Thompson to DHS: Give small biz a chance

The Homeland Security Department needs to do more to award contracts to small and midsize technology and information technology firms, the House Homeland Security Committee's chairman said last week.

Small businesses are more flexible than large contractors and can react more quickly to change, said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) at a Nov. 15 breakfast hosted by Crowell and Moring.

"We have a serious problem with the notion [in DHS] that only big people are smart, that only big companies are smart and therefore procurement standards are geared so that only big people can meet that threshold," Thompson told the audience, which consisted mostly of small-business executives.

It is important to make big companies form strategic alliances with small and midsize companies so the companies can be heard before DHS awards large contracts, he added.

"You are going to walk in hand-in-hand." That is the climate we are trying to create, Thompson told the crowd.

He alluded to delays in DHS' Transportation Worker Identification Credential as evidence of large contractors' inability to move quickly. DHS has wasted about $400 million on projects that didn't work because the technology large contractors used failed, and small companies have said that they could have completed the projects with commercial technology, he said.

"We are still buying dinosaurs when some of you know of new ideas to accomplish what we need to accomplish at a far cheaper rate. So that is why we are trying to change the thinking," Thompson said.

Ben Bain writes for Federal Computer Week, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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