News | Aug. 30, 2018

Boosting small business demands big ideas

By Thomas Perry DCMA Public Affairs

There are 28 million small businesses in America, and Defense Contract Management Agency’s small business team wants as many of them as possible to join the defense industrial base.

“Our mission is to provide small business support to our defense and government customers by ensuring subcontracting compliance and optimizing subcontracting opportunities,” said Tatia Evelyn-Bellamy, the director of DCMA’s Small Business Office and Small Business Compliance Center. “Our strategy is to actively assist customers in developing aggressive but reasonable subcontracting plans for their contractors and review contractor subcontracting program compliance.”

In line with the agency’s over-arching mission of warfighter support, Evelyn-Bellamy explained her team’s effort “in assisting military partners with pre-award and post-award subcontract management, and working with prime contractors to achieve subcontract success” helps foster business innovation and new technology, supports the warfighter, strengthens and sustains the military and economic industrial base, and promotes private enterprise.

It is a massive undertaking that the office’s name naturally undersells. Small businesses account for 54 percent of all U.S. sales and provide 55 percent of all U.S. jobs. To support this large group of American taxpayers, the agency’s small business team partners with other DCMA departments to create an environment of support.

“We maintain a collaborative relationship with senior leaders, program managers and the Contracts Directorate to ensure customers and contractors develop acquisition strategies to identify and receive quotes, bids, or proposals from small business vendors,” said Rosalyn Wiggin, a small business professional within the SBO. “Our joint effort educates customers on small business regulation requirements and the benefits of small businesses — particularly their responsiveness to requirements and agility to perform in a more cost-effective manner compared to current large business suppliers and service providers.”

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s categorization of “small” depends on the industry. It is then further defined by average number of employees over the past 12 months or average annual receipts over the past three years. Prospective contractors should visit the administration’s website for more information. As a first-glance qualification test, SBA guidelines maintain businesses must meet the following parameters to qualify for small-business government contracts:

• Is organized for profit;
• Has a place of business in the United States;
• Operates primarily within the U.S. or makes a significant contribution to the U.S. economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labor;
• Is independently owned and operated;
• Is not dominant in its field on a national basis.

DCMA’s collaborative effort begins once business owners determine they qualify for small-business government contracts. Many owners may find it difficult to navigate regulations, especially those new to government contracts. It is a challenging environment that can at times punish inexperience, but Evelyn-Bellamy said her team maintains passion in pursuit of its mission.

“We are committed to expanding the small business industrial base,” Evelyn-Bellamy said.

In support of that commitment, DCMA SBO works with its DoD and industry counterparts to include the Navy’s Office of Small Business Programs, local Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, the National 8(a) Association, the National Defense Industrial Association, veterans’ groups and many more.

In addition to supporting these organizations, the agency’s small business team conducts training sessions, when appropriate, for both contractor and government personnel on existing and emerging small business issues.

“We support many groups whose goals are to educate, inform and train small business personnel and our industry counterparts on current programs, processes and initiatives,” said Eric Claud, an SBO professional. “It really is all about increasing small business opportunities for prime contractors, and particularly subcontractors, across the Department of Defense and the federal government.”

All of these efforts can make a huge difference in the financial health and success of small and socio-economic disadvantaged businesses. According to the SBA, “most government agencies ‘set aside’ a percentage of their acquisitions for small and disadvantaged businesses. In some cases, these set-asides might consist of certain types of tasks on larger contracts. In other cases, entire contracts may be designated for small businesses.”

In other words, there are often government-contract opportunities available to small business owners. Whether owners are qualified and prepared to properly apply is another story. DCMA’s small business team hopes to ensure that answer is always yes.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in the 2017 DCMA INSIGHT magazine. You can read the original here.

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