4 tips for getting your first DHS contract
By Alan Boyd Federal Times.com March 10, 2015
Nearly 35 percent of contracts with the Department of Homeland Security in 2014 were held by small businesses. Of the 9,400 small businesses working with DHS, 1,800 were contracting with the agency for the first time.
The lesson: “Newcomers are welcome,” said Kevin Boshears, director of the DHS Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, during a keynote address at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference on March 10. “You don’t have to have DHS past performance to secure a contract.”‘
Boshears, who has been helping small businesses break into the DHS sector since shortly after the agency was established, offered four tips to small businesses looking to get their first contract with DHS, or any agency.
Most of these tips came directly from conversations with small businesses that have succeeded in selling to DHS.
“That’s where I get all my stuff,” Boshears said. “I get it from people who have actually done it.”
1.) Do Your Homework
Research the potential client. Vendors can easily get sidetracked if they’re not properly informed about the agency they want to do business with, Boshears said.
He cited one instance where a representative called DHS for information about an FBI program, wrongly thinking the agencies were under the same roof. Boshears was able to set him on the right path, but the gaffe could have been avoided with some simple research beforehand.
“There’s a wealth of information available these days, many times in electronic form,” Boshears said. “It’s easy to get off track if you don’t do your homework.”
2.) Know Your Contract Vehicles
Understand the difference between different contract vehicles, because that awareness “helps you position yourself,” Boshears said. Smart vendors know which contracts their desired customers favor and do all they can to get their products onto those vehicles.
3.) Participate in Networking
Business opportunities are often borne out of relationships, Boshears said.
“In some way or another these firms [with DHS contracts] participate in some kind of network,” he said. “The key is getting information that’s of use to you.”
For help with Government Contracting: contact your nearest Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Funded through Cooperative Agreements between the U.S. Department of Defense and state and local governments/institutions, PTACs provide free and low-cost assistance in virtually all areas of government contracting.