MCSC’s Office of Small Business Programs
Within the Department of Defense lies a critical component to supporting small businesses in the United States: the Office of Small Business Programs. The program supports and empowers small businesses in five categories: veteran-owned; service-disabled veteran-owned; historically underutilized business zone; small disadvantaged and women-owned.
Marine Corps Systems Command is home to one of those program offices.
MCSC handles the acquisition of equipment and technology Marines need to be prepared and effective in combat. To facilitate these functions, MCSC awards about $2 billion a year in contracts. Approximately $500 million of those contracts are allocated to small businesses, according to Austin Johnson, the MCSC Office of Small Business Programs director. Johnson’s office plays a vital role in helping businesses navigate the process of federal contracts.
“In our advisory role, we advise the senior leadership on small business policy and regulation,” he explained. “I see myself as a mediator between small businesses and the government. Although we can’t award contracts in my office, we can advocate on behalf of the small businesses to the people that do award the contracts.”
On the advisory side, the OSBP provides training for program managers on topics such as the small business utilization in contracts and communicating with industry. Johnson said he encourages the PMs to get involved with small businesses in a variety of ways, including considering opportunities for small businesses at all stages of the acquisition life cycle.
On the small business advocacy side, the program office operates as the “gateway to the command,” and establishing a line of communication with Johnson is key to getting started. He encourages businesses to not only browse through the OSBP website, but to ensure they send an email, as it goes directly to him.
“Once I receive the email in my inbox, I add the information to my vendor file,” he said. “So, all my contract specialists, when they’re doing their market research, have access to it. I can build a [distribution] list so when we’re doing upcoming events, I can send [the business] an invite.”
Along with keeping businesses in the loop, he ensures they have the proper certification before setting up their SAM.gov and SBA Dynamic Small Business Search profiles and collects
capability statements to provide contacts to the right people.
“Once I receive their capability statement, and I verify their capabilities can meet a requirement within the command, I’ll share that with the respective program office,” Johnson said. “They can then request a meeting with me, or if they already know what program they can support, they can ask me to help facilitate a meeting with that particular program office.”
From there, businesses can talk with program managers and contracting officers to find out about upcoming projects, the requirements of the contracts and proposals and a general walk-through of the acquisition process, said Deputy Director of Contracts, Christine Kuney. She added that attending events hosted by MCSC contracting and OSBP is a great way for businesses hoping to work with MCSC to gain valuable insight.
How to do business with MCSC
Small businesses play an important role in keeping MCSC running smoothly, but there are challenges. Kuney feels there are two key factors: federal contracts are nuanced and small businesses usually have one or two focus areas of service. To help address this issue, the OSBP and the Contracting Office offer quarterly Small Business …….