Over 200 leaders of small businesses gathered at WBB World Headquarters in January 2014 to network and listen to keynote speakers from DHS discuss small business procurement, strategic sourcing, and innovation.
Representatives from companies were able to understand DHS contracting challenges, learn how to align their business models to DHS’ ongoing challenges and collaborate with other companies on similar challenges faced by small businesses. Companies heard from Michael Smith, DHS Director of Strategic Sourcing, and Frank Barros, from the SBIR Program Office in the S&T Directorate. Following the keynote speakers, attendees were encouraged to participate in a panel discussion led by representatives from WBB, industry partners, and DHS professionals.
DHS Strategic Sourcing Program:
Smith’s keynote address focused on the need for small business contractors at DHS, and DHS’ efforts to support those contractors. Smith said that small business is currently driving the economic recovery, and DHS is serious about small business programs, specifically the Strategic Sourcing program. The majority of DHS’s small business contracts focus on professional and office support services, with the most money being spent in the services arena.
DHS Strategic Sourcing uses best practices established in other parts of government, specifically open communication, working groups, having funds available for use, and obtaining evaluators for enterprise wide initiatives, to focus on small businesses in the DHS arena. Since over 42% of available contracting dollars at DHS go to small business, the Strategic Sourcing program is an important one for DHS and small business. Several Strategic Sourcing vehicles are either 100% small businesses or include a large amount of small business work.
Smith also stressed the need for small businesses to respond to DHS RFIs and to begin to use the DHS Strategic Sourcing website, which goes live later this year.
DHS SBIR Programs:
Barros gave an overview of the DHS SBIR program, focusing on the need for innovation and competition from small business. He said that DHS is interested in partnering with small businesses to develop new and innovative products for the homeland security arena.
Currently, DHS is part of an 11 agency SBIR program. This program has over $2B to spend on small business innovation and research. The largest impacts to this program are projects that solve pain points, mission gaps, and improve products that are already available. SBIR projects face three critical phases in their development: Technical/Feasibility Phase, Full R&D and Production Phase, and the Commercialization Phase. Several DHS sponsored projects go into the Commercialization Phase each year.
Barros encouraged small businesses to treat these projects and the SBIR program as another federal procurement and realize that although DHS has a small SBIR program, they are able to be actively involved in the procurements.
Moderated by Joan Cannaday, WBB DHS BD Lead, the panel included guests from both small business and DHS:
• Frank Barros, SBIR Program Analyst, DHS S&T
• Sharon Phillips, Small Business Advocate, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
• Dr. Praveen Chawla, Founder and COO, Edpative Computing Inc.
• Robert Lohfeld, Jr., Founder and CEO, Sev1Tech
• Robert Olsen, COO, WBB
The discussion focused on teaming, working with DHS, how to begin working with DHS, and efforts to respond to market research and RFIs.
WBB is committed to supporting small businesses and encourages small business representatives to visit our small business website at www.wbbinc.com/SmallBusinessPartnerProgram to register their business.