Upon getting information about an upcoming school science fair and the need to consider a topic of interest, many students will typically have no idea where to get started. While the science fair is typically a common occurrence in any school at any grade level, there are different types of topics that should be taken a look at depending on the age of the student. After first taking a look at the many different categories of science projects, you will be able to locate a suitable choice of topic to take to the next level.There is a wide variety of categories that fall under the types of science projects that can be chosen for a school science fair. These include biology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, biochemistry, medicine, environmental, mathematics, engineering, and earth science. While you may not have yet learned very much in any of these categories, don’t be afraid to see what each one entails. Taking a good look at your interests will allow you to focus on the right direction to take.Many resources are also available for those who are unsure as to the topic they are wanting to use to create their science projects. If you take a look at the topics that fall under the biology category, you will likely notice that there are topics that deal with plants, animals, and humans. For those who are in 2nd grade or 3rd grade, an interesting topic may be to determine if ants are picky over what type of food they eat. While this topic might not be of interest to an 8th grader, it is certainly something in the biology category that an elementary school student would enjoy.Along with the biology category, a high school student may want to take a look at diffusion and osmosis in animal cells as this would be a more appropriate topic for the grade level. A student in 6th grade would be more advanced than an elementary school student, but not as advanced as a high school student. At this middle school grade level, a topic of how pH levels effect the lifespan of a tadpole may be of interest.Whichever resource is used to locate a topic for science projects, it is always a good idea to consider the grade level of the student prior to making a selection. It is always assumed to be best to have a project at an appropriate level in order to keep the attention of the student and provide a fun and enjoyable learning experience.
What is FPDS?The Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation or FPDS is a government website that gives unprecedented real-time access to government spending patterns. The system is free to access and only requires you to create an account. The beauty of a system like this is that it allows contractors to look at past contract actions to determine the propensity and viability of doing business with the government. A quick search can tell you if the government is spending money on what you sell, how much they are spending on it, who the top agencies are that are buying what you sell, and who your competition and best teaming partners are.What gets reported to FPDS?Government contracts, BPA’s, IDIQ’s, etc. that have an estimated value of $3,000 or more as well as every modification to the contract. Keep this in mind when you are searching the system because you will often find multiple “actions” on a particular contract. This does not mean a new contract has been issued. It simply means that some sort of contract “action” has occurred. Contracting actions are updated on a daily basis to FPDS.FPDS does not track or have report data available for the following: Grants, FEDSTRIP’s, MILSTRIP’s, GSA stock and GSA consolidated purchase programs, and government purchase card purchases under the micro-purchase threshold.3 Ways FPDS can help you win government contracts.1. Determine if government contracting is a viable option for your company. If you are already in government contracting, this point is not for you. But if you are thinking of pursuing government contracts, this is the most important point for you. Before you spend months pursuing government programs, certifications, or getting a GSA schedule, you need to do some research. The first thing you need to research is the market viability of selling what you offer to the government. Many times people just assume that the government does or does not want what they have to sell. The only way to know this is to pull the reports from FPDS. You will first need NAICS codes. NAICS codes are the North American Industry Classification System codes for every industry and service. These are standard codes that the government uses to look up vendors who sell what you sell. If you don’t know your NAICS code/s you can Google the word NAICS code and the term you want a code for. Once you pull the report in FPDS, you will quickly be able to identify if the government is buying what you sell and how much they are spending on it annually. This will give you a lot of insight into whether you should pursue government contracting or not.2. Use FPDS to identify all agencies that are buying what you sell. One of the easiest ways to search data in the system is by NAICS code. This allows you to target your specific product or service and to pull detailed reports by what you sell. Once you do a search on your NAICS code, you can download this data into an Excel spreadsheet and sort the data. Once you have the data, you will want to look at the “Contracting Agency” field. This is the list of agencies that are buying what you sell. Once you identify who is buying what you sell, you can now develop a strategy for how you are going to approach them as well as start to target them on sites like Fed Biz Ops and other government procurement websites.3. Formulate your strategy. Once you have all of the information in items 1-4, you can start to form your strategy. At RSM Federal, we recommend that you have an overall strategy for how you will approach the government in general and then micro strategies for how you approach different agencies. Understand that not all agencies buy the same way and that there are many opportunities that you need to be aware of. For example, the Defense Logistics Agency or DLA, has a system called DIBBS that it uses for many purchases under 100K. These opportunities only show up on the DIBBS system and are very important to watch for anyone who is servicing logistics type items such as fasteners, cabling, tools, etc. They also have MRO contracts. These are Maintenance, Repair and Operations contracts that are awarded by region periodically and something you will want to watch for if DLA is your target customer. Watching for specific contracts and bid opportunities like this would fall under your micro strategy.Whether you are working on your main strategy or micro strategies, the FPDS system can be a valuable tool for you to use to gather market intelligence. We recommend checking FPDS every 3 to 6 months depending on your industry. This will allow you to stay on top of trends and allow you to make changes to your strategy on an ongoing basis.A word of caution. Various government watchdog groups and consulting firms have suggested that FPDS can be off by as much as a billion dollars at any given time. What you really need to know is that human beings are entering the data and from time to time make mistakes. The reports that you pull are only as good as the data that was entered so just understand that the data can be off at any given time. That is one of the main reasons we suggest you check the site frequently.Also beware that many government systems and bi-matching services pull their data from FPDS. In many cases, consultants charge thousands of dollars for the same data that you can access for free via FPDS. So buyer beware…To create an account or learn more about FPDS, check out https://www.fpds.gov.
