Navy Moves to Boost Small Businesses

Here’s the good news: it appears that significant parts of government contracts are reaching the hands of small business owners via its prime contractors. That’s the intention of the U.S. Navy, which offers five large contracts that are subcontracted into smaller awards, allowing more entrepreneurs to bid for work.

Still, the process can use some streamlining. So, the Navy is working to increase the number of small businesses that win contracts as primes themselves and, in the process, also hold the primes more accountable for meeting their subcontracting goals.

The Navy will examine those five large contracts and subdivide them into even more small prime contract awards ― to provide more small businesses with greater opportunities.

In doing so, the Navy will also work toward the goals of President Joe Biden’s executive order on “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” which directs agencies to lower obstructions when pursuing procurement and contracting opportunities.

“We know that the primes are going to the subs anyway, contracting with them directly,” said Jimmy Smith, the director of the Office of Small Business Programs at the Department of the Navy, during AFCEA NOVA’s recent Naval IT Day, in McLean, Va. “We can save the pass-through money and get more capability, and more service out of that dollar, than just giving a bonus to the industry partner to just pass the money through and take that percentage off the top. So again, we’re serious about making sure that small businesses have an opportunity to do business with us.”

On that note, in 2021 the Navy began auditing its 10 buying commands to determine if primes were living up to their workshare agreements, as opposed to how they were actually performing in post-award status; in many cases, the numbers didn’t match.

At present, however, the Navy can’t break down those five prime contracts until the government gets past the continuing resolution that prevents new spending in fiscal 2023. Taking the next step depends on the sunsetting of those contracts.

As for its own recent performance, the Navy has exceeded its small business goals. After spending more than $17 billion with small business primes in fiscal 2021, that amount rose to $18.4 billion in fiscal 2022.

Eye on co-working

Anyone who’s been working in and/or around D.C. has no doubt noticed that, while the amount of foot traffic around town has certainly increased in more recent times, it’s not what it used to be.

The General Services Administration is addressing that issue via an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract with private co-working space providers, including Deskpass Corp., LiquidSpace, Novel/Expansive/Level Office Management, The Yard Operating Co. and WeWork Commons. Locations in Denver, San Francisco and Washington are being made available to federal workers to analyze how the spaces reduce their daily commute while heightening efficiencies. The test run was the week of Nov. 14.

GSA will also offer what it’s calling a future of work laboratory at its headquarters in Washington to allow other agencies to test the different office configurations.

The move comes at a key time for the GSA. Administrator Robin Carnahan has told members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that 40 percent of its leases will expire in the next few years, giving the administration a window to shift tenant agencies to other government properties.

Carnahan said this opportunity can save agencies $2 billion annually.

Gloria Larkin is President and CEO of TargetGov, and a national expert in business development in the government markets. Email, visit or call toll-free 1-866-579-1346 x 325 for more information.

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