Commerce officials talk priorities, opportunities at WT Industry Day

When you are applying for a job, you want to set yourself above the competition, and a good way to do that is talk to your potential employer and show them what you can do.

That was a key message at Washington Technology’s Industry Day this morning, highlighting the IT priorities, opportunities and challenges of the Commerce Department.

But it is not just that contractors need to talk to their agencies and flaunt their stuff—they have to do it early.

“I can’t emphasize enough that during market research is the time to come in to introduce yourself,” said LaJuene Desmukes, director, office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, Commerce Department.

“If we’re seeing you for the first time as an 8(a) joint venture bidding on a requirement, we’re going to do our best to read your proposal and understand it and grasp what you’re saying, but we’re just reading words on a paper,” she said. “It’s not the same as if you came in and introduced yourself and actually had a meaningful exchange of information with us.”

Similarly, during the market research phase, if you happen to see a work that your company could perform, but it is already being done by an incumbent, you should still introduce yourself and explain how you could be a good match for the work.

“We want vendors to get involved, get engaged,” said DiJon Ferdinand, small business programs administrator, Acquisition Systems, Planning and Policy Branch, Acquisitions Division, U.S. Census Bureau

“When you see us post [a sources sought notice], don’t sit back and read what the lead is and think it’s tailored for a specific vendor,” he said. “The more feedback you can provide us, the better it is. If we already have a vendor in mind, and if we don’t get any feedback, then we won’t know about your capabilities.”

Companies should do this even if the contract they’re interested in has a history of being sole sourced out to another company. However, a company’s best bet if they want to get ahead of the competition is, again, start the conversations early, like during the market research phase, Ferdinand said.

To supplement her words, Desmukes included a cheat sheet of many contract opportunities that are currently active and which contractors can take a look at, including:

  • PIR Sanctuary Support Services (NOAA): RA133C-16-RP-0023; NAICS 541990
  • Budgeting and Financial Management Tool (PTO): PROC1600224; NAICS 541618
  • Conduct Review of Financial Operations for ESA (ESA): YA1323-16-SS-0002; NAICS 541990
  • Survey of Income and Program Participation (Census): Demo-16-020; NAICS 541512

Stay tuned for more information on future WT Industry Days where you will get an opportunity to meet with agency officials in person and have access to all the information given during their presentations. Additionally, WT Insiders receive a discount at these events. Click here for more information on how to become a WT Insider.

About the Author

Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at mhoover@washingtontechnology.com, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.

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