Interview Series – Selling Emerging Technologies and Security Compliance with Brandon Graves, Partner

by Sudarsanan Sivakumar, Law Clerk

  • Government Contracting

Selling Emerging Technologies to the Government

Question: “What is your advice for entities that want to sell new and emerging technologies to the government?”

Answer: If you are selling new and emerging technologies to the government, you have to understand that the government is risk adverse.

The government has concerns related to cyber security, supply chain integrity, privacy, and discrimination.  One example is a story about soap dispensers. These dispensers were based on reflective skin tone, where an invisible light reflected back from the skin triggered the sensor. Every time a person of darker skin used it, the dispenser did not work, as darker skin tends to absorb more light. These sensors were deployed without adequate testing, which resulted in public embarrassment.  We see similar trends in emerging technologies that are not adequately tested across all uses cases.  The government is well aware of these stories and wants to avoid being a headline.

Reach out to the government, attempt to proactively address these concerns, and take a collaborative approach to sell to the government.

Question: “What is your no.1 advice for such entities that are looking to sell to the government?”

Answer: I have two. One, understand the various ways the government has to purchase technology. Each option has costs and benefits. Do not fixate on one way to sell, because you may miss significant opportunities.

Two, I have previously emphasized the importance of having a data licensing strategy. If you grant unlimited rights to the government, which is the default, it can potentially take your intellectual property and transfer it to a third party.  If that grant is critical to getting the contract, it might be worthwhile, but the only way to make that decision is with an overarching strategy.

IT Security Policy

Question: “What are the key takeaways of the new GSA IT Security Policy?”

Answer: It is consistent with the trends we are seeing across the federal government. The government realizes that it is deficient in IT and security and is trying to catch up while not hamstringing innovation.  That’s a tricky balance to reach.

You can see in the explanation of changes how much GSA is implementing governmentwide policies. So you will see these changes everywhere in the federal government.

Question: “What are some essential security requirements to comply with when selling to the government?”

Answer: The number one factor for ensuring security is a thorough risk assessment. A proper risk assessment should be the foundation of all security efforts, driving all other security measures.

Second, the government has focused on implementing a zero-trust infrastructure to modernize its IT systems. Although there has been criticism of zero-trust infrastructure, many of these criticisms are similar to those of cloud-based infrastructure. Since the majority of people are using cloud-based infrastructure, it is important for those working on security-related technology to be prepared to operate within a zero-trust environment.

Read Brandon Graves‘s full bio here.