The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) focused on its support for small businesses during The American Legion's Small Business Training Program that was held in Minneapolis for National Convention.
Dan Sturdivant of DHS' Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) explained how the office functioned to support veteran-owned small businesses. He also discussed the department's mentor-protégé program that matches prime contractors with small businesses to develop strong working relationships.
Sturdivant said DHS has prime contracting and subcontracting opportunities for small businesses, including those owned by veterans, women and service-disabled veterans. He told prospective vendors at the workshop that DHS buys products and services for eight major activities:1. Customs and border protection2. DHS headquarters3. Federal Emergency Management Agency 4. Federal Law Enforcement Training Center5. Immigration and customs enforcement6. Transportation and Security Administration7. U.S. Coast Guard8. U.S. Secret Service
A forecast of contracting opportunities is available at DHS' small business website, along with a listing of subcontracting opportunities with large prime contractors. Sturdivant said that OSDBU's outreach program includes small business specialists for each major buying activity, as well as its mentor-protégé program.
Large businesses with good standing in the federal marketplace serve as mentors for small businesses - protégés - that seek contracts with federal agencies such as DHS.
"This kind of program really helps to motivate prime contractors to assist veteran-owned businesses in getting more federal contracting dollars," said Joe Sharpe, economic director of The American Legion. "It also improves the overall performance of contractors and subcontractors working for DHS."
The mentor-protégé program, Sharpe said, helps DHS to expand its base of qualified small businesses to contract with, and will help the department achieve the overall goals of its small business programs.
In addition to DHS, the Legion's Small Business Training Program included presentations by representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Small Business Administration, Department of Treasury, General Services Administration and the Veterans Institute for Procurement.