As the world around us continues to adapt to a new sense of normal in light of COVID-19, we at Smythe LLP (Smythe), recently sat down (virtually) with Kendall Hanson from CHEK News to discuss how we’re adapting to working from home and what is means for us as a firm, as well as the communities we live and work in.
Although we may be smack dab in the middle of our busiest time of year, things at Smythe are still business as usual – with a few notable exceptions.
The first, and probably most obvious, is that nearly all our staff have now transitioned to working from home.
“The first week of office closures and having everyone work from home was definitely a week of transition, but I think everyone’s really quickly adapted to it and gotten used to it and a lot of people are really enjoying it,” said Partner, Trevor Topping.
During a time where our offices would normally be a buzz with client visits and meetings, our offices are now closed to the public and a skeleton crew has been put in place to ensure clients are able to safely drop off necessary files and mail is being received and sent out.
To read the full article and to hear what Trevor had to say about Smythe’s new normal, click here.
For more information on our response to COVID-19, or to learn what support is available to you, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre, or reach out to your Smythe Partner directly.
Given the current economic uncertainty, effective cash flow management will be critical for the success of many businesses. This will likely involve a combination of:
Managing working capital levels
Managing discretionary expenses
Obtaining additional financing
Working capital management can take the form of:
Implementing Credit Policies
By implementing credit policies with your customers you can speed up the collection process. This could include requiring upfront deposits, reducing the credit terms or offering incentives for early payment. Always ensure you follow-up on overdue accounts.
Utilizing a Just-in-Time Inventory System
Unless it will hurt your ability to sell, don’t carry extra inventory.
Using Credit Terms to your Advantage
Unless they are offering worthwhile incentives, don’t pay your suppliers until it is necessary.
A tool that should be utilized to help with managements’ decision making, is a cash flow forecast. This will help you assess the impact of working capital and expense management decisions, as well as determine whether additional financing will be required.
If you decide that you need to obtain financing (see below), it is likely that the lender will require a forecast as part of the application process.
Obtaining Additional Financing
As part of the economic stimulus package, the Government of Canada is working to ensure businesses have access to traditional financing, from both the government and private lenders.
Among the products being targeted to COVID-19 relief are:
Working Capital Loans
Funds to provide working capital for the operations, and cover general operating expenses, as opposed to capital purchases or expansions. There are currently programs in place where loans can be approved within 48 hours or maybe available without any payments for the first six months. BDC loans of up to $100,000 can be applied for online.
Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
As part of the Business Credit Availability Program, EDC is partnering with financial institutions to guarantee 80% of new loans or credit requests up to $6.25 million for small and medium-sized enterprises. Financing is meant to be used for operating costs and is available to exporting and non-exporting companies. The idea behind the program is to encourage additional funding from banks as the EDC provides a re-payment guarantee of 80%. This program is now available through your bank or credit union.
Bridge Financing Program
Offered through BDC Capital, this special program may match (with a convertible note) a current financing round being raised through qualified existing and/or new investors made into eligible Canadian start-ups. This program is best suited for high-potential companies that have venture capital investors willing to support them. BDC will then invest alongside these groups. There are separate criteria for both companies and investors who wish to take advantage of this program – for full details, click here.
Term Loan and Lease Payment Relief
Ability to delay payment of principal for up to six months on existing loans.
Increases to Existing Line of Credit
Financial institutions are providing increases to the borrowing limits on existing lines of credit.
Purchase Order Financing
Flexible terms are being offered to ensure existing and future orders can be fulfilled.
Export Development Canada is providing buyer financing and direct financing for international sales to ensure Canadian businesses are able to participate in international trade opportunities.
If your business requires cash flow management or additional financing, please contact your Smythe Partner directly as additional reporting may be required. Our team can match your business with the appropriate product and guide you through the process and provide financial information to the lending institutions.