Small, Large Businesses Support Warfighter Mission at DON Gold Coast Procurement Event

The Department of the Navy (DON) Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) along with National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) held its annual Department of the Navy Gold Coast Procurement Event at the Town and Country Convention Center in San Diego Aug. 22-23.

The event, which is co-sponsored with NDIA, demonstrates the importance of the relationship between the government and the defense industrial base.

“It is great to see both large and small businesses come together to learn how they can support the warfighter by providing products and services to help support the warfighter,” said Emily Harman, director, DON OSBP. “We want to thank NDIA for co-sponsoring this great event. We believe outreach such as this is critical in helping our industry partners understand the DON needs while providing a forum for industry to communicate with us about the barriers they encounter when trying to do business with the government.”

Retired Air Force Gen. Herbert J. “Hawk” Carlisle, the president and CEO of NDIA, said NDIA plans to focus on the challenges of small businesses as part of the organization’s five-year strategic plan.

“Of our 1,640 corporate members, small businesses make up 47 percent of that number,” Carlisle said. “We are going to leverage the strength of our enterprise to help guide, educate and address the hurdles that our small, but vitally important, defense companies must overcome in doing business with the government. DON Gold Coast will continue to be a very effective venue in advocating for small business and we at NDIA will always provide our full support.”

This year’s event hosted more than 1,500 attendees comprised of industry representatives, Department of Defense (DoD) contracting professionals, small business professionals, program managers from across the country and senior leadership from DON and DoD.

Thomas P. Dee, performing the duties of the under secretary of the Navy, said small businesses help solve the technical challenges of the Navy and Marine Corps.

“Technological forces are leading to a new strategic environment,” Dee said. “There’s a great sense of urgency to build more and better capabilities to meet the challenges of today’s maritime environment.

Although I have a view from the top, the real wisdom is in this room-in the knowledge that small businesses bring as it relates to innovation, agility and overall capabilities.”

Robb Wong, associate administrator, Office of Government Contracting and Business Development, Small Business Administration (SBA), said SBA is working to improve certification and standards to better position small businesses to compete for government contracts.

“Our team is working hard in this area to ensure we provide every opportunity for small businesses to be successful,” Wong said.

In addition to several high-level presentations, the event featured a number of panel discussions and workshops covering a variety of topics, including Navy and Marine Corps readiness issues, Navy and Marine Corps construction, small business innovation research, unmanned systems, cyber security, mentor-protege, program executive offices for C4I and EIS, and government contracting. The panels and workshops provided government representatives a forum to articulate opportunities for small business participation and to learn about challenges and barriers small businesses face during the acquisition process.

Dwayne Weaver, executive director, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy (acquisition and procurement), said these discussions are critical for both industry and government.

“Whether it is through a panel discussion, workshop or presentation, [these discussions] provide invaluable knowledge for small businesses to learn what the government needs and how the acquisition process works,” Weaver said. “[They] also provide a feedback loop that allows government to understand the challenges and barriers industry encounters while doing business with the government.”

The event also featured two days of matchmaking sessions-a series of one-on-one meetings between small businesses and representatives from the DON’s 10 buying commands to share information about specific contracting and subcontracting opportunities.

“For a small company without a big marketing team or travel resources, this was a great opportunity to network one-on-one and make contacts with the decision makers,” said one participant. “Every small company can benefit from this type of one-on-one counseling.”

Harman said the event was a great opportunity to continue to increase and improve the Navy’s warfighting capabilities.

“While both small and large businesses play a very important role in helping expand the industrial base to help modernize our military, I believe small businesses are emerging as a leader in innovation, agility and flexibility,” she said. “The DON is committed to doing effective outreach that helps remove barriers for small business participation, which in turn will improve our capabilities and strategic advantage on land and sea.”

The mission of the DON Small Business Enterprise is to foster acquisition opportunities where small businesses can best support Sailors, Marines and their families to accomplish their missions and to influence change and create a culture of small business inclusiveness across the DON. DON OSBP accomplishes this through policy, advocacy, counseling and training through outreach events such as Sea-Air-Space and the DON Gold Coast Procurement Event.

For more information on the DON’s Small Business Program, upcoming outreach events and our 10 major buying commands, visit www.secnav.navy.mil/smallbusiness.

Follow on social media at Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/NAVYOSBP and Twitter, @DoN_OSBP.