Government Contracting Q/A: Disabled Vets
I really enjoyed your article I received through my email. I am currently a Major in the Army Reserves and have been brainstorming on ways to acquire govt. contracts. My background is in logistics but I am open to source anything that is feasible to sustain and operate a small business, similar to your experience you mentioned in the article. I am waiting on my VA disability rating.
Are there set aside contracts for disabled vets and minorities. I have been told that the government has lots of contracts to award, especially for overseas work but not many small businesses are bidding on them. Where do I find this information on available govt.contracts? What would you recommend I do.
Thanks for contacting me. I appreciate that my article is reaching needy and interested military people. Actually, that article, as graciously published by Military.com, is only the first of several pieces/tranches of the Government Contracting info that their Editors are planning to publish for distribution in coming weeks. There should be more to follow shortly. Please look for it. I have also sent it out to the specific military branches at their Recommended Reading Lists agencies, so perhaps you received it there also.
I am a firm believer of collaborative networks for Government Contracting BizDev. That is the only way to capitalize on combined Sweat-Equity, to augment (or in lieu of) investing hard-earned money. These mutual BizDev efforts frequently start out as reactive person-to-person info sharing amongst colleagues & friends (like you and I), and then can later become a proactive informal and formal agreement to work together for mutual benefit. It is always easier to get started together when the entities are of similar Mission, Scope of Work, and Aspirations, since both companies are on fairly equal footing. However, they can still be accomplished when one of the organizations is much larger/broader in nature than the other. There are established Mentor/Protege formats that can help individuals and small start-up companies.
The key is to be creative, innovative, aggressive in marketing, and realize that you do not have to know everything... you just have to learn where to seek the info and make the contacts with the experts who do understand the particular project. You do not have to know how spaghetti is manufactured to become a good cook, for example.
To answer your question...YES, there are government regulations at almost all federal (and most state) government agencies that mandate small business participation goals that must be achieved in awarding fiscal year contracts. As such, certain percentages of government contracts in aggregate must be awarded to the various small & disadvantaged/minority-owned categories of businesses. Further, even when there is not a mandate to award specific government contracts to small/disadvantaged Businesses acting as prime contractors, there is frequently still Dollar & Scope of Work threshholds that trigger requirements for small/disadvantaged business participation or involvement in the open competition contracts awarded to large corporations.
Companies that are classified as Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), and separately to a slightly lesser extent Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB), are very highly sought-after as teammates by larger corporations... when they are being forced to include small businesses in their teams by the Government Contracting Officers and their bidding specifications.
It is (somewhat) regrettable to me that upon retirement from USMC in 1998, that I was in good physical shape and did not need (at that time) to get certified as a Service Disabled Veteran. Since that time, the Veterans Administration has modified their exit/retirement procedures such that military personnel such as yourself can even get certified as Service Disabled Veteran, with a percentage of disability rating of ZERO. This just means that you will not qualify for portions of your retirement pension to be non-taxable & paid by VA (thus your pension would be fully-taxable), but it also means that any company you start up would qualify for SDVOSB status. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you obtain Service Disabled Status (0-100 percent Rating) on your way out the door towards retirement.
Your SME field of expertise, Logistics, is particularly useful in transitioning towards civil service and private company pursuit of government contracts, both from the viewpoint of companies seeking new employees/managers for their programs, and from the viewpoint of starting your own Government Contracting corporation. I have used military logistics knowledge that I gained during my Marine Corps career to lead my aviation consulting company towards successful capture of numerous government contracts that include everything from: acting as middle-man on sourcing & drop-ship products from OEM manufacturers to governmental end-users procuring it; providing logistics support as a technical service to government contract vehicles (e.g. Navy SeaPort-Enhanced Program; Army AMCOM-Express Program; etc.); and even using my military logistics knowledge on contracts related to aviation & air cargo terminal master plan studies for the US Trade Development Agency (USTDA) and Japan's JICA/JBIC organizations.
Thus, you are sitting in the driver's seat for crafting your future post-military career into a government contracting business for yourself. Billions of dollars in government contracts are awarded every year, and out of those, most of them typically must have about 10-20 percent small business participation (e.g. Sm.Biz; SDVOSB; VOSB; WOSB; EDWOSB; 8(a); etc.). Do not get discouraged.
More information is available in my publication You Want To Be A Government Contractor (see links above) . You can usually read the first 15-20 percent of the e-book at most of those sites to get a feel for the huge volume of info/content before buying. Please also have a look at the two videos that I uploaded to YouTube (http://youtu.be/zYTu73t7LiA ) which add some more basic info. Hope some of my commentary here mail helps stir some brainstorms. Please keep in contact and let me hear how you are progressing with your preparations for Retirement & Government Contracting pursuits.
Michael J. Erickson (USMC-Retired)
President, Aviation Management Inc., LLC (AMI)