WASHINGTON, DC – The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) issued the following statement today in support of the efforts by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, to better understand what steps can be taken to improve the government acquisition process so that federal agencies can acquire innovative cybersecurity technologies developed by venture-backed startups.
“Whether you’re a multinational corporation or a government agency, in today’s interconnected world we are all targets of a cybersecurity attack,” said Bobby Franklin, President and CEO of NVCA. “Much of the innovation being developed to meet these threats is being produced by venture-backed startups and readily used in the private sector. However, because of bureaucratic red tape and outdated federal policies, cybersecurity startups are shut out from the government acquisition process and unable to deliver their products to federal agencies.”
“Understanding that the acquisition processes is leaving federal agencies behind the eight ball, Senator Carper is leading the charge to allow federal agencies to make better use of innovative solutions developed by venture-backed startups,” added Franklin. “Senator Carper understands that startups are pushing the boundaries of innovation in cybersecurity projection and that in order to effectively protect the federal government we need to streamline the federal acquisition process to be more accommodating to startup companies. We applaud Senator Carper for his leadership on this important matter and pledge to do all we can to support him in these efforts.”
On Friday, Carper sent a letter directed to Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), asking him to provide details of what OMB is doing to shepherd the use of innovative cybersecurity tools and services at federal agencies. In the letter Carper asks, “What are agencies doing to acquire innovative cyber solutions developed by start-ups and other companies that have not traditionally done business with the government?” and “Are any agencies piloting innovative procurement processes for rapid acquisition of cybersecurity tools?”
Recognizing the important role venture capital firms play in bringing innovative cybersecurity tools to market, Carper asks Donovan to what extent venture capital firms should be “encouraged to pursue channels like Schedule 70 contracts from GSA to enable the firms to offer products and services to companies they represent?” As Carper notes, the General Services Agency (GSA) manages a supply schedule for information technology equipment and other services called Schedule 70, under which GSA does much of the vetting of the venders on behalf of federal agencies. The problem for startups seeking to use Schedule 70 is that companies are required to demonstrate two years’ worth of past performance.
Carper’s letter can be downloaded here.