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Monday, November 09, 2015

12 Names on a Wall in Washington D.C.


Veterans Day 2015
Database of 58 Thousand Plus Names on The Wall in Wash,D.C. This is the most accurate database online.

Sunday, November 01, 2015


In the last 14 years the US has reacted to the 911 tragedy by creating a behemoth machine that:

Knows Only Killing  

This outrageous explosion of watch listing—of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers…  assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield—it was, from the very first instance, wrong,” the source of the documents told the Intercept. “We’re allowing this to happen. And by ‘we,’ I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it.”

She Kills People From 7,850 Miles Away

Has Little Understanding of Foreign Cultural Factors in Nation Building

Our government has not considered the risks, the indigenous cultural impact, the expense and the sacrifices required to sustain the nation building that must occur after we invade countries in pursuit of perceived enemies and place the burden of governance on military personnel who are not equipped to deal with it or manage USAID contractors who have profit motives in mind and corruption as a regular practice. 

Risks, Expenses and Sacrifices in Nation Building 

Spawns New Versions of Our Old Enemies 

An observer of our military actions over the last two decades in the Middle East could in no way have predicted the splintered, irrational, “Turn-Your-Back-And-You-Have-Two-New-Enemies”, scenario the US faces today. Perhaps a look back over our shoulder, examining cause and effect relationships along the road is in order.

Cause and Effect Relationships in the Middle East 

Creates a Dangerous Outgrowth of Technology in the Military Industrial Complex and Then Exports It for Profit

The United States remains the leading arms exporter increasing sales by 23 percent, with the country’s share of the global arms trade at 31 percent.

Record US Weapons Sales to Foreign Countries – $1.6 Billion in Lockheed Martin Missiles Alone

 Very smart people in the Pentagon believed that connecting sensitive networks, expensive equipment, and powerful weapons to the open Internet was a swell idea. 

This ubiquitous connectivity among devices and objects — what we now call the "Internet of Things" — would allow them to collect performance data to help design new weapons, monitor equipment remotely, and realize myriad other benefits. The risks were less assiduously cataloged.

That strategy has spread huge vulnerabilities across the Defense Department, its networks, and much of what the defense industry has spent the last several decades creating.

The Pentagon Hooked Everything to the Internet 

Defies Financial Control With Dire Consequences for the Nation’s Economic Future

A law passed in 1994 initially set the deadline for 1997, but the Pentagon’s books were in such disarray that it blew past that date. Then, in 2010, Congress told the Pentagon to comply by 2017.

The next year, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta pledged that the department would by 2014 be ready for a partial account of its finances – a much less detailed accounting than requested of the military services — but the department missed that deadline too.

Pentagon Remains Stubbornly Unable To Account for Its Billions 

The Above Machine  Cannot and Will Not Continue.

The debt is too great a burden for generations of tax payers.

It is too risky in terms of technology that has fallen fall into enemy hands, either through the "Internet of Things" or by blunders in export management. 

It will be replaced by domestic and foreign relations programs that emphasize global human progress and economic development in lieu of threats.  The result will rely on uplifting, cooperative efforts among nations in lieu of killing. 

The globe has become too small to operate the Military Industrial Machine and the resources that have fueled it will be redirected. 

There simply is no other way. 

The change will be brought about in the following manner:

Facing geopolitical and economic realities, stopping war interventions and investing in relationships within and without our country by offering mutual collaboration.

Ceasing to dwell on threat and building long term infrastructure, education and international development.  The threats will melt away. 

Investing for the long term at the stock holder, company and  national levels based on a strategy dealing with both present day and long term challenges in education, communication and society value transitions.

Electing a Congress and an Administration that knows how to strike a balance between long and short term actions. Letting them know what we think regularly by communicating with them. 

Knowing that most cultures and societies in upheaval today are watching our national model and choosing whether to support it, ignore it or attack it.

The Dire Necessity for U.S. Long Term Strategic Vision 

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Thank You and 4 Gifts from Ken Larson


Approaching 10 years in volunteer small business consulting, I appreciate the nearly 8,000 individuals who have contacted me for advice. 

You have come from many venues through the Micro Mentor and SCORE Foundations, Linked In and other social media sites.  It has been a pleasure serving small business. 

My work with you has kept me active in retirement, in touch with my profession and engaged in a continuous learning mode as we have followed the world's largest consumer - The US Federal Government. 

Please feel free to download any of the 4 free books available here. 

I plan a 5th Edition of "Small Business Federal Government Contracting" in 2016. 

My best wishes for success to you all. 

