracts that meet the same requirements, avoiding “thousands of employee hours that would otherwise be required to maintain hundreds of narrowly tailored contracts,” he wrote.

    Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s methods for defining small businesses came under fire from the American Small Business League, which on Thursday sent the White House and SBA a letter demanding more accuracy in the annual report card on agency use of small businesses, the latest version of which is due out soon. The league objects to a methodology it says uses wrong numbers for the overall acquisition budget, ignores subcontracting, and counts too many awards to foreign contractors and unqualified Alaska native corporations for set-asides.

    The nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, which co-signed the league’s letter, also has reported that government exaggerates the number of small businesses under contract. “Seventy-two of the top 100 federal ‘small’ business contractors last year were actually large companies that snagged more than $16 billion in federal contracts,” POGO investigator Neil Gordon wrote.


    Article was written by By Charles S. Clark of; June 8, 2012

  • Obama authorizes DoD $662B

    Posted on January 3 2012 by gjones in Featured with 0 comments

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    POLITICO: HONOLULU – President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act here Saturday, but not without expressing his objections to the funding bill’s provisions on the treatment of suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens.

    The $662 billion bill, which the White House had initially threatened to veto, authorizes defense and counterterrorism spending through fiscal year 2012 and regulates the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.

    It alarmed some officials at law enforcement agencies and civil liberties groups, who argued that the attempt to clarify executive power post-9/11 could constrain the president’s authority and curb the rights of Americans caught up in terror investigations.
    Obama expressed “serious reservations” about the bill but argued in a signing statement released Saturday that it does not fundamentally change executive power.

    The administration does not intend to interpret one provision as granting the military authority to detain Americans indefinitely, Obama said in the statement. It also opposes sections of the bill that block the transfer of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to U.S. soil for any purpose and that restrict the government’s ability to transfer detainees to other countries.

    Despite these concerns, Obama said he has signed the bill because he approves of the vast majority of the language in its 500-plus pages, “chiefly because it authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, crucial services for service members and their families, and vital national security programs that must be renewed.”

    The White House opposed the versions of the bill that passed the House and Senate, but this month officials said they found acceptable the version agreed to in conference committee between the two chambers.
    “We have concluded that the language does not challenge or constrain the president’s ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists and protect the American people,” the White House said then, announcing that his advisers would not encourage him to veto the bill.

    Still, Obama waited nearly two weeks — and came close to the Jan. 2 deadline he faced — before signing the legislation. The measures in the law on detainees take effect 60 days after it’s signed, and the administration used “the maximum amount of time to put these implementing procedures together,” a senior administration official said in a conference call with reporters.

    One section of the legislation has drawn the ire of civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, that say it allows for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens.
    Obama said in the signing statement that his administration “will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens … doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.” Rather, the president said, the section reaffirms executive power that has been supported by the Supreme Court and lower courts.

    Some Republican lawmakers have said the bill does not alter the treatment of Americans.
    “Nothing here affects U.S. citizens,” Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said this month. “The provisions in this bill … are small steps towards having this Congress back in detention decisions. I think it is the right small step.”

    But the ACLU is not satisfied, seeing Obama’s signature as a formalization of indefinite detainment. His action Saturday is “a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” the ACLU’s executive director, Anthony Romero, said in a statement. “Any hope that the Obama administration would roll back the constitutional excesses of George Bush in the war on terror was extinguished today.”

    In his signing statement, Obama also expressed opposition to “unwise funding restrictions” that extend Congress’s ban on bringing detainees at Guantanamo into the United States for any reason, which has been in place since 2009.

    The measure, he said, “intrudes upon critical executive branch authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees, based on the facts and the circumstances of each case and our national security interest.” The administration also believes the section would, under some circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers.
    Early in the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder pushed hard for the trials of Guantanamo detainees in federal courts, since other alleged terrorists can face trial. But Holder backed down amid strong opposition and this year announced plans to try five men charged with plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in a military court.
    The president said he opposes a section that contains “unwarranted” limits on the executive branch’s ability to transfer detainees to foreign countries because it “hinders the executive’s ability to carry out its military, national security and foreign relations activities.”

    Obama objected to a related provision, which requires that the attorney general consult with the director of national intelligence and the defense secretary before filing terror-related criminal charges or indicting certain people.
    He voiced concerns that other parts of the bill “could interfere with my constitutional foreign affairs power,” including one section that requires the president to submit a report to Congress 60 days before sharing classified ballistic missile defense information with Russia and that requires the report to include a detailed description of that classified information. While Obama intends to keep Congress informed, the statement said, he must do so “in a manner that does not interfere with the president’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign affairs and avoids the undue disclosure of sensitive diplomatic communications.”

    The bill also introduces new sanctions penalizing financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank, which is involved in oil transactions there. The sanctions don’t take effect for 180 days, giving the administration some time to determine how to implement them.

    Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said the administration has concerns that the measure could undermine efforts to put international pressure on Iran and could potentially raise oil prices worldwide. The State Department has said it is looking for a way to impose the sanctions that would do maximum harm to Iran and minimal harm to the U.S. economy.

    By JENNIFER EPSTEIN | 12/31/11 4:02 PM EST Updated: 1/2/12 8:56 AM EST

  • Five ways to deal with the first No

    Posted on December 8 2011 by gjones in Featured with 0 comments

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    A couple of days ago, I had lunch with a friend who’s a senior leader in a well known organization. He’s in charge of the communications function and recently led a team that put together a very successful first time event that got a ton of positive national media attention. We were talking about what he learned from leading that process. While some of the details of our conversation were off the record, he gave his permission to share his biggest lesson on the Next Level Blog.

    It all comes down to what do you do with the first no?

