” …OSDBUs and SBLOs do NOT write statements of work, or award contracts. They can help “guide us through the system”. And, depending upon their “relationships”, they can be extremely helpful in getting to the persons who do the writing and awarding. But the real place where the contracts are “influenced” is at another place. All the “good” OSDBUs and SBLOs will let you know that, from the git go.” – Wilfong
We said we’d get back to the laws and regulations to see what it is that OSDBUs, PCRs and SBLOs were invented for. What’s that about the acronyms? Well, get used to what they stand for. They’re a part of our “Playbook”. They fit in The Process”. In building the relationships that is necessary for success in the federal procurement system, you’re gonna have to do some homework. In building the necessary relationships, there are some “generally accepted principles” that you’re gonna have to learn. Start with the proper use of Acronyms used by the people in the field.
One of the first things you’re gonna need to learn, if you expect to learn from us is, we get a little “preachy”. And, sometimes, “cranky”. If that is unacceptable to you, then, don’t let the door knob hit you on the way out. We do what we do, the way what we do it.
The kind of “Training”, SDBs usually get, starts off a little differently than we’re gonna do. The usual start is with the OSDBUs and SBLOs. But, OSDBUs and SBLOs do NOT write statements of work, or award contracts. They can help “guide us through the system”. And, depending upon their “relationships”, they can be extremely helpful in getting to the persons who do the writing and awarding. But the real place where the contracts are “influenced” is at another place. All the “good” OSDBUs and SBLOs will let you know that, from the git go.
- Program Manager (PM) – Federal employee responsible for delivering results that achieve outcomes that further the agency’s goals and mission. Program Managers encourage prime contractors to subcontract with small businesses by providing incentives in program procurements.
- Contracting Officer (CO) – Federal employee with the authority to enter into, administer, and/or terminate contracts between the Federal government and other organizational entities. Contracting Officers negotiate the terms of the contract, approve subcontracting plans, and review prime contractor compliance.
- Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) – Federal agency organization that ensures small and disadvantaged businesses gain access to procurement opportunities within the agency. The OSDBU also ensures that Small Business Specialists (SBS) effectively monitor subcontracting compliance.
Let’s face a harsh reality, right up front. We’ve given the OSDBUs an unenviable task. Through law, we’re asking them to affect the basic attitude of program-driven managers and the contracting officers who meet their needs. Through law, we’ve asked them to cause their agency people to provide maximum practicable opportunity to firms owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. However, in our zeal for “inclusion”, we must not forget “mission accomplishment”.
We are a strong believer that inclusion can be done without jeopardizing the mission accomplishment. But, we’ve gotta deal with that “practicable” part of Maximum Practicable Opportunity. There are some parameters we’re gonna have to set. Some things we’re gonna have to come to grips with, up front.
“Itty bitty” firms don’t impress, and give comfort to, these folk responsible for programmatic delivery. These folk charged with accomplishing the missions of their agencies, want folk with some background (aka past performances). They want some folk with some size and heft. With some financial stability and wherewithal. At the bottom of the “failure to comfort” impression are the Size and Graduation issues. They spend a long time looking for, training, and growing firms. Then, just when they get ready to make significant use of them, the firms are “graduated” or “exceed the size standard”. Program people don’t particularly like dealing with “newbies”.
These firms they’ve been working with, that they’ve invested a lot of time and resources in, are just right for their size requirement. But they’re too large for the archaic SBA size standard. So, you try to throw a smaller “newbie” on them. You try to convince them that these small, new firms deserve a chance. You throw these “goals” and theories at them. Imagine you’re dealing with NASA, and they’re sending some Astronauts to the Moon and back. The phrase “and back” is absolutely essential to mission achievement folk.
At the end of the day, you got your “programmatic objectives”. But, then they’ve got theirs. Your objective is evidently to promote the cause of “Small size”, even if that size is “too small” for their use. “Un-bundle” the contracts, you say. “Break them down” to more reasonable sizes. “More reasonable” for whom? Get used to it, small has gotta be larger than it used to be.
Will we talk about this on Monday. Absolutely…