Ken Larson

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Seizing the Moment in Small Business Federal Government Contracting


Trends on the horizon point to a bright future for small business in federal government contracting.

The federal government is meeting small business contracting goals. 

In 2014, for the first time, the feds exceeded the legal requirement of 23% with a 24.9% achievement or $91.7B in contracts to small business.   The 23% goal mandated by Congress had not been met at the total government level for years. 

Times are Good for Small Business Contractors

The feds are also moving to lowest priced, technically acceptable contracting, driven by budgetary pressures

Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA)

Small business is uniquely qualified for this type of work, particularly in  the services sector, due to lower overhead and G&A rates, as well as agility in work force development.

New industries like Robotics, 3D Printing, Energy, Environmental Protection, Security IT and Geo-spatial IT are creating fields for small enterprises to compete against bigger firms or lead teams involving larger businesses on large scale projects. 

Government small business set-aside procurement is on the rise and becoming recognized by many agencies as a way to remove stodgy, entrenched companies when long term contracts come up for renewal.  These agencies look to smaller firms for cost effective, vibrant management, while inheriting an existing, trained, incumbent work force available to the winner. The process can dramatically grow smaller firms. 

Managing Incumbent Work Forces


A small business anticipating participation in the federal contracting market must make pursuing it part of a long term strategy.  Success in government contracting does not happen overnight. 

Like any other market venue, a niche must be located, market research must confirm the need for products and/or services and the competition; the customer and the potential sales must assessed.  Unlike many other fields, success relies on early requirements identification and strong marketing.

7 Tips for Lean Federal Budget Times

Marketing to Achieve a Small Business Set-aside Contract

5 Factors in Forming a Small Business Contracting Company

The government contracting market allows a small business to pass on the costs of operations at a project level as well as write off company-wide expenses if allocated in a defined manner to single government cost objectives (contracts).  

Small business can also operate in a lower risk environment with contract types suited to the challenges involved.  The trade-offs to these features are requirements for audits and job cost accounting that require verified consistency from cost estimating to billing and contract closeout. This does not occur without preparation. 

Small Business Sytems Development

Entering the market requires carefully sculpting commercial past performance into prospective government contract performance and accumulating strong customer satisfaction ratings.  The feds talk to each other. 

Meeting the Past Performance Challenge

Business Ethics and Past Performance


With the right combination of planning, preparation and opportunity, a small enterprise can seize the moment with:

Identification of specific opportunities that fit company capabilities

Small Business and FEDBIZZOPS

Astute bid/no bid decisions

Making an Astute Bid/No Bid Decision

A solid team of resources both internal and external

Vital Tips for Project Management

Managing Industry Teaming Relationships

A Winning proposal, effective project start-up/execution and quality products and services

Government Contract Proposal Preparation


The small business segment of the huge federal government contacting market is poised to grow exponentially due to advances in technology and the need for flexibility, mobility, agility and economic performance. 

Rule changes are being considered to enhance entrance of commercial enterprises into to the government contacting venue. Congress and the federal agencies are looking hard at constructive changes to make the challenges we have discussed here easier to meet for the small enterprise.  But the rules change slowly.  

The Government and Innovative Technology

Seize the small business contracting moment by being diligent in learning about the market and pursuing it. Make your company well equipped to succeed:
  • Define your niche
  • Learn the rules
  • Plan 
  • Prepare 
  • Execute 

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Meeting Veteran & Employer Challenges During Transition from Military to Civilian Work

Image Eastern Illinois University

Expectations and Reality are Far Apart on Both Sides of the Employment Spectrum

By Ken Larson

Aside from the legal and moral obligations to employ returning veterans, there is a third, vital challenge in the employment transition equation: understanding the vast difference between the military and civilian work environments.  The expectations of both parties must be carefully assessed and communicated with realistic processes for effective transition from military to civilian employment by the veteran.

Civilian Knowledge of the Military Environment Has Diminished

As a country, America has been at war nonstop for the past 13 years. As a public, it has not. A total of about 2.5 million Americans, roughly three-quarters of 1 percent, served in Iraq or Afghanistan at any point in the post-9/11 years, many of them more than once.

The Tragedy of the American Military

War was much closer to home when the draft existed and military participation ran higher during WW II and the Vietnam Conflict.

The Nature of Today's Wars and a Cynicism with Regard to Their Outcome Impacts the Veteran and the Civilian Outlook

Ultimately, the military’s discontent may stem from dissonance between the commitment to, and pride in, the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan and the knowledge that these sacrifices have not yielded the desired results.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan arguably have prompted a crisis of confidence within the military itself.

