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Hanscom directorates team with small business for mission success

Jeffery Emmons, Small Business Office-Hanscom, from left, Peter Kontakos, Small Business Administration -Massachusetts District Office deputy district director, Charles Wingate, General Services Administration Information Technology Commodity Division branch chief,  Brian Carr, Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks Directorate Innovation director , Stanley Grip, Massachusetts Procurement Technical Assistance Center procurement specialist, and Capt. Amanda Rebhi, Program Executive Office-Digital Innovation director, take questions from the audience during the  Hanscom Small Business Panel in Newton, Mass., March 9. The panel discussed support and opportunities for small and non-traditional businesses looking to provide services to the government. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jerry Saslav)

Jeff Emmons, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center-Hanscom Small Business Office director, at left; Brian Carr, Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks Directorate Innovation director, third from right; and Capt. Amanda Rebhi, then-Program Executive Office Digital Innovation director, at right; participate in a Hanscom Small Business Panel in Newton, Mass., March 9. For fiscal year 2020, the Digital and C3I&N PEOs at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., have again awarded significant contract dollars directly to small businesses, breaking previous years’ records. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jerry Saslav.)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. –The two Air Force Life Cycle Management program executive offices based here -- Digital; and Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks -- are continuing their trend of awarding significant contract dollars directly to small businesses.

For fiscal year 2020, the approximate amount that went to small business from these two organizations was slightly over $1 billion, breaking previous years’ records once again.

Jeff Emmons, AFLCMC-Hanscom Small Business Office director, said the results come from the efforts personnel put in, using various market research techniques from “their tool boxes.” Some of those techniques include putting out requests for information, sources sought synopses, and draft requests for proposals, along with holding industry days, “Ask Us Anything” events and one-on-one sessions.

“Program managers and procurement contracting officers conducting the aforementioned activities in identifying capable small businesses, then formulating the appropriate acquisition and contract strategy for PEO and senior materiel lead approval, are truly the keys to our success,” he said.

The PEO for C3I&N, Maj. Gen. Michael Schmidt, thinks that both parties benefit

“I am proud of our C3I&N team’s continued partnerships with small business and start-ups. Leveraging these companies allows us to bring on innovative thought leaders and expertise at reduced overhead costs. It really helps us push the envelope of experimentation, agility, and change which enables rapid delivery of key combat-enabling solutions,” he said.

And as 2020 was a year like no other, a portion of the awards went to small businesses working COVID-19 efforts, from those working on testing equipment to ones ramping up for eventual vaccine production and distribution. Both Digital and C3I&N contracting professionals have been supporting the Department of Health and Human Services with those efforts.

“Small businesses are right in the middle of the fight against COVID-19,” said Emmons. “And for Hanscom, and the Air Force, we want to continue to search out and work with both small and large businesses that can provide us the required services and supplies to improve capabilities for the warfighter and, now, health care personnel as well.”

Not only did the Hanscom organizations exceed the dollar figures of previous years, but this year they also met or exceeded seven of eight socio-economic goals, including HUBZone, small disadvantaged, women-owned, and service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses.

“It’s not just about a small business number,” said Steve Wert, PEO for Digital. “Including small business requires more sophisticated strategies, forcing us to think harder and know our systems and the marketplace better. These small business goals make us better at what we do.”

Wert went on to explain that these small business strategies and goals are just one piece of a broader collaborative approach to problem solving and mission accomplishment.

“Our continuing goal is to work with a healthy mix of very capable major defense companies, agile small businesses, and promising new start-ups. To exclude any of these would mean we’re sub-optimizing our industry teams,” he said.

As each PEO negotiates their own overall small business goals and challenges their personnel to exceed it, Emmons’s advice to them was simple. He encouraged them to reach out to his office and industry early in the acquisition process and to “keep doing what you’re doing.”