Small Business Insights
MONS US Correspondent Marty Kauchak completed a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with David J. “Dave” Dawson, Associate Director of the US Marine Corps’ Marine Corps Systems Command Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) (Marine Corps Quantico, Virginia). The interview is provided below in its entirety.
MONS: First, thank you for taking time to speak with MONS, one of the Monch publications. Tell us about the mission of the Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP).
Dave Dawson (DD): The Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) is the gateway for small businesses. This includes veteran-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, HUBZone (https://www.sba.gov/contracting/ government-contracting-programs/hubzone-program), small disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses. Over the past five years, the command has met or exceeded nearly all of its Federal Small Business targets. Small business and a competitive, healthy industrial base are vital to the long-term success and affordability of the Department of the Navy, as well as to our national security.
The MARCORSYSCOM Small Business Program promotes acquisition opportunities where small businesses can best support the needs of our Marines. Through policy, advocacy and training, we foster industry innovation, technology development, and the acquisition of quality products, services, and solutions from small business providers. Our vision is to ensure small businesses are the first option in the acquisition planning process.
MONS: What is a “small business?”
DD: “Small business concern” means a concern, including its affiliates, that is independently owned and operated, not dominant in the field of operation in which it is bidding on Government contracts, and qualified as a small business under the criteria and size standards in 13 CFR [Code of Federal Regulations] Part 121 (see 19.102). Such a concern is “not dominant in its field of operation” when it does not exercise a controlling or major influence on a national basis in a kind of business activity in which a number of business concerns are primarily engaged. In determining whether dominance exists, consideration must be given to all appropriate factors, including volume of business, number of employees, financial resources, competitive status or position, ownership or control of materials, processes, patents, license agreements, facilities, sales territory, and nature of business activity. (See 15 U.S.C. [U.S. Code] 632.)
Small businesses are considered small businesses based on their primary North American Industry Classification Systems Code (NAICS Codes). The NAICS Code size standards are based on either annual average revenue over three years or average employment (i.e., average number of employees within a year).
“Small business subcontractor” means a concern that does not exceed the size standard for the North American Industry Classification Systems code that the prime contractor determines best describes the product or service being acquired by the subcontract.
MONS: Why are the Marine Corps Systems Command and its affiliated Program Executive Offices interested in small business participation in the service’s acquisition programmes?
DD: First, it is the law! FAR [Federal Acquisition Regulation] 19.201 entitled General Policy states inter alia that it is the policy of the Government to provide maximum practicable opportunities in its acquisitions to small business, veteran-owned small business, service-disabled veteran-owned small business, HUBZone small business, small disadvantaged business, and women-owned small business concerns. Such concerns must also have the maximum practicable opportunity to participate as subcontractors in the contracts awarded by any executive agency, consistent with efficient contract performance. The Small Business Administration (SBA) counsels and assists small business concerns and assists contracting personnel to ensure that a fair proportion of contracts for supplies and services are placed with small business. The costs associated with small business prime contractors are significantly less than the “other than small business” prime contractors. Additionally, small businesses possess capabilities and technology solutions that can fully support the Marine warfighter. The value that small businesses bring “to the table” is similar to what the OEMs provide.
MONS: To follow up, what sets these companies apart from larger prime contractors and original equipment manufacturers?
DD: As previously stated, the costs associated with small business prime contractors are significantly less than the “other than small business” prime contractors. Small business prime contractors are usually more agile and can move rapidly to make decisions within the scope of their contracts. Small businesses provide unique capabilities and technology solutions in support of the Marine warfighter. Who better to support a Marine than a Marine-owned Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business?
MONS: And another follow-up, what is the approximate value of MARCORSYSCOM annual contract dollars awarded to small businesses?
DD: Generally, the command awards more than 30% of its prime contracting dollars to small business. As of this August 23 (the latest data I have) the command has obligated $1.2 billion for contracts – and almost $408 million (31.85%) has been awarded or obligated to small business prime contracts.
MONS: Provide one or two instances of a USMC programme supported by small business.
DD: The original Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle was manufactured by a small business. Small businesses are manufacturing the Ground Renewable Expeditionary Energy System (GREENS) and the Marine Expeditionary Hybrid Power Systems (MEHPS). Small businesses are providing programme management support services as well as providing science and technology solutions under the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programmes.
MONS: Tell us how a small business in a US allied or friendly nation may compete for a USMC contract award.
DD: Within FAR Part 19 entitled Small Business Programs further defines a small business “concern” in terms of any business entity organised for profit (even if its ownership is in the hands of a nonprofit entity) with a place of business located in the United States or its outlying areas and that makes a significant contribution to the US economy through payment of taxes and/or use of American products, material and/or labor, etc. A “concern” includes, but is not limited to, an individual, partnership, corporation, joint venture, association, or cooperative.
As a result, only United States owned small businesses can be classified as a small business and foreign owned businesses cannot submit a proposal under a total small business or socio-economic set-aside.
MONS: Explain how a small business “does business” with your programme office.
DD: The MARCORSYSCOM OSBP assists small businesses understand how to do business with the Marine Corps through small business training or utilising our small business website and our published small business brochure which includes significant information that will assist small businesses in demonstrating their capability to support the Marine warfighter. Small businesses need to focus on their capability and technology solutions not their small business
socio-economic status when marketing their company’s capabilities.
MONS: Your suggestions on how a small business can learn about the USMC small business programme and the contract it desires to compete for, and gain other background insights.
DD: Utilise and navigate on the Command website to include the small business website [listed below] and utilize all of the tools that are provided. MARCORSYSCOM has an acquisition forecast that our small business office will provide to small businesses. Our small business office will host small businesses in our office and provide small business training. Our small business office also participates in small business matchmaking sessions held at the major small business conferences (i.e., Sea Air Space, Navy Gold Coast, Annual Procurement Conference, AUSA, etc.). Our small business office also supports all of the local small business events held by local Chambers of Commerce. Finally, we will also participate when other than small businesses (i.e., large primes) host small business events and they are looking for our participation as speakers and matchmakers.
MONS: List some contact information for you and the office.
DD: David (Dave) J. Dawson
Associate Director for Small Business Programs
United States Marine Corps
Marine Corps Systems Command
(703) 432-3946 – Office
Austin (AJ) Johnson
Deputy Associate Director
Office of Small Business Programs
Marine Corps Systems Command
2200 Lester Street
Quantico, VA 22134
Command Website: http://www.marcorsyscom.marines.mil
Small Business Website: http://www.marcorsyscom.marines.mil/CommandStaff/OfficeO;
MONS: And anything else to add?
DD: We encourage small businesses to participate as exhibitors within the small business pavilion held during Modern Day Marine. It is a great way to demonstrate their capabilities and technology solutions. They can invite the Program Managers to visit them at their exhibit so that they can demonstrate their value. Additionally, exhibitors can attend the General’s briefings and the PM briefings.
MONS: Thank you