The Acquisition and Grants Office (AGO) Small Business Office recognizes UIC Nappairit, LLC as the NOAA Small Business of the Year, Repaintex as the NOAA HUBZone Small Business of the Year, LOGMET as the NOAA SDVOSB Small Business of the Year, and IMSolutions as the NOAA WOSB Small Business of the Year for the third annual NOAA Small Business Program Awards.
NOAA’s Small Business of the Year Awards are presented during the annual Small Business Industry Day, which occurred on May 13, 2021. All 4 firms were publicly recognized for their accomplishments on this date.
UIC Nappairit, LLC was tasked to design an observatory in Utqiagvik, Alaska to replace the current 47-year old observatory. The requirements document outlined the basic structure of the facility as well as what types of missions would be performed at the new facility. Through partnership with their design firm, UIC Nappairit was able to create a design and build a facility that was unlike any other facility within NOAA. UIC Nappairit was able to identify a new source for the science tower that exceeded the original requirements and reduced potential issues caused by the natural elements in the region where this observatory is located. The design and building of the facility is on track to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification, which would make it the only facility above the Arctic Circle in the world to hold such certification.
UIC Nappairit, LLC has been performing work on schedule since the original inception of the contract. However, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in the United States there was an expectation that all work would cease in Utqiagvik. The borough of Utqiagvik had closed down and prevented any outside visitors from coming in. Understanding the severity of lost time to the current schedule, UIC Nappairit's employees volunteered to remain in Utqiagvik to continue construction and declined to take any leave to ensure that the schedule would not be compromised and Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR's) target transition date to move to the new facility would remain feasible.
Repaintex employees on-site at NOAA/OAR/GFDL, leading up to, continuing through, and after actions in response to Tropical Storm Isaias that enabled NOAA/OAR/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) to continue its mission execution uninterrupted throughout the event. With the storm bearing down on the area, initially as a Hurricane and then downgraded to a Tropical Storm, Repaintex Employees reviewed their emergency procedures and prepared the facility. They arrived on-site the day before the event’s onset to ensure final preparations were in place and remained on post throughout the storm and until after midnight when utility power was successfully restored and the GFDL complex was able to transition back to it. They monitored conditions as the worst of the storm pounded the area, including overseeing the graceful transition from utility power to generator backup power at about 11:30 AM when electrical power to the area was knocked off line. They monitored water infiltration to the facility to ensure that any impacts were observed, documented, and corrective action, if possible, was taken in order to minimize facility damage. By monitoring the water infiltration to ensure that it was properly draining, this potentially avoided problems that could have required remediation or restoration. They coordinated their efforts with GFDL's management and its Information Technology Team and on-site staff and kept all appraised of pertinent conditions and facility developments.
When utility electric was restored to the campus at around 11:00 PM that night, Repaintex employees realized that GFDL did not make the transition back and that the site remained on generator power. They investigated the situation, found the root cause, and corrected it. It turns out that the controller for the transfer switch was not reading utility power. They reset the controller and utility power was restored. As a fallback plan, though, they had already called for service by an electrician who would have reported to the site the next morning. All the while, they monitored fuel levels in the generator and rate of consumption, calculating how long it could continue before requiring a refill. They had begun working on lining up fuel delivery, but that too, luckily, was not needed. By independently finding the issue and correcting the transition back to utility electric, this avoided the added expense of an outside third party electrician as well as conserving diesel fuel that otherwise would have been needed to continue to power the site in the interim. Because of their efforts, hard work, dedication, competence, and communication, GFDL was able to remain 100% mission capable and continued to execute its critical activities in support of NOAA and the Nation. This is not possible without a highly dedicated, committed, and competent workforce. This is to recognize the work of the Repaintex Company, its management, and its on-site team at GFDL for what they do every day, especially on the worst of days, to support the mission and the people of GFDL.
