Optimal Solutions Group, LLC (Optimal), analyzed a program designed to help small businesses compete for government contracts to determine why firms leave the program prematurely


Established in 2016, the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program (ASMPP) extends the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) approved mentor-protégé relationships to every small business. The program’s goal is to develop strong protégé firms through mentor-provided business development assistance.

Optimal assessed why firms leave the ASMPP either during the application process before they are approved for the program or during the program participation after being approved for the program. Understanding why firms withdraw from program enrollment or terminate their program participation would help SBA better educate and assist firms to enroll, participate, and succeed. It would also help firms identify if the program is right for them before they apply. In addition to helping the program develop better outreach, education, and prescreening, the results may have the potential to inform SBA about opportunities for tightening loopholes and better preventing program withdrawals and terminations. The ASMPP was modeled after the successful SBA 8(a) Mentor-Protégé Program. 

Find out more about the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program.


Optimal Solutions Group, LLC 

Founded in 2000, Optimal Solutions Group, LLC, is a nonpartisan public policy research and data analytics firm located at the University of Maryland’s Discovery District in College Park.  Optimal employees have varied backgrounds in such fields as public policy, computer science, data science, economics, education, health, housing, sociology, statistics and information management. 

Revelo Teams Up with University of Maryland for Digital Accessibility Pilot

iaccessible logo color noback

The challenges of quickly transitioning to online classes in response to the COVID-19 global health crisis highlight the urgent need for digital accessibility in higher education. Website designers and developers often overlook incorporating accessibility features and best practices and may be unaware that they have created an inaccessible website. iAccessible tests websites for digital accessibility, instructs developers on how to fix accessibility barriers, and teaches inclusive web design and development to prevent accessibility barriers.

Revelo Software, LLC (Revelo) has partnered with Dr. Jonathan Lazar, of the University of Maryland’s Trace Research and Development Center (Trace Center), to adapt iAccessible for use in his study, New Approaches to Automated Web Accessibility Testing Metrics to Improve Web Accessibility Outcomes in Organizations. Inspired by its partnership with Dr. Lazar, Revelo adapted iAccessible to continuously and automatically monitor the presence (or absence) of accessibility performance metrics of four pilot sites (three universities and one government agency) from January 2020 – January 2021.

Dr. Lazar’s larger study seeks to compare organizations’ accessibility policies and how those policies are implemented on their websites over time, as measured by the accessibility performance metrics outlined in Investigating the potential of a dashboard for monitoring U.S. federal website accessibility.[1] The Trace Research and Development Center is part of the University of Maryland College of Information Studies (iSchool). The Trace Center, a pioneer in the field of technology and disability, uses engineering, computer science, disability studies, and public policy to prevent barriers to information and telecommunication technologies.

Revelo is a real-time software platform that enables customized and automated data collection, analysis, and reporting. iAccessible, a Revelo product, provides decision makers with user-friendly insights into their respective organization’s digital accessibility trends over time and within the individual organization’s hierarchal structure.  

To learn more about iAccessible, please visit https://iAccessible.com/

[1] Lazar, J., Williams, V., Gunderson, J., & Foltz, T. (2017). Investigating the potential of a dashboard for monitoring US federal website accessibility. In Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii international conference on system sciences, 2428-2437.

Revelo Software Joins W3C Members


Revelo Software, LLC (Revelo) has been approved to join as a member of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Led by web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and Director Jeffrey Jaffe, W3C is an international community that develops protocols, guidelines and standards for the web. Web standards that are presented by the W3C are developed by members for the W3C community, W3C staff and public works.

One area that W3C is involved in is digital accessibility, which is spearheaded by W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). WAI is responsible for developing technical guidelines, specifications, techniques and support tools needed to support accessibility solutions. W3C’s WAI ensures that businesses of all sizes are able to provide inclusive digital products to individuals with disabilities, including those with cognitive, visual, and hearing impairments. Major accessibility guidelines created by W3C include the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 created in 1998, WCAG 2.0 created in 2008, and  WCAG 2.1 which was updated in 2018.

