The pandemic has created a newfound societal appreciation for the small businesses of Main Street. This support of small businesses is exciting to see as is the innovation that businesses are employing to ensure customers and employees can safely support them. In government, this appreciation for small business is not something that started in 2020. It has been a focus since 1988 when Congress enacted the first procurement goal. Part of that focus was because government knew that innovation happens within these smaller, more nimble companies and they wanted to capitalize on the forward thinking.
Small business goals have increased year over year and government is doing their part to keep up. In fact, in 2019 government exceeded its overall small business contracting goals for the seventh consecutive year. Federal agencies awarded 26.5% of total prime contract dollars to small businesses (above the goal of 23%) which equates to nearly $133B.
Meeting and exceeding these goals requires agencies to make changes to traditional contracting practices and push large, prime contractors to rethink how they bid and divide work. The Defense Information Systems Agency's (DISA) systems engineering, technology and innovation (SETI) contract is one example of how small business interests can be prioritized by agencies. DISA sought input from small businesses when creating the contract and created two contract suites -- one for small businesses with 25 awardees and one that is unrestricted with 15 awardees. One change they made was removing the clearance requirement (requiring a facility site clearance at the time of proposal). Getting this clearance was a barrier for small businesses and also impacted how joint ventures could divide workshare.
But all of this success does not mean the work is done. Government must stay focused on creative ways to empower small businesses to work with them and small businesses have to do their part to comply with necessary contracting rules. There are a number of upcoming events that highlight tactics and best practices for doing both.
- AFCEA NOVA 19th Annual Air and Space Forces IT Day (December 15, 2020; Virtual) - Senior Air Force and Joint speakers will discuss their challenges, programs, and acquisition strategies across IT and Cyber.
- DFAR Overview: Introduction to the Rules of Defense Contracting (January 5, 2021; Virtual) - One segment of an ongoing series designed to uncover each part of The Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations (DFARS).
- 7th Annual B2G Procurement and Conference Expo (June 17, 2021; Glen Burnie, MD) - This small business contracting forum features dozens of workshops plus two general sessions.
Don't have time to attend an event? Download Contracting for Efficiency: A Best Practices Guide for Energy-Efficient Product Procurement from GovWhitePapers and read at your convenience!
Let us know where you get information on small business contracting. Share your thoughts in the comments.
Be sure to check out GovEvents for a complete listing of virtual seminars, training, roundtables, webinars, and a library of on-demand events.