Despite a six-year, $287 million effort to make troops more optimistic and resilient, an Army survey found that 52 percent of soldiers scored badly on questions that measured optimism, while 48 percent reported having little satisfaction or commitment to their job.

Understanding the Military's Morale Crisis

Veterans bring these issues home and find a civilian employment environment that does not have a focus on combat life and death, but rather an emphasis on long term thinking, collaboration, viewing actions with respect to the impact on internal and external customers and politically correct human resource considerations.

The assumption on the part of the employer is that the strength and training of the individual coming out of the military environment permits a reasonable transition. It does not.

We Must Educate and Develop Programs to Bridge the Gap from Both Ends.

A transition partnership between the veteran and the company is necessary. Expectations must be adjusted to reflect the differences in both venues.

Military core values such as – oaths, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), a culture of direct command, and a narrow focus on the task at hand are no longer available when the veteran leaves the military. 

In the civilian environment political correctness, strategic group awareness, tact, organization factors, and a broad view of mission and achievement are required.

A veteran is therefore not so much entitled to a job as he or she is entitled to be understood, and to be allowed to understand the civilian job environment, growing into it.

Professional Roles are Vital

There are two important types of professional roles to consider when hiring and managing military veterans in the business venue.

As a veteran who made the transition to civilian professional work and ultimately owned a small enterprise, and as a counselor who supports veterans in becoming business owners, my experience over several decades indicates military men and women do well in Role 1 below. They have the most challenges with Role 2.

Role 1 TechnicalScientific, engineering, logistics, electronics, design and similar skill sets where direct supervision, team building, corporate policy compliance and human resource planning and utilization are not major factors.
Role 2- ManagementFunctional process capacities responsible for hiring, evaluation, supervision, compliance with civilian law and department activities involving group dynamics, customer relations and sensitive human factors.
I came out of the military having had a leadership role in engineering, base development planning and combat support. I served in war zones in Southeast Asia and on highly classified missions. I was not a manager. I was a military leader in specialized skill sets under Role 1 above.

I knew how to direct people who followed orders without question because the Uniform Code of Military Justice to which we swore an oath said they must do so.

I felt uncomfortable in jobs involving Role 2 above because they were foreign to me. I later adjusted, learned the venue and became skilled as a manager in the corporate world. I preferred staff assignments, however for most of my career.

The corporate venue seemed enormously political and bureaucratic to a former war fighter like me. I was not that tactful. I cut to the chase often and did not always take everyone with me when I made a decision.

Once I grew into a Role 2 performer, I found in interviewing, hiring, evaluating and managing young veterans, even seasoned ones, who had retired and joined the civilian work force, that almost all were better suited for Role 1. It took years and effort on my part to fit them into Role 2 and some never made it.
Management Analysis and Moving Forward

The principal reason for the logic conveyed above is that the military environment may seem to be structured in a way that fits Role 2, but the military does not turn out individuals who are suited in the knowledge and experience necessary in the civilian environment and they are not very good at it without extensive training and adaptation.

Enterprises have multiple-faceted challenges and they require multiple- faceted people. Even though individuals may hold a specific position job title, success in the civilian work force demands avenues where the human resource can contribute in multiple ways.

If a contributor has experience and training in several areas the business can utilize, that makes him or her  a valuable resource and it is likely they will be professionally fulfilled and rewarded from doing so. Military personnel have specialty training and focus; few have a wide view of what is in front of them, particularly with respect to military vs. civilian professional settings.

It all comes down to the workers having an element of control in the future success for both themselves and the company and having the opportunity to realize their potential in that regard.

If the professional is in a narrow, technical discipline and his or her expectations are to have others support them in that role or if they are more comfortable in a "Stove-piped" professional setting and not attuned to group dynamics and the often politically correct nature of the civilian organization, they perhaps belong in technical roles and they do not belong in management roles at the onset of their employ.


In fairness to veterans and to our hopes for them in the future, we must understand these above distinctions, build on Role 1, understand the risk in Role 2 and assist wherever possible.