    Leaders who are trying to do something unprecedented are invariably going to hear the word, no, a lot. It may not be as direct as that. It might be softened as, “We don’t do things that way,” or “Sorry, that’s impossible.” My friend heard a lot of responses like that as he and his team worked to turn their big event idea into a reality. Looking back on a successful outcome, he realizes that the critical element in making it happen was how they dealt with the first no.

    I asked him what his options were for dealing with the first no. Here’s what he had to say:

    Take It: Your first option is to just take the no at face value. This might be appropriate in some cases, but if it’s the only response in your repertoire, you’re not going to get much done.

    Ask Why: This was my friend’s go to move when he heard no. He would politely ask why it couldn’t be done. It was often the case that the person saying no would realize there wasn’t any other reason for saying no beyond it hadn’t been done before.

    Ask What If: That was the point at which my friend and his team would start asking, “What if…?” What if questions engage the other party in a problem solving dialogue instead of a just say no monologue.

    Do Your Homework: My friend and his team made sure they did their homework before they even asked the question. As he told me, “You want to make sure it’s the right person saying no.” Don’t allow things to get hung up at levels where the authority to say no doesn’t really exist.

    Pick Your Spots: As my friend said, “You have to work to live another day.” In other words, you have to develop a sense of what’s a deal killer and what doesn’t really matter that much. Let the no’s go on things that don’t matter so much.

    So, the chances are excellent that you’ve heard no when trying to lead change or do something new. What’s your best advice for dealing with the first no?

    Read this article written by Government Executive here:

  • E-Myth

    Posted on December 3 2011 by gjones in Testimonials with 0 comments

    “If you can’t satisfy a potential customer, recommend someone who can. You win some and you lose some, but your business gains a solid reputation that serves you well in the long run.”

    — Tricia Huebner, VP, Business Development, E-Myth

  • Winston Churchill

    Posted on November 30 2011 by admin in Testimonials with 0 comments

    “It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best. You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.’ “

  • Contract Officers take risks

    Posted on November 30 2011 by admin in Featured with 0 comments

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    Smart contracting in a time of tight budgets requires a trained agency acquisition workforce that is willing to take reasonable risks to achieve innovation, federal procurement specialists said in Washington on Thursday.

    In a discussion headlined “Innovation in a Budget-Constrained Environment,” the Congressional Smart Contracting Caucus, co-chaired by Reps. Rob Wittman, R-Va., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va., heard Obama administration acquisition officials and a private sector spokesman say that fears of conflicts of interest or protests from unsuccessful contract bidders should not make agencies so “risk-averse” that they can’t find creative ways to invest in future innovation that benefits taxpayers.

    “As we approach the federal debt problem and seek efficiencies, we need to separate what’s nice to have from investments that we can’t afford to walk away from,” said Connolly, a former federal contractor whose district is heavily dependent on such public-private partnerships.

    The examples of essentials he gave were cybersecurity and cloud computing. “Sometimes the experience doesn’t exist in the federal government, so you have to rely on technical contractors, especially in larger systems integration contracts,” he said. But because growth in the number of federal contractors has outstripped growth of the federal acquisition workforce, Connolly said, “investing in skills in contract management pays off for taxpayers.”

    Stan Soloway, president and chief executive officer of the Professional Services Council who served at the Pentagon during the Clinton administration, said he was “afraid we didn’t learn the lessons from 1990s,” when the Defense Department budget after the Cold War was “cut by a third across-the-board.” Categories such as contract officers needed to go up, he said, adding that good acquisition also requires pricing specialists and program officers who understand the need for a “robust, mutually strong business relationship.”

    David McClure, associate administrator at the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies at the General Services Administration, said the current budget crisis presents a difficult “new environment that raises the bar with agency contract officers,” as well as an “opportunity to use technology to get more bang for the buck.”

    He says it is not simply that contract officers are in short supply, but also that too many lack the requisite knowledge and skills and are “junior or entry-level managers managing a huge complex program.” He called for more mentoring and on-the-job training.

    Moderator Jill Aitoro, senior staff reporter for Washington Business Journal, asked whether federal agencies are comfortable talking to business in the pre-contract phase when there is risk of conflicts of interest.

    Lesley Field, deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said there is sufficient detail in both the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Obama administration policies to make contract requirements clear and to “give agencies a bit of cover” in pre-contract discussions. Industry, she said, has a lot of information, and the fear of doing something wrong and of prompting a bid protest is what keeps procurement officers from communicating with industry, “but there is no need to chill the dialogue.”

    She said it is fine to have a “have a riskier contract vehicle if you have a good contractor management team in place,” stressing the need for solid training.

    McClure added that GSA encourages pre-contract dialogue that creates a platform rather than specific solutions. He mentioned using industry forums that promote “ideation,” discuss best practices, produce white papers by outside experts, and even contests for ideas that offer cash awards or a handshake from the president.

    Connolly was skeptical, saying many contractors and agencies worry that such exchanges could mean they face being penalized later. He acknowledged that agency representatives who take risks that turn out badly can be called on the carpet by a politically polarized Congress. This occurred in November when Office of Personnel Management officials were taken to task following widely noted troubles with OPM’s takeover from a contractor of the federal website

    “I wish more of my colleagues would take the higher road,” Connolly said, but in Congress, the “system of reward and punishment is to seek headlines and stories by skewing the story.” Sometimes, risk is worth the money, he added, citing recently deceased Apple leader Steve Jobs, whose “failures were dispositive for his career.”

    Whitman agreed that too often in Congress, “the response is not in the public policy realm, but the political realm. That shouldn’t mean we take zero risks and become risk-averse. But it must be a reasonable risk that’s worth taking.”

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