The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has elevated its efforts to do business with small companies, launching its first Small Business and Industry Liaison Office. Michael Derrios, senior procurement executive and head of the USCG Contracting Activity (HCA), initiated the office in January to maximize and expand small business inclusion, industry engagement, and business opportunities within USCG procurement. Derrios hopes to create a USCG contracting enterprise culture that views small businesses and industry as READY — relevant, economical, advanced, deliverable and yielding — to support the Coast Guard mission.
Derrios joined the Coast Guard from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), where he was among the agency’s founders, or plank holders, after 9/11.
For years, contractors say, they had sought greater engagement and understanding of USCG mission needs. Derrios listened.
“We’ve been very pleased with the increased outreach to industry,” said Joe Re, a director at Sev1Tech who attended an outreach event with Derrios in 2017. “We truly believe that increased engagement with industry partners will improve requirements, processes and outcomes for the Coast Guard.” Re, a former uniformed member of the Coast Guard, added that small businesses are even more hopeful about having an “ombudsman of sorts” in the new liaison office.
Elevating small business
In January, Derrios elevated the GS-14 program manager position in his office to direct the new liaison office and set five goals for the job:
- Effectively communicate the business needs of the Coast Guard
- Effectively outline to industry the Coast Guard procurement process
- Develop and incorporate a community of best practices and strategic partnerships with industry
- Reduce the gaps and constraints industry faces in doing business with the Coast Guard
- Attract innovative business solutions and build on the USCG motto of “Semper Paratus” — Always Ready — by creating the READY contracting culture
Dwight Deneal took the job as first director of Small Business and Industry Liaison Programs for the Coast Guard. Previously, he led the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization acquisition support team at the Health and Human Services Department. Deneal advised, counseled and provided independent expert federal- and agency-specific small-business policy recommendations on acquisition strategies at HHS. He also advised the OSDBU director on the development, evaluation and implementation of small-business procurement statutes, regulations, program policies and on Small Business Innovation Research and Technology Transfer procedures.
“The USCG wants to build bridges to a culture that embraces meaningful engagement by industry at the right time in the acquisition process,” Deneal said. “I am excited with this opportunity to enhance the engagement to help the Coast Guard’s incredible mission.”
Deneal is the Coast Guard’s recognized authority on federal socioeconomic guidelines and policy. He will lead efforts across the contracting and procurement enterprise to bolster industry outreach, strengthen small-business contracting programs through strategic innovation, and develop the industrial base supporting the USCG. He also serves as socioeconomic policy technical adviser to the HCA and primary liaison to business community stakeholders, Homeland Security Department headquarters, and federal, state and local agencies.