Above all, a respectful partnership and realistic expectations must evolve between the veteran and the company for success in transitioning former military personnel into the civilian work force. This must be achieved through education, training, communication and assessment of both the veteran and the company personnel

About the Author:

Ken Larson is a 2 Tour US Army Vietnam Veteran, retired after 36 Years in the Defense Industrial Complex, having worked on 25 major weapons systems, many of which are in use today in the Middle East. He concluded his career with his own consulting firm.
As a MicroMentor Volunteer Counselor Ken receives many inquiries from small companies wishing to enter or enhance their position in federal government contracting.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Portrait of a Crooked Government Contractor

Image:  The Economist


Financial Manipulation

“SEC Press Release”

” The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Computer Sciences Corporation and former executives with manipulating financial results and concealing significant problems about the company’s largest and most high-profile contract.CSC agreed to pay a $190 million penalty to settle the charges, and five of the eight charged executives agreed to settlements. ”

Securities and Exchange Commission Press Release

Resume Padding, Time Card Fraud and Kickbacks

“Project on Government Oversight”

“This wasn’t CSC’s first run-in with its federal customers. In 2000, CSC’s credit services unit paid $6.4 million to settle allegations that it made false claims for payment on federal student loan programs. 

A few months earlier, CSC paid $8,730 to settle fraudulent billing allegations on a contract with the Defense Commissary Agency. In that instance, CSC employees were accused of charging the government for the time they were attending college classes. 

In 2005, CSC reimbursed the government $1.3 million after discovering a former employee, over a nine-year period, billed NASA for payments made to fictitious companies. 

In 2008, CSC agreed to fork over almost $1.4 million to resolve a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging it took part in a massive kickback and bribery scheme among federal IT contractors dating back to the 1990s.”

False Claims, Securities Litigation, Software Litigation

“Project on Government Oversight”

“Founded in 1959, Computer Sciences Corporation is a global information technology (IT) services company. With approximately 80,000 employees, CSC provides systems design and integration, IT and business process outsourcing, applications software development, Web and application hosting, and management consulting.

Total Number of Instances: 8″

Contractor Misconduct Data Base - CSC

A History of  Government Cronyism and Poor Performance for Over a Decade

“Washington Post” 2005

“Groundbreaker, a $2 billion effort to modernize and outsource the agency’s [NSA] electronics infrastructure, including computers, software and networks. 

A CSC-led team in 2001 won the Groundbreaker contract. As part of the contract, about 1,000 NSA employees became employees of CSC or one of its teammates. 

Groundbreaker and Trailblazer were supposed to work together, but both are believed to be behind schedule and over budget, Aid said. “You cannot do one without the other,” he said. 

Hayden, in his testimony in April, acknowledged that NSA initially had mishandled the Trailblazer contract. “We learned within Trailblazer that when we asked industry for something they had or something close to what they already had, they were remarkable in providing us a response, an outcome,” 

Hayden told the committee. “When we asked them for something that no one had yet invented, they weren’t any better at inventing it than we were in doing it ourselves.”

Trail Blazer Loses Its Way

Why is the contractor still doing business spending your taxes under billions in active contracts? We suggest you inquire with your Senator and your Congressman.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Remembering Gordy Schmidt - Vietnam Veteran, Gardener & Artist

Gordon Charles Schmidt, 69, of Hastings, MN, passed away unexpectedly Saturday June 6th 2015 while gardening at the Minnesota Veterans Home of Hastings. Gordon Charles Schmidt Obituary

I often met Gordy Schmidt at Lake Rebecca in Hastings on one of his many long walks.  
I would fish and he would take in some sun along the trails and at the park. 

I learned of his tremendous craftsmanship with wood A Veteran's New Found Passion and also observed his love of gardening.  

Together with Doug, his gardening buddy at the Vets home, the two had beautiful showcases every year. Gordy specialized in flowers and Doug was the vegetable expert.  I worked with them to get soil samples sent to the U of M and watched their artistry through my window in Building 25 just above the Vermillion River.

Another fond memory is Gordy's keen eye for dangerous tree limbs along the trails and holes in the ground in the parks that could break an ankle.  Together we would take photos of the dangerous areas and send an email to my contacts at the city parks department and they would come out to cut the limbs and fill the holes.  With 25 miles of trails to maintain, they appreciated Gordy's keen eye.

We will miss Gordy and his artistry in several venues. 

Rest in Peace Gordy,

Monday, June 01, 2015

The Dire Necessity for U.S. Long Term Strategic Vision

Although by far the most powerful country in the world, the U.S. is suffering from a lack of long term vision. The individual citizen is as much at fault for this condition as the politician or the military industrial complex.  

From our political parties to our relationships with each other and with other countries, from corporate board rooms to Wall Street stock run ups, we have lost our long term vision in favor of short term gains. 

The results are polarization between the "Haves" and the "Have Nots", ignoring geopolitical realities, engaging in costly war intrusions, neglecting education/infrastructure and accumulating an $18 Trillion National Debt, heavily mortgaging future generations.
Geopolitical Realities and the US Role

George Friedman accurately sums the present geopolitical state in a recent article atSTRATFOR”:

“To put it simply, a vast swath of the Eurasian landmass (understood to be Europe and Asia together) is in political, military and economic disarray. 

