The Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Department of the Navy have signed a Memorandum of Agreement that will improve federal contracting opportunities for small businesses participating in the SBA's 8(a) Business Development program in all 50 states. The 8(a) program is a business development program that provides management and technical assistance, as well as assistance in identifying federal contracting opportunities, to socially and economically disadvantaged businesses. These firms will have the opportunity to perform 22 types of services, including research and development support, engineering and acquisition logistics support.
The agreement allows the Navy to expedite the competition and award process directly with 8(a) firms without SBA as an intermediary. Other benefits of the partnership agreement include:
- Contract opportunities for 8(a) firms in the states affected by these procurements;
- Restriction of task order requirements under the Multiple Award Contracts tool solely for 8(a) competition on 22 types of services;
- An annual rolling admissions period to allow more small businesses to become Multiple Award Contracts awardees within SeaPort-e;
- Provisions to allow existing prime contractors to renew their size status in accordance with SBA's new recertification rule;
- Rules permitting 8(a) participants to compete on non-8(a) task orders under a contract once they are listed on Navy's Multiple Award Contracts tool; and
- A five-year base ordering period and two five-year contract award terms under the Multiple Award Contracts tool for 8(a) program participants.
Under the agreement, the Naval Sea Systems Command will use its SeaPort-e Web-based services acquisition tool, containing Multiple Award Contracts, to award federal contracts directly to firms participating in the 8(a) program. "The SBA and Department of Navy have a unique opportunity to create opportunities for 8(a) companies and help them develop and become viable in the federal contracting arena, an integral part of the business development assistance provided by the 8(a) program," SBA Acting Administrator Jovita Carranza said.
"This is a great example of a military department and a civilian agency working together to expand opportunities and improve diversification of our industrial base. I applaud the Navy and SBA's hard work to realize the vision to provide for competitive 8(a) restricted competition under the SeaPort-e program," said Tim J. Foreman, Director of the Office of Small Business Programs for the Office of the Secretary of the Navy.
Marketing to the U.S. Navy—The Navy Way
Recognizing the innovation and flexibility of American small business, the Navy and Marine Corps are very interested in what it has to offer. To that end, the Department of the Navy has put together the “10 Steps to Success” for small companies wishing to do business with the Navy or Marines. These steps, many of which you will see as extension of what you do in the civilian world, will take you through the process expected by Naval procurement.
10 Steps to Success
1. Identify your Product or Service
Know the Federal Supply Classification (FSC) Code (www.dlis.dla.mil/h2) and the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code (www.census.gov/naics) for your product or service.
2. Register and Receive the Necessary Codes
3. Register in the Small Business Administration (SBA) Procurement Marketing and Access Network (PRO-Net) system
4. Familiarize yourself with Federal, DOD, and Navy contracting procedures
5. Identify the Navy/Marine Corps contracting activity that purchases your product or service and contact the Small Business Specialist on-site.
6. Identify current and future Navy and Marine Corps procurement opportunities.
This can be done through the DoN Acquisition One Source. Once there, click on the Business Opportunities link, which will lead you to the information and links you need. This will also give you access to the DOD Emall, where DOD buyers can find and acquire off-the-shelf, finished goods items from the commercial marketplace. Vendors wishing to market their products to the DOD can create an online “store” in this electronic mall for government buyers to browse.
7. Investigate Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts.
Many Navy and Marine Corps supplies and services are purchased utilizing FSS contracts and the GSA SmartPay Card. Contact the General Services Administration (GSA) for information on how to obtain a FSS Contract and find out why you should accept the GSA Smart Pay Card when doing business with the Navy and Marine Corps.
8. Investigate other DOD programs
Information on current programs, access to DOD publications and more is available for download at the DOD Office of Small Business Programs website.
9. Explore subcontracting opportunities.
There is a very large secondary subcontracting market that you want to be aware of. The publication Subcontracting Opportunities with DOD Prime Contractors lists all major DOD prime contractors by state and provides a point of contact (Small Business Liaison Officer) within each firm. You can also visit SUB-Net, the SBA’s Subcontracting Network where prime contractors post subcontracting opportunities.
10. Seek additional assistance as needed in the Navy and DOD marketplace.
The Bottom Line
The area of military procurement can be very intimidating. The new agreement between the Navy and the SBA helps out, but if you want to do business with the Navy, you still have to work for it. There are complex rules to follow and there is a great deal to learn before you make your pitch, but if you follow their suggestions and do your homework, there is no reason why you cannot succeed. You have to remember that everything in the military is done through a chain of command structure. Your initial presentation should be directly to the Small Business Specialists at the Navy and Marine Corps activities that buy your products or services. They can give you additional points of contact—the next people to speak with—as well as information regarding long-range acquisition forecasts. Remember, the Department of the Navy is looking for quality products and services that meet its requirements and do it on time and on budget. You will need to demonstrate that and showing outstanding past performance is one of the best ways to do that.