HHS message to contractors: 'ACT' right

A Health and Human Services small business specialist offers advice on how contractors can ACT right and find more success at the sprawling agency.

A Health and Human Services Department small business specialist had a simple and straightforward message for contractors at Washington Technology’s HHS Industry Day recently: "ACT" differently in today’s market.

“I always get blank stares when I say that,” he said. “But let me explain.”

For Dwight Deneal, ACT is an acronym -- Accessibility, Capability and Transferability.


“You have to understand what the procurement landscape looks like at HHS,” he said. “From the 11 operating divisions to the seven staff divisions, know what they buy, how they buy and where they buy IT.”

For example, the vehicle of choice for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is SPARC. At the National Institutes of Health however, it is the NITAAC vehicles such as CIO-SP and CIO-CS.

“You have to make yourself available and accessible through those vehicles,” Deneal said.


“A lot of companies come to us saying they are a jack of all trades. ‘We do IV&V, we do enterprise architecture, we do everything,’” Deneal said.

But that is a mistake in today’s market, according to Deneal.

“What are the real core capabilities of your company,” he said. “What is your sweet spot? Your bread and butter? You need to hone in on your capabilities.”


“You have a variety of past performance around HHS,” Deneal said. “So how does that transfer to other program offices?”

Contractors in today’s market need to know how to take success with one customer and demonstrate how it applies to another customer, he said. That is even within the same agency, according to Deneal.

“If you ACT right and do these things, you’ll find success and HHS and across other government agencies,” Deneal said.