Making the team: CSC wants experience, flexibility in its partners
- By Gary Arlen
- Jul 30, 2005
"We evaluate every business opportunity for small-business inclusion." ? Diane Dempsey of CSC
The scope of a project can change drastically while work is under way. That's why Computer Sciences Corp. relies on experienced subcontractors for many of its government projects.
"We develop a long-term strategic partnership. We foster and nurture small businesses, and we encourage them on current and future opportunities," said Diane Dempsey, manager of the supplier diversity office of CSC's North American procurement operations. Her goal is to support such partnerships so that small businesses "have opportunities to use those skills in a symbiotic relationship."
CSC, ranked at No. 4 on Washington Technology's Top 100 list of federal prime contractors, seeks small-business alliances on all its projects, Dempsey said.
As the largest IT contractor to the Environmental Protection Agency, where it provides managed services, and with several recent Pentagon wins, CSC is accelerating its efforts to recruit small-business partners.
"We evaluate every business opportunity for small-business inclusion," Dempsey said. CSC is looking for a very broad range of IT skills.
The primary entry point for potential subcontractors is CSC's Supplier Diversity Web page (www.csc.com/supplierdiversity). By properly filling out a profile in the CSC database, a prospective partner can show "they can bring value to CSC and our customers," Dempsey said.
"CSC has designed [our] supplier diversity program to assist all categories of small businesses," she said. "We find most small businesses are willing to meet our requirements in terms of site location. They go where the opportunity takes them."
In addition to reviewing candidates on CSC's Web site, Dempsey and her staff review those on the federal government's Central Contractor Registration Web site (www.ccr.gov) to find specific skills. Prospective partners that submit the appropriate information to the CSC and CCR sites let Dempsey and her colleagues identify the best candidates for specific tasks.
TELECOM AND MORE
CSC is focusing on system integration, business process management, networking and telecommunications. It is working on projects involving software suites, including commercial software and several system architecture design programs.
That wide array of projects is another driver for the flexibility that figures so heavily in CSC's strategy.
For example, a networking rollout often requires cabling installation, a construction task that is a growing factor in CSC projects such as intranets and internal backbone operations.
CSC also is working on several emergency telephone system projects and is outsourcing help desk requirements.
The company is outsourcing many of Level 1 support and onsite technician needs to HUBZones and small, disadvantaged businesses, Dempsey said.
Geographic diversity also figures into the partnering equation. As part of a $52 million Defense Department biometrics project issued last November, CSC teamed with several West Virginia small businesses, including Azimuth Inc., Galaxy Global Inc., New-Bold Enterprises Inc. and TMC Technologies, all from Fairmont.
Also on the team are the West Virginia High Tech Foundation and West Virginia University, as well as Galaxy Scientific Corp. of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., and Ideal Innovations Inc. of Arlington, Va. SRA International Inc. of Fairfax, Va., recently acquired Galaxy Scientific.
"We always seek the best partner," Dempsey said. "We always seek excellence. We look for past performance with us, with the customer and with other customers."
There are "some great companies out there, but they are being [pushed] to capacity," she said. For example, a company may employ 20 people, who are all committed to other tasks. If CSC encounters such a situation, Dempsey said, she'll bluntly ask if the prospective partner is available to support the upcoming initiative.
"We cannot plan for everything," she said.
MAKING THE CHECK LIST
CSC managers have a formal process that they use when creating teams, Dempsey said.
"All business managers and proposal managers have some kind of check list. The bottom line is we want best value," she said.
According to Dempsey, CSC evaluates partners in the same way that "government judges us: management skills, technical skills, availability, price."
CSC balances its use of long-term alliances with cultivation of new relationships. A top priority for all partners is financial stability.
"We want to make sure that the partner that starts a program with us finishes it with us," Dempsey said. "It's in the best interest of us and our customer."
Gary Arlen is president of Arlen Communications Inc., a Bethesda, Md., research firm. His e-mail address is