By Melinda Pitchford, Director of Business Development and Capture Management at DSS and Allison Hickey, CEO and President of All in Solutions, LLC

With the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) going through an innovation transformation and modernization effort, now is an ideal time for industry members to seek out partnerships and Joint Ventures (JV) that can help drive overall mission success for our nation’s Veterans, their families and caregivers, and survivors.

When industry players form JVs, the sum is often much greater than the overall parts – and it extends much further than helping each other to gain opportunity to compete for VA and other Federal health IT contracts.

With all that said, creating the JV isn’t easy and requires time, effort, and focus to make it through several layers of a multi-agency approval processes to include Small Business Administration (SBA), Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), and VA Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE).

It begins with a thoughtful strategy to identify the “right” partners which leverage complementary abilities, experiences, core values, and relationships – all which make a difference in the ability to deliver positive outcomes that the Government needs.

The protégé who serves as the Managing Member as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), gains the experience and support of a large mentor company who provides insight, experience, and resources that allows for rapid response, broader depth and bench of talent and support services, and the ability to expand quickly with significantly less risk to the Government.

From the Mentor perspective, the large company helps to grow stronger SDVOSBs who can thrive in the market as a strong teaming partner, as well as the ability to leverage the socio-economic status, relationships, and intimate customer knowledge that a small company often holds.

When combined with the past performance, both companies can better compete on contracts together as one entity that might not be as accessible or successful if they participated separately.

With a SBA approved Mentor-Protégé Agreement, the companies form a JV through plans and agreements that combine the expertise of both companies, which can include previous experience working in Government along with a wide range of integrated products and solutions. By combining expertise, the JV brings less risk to the Government when performing on a contract.

Innovation should always be the foundation for any JV. These should include cutting-edge processes, systems and software designed to empower everyone across the broad spectrum of Veteran care. Innovation should always be combined with the expertise with individuals who had leadership positions at the VA.

The old expression of the “rising tide lifts all boats” is certainly appropriate when it comes to JVs, but the real opportunity is developing a clear vision for the future of Veteran care, and offering a path to achieve it.

About the Authors:

Melinda Pitchford, Director of Business Development and Capture Management at DSS
Melinda Pitchford joined DSS in 2019, and is a Federal contracting expert in the fields of health IT, the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense (DoD). She began her career as a contractor working out of the VA’s Strategic Acquisition Center (SAC), evaluating proposals and has been a capture manager/business development with the VA/DHA for the past eight  years.

Allison A. Hickey, CEO and President of All In Solutions, LLC; The Honorable and Brig Gen (Ret.) USAF; Former Under Secretary for the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)
All In Solutions, LLC (AIS) is a CVE-certified, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) and Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) specializing in problem exploration and solutioning, IT Solutions, and Managed Service Delivery (MSD).  For more information on AIS, please visit



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