Enabling Real-Time Data-Driven Public Policy Decision Making

Summer 2022

Optimal and UMBC AI Tool Promises to Streamline

Market Research

Under a Phase II Grant from the State of Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program, our data science team is collaborating with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, on developing an AI-driven acquisition decision support tool to help government agencies streamline market research and achieve the goals outlined in the Promoting Rigorous and Innovative Cost Efficiencies for Federal Procurement and Acquisitions Act of 2021 (or the PRICE Act of 2021). For more information, see Streamlining Government Procurement by Using Machine Learning and Natural Language Analysis – Optimal Solutions Group. 

A Look at Optimal's Work on

Entrepreneurship, Business Assistance and Lending

Optimal continues to bring actionable, evidence-based research on entrepreneurship, business assistance, and lending to multiple federal government agencies -- National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Optimal provides these agencies with program and impact evaluations and data analytics to support accountability and continuous quality improvement.


For instance, SBA recently awarded Optimal a Regional Innovation Cluster (RIC) Program Evaluation Services contract. Since 2010, Optimal has performed annual evaluations for the SBA RIC program. For SBA's women-owned NAICS report below, Optimal developed an Excel-based time and money-saving decision tool in order for the program. For these and other studies, our researchers and data scientists conduct surveys and interviews, analyze administrative data, and conduct quasi-experimental analyses in assessing program effectiveness. 

Below is a list of recent publications (click the boxes to read the reports):

SBA Small Business Procurement Scorecard Report
SBA 7(j) Training Program for 8 (a) Participants Evaluation Report
SBA HUBZone Economic Impact Report
SBA Microloan Program Outcomes Evaluation
SBA Women-Owned Small Business NAICS Analysis Report

Optimal Executive Co-Chairs GSA OASIS Small Business Capability Statement Committee

The General Services Administration (GSA) awarded Optimal its One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) Small Business (SB) Pool 1 contract in December 2021. OASIS is a GSA government-wide best-in-class procurement vehicle, and Optimal looks forward to increasing its opportunities to provide flexible and innovative solutions for complex professional services. To ensure small business capabilities are current, Optimal volunteered to help ensure SB capabilities are up-to-dated on the new OASIS small business site. Optimal also holds a GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) for IT and Professional Services.  

Learn more about Optimal's OASIS services

Enabling Real-Time Digital Transformation and

Digital Accessibility

Optimal has developed an accessibility platform powered by Revelo SoftwareTM to review and assess documents, websites, and software applications to ensure that they are accessible to users and meet requirements for Section 508 and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).


Customer Experience and Accessibility

The recent December Executive Order on transforming customer experience highlights the necessity to streamline and improve and the digital experience and accessibility for all customers. Our team builds universal design web products by addressing usability, accessibility, readability, and search engine optimization.

Our iAccessible platform provides easy-to-understand and actionable reports for managers and technicians, organizational reporting, role-based access, and interactive visualizations. 

Ensuring the Accessibility of

Online Coursework

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) awarded Optimal several contracts to assess online course materials for high school students conforms with Section 508 and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards. 

Optimal’s DHS Trusted Testers also provide technical assistance to content developers and assist them in remediating course materials. The COVID-19 pandemic and increased reliance on internet-based learning has highlighted the need for digital accessibility and inclusion for students and individuals with disabilities.

image of Optimal Intern Data and Technology Challenge 2020 with tech background and abstract head and cog in the brain

Optimal's University Data and

Tech Challenge

Since the founding of Optimal, our staff has collaborated with universities to encourage growth and innovative thinking with their students, faculty, and staff. The collaborations started with the University of Maryland's "Be the Solution" Business Plan Competition, where the Food Recovery Network started and thrives to this day. In 2020, when so many students lost internships (and our future was uncertain due to COVID-19), Optimal hosted the "Intern Data and Tech Challenge," which created over 150 mini internships that led to open-source product solutions for HUBZones, job matching algorithms, and venture capital geographic distribution. Winning teams produced open-source tools.

The winners had the following projects:

  • The Responsive Web + App Development concept that wowed judges. 
  •  Publicly available data to create visualizations and dashboards to identify potential high return-on-investment HUBZones. 
  • Dashboard tools to address unemployment related to COVID-19 and a portal for Identifying and Linking Data for COVID-19 Job Recovery in the United States. Check out their public dashboards.

Optimal's CEO Joins the Council of Graduate Schools

Employer Roundtable

Optimal's Mark Turner recently joined the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) Employer Roundtable. The CGS Employer Roundtable is a small group of senior leaders representing employers of graduate degree holders in various fields and organizations serving higher education. CGS serves to advance graduate education and research in the U.S. and globally. Dr. Turner brings the perspective of small businesses that employ graduate degree holders to the roundtable that is mostly composed of global businesses and organizations -- Amazon, Corning, IBM, and TIAA. For more information, see CGS Employer Roundtable.

Optimal's COO Offers Real World Career Optimizing Tips to

UMD iSchool Graduates


Optimal's executive, Tracye Turner, recently delivered career lessons learned and best practices remarks to new graduates at the 2022 spring commencement at the University of Maryland's School of Information Studies. The fast-growing school has high job offer rates and in-demand graduates. She frequently collaborates with the iSchool, serves on the iLead Advisory Council, and was the Inaugural Chair. She shared her top 10 career lessons learned in cyclical job markets. For more information, see Spring 2022 Commencement Ceremony | University of Maryland (umd.edu)

Here's a look at the upcoming events that our researchers will be participating in: 

  • August 8-12 - 2022 NCES STATS-DC Data Conference, DATA for DEIA: Using Data to Improve Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility."
  • September 7-9 - International Population Data Linkage Network 2022 Edinburgh Conference.
  • October 25-27 - Optimal's Chief Data Scientist will present on web scraping state education data at the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology (FCSM) Research and Policy Conference.

Thank you for your continued support of small businesses!


University of Maryland Discovery District

5825 University Research Court,

Suite 1100

College Park, MD 20740-3831

Phone: 301-306-1170

[email protected]

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