Small business remain vital to contractors


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As the complexity of federal IT procurements increase with advancing technology, small businesses can offer important assets to large contractors, particularly if they have agile skills, according to federal agency and market experts.

"Verizon is looking for small business subcontractors to help support its efforts to federal IT services, including backbone networks, 5G wireless and professional services," said Cynthia Eaton, federal small business liaison officer at Verizon, during an April 18 panel discussion at the 29th Annual Federal Procurement Conference in Washington, D.C.

Partnering with another small business or larger contractor has always been an important tactic for small businesses, but it is becoming increasingly important, according to small business contracting experts.

"The government is spending more money, but we're seeing fewer numbers of contracts," said fellow panelist David Loines, director or the Small Business Administration's Office of Government Contracting's Area II Office, which oversees federal procurements in the Washington region.

Contracting with teams that include both small businesses and large contractors is becoming a primary avenue for federal agencies to meet their small business set-aside goals, he said.

House lawmakers are also throwing their support behind small business contractors with the Accelerated Payments for Small Businesses Act, H.R. 2322, which would ensure small businesses working as prime or subcontractors for the federal government are paid within 15 days, rather than the 30-day payment standard.

Small businesses, Loines told FCW in an interview after his presentation, "get" federal contracting mandates such as the General Services Administration's Category Management and Best in Class contracting initiatives. He added, however, that "it can be tougher for small businesses to qualify for Best in Class" vehicles.

Eaton told FCW that small businesses can get access those vehicles by partnering with a prime contractor, leveraging their abilities to fill gaps in the prime's offerings. Verizon, she said, seeks out small business partners for federal IT contracts who have complimentary solutions and integrates them.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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