News | April 19, 2018

Small business, acquisition professionals share successes

By Dianne Ryder DLA Public Affairs

Members of the Defense Logistics Agency’s Office of Small Business Programs joined their contracting counterparts to promote one of the agency’s highest priority initiatives during a Small Business and Acquisition Broadcast April 10.

Christopher Hall, acting director of DLA Small Business Programs, facilitated the town hall forum. The session included a history of the agency’s small-business achievements, small-business initiatives highlighted in the recently released Strategic Plan Implementation Guidance and a panel discussion featuring Defense Acquisition University Learning Director for Small Business Kevin Linden. 

“DLA has contracts with more than 9,000 small businesses every year — about 70 percent of all suppliers are small business,” Hall said. “[Last year] was especially notable because the value of DLA’s contracts with small businesses exceeded 10 billion for the first time.”

Matthew Beebe, DLA Acquisition director, said the numbers serve as a testament to the acquisition workforce that cultivate small-business relationships and provide contracting expertise.

“Why do we need this big stable of industry? So small businesses that bring out the innovation – [provide] us the supply chain resiliency that we need,” Beebe said. “We might look at dollars and percentages as an indicator, but it is really about that supply chain resiliency and innovation that makes us a stronger supporter for the warfighter.”

The federal government has a collective small-business goal of 23 percent, established by law. The Small Business Administration works with each agency to set their individual small-business goals. For the Department of Defense, SBA only establishes a goal at the department level. 

DLA’s goal is assigned by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, not SBA. For fiscal year 2018, DoD reassessed its goal-setting process, Hall said. 

“This year, we have six small-business goals, including our 30 and a half percent small business goal, separate goals for each of the four socioeconomic programs and a goal for contracts at or below the simplified acquisition threshold, which is $150K,” he said. “DoD is accountable to SBA for meeting its goal and DLA is accountable to DoD. Last year, the department met its small business goal for the fourth year in a row, but only met two out of its four goals for the socioeconomic programs.”

Socioeconomic programs are: Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned; Historically Underutilized Business Zone, or HUBZone; Small Disadvantaged; and Women-Owned Small Business Programs.

Hall used the broadcast to direct focus to the areas where DLA needs help from requirements, acquisition and small-business professionals to strengthen numbers in various socioeconomic programs, such as the Woman-Owned and HUBZone Programs.

“When DoD set the DLA goals this year, they intentionally challenged us to do better. They looked at how we had been doing historically, and added 10 percent,” Hall said. “Status quo will not cut it.”

He stressed the importance of collaboration between DLA’s acquisition and small-business professionals in meeting these benchmarks.

Beebe noted how he and leaders, including Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord, are taking on the challenge to increase business within various socioeconomic groups.

“Ms. Lord also speaks about the importance of bringing in more nontraditional companies, because it’s through them that we get those new innovations,” Beebe said. “I’m going to challenge all of you to look to those ‘unusual suspects’ that we want to bring in to do business with DLA.”

Beebe closed the session by encouraging further collaboration between the small business and acquisition professionals.

“As a community, we’re hitting it out of the park, but we can’t rest there,” he said, noting that both communities needed to explore new opportunities, relationships and contacts to further the success. “We are showing tremendous results, [but] it’s not just about meeting a percentage goal. It’s important because that very robust industry base is extremely [vital] to us.”

Beebe stressed that expectations are high among the acquisition community in terms of increasing competition and conducting market research to reach small business goals. 

“We’re putting new solutions in place all the time that are increasing the performance that we deliver to the warfighter,” he said. “It is only because we deal on such scale and we put a strategy in place across that scale that we can accomplish it all.”