Have a press release or event that you'd like posted, send it to Kim Weir at kim@mava.org.
  

01/13/2011 – George Washington University & K12 Launch Online High School

George Washington University is launching an online college preparatory high school that will be run by Herndon-based K12 Inc. The private school, called the George Washington University Online High School, will begin classes this month.

01/13/2011 – Blackboard pays $53M for Presidium

D.C.-based online education company Blackboard Inc. has completed its acquisition of Reston-based Presidium Inc for $53 million.Blackboard said the acquisition will hurt 2011 earnings, though contribute to profits in 2012.

01/05/2011 – Access 360 Media Secures $12M Funding Round Led By New Investor Columbia Capital

Access 360 Media (http://www.access360media.com), a leader in the digital place-based media category, today announced it has raised a significant round of Series C financing, led by Columbia Capital, who joins Mission Ventures. This represents a first step in a larger commitment expected by Columbia Capital to further increase Access 360's footprint in the digital out-of-home media industry through acquisition, new hires and organic growth.

01/03/2011 – Aronson & Company Changes its Name to Aronson LLC

Aronson & Company, a nationally ranked accounting and consulting firm based in the Washington Metro area, has announced that it has changed its name to Aronson LLC, effective January 1, 2011. This announcement coincides with the company changing its operating entity to a limited liability company.

11/23/2010 – The MITRE Corporation's Lillian Z. Ryals Named to WOMEN IN AEROSPACE Board

Women in Aerospace (WIA) is pleased to announce the election of its 2011 board of directors and officers.

11/18/2010 – HOSPICE PARTNERS OF TEXAS OBTAINS $3.3 MILLION IN FUNDING FROM ADVANTAGE CAPITAL

Advantage Capital Partners, a leading venture capital and small business finance firm, has provided $3.3 million in financing to Hospice Partners of Texas. The funding, raised in connection with the Texas Certified Capital Company (CAPCO) program, will allow the company to expand through the acquisition of Alamo Hospice, maintaining 70 full-time staff and a dozen part-time staff in the San Antonio region. Further growth is expected in the coming months, as Hospice Partners intends to expand Alamo Hospice and create additional jobs.

11/17/2010 – Holland & Knight Receives Two Awards from the District of Columbia Office of Planning Historic Preservation Office

Holland & Knight is pleased to announce that the firm was recently honored by the D.C. Historic Preservation Office at its eighth annual Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation.

11/15/2010 – National Venture Capital Association Highlights 2Tor and Capital Schools During Global Entrepreneurship Week

The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) today highlighted two Novak Biddle Venture Partners (NBVP) portfolio companies — 2Tor, Inc. and Capital Schools — as part of its 2010 Global Entrepreneurship Week Initiative. 2Tor, which partners with elite universities to develop top-quality online degree programs, and Capital Schools, which creates model school programs for children with autism spectrum disorder and other specialized learning needs, are among the select venture-backed companies featured this week for their commitment to innovation.

10/13/2010 – ABS Capital Portfolio Company Rosetta Stone Names New Chief Financial Officer

Rosetta Stone Inc. (NYSE:RST), a leading provider of technology-based language-learning solutions, announced today that Stephen Swad will join the management team as chief financial officer effective November 9, 2010. Reporting directly to Tom Adams, the chief executive officer of Rosetta Stone, Swad, 49, will be responsible for Rosetta Stone's finance and investor relations functions. Swad, who has previously served as CFO at Comverse Technology, Fannie Mae and AOL, brings extensive experience in finance and the technology sector to his new role. Read more about the news on the Rosetta Stone.

10/12/2010 – Aronson & Company’s Lisa Cines Named to AICPA Board of Examiners

Lisa J. Cines, CPA, an Officer at Aronson & Company (A&C), a top 100 accounting and consulting firm, has been named to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Board of Examiners for the 2010-2011 term. The mission of the AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE) is to provide reasonable assurance to boards of accountancy that candidates who pass the CPA Examination possess the level of technical knowledge and the skills necessary for initial licensure to protect the public interest. Commented Cines: “I am honored to be selected to serve as a volunteer on the Board of Examiners. Giving back to the profession and its most important advocacy organization is incredibly rewarding. I have served on other AICPA committees in the past and am looking forward to this new role.” She continued, “With the inclusion of international standards on the exam, and the exam being administered internationally in the not-so-distant future, this is a particularly exciting time to participate on the Board.”

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01/13/2011 – George Washington University & K12 Launch Online High School

George Washington University is launching an online college preparatory high school that will be run by Herndon-based K12 Inc. The private school, called the George Washington University Online High School, will begin classes this month.

01/13/2011 – Blackboard pays $53M for Presidium

D.C.-based online education company Blackboard Inc. has completed its acquisition of Reston-based Presidium Inc for $53 million.Blackboard said the acquisition will hurt 2011 earnings, though contribute to profits in 2012.