Drawing on the recollection of Desert Storm  it was assumed that American power could reshape the Islamic world at will after the US was attacked September 11th, 2001.

All power has limits, but the limits of American power were not visible until later in the 2000s. 

At that point two other events intervened. The first was the re-emergence of Russia as at least a regional power when it invaded Georgia in 2008. 

The other was, of course, the financial crisis. Both combined to define the current situation. 

The United States is, by far, the world’s most powerful nation. That does not mean that the United States can — or has an interest to — solve the problems of the world, contain the forces that are at work or stand in front of those forces and compel them to stop. Even the toughest guy in the bar can’t take on the entire bar and win.”A Net Assessment of the World 

China the Peace Maker 

David Grammig enlightens us in a recent article in “Geopolitical Monitor to an alternative to war and debt laden international finance being practiced by the Chinese:

Geopolitical calculations are as much a reason for this 2-trillion-dollar project as economic ones.

The OBOR project represents one of China’s new overarching foreign policy goals, and it demonstrates a willingness and ability to challenge old power structures, especially in Central Asia and the Middle East. 

The Silk Road, or OBOR project, aims at creating an enormous economic bloc and fostering trade, cultural exchange, political collaboration, and military cooperation among its members – under Chinese domination.

An obvious competitor against Russia’s Eurasian Union and India’s Act East and Connect Central Asia initiatives, the OBOR project has many Central Asian and Middle Eastern states justifiably worried of being caught up in a race for dominance in the region, producing somewhat cautious reactions to China’s big plans. Yet, some countries in the region – even those torn by sectarian conflict – may still be inclined to step into a new age due to China’s vast investments and its associated desire to protect its economic engagements.

The United States and its military interventions on the other hand, which aimed at securing political influence and protecting economic interests, bore no sustainable fruits and have led to growing instability in the region. Furthermore, US policy in the Middle East yielded anti-American resentment in the public and political spheres. 

China’s approach, however, will most likely not lead to demonstrations, burning flags, and attacks against its embassies, because it will not be seen as a war-mongering imperialistic force, giving itself a chance to establish itself as a partner whose outstretched hand is worth taking.” China - The New Peace Maker in the Middle East 

The US Market Mirage 

“One of the hardest-dying ideas in economics is that stock price accurately reflects the fundamental value of a given firm. It’s easy to understand why this misunderstanding persists: price equals value is a simple idea in a complex world. But the truth is that the value of firms in the market and their value within the real economy are, as often as not, disconnected. In fact, the Street regularly punishes firms hardest when they are making the decisions that most enhance their real economic value, causing their stock price to sink.

There are thousands of examples I could cite, but here’s a particularly striking one: the price of Apple stock fell roughly 25% the year it introduced the iPod. The technology that would kick-start the greatest corporate turnaround in the history of capitalism initially disappointed, selling only 400,000 units in its debut year, and the company’s stock reflected that. Thankfully, Steve Jobs didn’t give a fig. He stuck with the idea, and today nine Apple iDevices are sold somewhere in the world every second.

CEOs, who are paid mostly in stock and live in fear of being punished by the markets, race to hit the numbers rather than simply making the best decisions for their businesses long term. One National Bureau of Economic Research study found that 80% of executives would forgo innovation-generating spending if it meant missing their quarterly earnings figures.

Nobody–not Economists, not CEOs and not policymakers–thinks that’s good for real economic growth. Yet the markets stay up because of the dysfunctional feedback loops. Eventually, of course, interest rates will rise, money won’t be cheap anymore, and markets will go back down. None of it will reflect the reality on the ground, for companies or consumers, any more than it did during the boom times.”
The Market Mirage 

Achieving Strategic Vision

From the above analysis by experts, it is apparent that the US is in dire need of strategic vision.  To achieve it we must:

Face geopolitical and economic realities, stop war interventions and invest in relationships within and without our country by offering mutual collaboration.

Cease dwelling on threat and build long term infrastructure, education and international development.  The threats will melt away. 

Invest for the long term at the stock holder, company and  national levels based on a strategy dealing with present day and long term challenges in education, communication and society value transitions.

Elect a Congress and an Administration that know how to strike a balance between long and short term actions. We must then let them know what we think regularly by communicating with them. 

Know that most cultures and societies in upheaval today are watching our national model and choosing whether or not to support it, ignore it or attack it.