The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) hosted a Small Business Industry Day, Aug. 13, in the Humphreys building on the Washington Navy Yard.
The event brought together Navy program managers, contracting officers and large defense contractors wanting to team together with small, innovative businesses to support the Navy’s shipbuilding, cybersecurity and fleet maintenance requirements.
NAVSEA Executive Director James Smerchansky stressed the importance of small business industry day in his welcoming remarks.
“This is the most important event we do all year long because we need to take full advantage of every resource, idea and innovation from industry,” said Smerchansky.
The agenda for the event included speakers discussing Navy small business programs, NAVSEA contracting, Seaport Next Gen, Cybersecurity, large prime subcontracting opportunities and Small Business Innovation and Research/Technology Transfer program. Program Executive Offices (PEOs) provided business opportunities overviews in the sessions after lunch.
Jimmy Smith, director, Navy Office of Small Business Programs, spoke about the Navy Department’s increased emphasis on small business outreach.
“Former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, Sean Stackley, made deputy program managers responsible for developing strategies that involve small business contracts,” said Smith.
Smith also stressed that contracts directed toward small business are not a hand out, but must be relevant to the Navy’s operational requirements. “The money spent must end up benefiting the warfighter,” he said.
Anne Bannister, NAVSEA director of Small Business Programs, provided perspective on why small business outreach is a priority.
“The defense industrial base has been shrinking and consolidating since the 1990s,” said Bannister. “It is important for the Navy to build up the industrial base by reaching out to small, innovative companies that can meet our requirements and provide quality components and services. Growing the industrial base increases competition and provides better value to NAVSEA and the Navy.”
Bannister spoke about the importance of the two-way interaction between NAVSEA and small business.
“It’s extremely important that we optimize the communication between the PEOs and our small business industry partners. Events like today further highlight NAVSEA’s commitment to engaging with small business across the entire spectrum of acquisition programs. It requires a lot of hard work, but the benefit to the Navy and nation is worth the effort,” said Bannister.
According to James Lofgren, NAVSEA director of contracts, NAVSEA awarded $3.3 billion in contracts to small companies in 2018. Lofgren expects that NAVSEA will exceed that dollar amount this year. He challenged small business owners to communicate and engage with deputy program managers directly to see what requirements they could satisfy.
“Give us a call and we can connect you with the right people,” said Lofgren. “Small business brings more value to the government.”
One of the programs NAVSEA is utilizing to help small business learn the complexities of government contracting is the Defense Department (DoD) Mentor-Protégé program. The program assists small businesses by helping them successfully compete for prime contract and subcontract awards by partnering them with large companies under individual, project-based agreements. Successful mentor-protégé agreements provide a winning relationship for the protégé, the mentor and DoD by building the business capabilities of the protégés.
Donnie Mills, owner of Mills Marine and Ship Repair, a small 8(a) veteran-owned small business, has benefited from this program. His company has grown from eight employees to 53 and from $347,000 in revenue to $1.4 million. Mills Marine specializes in naval engineering and technical services, manufacturing of shipboard components and advanced shipboard installations.
Mills Marine and its mentor company, QED systems, Inc., were awarded the 2017 DoD Nunn-Perry Award. The award, named in honor of former Senator Sam Nunn and former Secretary of Defense William Perry, recognizes mentor-protégé teams that have excelled in technical developments, cost effectiveness and increased business opportunities for small disadvantaged firms.
Mills shared how the Mentor-Protégé program was challenging and provided him with honest feedback about his company that caused the company to improve their business and services.
“Even with the challenges we faced, it was worth it. We took on the challenges to get better as a company,” said Mills. “I am grateful that contracting officers were willing to give our small company an opportunity to prove itself.”
Mills also discussed his perspective on doing business with the Navy.
“My whole premise is to support the men and women in uniform. What they do every day is paying for our freedom,” said Mills. “Do the work right and build relationships and the revenue will eventually follow.”
In addition to the speakers and presentations, NAVSEA Small Business Office, Small Business Innovative Research program office, affiliated PEOs, Boeing, CACI, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamic additionally all staffed resource tables with representatives and information available regarding business opportunities with attendees.
For more information on NAVSEA small business programs, please visit www.navsea.navy.mil/BusinessPartnerships.
NAVSEA’s Small Business Programs Office can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (202) 781-2061.