2020 was a record-breaking fiscal year by the U.S. Department of the Navy for the goods and services invested into small businesses despite the onset of COVID-19. To augment efficiency of the Navy acquisition corps, James F. Geurts, the assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, plans to promote a narrative of investing more money into contracts with less contracting action.
Geurts stated, “Over $17 billion directly to small businesses as a prime. We not only met our kind of demanding goals but exceeded them, not only at the overall level but in sub-categories,” on a recent phone call to reporters in October.
In exactitude, $17.33 billion was invested into small businesses by the Navy this year and all percentage goals for prime contract awards were exceeded. A goal of 15.61% was outlined for allocation for small business prime contracts awards, but 16.46% was obtained.
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) have been actively trying to make it easier for small businesses to participate in contracts, especially since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We used to kind of say, here’s what we need, and we’d then see what they would come up with. We kind of flipped that around and we’ve now started asking small businesses, hey, what do you got, to try to actually see what they’re thinking,” said Lorin Selby, head of the ONR.
As a result of this new methodology, the ONR now obtains around 115 proposals for programs, a significant increase from the 12 proposals they would typically obtain. Also, the ONR now requires about 10 pages of information within proposals, a significant decrease from the 10 pages they would typically ask for. There has also been a decrease in the number of days spent evaluating contracts by the ONR, from 45 to 9 days.
A concept called “Fed Mall” has been set up by the Defense Logistics Agency in which small businesses with federal contracts can sell goods and services in a virtual marketplace as well as purchase goods and services at discounted prices.
The Department of the Navy has been acting with the underlying goal of improving acquisition efficiency and small business participation.
Author: Donna Sunny