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NASA Symposium Gives Small Firms Tips On How To Become Subcontractors

By | November 17, 2008

      Leaders of small businesses received extensive tips from NASA prime-contractor officials on how to become subcontractors, during a two-day symposium at a Washington hotel.

      The tips included common-sense guidance, such as jumping to answer the phone if a prime contractor calls with a question.

      Don’t expect to be brought on to a prime contractor team unless you bring something innovative and creative to the table, something that the prime needs urgently to succeed in winning a contract, or in performing under a contract already won.

      Leaders of small firms should be well rehearsed and grounded in their work, so they are ready to answer any questions that primes throw at them. Be ready to reply on short notice.

      Work though the small business liaison office with the agency awarding the contract, the symposium attendees were told.

      Check the Web site of the NASA center handling a contract, the small-firm leaders were advised. Also, work with the prime contractor small business offices to learn of opportunities to become subcontractors or suppliers.

      Also, check requests for proposal and contract award announcements to see which jobs are being handed out, and which contractors might be angling for them.

      Tell the prime how your firm can do it smarter, quicker and faster.

      Recognize that conflicts of interest can arise, and if you already work for a competing firm, a prime may not want you on its team.

      "Sometimes teams don’t want to take a chance with firewalls" within a small firm that are supposed to keep competing efforts from learning about each other’s work, said one representative for a major prime contractor.

      Those advising the small-business leaders included:

      • Jenifer Scoffield, small business liaison officer with Alliant Techsystems Inc., or ATK –
      • Michelle Butzke, who is involved with the Orion spacecraft development program by Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] –
      • Larry L. Smith, supplier diversity specialist with The Boeing Co. [BA] –
      • Bruce G. Emerson, with the contracts and subcontracts office at or
      • Debra R. (Debbie) Batson in financial management – business development with Teledyne Brown Engineering,
      • Joellen Moor, in supplier relations with United Space Alliance (a Boeing-Lockheed joint venture) –

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