Small businesses need to “lead with what you can do” in order to get their foot in the door on government contracts and build lucrative, lasting relationships with a public sector hungry for their innovation.
More than 100 members of the small-business community gathered on Feb. 14 in Arlington to hear from component representatives at a meeting hosted by GTSC’s Emerging Small Business Group and Women in Homeland Security to discuss the contacting landscape for the upcoming year.
“Change is going to be the leading aspect of 2020 and beyond,” said ESBG Chairman Earl Holland, introducing small-business specialists from DHS, GSA, TSA, FEMA, ICE and the U.S. Coast Guard for interactive panel presentations and audience engagement.
The overwhelming message to private industry was that government is looking for small-business partners who are bringing expertly tailored solutions to the table.
“We are definitely looking to find small businesses,” said Robyn Towles, C&P Division Director at the Transportation Security Administration, encouraging companies “to really look at the RFI and understand what questions we have.”
Networking meetings begin to forge those relationships not only with DHS-wide contracting officers but each other, she stressed.
“We are always trying to make sure that the safety of the traveler is protected and we need contracting partners who work with us,” Towles added, urging businesses to “be where we can reach you and that will really help us to have our shared goal of success.”
“If I think it’s a fit for ICE, I try to bring in folks for a capability briefing,” said Anita Perkins, Small Business Specialist, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That fit is more likely to happen if companies are honing in on a specific problem and solution. “I need you to have a focus on something,” she said.
Maria Kersey, the former director of Small Business Programs at the Defense Intelligence Agency who moved into Dwight Deneal’s former liaison role at the U.S. Coast Guard after he moved to the Defense Logistics Agency in December, said her goal is to do at least one industry meet-and-greet per quarter.
“I was successful at DIA getting new contractors through the door and that’s what I’m going to do here,” she vowed.
Kersey advised companies that it’s “imperative” to “be creative” and honest: “When you’re thinking outside the box, make sure you can do it,” she said.
“Don’t try to underbid to get the contract — be honest with how you’re actually pricing your stuff,” she added.
Companies looking for a foot in the door should also consider subcontracting, because if you “show you can do the work, next time they’re going to be coming to you.”
Stacy Swann, National Account Manager, GSA Federal Acquisition Service, briefed attendees on category management basics, and attendees received a copy of GTSC’s recently released a white paper, “DHS Strategic Sourcing Presents Threats and Opportunities for Membership.”
The paper provides background for DHS’ category management shift, which DHS considers “a holistic approach to managing common capabilities” in procurement. The paper also describes each of the strategic sourcing vehicles and where they are in their life cycles, offers suggestions for businesses to position themselves for IDIQ wins, and recommends proactive meetings with program managers and contracting officers to influence acquisition strategies while ensuring government buyers understand a company’s products, services and capabilities to successfully perform.
The roadmap is intended to be a solid foundation from which business can navigate risks to current contract holdings and make the right decisions to focus their resources and increase their P-Win in 2020. Reach out to obtain a copy of “DHS Strategic Sourcing Presents Threats and Opportunities for Membership.”