01/05/2011 – Access 360 Media Secures $12M Funding Round Led By New Investor Columbia Capital

Access 360 Media (http://www.access360media.com), a leader in the digital place-based media category, today announced it has raised a significant round of Series C financing, led by Columbia Capital, who joins Mission Ventures. This represents a first step in a larger commitment expected by Columbia Capital to further increase Access 360's footprint in the digital out-of-home media industry through acquisition, new hires and organic growth.

01/03/2011 – Aronson & Company Changes its Name to Aronson LLC

Aronson & Company, a nationally ranked accounting and consulting firm based in the Washington Metro area, has announced that it has changed its name to Aronson LLC, effective January 1, 2011. This announcement coincides with the company changing its operating entity to a limited liability company.

11/23/2010 – The MITRE Corporation's Lillian Z. Ryals Named to WOMEN IN AEROSPACE Board

Women in Aerospace (WIA) is pleased to announce the election of its 2011 board of directors and officers.

11/18/2010 – HOSPICE PARTNERS OF TEXAS OBTAINS $3.3 MILLION IN FUNDING FROM ADVANTAGE CAPITAL

Advantage Capital Partners, a leading venture capital and small business finance firm, has provided $3.3 million in financing to Hospice Partners of Texas. The funding, raised in connection with the Texas Certified Capital Company (CAPCO) program, will allow the company to expand through the acquisition of Alamo Hospice, maintaining 70 full-time staff and a dozen part-time staff in the San Antonio region. Further growth is expected in the coming months, as Hospice Partners intends to expand Alamo Hospice and create additional jobs.

11/17/2010 – Holland & Knight Receives Two Awards from the District of Columbia Office of Planning Historic Preservation Office

Holland & Knight is pleased to announce that the firm was recently honored by the D.C. Historic Preservation Office at its eighth annual Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation.

11/15/2010 – National Venture Capital Association Highlights 2Tor and Capital Schools During Global Entrepreneurship Week

The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) today highlighted two Novak Biddle Venture Partners (NBVP) portfolio companies — 2Tor, Inc. and Capital Schools — as part of its 2010 Global Entrepreneurship Week Initiative. 2Tor, which partners with elite universities to develop top-quality online degree programs, and Capital Schools, which creates model school programs for children with autism spectrum disorder and other specialized learning needs, are among the select venture-backed companies featured this week for their commitment to innovation.

10/13/2010 – ABS Capital Portfolio Company Rosetta Stone Names New Chief Financial Officer

Rosetta Stone Inc. (NYSE:RST), a leading provider of technology-based language-learning solutions, announced today that Stephen Swad will join the management team as chief financial officer effective November 9, 2010. Reporting directly to Tom Adams, the chief executive officer of Rosetta Stone, Swad, 49, will be responsible for Rosetta Stone's finance and investor relations functions. Swad, who has previously served as CFO at Comverse Technology, Fannie Mae and AOL, brings extensive experience in finance and the technology sector to his new role. Read more about the news on the Rosetta Stone.

10/12/2010 – Aronson & Company’s Lisa Cines Named to AICPA Board of Examiners

Lisa J. Cines, CPA, an Officer at Aronson & Company (A&C), a top 100 accounting and consulting firm, has been named to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Board of Examiners for the 2010-2011 term. The mission of the AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE) is to provide reasonable assurance to boards of accountancy that candidates who pass the CPA Examination possess the level of technical knowledge and the skills necessary for initial licensure to protect the public interest. Commented Cines: “I am honored to be selected to serve as a volunteer on the Board of Examiners. Giving back to the profession and its most important advocacy organization is incredibly rewarding. I have served on other AICPA committees in the past and am looking forward to this new role.” She continued, “With the inclusion of international standards on the exam, and the exam being administered internationally in the not-so-distant future, this is a particularly exciting time to participate on the Board.”

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News
  

Member News

GRANT THORNTON: Working For The Federal Government: What Technology Companies Need To Know About Government Contracts

By Kerry B. Hall, Government Contractor industry practice leader, and Ricky White, Audit Services senior manager

A growing number of companies across several industries are recognizing the many advantages to providing products and services to the federal government. With a staggering budget, the federal government has substantial needs for products and services, and outsources an expanding number each year. Moreover, its budgets tend to increase annually, and the government is a reliable and credit-worthy customer — a rare and valuable commodity in an uncertain economy.

Of course, there are always downsides: in this case, the many rules, regulations and nuances of working with the federal government and the challenges of dealing with a sluggish bureaucracy. However, if companies know what to expect, they can anticipate and manage these potential drawbacks to ensure they don’t detract from the benefits of being a government contractor.

What follows are some important considerations and need-to-know information for technology companies that are thinking about pursuing government contracts.

Understanding the landscape

While there are a number of benefits to government contracting, it’s important to understand the inherent risks before entering into a contract. First, government procurement regulations often require a rigorous competitive process before contracts are awarded, and selection criteria typically favor price over experience. Contrary to the commercial sector, outstanding prior performance may not be enough to secure future government contracts.

