During 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District Small Business Office invested in contractors and businesses, hoping the return on investment would pay off in a big way.
It is a very simple investment strategy. If the Corps reaches out to teach contractors about the contracting process and how to do better proposals, the Corps should receive better proposals from more knowledgeable firms, and everybody wins.
The Small Business Office continues to reach out at annual events such as Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) 2014 Small Business Conference, but also held a number of targeted pre-proposal conferences and training events during this year.
“Not only do pre-proposal conferences benefit industry, but they also directly benefit the government by promoting a common understanding of the procurement requirements, the solicitation terms and conditions and the evaluation criteria,” said the Jacksonville District Deputy for Small Business, Beth Myers. “In addition, it provides an opportunity for prime contractors and subcontractors to meet and develop relationships or teaming agreements that may improve contract performance.”
“These events are of great value to both the contractors and the federal government. When we provide detailed information about our requirements to potential offerors and answer their questions, their feedback helps us to improve the solicitation,” said Myers. “When the contract requirements are clear, it helps potential offerors to provide the best solutions to the government.”
A pre-proposal conference was held for the Vegetative Management and Restoration Services procurement, primarily to support the work of the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). This Single Award Task Order Contract, or ‘SATOC,’ valued at $40 million, is an important tool for vegetative management and a 100 percent set-aside for small business concerns. Representatives from several branches worked together to provide information and were on hand to answer contractor’s specific questions. Contract specialist Beau Corbett provided an overview of the solicitation requirements while biologist Jeremy Crossland presented an overview of the scope of vegetative management services. Myers spoke about small business requirements and let small business contractors know where they can find additional information regarding opportunities.
Approximately 40 individuals representing small businesses and their large business partners learned how to submit a winning proposal at the Jacksonville District's first ever pre-proposal event for Architect-Engineering Services. The project is a Small Business set-aside and two contracts should result from this acquisition.
“This is a great opportunity for Small Business firms to learn what the government is expecting to see in their proposals,” said Myers. “The event was also a chance for small business owners to network and learn about requirements for the acquisition process, which can be daunting for small businesses lacking expertise.”
The Construction Contractor Submittal Training held at the Small Business Administration (SBA) in Jacksonville was another highly successful event, attended by approximately 28 small disadvantaged businesses firms.
“As a result of this training, our small businesses will be better prepared and know what is expected of them as they seek to acquire contracts and fulfill our requirements,” Myers said. “We received feedback that the training was outstanding. The Small Business Administration asked if we were willing to take this training on the road to other areas.”
Mile Point Industry Day was another successful event where the Corps provided information to 75 contractor representatives to prepare them to bid on the complex and challenging contract for the Mile Point Reconfiguration project in Jacksonville Harbor.
During the annual Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) 2014 Small Business Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, more than half of the 1,765 conference attendees represented small businesses. Small Business chiefs represented each of the five districts at the South Atlantic Division booth, providing businesses with information about projects throughout the southeast.
The Corps provided several presentations, and Jacksonville District Commander Col. Alan M. Dodd and Myers also spoke one-on-one with several different small groups in a process similar to “speed dating.”
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, met with several small businesses, including Brockington and Associates. This Florida women-owned small business was awarded a contract valued at $1.2 million to conduct an extensive archeological investigation of 15 prehistoric sites in Water Conservation Area 3 and Everglades National Park in the Everglades. This work supports the Everglades Restoration Transition Plan (ERTP) and will provide baseline information for assessing the potential effects of future projects.
Mike Ornella, chief of Military/Interagency and International Services Branch represented the Corps at the Veteran's Administration's Small Business Engagement Conference in Atlanta.
“Several thousand veterans, disabled veterans, and other contractors attended,” Ornella said. “The Corps world-wide was well-represented.”
“Pre-proposal conferences are where we can really get into the weeds of the solicitation requirements,” said Myers. “When we educate our contractors, it not only benefits them, but it also benefits the government and ultimately the people we serve. Going to conferences and holding pre-proposal meetings where we can interact with people are valuable investments.”