New DoD grant helps fund cybersecurity assistance for small, medium businesses

New DoD grant helps fund cybersecurity assistance for small, medium businesses

Under a new $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Economic Adjustment, the Office for Operational Excellence (OOE) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) will continue to provide small to medium-sized businesses in Alabama with cybersecurity education and technical assistance to meet new DoD cyber requirements.

The OOE program is called ACCESS, which stands for Alabama Cybersecurity Coaching, Education and Support Services. Through it, organizations that currently support or aspire to support the DoD may receive low-cost cybersecurity assistance to progress toward compliance with DoD cybersecurity regulations.

The new grant helps to fund ACCESS for one year. To begin qualification for services, access and reply to a short online questionnaire.

“We are having to adjust our seminar and workshop schedules for safety during COVID-19, but we are immediately able to provide technical assistance to companies in need of it,” says Brian Tucker, ACCESS program manager. “It is vitally important for small and medium-sized business in our state to be compliant with the new DoD requirements in order to strengthen national security and maintain a good business relationship with the DoD.”

To combat increasing cyber risks, the DoD introduced the new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) in January 2020, and it is being rolled out over the next several months. The new model requires that all DoD contractors be certified at one of five levels by an approved certification body. It is expected that beginning in October of 2020, Requests for Proposals will be issued containing these CMMC requirements.

ACCESS is a partnership between the OOE and the Information Technology and Systems Center (ITSC). As part of the program, UAH conducts education seminars, workshops and direct technical assistance to help small to medium size companies become ready to meet new DoD cybersecurity requirements.

Partners include the Alabama Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Alabama Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and the Alabama Technology Network (ATN).

Part of UAH’s Research Institute, OOE helps government and industry cope with enterprise challenges by providing customers and sponsors with enterprise-level solutions through education, discovery and application of innovative supply chain and product lifecycle management.

OOE has expertise in mapping, analyzing and improving supply chains within DoD, NASA and the private sector. It has direct interface with UAH academic staff, graduate students and independent research centers. The OOE research staff works directly with customers to develop flexible solutions to meet specific needs to face the dynamic challenges impacting business, industry and government.