Doing Business With the Small Business Administration

<@VM>In profile: Lawrence Barrett, chief information officer<@VM>Key Contractors, Contracts at SBA

Top 10 contractors

1. Unisys Corp., $5.4 million

2. Bay State Computers Inc., $4.5 million

3. Base Technologies Inc., $1.9 million

4. Sytel Inc., $1.3 million

5. ASAP Software Express Inc., $1.3 million

6. ITS Services Inc., $1.1 million

7. Universal Hi-Tech Development, $1 million

8. Contemporary Technologies Inc., $1 million

9. Integrated Management Services, $935,000

10. Aquas Inc.,$624,000

Source: Input, based on fiscal 2001 contract obligations.

Address: 409 3rd Street SW, Washington, DC 20416

Telephone: (800) U-ASK-SBA

Web site:

Founded: 1953

Administrator: Hector Barreto

Employees: 3,026 permanent employees, 1,221 temporary employees for disasters

What it does: SBA provides financial, technical and management assistance to help start, run and grow small businesses. It is the largest single financial backer of such businesses, and provides loans, loan guarantees and disaster loans worth more than $45 billion. It also has a venture capital portfolio of $13 billion.

Major subagencies: 93 field offices nationwide

Biggest changes of late

Last year, President Bush signed legislation that temporarily lowers fees on SBA lending programs to help businesses affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. About $600 million was provided for these businesses.

Number crunching

2003 budget: $1.1 billion

2002 budget: $1.1 billion

Things to note
  • The Disaster Loan Program calls for paperless loan application processing to be installed in 2003 to get loans moving through the system faster and cut down on costs.

  • SBA is the lead agency for One Stop Business Compliance Information, one of the 24 e-gov initiatives set forth by the Bush administration. Its aim is to provide information on laws and regulations and possibly offer online permit filing. SBA also is taking part with several other agencies in the integrated acquisition program to get federal agencies to share acquisition information.

  • SBA's Web site is geared primarily for the small business seeking information. After all, that's the agency's job. To do your job, at you will see a link for FedBizOpps. This will take you to the site where SBA opportunities can be found.
  • Lawrence Barrett

    Took the job: May 1997

    Hometown: Robbins, N.C.

    Home now: Silver Spring, Md.

    Family: Wife; two sons, both grown, in Greensboro, N.C.; three grandchildren

    Hobbies: Gardening, travel, now taking up golf.

    Last book read: "Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time and the Deadliest Hurricane in History," by Erik Larson

    Alma mater: Bachelor of science degree in engineering mathematics from North Carolina A&T State University.

    How has IT developed at the agency during your time as the agency's CIO?

    I've seen IT become a focal point within the organization ... capital planning and enterprise architecture are now a way of doing IT business within the agency. It's sort of surprising, because people like doing things on their own. The agency has come together and realized IT needs to be done in coordinated fashion, not as stovepiped separates. I thought it would be a lot more difficult than it has been. ... The thing I like about SBA is that we're able to get things done, we're able to agree and implement things. I like my job here.

    What are the IT challenges the agency faces, as you see them?

    I think we have two. Key is IT security, which everyone faces and deals with. Second is moving forward to implement e-gov initiatives, and not the ones we talk about in a broad sense, but using the Internet more to deliver services. We're doing a good job in getting information out to people; now we want to transact business, complete applications, apply for businesses, etc. A third challenge is upgrading the IT infrastructure to supply staff with the tools they need to be productive in an e-gov environment.

    What do you look for in companies with which you are thinking of doing business?

    We try to do as much business as we can with smaller and minority firms. I try to find what their strengths are. I try to determine if the skills of the key staff in the company match the task we want performed. It gives me more comfort and puts them in a better position to succeed in that task and in additional contracts. ... With larger companies, I look for those that will listen to our requirements and not sell us a generic solution. It's important I find companies willing to listen to what we need and to our approach. SBA charts

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