Second, government contract terms and conditions impose unique compliance burdens on practically all aspects of the company’s business, so it’s critical that the company fully understand these terms and conditions before accepting a contract. Third, ongoing programs may be curtailed with short notice because of changing budget priorities or a new administration. However, the regulations provide for generous settlements to any company whose contract is terminated for convenience.

Finally, there are the inevitable audit risks. Costs that have been accepted routinely for years can be challenged by government auditors with potentially severe consequences for the financial health of the business. In such cases, the company must be well-versed in procurement regulations to protect itself from arbitrary or incorrect interpretations of these regulations by the government.

Procurement rules under FAR

Government contracts usually require a company to implement business processes and to comply with contract terms, conditions and procurement regulations that differ greatly from those of commercial contracts. These unique obligations are embodied in a federal statute, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), and agency-specific FAR supplements. FAR regulations include specific requirements for each phase of contracting, including communications with the government, ethics, pricing, negotiations, accounting, and contract administration and performance.

For example, depending on the type of award, companies need to submit different documentation in their proposals. For contracts that are competitively bid, the documentation is less rigorous than sole-source bids. For a sole-source bid, companies often must provide very detailed cost breakdowns of the proposed price and must certify that the data provided is current, complete and accurate as of the date of the agreement.

The degree to which companies are subject to various portions of FAR depends on the size and length of the contract and other factors, but understanding their obligations under FAR is essential. Failure to comply can result in a variety of consequences, ranging from financial loss, termination of the contract, investigations and allegations of overcharging, to ultimate suspension or debarment from future government contracts.

Types of contracts

There are three main types of contracts awarded by the government: cost-reimbursable, labor hour and firm-fixed-price contracts. With cost-reimbursable contracts, the government reimburses actual allowable costs plus a negotiated profit. Labor hour or time-and-material contracts include a negotiated billing rate, which covers labor costs as well as indirect costs and profit, so a profit is virtually guaranteed. Firm-fixed-price contracts carry more risk for the contractor and put a premium on managing the contract and budget. With the risk, however, comes the opportunity for a higher profit if the contract and budget are managed properly. Keep in mind that while a profit is likely with government contracts, it is generally modest, typically ranging from 1 to 10 percent of contract costs.

Audit risk looms

Government contractors’ records are subject to audit at any time, and audits are likely to increase in frequency as American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds are awarded. ARRA sets aside substantial funds for hiring more auditors to increase oversight of companies receiving stimulus funds. Audits can pose an administrative burden in dealing with auditors and responding to requests, however, maintaining staff to administer the contract and handle audits is a recoverable cost under certain government contracts.

Currently, the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) is the largest contract audit resource within the federal government, employing more than 3,000 auditors across nearly 300 offices throughout the U.S. and overseas. Although the DCAA is part of the Department of Defense, it frequently performs contract audits for other government agencies.

Most government contractors are required to be compliant with a code of conduct and business ethics. New compliance regulations require written policies and procedures, as well as formal training for all personnel involved in the performance of the government contract. In addition, the contractor must perform periodic internal or external reviews to make sure these policies and procedures are being followed.

Allowable costs

There are certain costs that are allowable under FAR and others that are prohibited. Costs such as penalties, interest on debt, lobbying, entertainment and bad debt expenses are among the items that are not allowable charges against government contracts. There also are limitations on certain costs, such as executive compensation. For instance, if a company is paying its CEO $1 million per year, only a set amount would be recoverable from the federal government. During DCAA audits, executive compensation is challenged by auditors more often than any other cost.

Accounting system considerations

Companies need to maintain cost accounting records that have the capability to track and allocate costs to the projects they are working on. The cost accounting system also must define direct and indirect costs, provide for the exclusion of unallowable costs, and have a rational basis for allocating indirect costs to projects. Because the cost accounting requirements for government and commercial projects are so different, government regulations permit the use of memorandum records for government contract cost accounting. Commercial companies often want to pursue government contracts without any disruption to the business systems and corporate culture already in place, which may be possible with the appropriate guidance and consultation.

Getting started

Before companies are ready to bid on contracts, they must first familiarize themselves with the regulations and learn how to satisfy the requirements of government contracts. Then, they need to take the time to understand the government’s spending priorities and begin to direct their marketing efforts appropriately. Companies can subscribe to information database services that track trends in government spending and monitor which contracts are scheduled to be out for bid in the coming months. This can be helpful to companies that are new to the government contracting space, as well as those that already are well-established and providing services to the federal government.

Working for the federal government as a contractor offers numerous benefits, particularly in a challenging economy. Yet being successful is predicated on satisfying not just the end customer, but also regulators and auditors. To do so requires the ability to effectively navigate and comply with the government’s many contractual terms and requirements.

Grant Thornton LLP

The people in the independent firms of Grant Thornton International Ltd provide personalized attention and the highest quality service to public and private clients in more than 100 countries. Grant Thornton LLP is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the six global audit, tax and advisory organizations. Grant Thornton International Ltd and its member firms are not a worldwide partnership, as each member firm is a separate and distinct legal entity. In the U.S., visit Grant Thornton LLP at www.GrantThornton.com.