December 10, 2015, By Andy Lieber

The ACT IAC Small Business Alliance held half-day sessions to help small businesses better interact with the Government. This was especially beneficial to the Federal Health care community as small business representatives from HHS, CMS, and VA spoke as well as a representative from DoD (who was focused on DoD as a whole). There were three panel sessions covering Best Practices for Government to Communicate with Industry; Government Perspectives of Small Business-Expectations at Meetings; and Large Business Guidance to Small Business.

The common theme that ran through all of these discussions is that small businesses, in fact all businesses, need to be prepared when interacting with the Government or looking to join a large business team.

I was a bit surprised that companies still come in to meet with the Government and not know the basics – such as what the agency does, what does the acronym mean – and state that they are small/8(a)/SDVOSB/HUBZone and just expect the Government will give them a contract because they check a box.  Companies come in and say they can do anything and expect to be handed an opportunity.

The key points to remember are:

  • Examine the department/agency web site to understand their mission, budget, and strategic plan, key performance indicators and GAO/IG reports.
  • Examine the Budget in Brief document to understand the agency’s priorities for the upcoming Fiscal Year and the key initiatives (follow the money)
  • Obtain the procurement forecast to identify where your company can offer value.
  • Be focused in your approach and be able to state specifically how and why you can help the Government.
  • If you are looking to join a large business team, be able to articulate how you can add value to their team, which means identifying the gaps you can fill and how you can improve their customer knowledge. Approach them well before the RFP is released.
  • Respond to the RFI. The Government uses the RFI as a research mechanism to determine if can be set aside for small business.   The “rule of two” states that if two small businesses can do the work, then the Government can set it aside for small business.
  • The RFI sometimes asks for capabilities in a number of areas, answer for those areas where you can perform and put “N/A” for those areas you do not cover.
  • Don’t rely on the small business office to find opportunities for you.

My second key take away is that one should utilize the small business offices and its resources to better understand the procurement environment.  HHS, CMS, and VA all offer opportunities to meet with key contract and program officials both in DC (and Baltimore) as well as regionally.  They offer webinars, procurement forecasts, conduct monthly out-reach sessions and appear at industry association gatherings to better understand the industry and communicate upcoming needs.

This was a great session to remind even the experienced business developer that preparation and focus are key to succeeding in the Government market.

Federal Government Panelists:

Channel Bankston-Carter, Small and Veteran Business Programs, VA

Teresa Lewis, Director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, HHS

Anita Allen, Small Business Specialist, CMS

Alice Williams, Associate Director for Workforce Development, DoD

Trish Culbreth, Deputy Director, Office of Small Business Programs, DLA

Lisa Jenkins, Program Analyst/Small Business Specialist, TSA

Judith Stackhouse, Small Business Technical Advisor, GSA

Ian Ahearn, Program Management Execution Officer, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency

Andy Lieber is an experienced Health Care business developer who is currently looking for a small to mid-size organization that needs someone who identifies, qualifies, and captures multi-million dollar Government opportunities.  He is adept at “connecting the dots” between the company’s core competencies and the Government’s needs to shape the opportunity and form winning teams.  To learn more about and connect with Andy, Click Here.


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