LOGMET LLC is NOAA’s contracted facility logistics provider at the Inouye Regional Center on Ford Island at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii. The entire LOGMET team provides exceptional customer service and they often go above and beyond for all occupants of the IRC. One of our IRC tenant offices recently experienced an incident in which its FedEx account number was stolen and used for a criminal and large-scale check cashing financial scam. After the perpetrator sent the checks out to various individuals across the country using the IRC tenant's FedEx account number, many of those envelopes were returned to the IRC as undeliverable packages. Upon seeing the initial return wave of undeliverable packages and their contents, LOGMET employees began to perform some research and look into the cause of this occurrence. Almost immediately, they suspected that the event was due to an illegal check cashing endeavor using federal funds to transmit its packages. LOGMET immediately notified IRC leadership and the victim tenant office of the problem. Subsequently, they filed a report with the FedEx Fraud and Abuse Division. They cooperated fully with the investigation by providing photos, details, and videos of the check scam activity. Due to the quick and efficient LOGMET response, FedEx assigned the tenant office a new account number within two days of receiving notification. Throughout this incident, LOGMET employees kept the IRC leadership apprised of the progress of their work solutions at all times, providing everyone in OCAO with an unparalleled peace of mind. LOGMET continues to track and document all of the packages related to this unlawful activity by photographing all of the packages and their contents, as well as recording via video the destruction of the incoming fake checks and other contents.
This situation would have gone unresolved for a very long time had it not been for the efficient display of responsible and comprehensive work performed by LOGMET employees. This saved the federal government a great deal of money and prevented the tenant office from dealing with a significant amount of headache in remediating the problem. LOGMET understands that it must step forward to act responsibly in the absence of personnel at the IRC due to the pandemic.
In 2019, IMSolutions received a special project task to provide extensive support to AGO on the development of an updated Mission, Vision, Core Values, and Guiding Principles (M/V/CV/GP) by facilitating a highly collaborative and transparent process. In 2020, IMSolutions received an additional special project to help AGO build on that success by developing, implementing and facilitating a comprehensive process to create an AGO Strategic Plan designed to assist AGO in executing that Mission and achieving its Vision while being true to its Core Values and Guiding Principles. That process required the creation, facilitation, and coordination of multiple working groups staffed by high level AGO personnel. The resultant Strategic Plan will be launched in
January 2021, focusing around four key focus areas identified by the AGO Director.
IMSolutions is currently supporting the development of specific Implementation Plans to achieve the Strategic Plan goals and objectives through a similar process. It will also involve creation and facilitation of multiple working groups composed mainly of working level AGO personnel.
In addition to the above, in 2020, IMSolutions also completed a special project tasking for a full upgrade and expansion of the AGO websites to both make them compliant with the revised NOAA policy and to improve their content and usability. In Phase 1 of the task, IMSolutions redeveloped the AGO internal website creating 78 new webpages in Google Sites and consolidated information previously listed on multiple websites into a single location. IMSolutions migrated over 1,100 documents from old websites, uploading 61% of documents to a new AGO Google Drive; archiving 37% of old documents; and deleting 2% of documents that were no longer relevant. The website presents newly designed information specific to internal NOAA clients, providing templates, policies, and training information in one location, as well as creating Toolkits with step-by-step guidance for both Contracting Series and Grants Series employees. First and foremost, this allows the contracting personnel to quickly find current policies, templates and relevant material in a timelier manner with complete trust in the currency of the information. NOAA clients will be able to find and use, for the first time, current acquisition procedures and templates in one place. In the second phase of the task, IMSolutions created a new AGO public website with 38 webpages using NOAA’s Drupal platform. This new website aligns AGO’s web presence to NOAA requirements, organizes essential information clearly and topically and is easier to maintain than former sites. IMSolutions eliminated internal information, presenting only on public-facing content. The website uniquely addresses information needed by prospective vendors by providing contracting and subcontracting opportunities, budget and forecasting information, and resource documents. The website establishes new guidance and provides reference information for financial assistance applicants including how to apply for a grant, financial assistance monitoring resources, post award action documents, and frequently asked questions. The website communicates newly created information for small businesses to include NOAA small business goals and annual reporting, vendor resources, and frequently asked questions. IMSolutions consolidated AGO’s Division information to provide an AGO overview that did not previously exist for staff, prospective employees, and the public. This now allows NOAA to provide greater access to information for contractors--particularly small businesses, which assists NOAA in achieving its socioeconomic goals--while obtaining high quality products and services from vendors. The new website is far more structured, clear and simple to navigate. A key benefit is ease of access to information by the public.
The Small Business Program Awards recognize small businesses who demonstrate outstanding performance, accomplishment, and a spirit of partnership in support of NOAA's mission. AGO recognizes the important role that small businesses play in the successful execution of the NOAA mission.