Revelo Software is a real-time software platform that is customizable to the automation of data collection, analysis, and reporting. Revelo is Section 508 compliant and conforms to NIST and FISMA security guidelines. Revelo Software has created a digital accessibility microservice, iAccessible, which is designed to detect, assess, and fix digital accessibility violations across a range of digital platforms through automation and manual remediation.

For more information about W3C, visit https://www.w3.org/.

Streamlining Government Procurement by Using Machine Learning and Natural Language Analysis

The Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (MTECH) awarded a Maryland Industrial Partnership (MIPS) grant to Optimal Solutions Group (Optimal) and the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) jointly to build an automated government procurement decision support tool.  The work conducted over the next year will focus on creating a deep learning algorithm as the backend of a tool for government agencies’ procurement processes. Using administrative data from the System for Award Management (SAM) and the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) this tool will allow contracting officers to make quicker, more valid, and equitable evidence-based sources sought and award decisions. Government agencies will also be able to identify whether and which small, veteran owned, minority owned, and other disadvantaged firms have the capability to meet specific procurement requirements.

For business owners, this tool will make it easier to identify and rank their chances of being deemed qualified for a specific solicitation. 

The principal investigator for the decision support tool is Dr. Tim Oates of UMBC’s Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. He is an expert in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with twenty-five years of experience between academia and the private sector. Optimal’s senior data scientist, Mr. Sadaf Asrar, will serve as the project director, bringing in his experience and subject matter expertise in developing statistical and machine learning models to inform government procurement practices.

MIPS provides funding—matched by participating companies—for university-based research projects that help companies develop new products. Projects must deal with innovative technological or scientific concepts and have direct commercial applications. Find out more about the MTECH’s MIPS.


Optimal Solutions Group, LLC  

Founded in 2000, Optimal Solutions Group, LLC, is a nonpartisan public policy research and data analytics firm located at the University of Maryland’s Discovery District in College Park. 

Revelo Software

Revelo Software was spun off from Optimal Solutions Group in 2019.  Revelo is a software development firm based in College Park, Maryland and has deployed SaaS applications that are being used by multiple federal agencies.  Its newest software application is iAccessible, a platform for ensuring that digital products are accessible to people with disabilities. 

Optimal CEO Joins Panel of Judges for Economic Opportunity Challenge

Economic Opportunity Challenge logo

The MacArthur Foundation and its affiliate Lever for Change, has launched the Economic Opportunity Challenge aimed to improve the financial health of low-income individuals and families in the United States. The panel will select up to five finalists that present the best evidence-based, data-driven solution on how to improve economic opportunities for low-income families and communities in the United States.

During the challenge, organizations are able to use existing evidence-based results to prove that their proposed plans are necessary to achieve and implement the goals of the challenge. This challenge aims to create a permanent change for lower-income individuals and communities in the United States. The winners of the challenge will have their proposed solutions implemented country wide.[1] “Over 40% of children born in the bottom quintile of the income distribution in the U.S. will remain in the bottom as adults. Lever for Change is excited to partner with the family foundation that is sponsoring the Economic Opportunity Challenge to find evidence-based, scalable approaches to improving economic opportunity and mobility in the U.S.” states Dr. Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change.

Interested 501(c) (3) organizations are encouraged to register no later than January 28, 2020 and submit their applications by February 18, 2020.  Evaluation of the submitted proposals will take place between March and April 2020. Optimal’s President and CEO Dr. Mark Turner will join the panel of subject matter experts as a judge. He has a 25-year track record evaluating wide-ranging economic and workforce development initiatives.  Dr. Turner and his colleagues at Optimal recently completed a study of the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program and is currently evaluating the Regional Innovation Cluster initiative for the U.S. Small Business Administration.  He also has also evaluated international economic development and entrepreneurship programs in Armenia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and the West Bank.  At the local level, Dr. Turner recently served as a judge for the Raising Young Entrepreneurs’ Montgomery County Children’s Business Fair; he also serves on the University of Maryland Department of Economics Leadership Council.

In November 2020, up to five winners will be awarded grants from the challenge. The winning grant will total $10 million, and a $100,000 grant will go to the remaining finalists of the challenge.  

[1] https://www.economicopportunitychallenge.org/faq

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