Small business and startups are front and center

Boosting small businesses and software for DoD are priorities for the Biden administration and their nomination for the Defense Department’s technology efforts.  Heidi Shyu, nominated for undersecretary of defense,  recently introduced her priorities to modernize the military during her confirmation hearing. She stated, “In order to rapidly transition the latest software, we need to have an open architecture that isolates the software from the hardware then allows rapid user testing.” (Defense Systems May 26, 2021)

Shyu told the senate that DOD should be investing so that development and procurement are 70% of their costs for a new weapons system. Shyu proposed buying more emerging tech such as artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and hypersonics rather than investing in older systems. Shyu said, “today, sustainment makes up 70% of total weapon system cost, with development and procurement making up 30%.” (ibid)

During Shyu’s hearing, she mentioned small businesses, especially startups working on new technologies, repeatedly. Shyu feels they are necessary for the Defense Department’s success. Shyu did not lose sight of the inability of the acquisition system to shift prototypes into programs. Shyu plans to institute a clear transition path. (ibid)

Shyu said, “part of the reason there is a valley of death for technology is that a lot of the technology programs are being developed by small companies, and unless you had the foresight two years ago to understand that the technology is going to be mature within two years time, by the time you get the money to buy that technology it’s two years old now.” (ibid)

Shyu said, “I saw a six-person company that’s developed any type of fuel as input and the output is a DC-plug. Those are the types of creative, innovative companies we need to nurture. And they are struggling to figure out who to talk to in the DOD.” (ibid)

Are you an innovator or a small business looking to work with the Department of Defense? Give us a call.

 

 

 

 

15% Goal for Small Disadvantaged Businesses

When it comes to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) the Biden administration is making good on its promises. The administration issued an executive order rescinding the Trump administration policies that weakened the diversity, equity, and inclusion training programs at agencies and federal contractors. In addition, the Office of Management and Budget issued a request for information (RFI) searching for DE&I solutions to enhance a number of government activities. (Government Executive May 19, 2021)

This particular RFI appears to be a crowd-sourcing application for policy solutions. It shows that the current administration is very serious about DE&I and their willingness to accept changes and an openness to new and different ways of viewing the inner workings of the government. (ibid)

It appears the administration is looking for better ways to leverage the government’s spending capability. To make sure all receive their fair share and to help close the income, wage, and opportunity gaps. The administration has initiated a 15% goal for federal contract dollars to go to small disadvantaged businesses. Although this looks like a great opportunity it is actually quite hard to measure how many dollars actually funnel through prime contractors to their subs. Figuring out how to measure the dollar flow would be a good start, then putting the 15% goal into effect. Progress is measurable at that point. (ibid)

So where are we today? Can the administration succeed with its DE&I goals? The question becomes, “how do we know?” Steps are clearly headed in the right direction, however, a commitment and a baseline are needed to end up where we want to be.

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