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Doing Business with DOD and the Intel. Community

Published: December 04, 2019

Business DevelopmentInformation TechnologyInnovationSmall Business

While doing business with DOD and the Intel. Community can seem daunting, speakers and panelists at “The 4th Annual Doing Business with DoD & The Intel Community” event offer some insight and advice for contractors.

For contractors, sometimes getting a “foot in the door” at DOD and/or the Intelligence Community (IC) can seem overwhelming. Not only is the level of compliance, qualifications and security with the two major entities heightened, the DOD and IC have historically been known to “stick with who they know.”

Or do they?

In fact, both the DOD and IC have been making strides in using multiple, unique approaches to attract innovative private partnerships, particularly when it comes to the R&D and implementation of advanced technologies, engineering and operational solutions. Some of these methods include:

  • Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAS): CRADAS offer extensive collaboration between government and private entities. Absent of award money, these agreements offer mutual benefits; government offers its facilities and resources in exchange for contractor funds and services to perform R&D in line with the federal agency’s mission. Thereafter, industry partners walk away with the option to negotiate and patent rights from their research results.
  • Government Innovation Centers: These specific divisions within the government strictly focus on accelerating and implementing commercial technologies into the federal space. For DOD and the IC, DIU and the IC’s newest division, Lateral Innovation, hold such missions.
  • Other Transaction Authorities (OTAs): Non-traditional acquisitions to attract non-traditional partners in providing R&D of advanced technologies and scientific solutions. OTAs do not follow FAR requirements and are suited to quickly develop prototypes for the government.

At The 4th Annual Doing Business with DOD & The Intel Community event this week, hosted by JSchaus & Associates and Virginia PTAC, a team of speakers and panelists also offered hope to attendees, particularly small businesses, that doing business with the DOD and IC is not so impossible. The event consisted of two key speakers and three panels, with four members in each panel.

Many of the speakers and panelists elaborated on the fact that those looking to do work in the federal space must learn about their targeted clients and their needs. Essentially, do the homework. Speakers, and especially panelists, also offered several other pieces of advice to doing business with DOD and IC, particularly for small businesses and start-ups:

  • Find the government organizations that are willing to award even the smallest of prototypes
  • Operate first as a subcontractor to gain a reputation with primes that are looking for niche work within larger contracts
  • Do not only look for the customer’s needs today, be sure to anticipate their needs tomorrow and invest in the cutting edge technologies that will help get them there
  • Face time. Meet with people within the government, starting with the agency’s small business offices
  • Take advantage of government programs that help boost contractor qualifications. For example, the NSA’s Provisional Industry Security Approval (PISA) Sponsorship Program offers sponsored clearances to those without contracts to engage in high-level discussions and understand agency needs
  • Small businesses should pursue SBIRs, which can then be used as a contract vehicle/license to hunt for longer-term contracts
  • Take advantage of government “pitch” events, where agencies invite contractors to provide short pitches on their solutions that may fulfill their needs, in exchange for the potential in an immediate investment in that solution
  • Leverage traditional marketing approaches (i.e. mailing and electronic advertisements) for a specific office of interest
  • Utilize platforms such as LinkedIn and Zoom Info to find the right people you need to talk to
  • Come prepared to meetings able to speak technically and non-technically to match the type of government attendees in the meeting
  • Be aggressive in the Q&A period of an RFI or RFP and be in the procurement as early as possible
  • Have a passion for what you do so that you leave memorable to a potential government client
  • Read articles and stay up-to-date with your market in the federal space. Familiarize yourself with the policies and legislation shaping a potential client’s mission