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On the Road with ChallengeHER: Lessons Learned

posted Apr 22, 2014, 9:01 AM by Ann Sullivan   [ updated Apr 25, 2014, 6:50 AM ]
Department of Energy Edition
By Ann Sullivan

April 17, 2014 -- One of Women Impacting Public Policy's (WIPP) biggest successes, and as the chief advocate, a personal one, is giving women the ability to fairly compete for federal contracts.  ChallengeHER, a program designed to give women the tools and education to access federal contracts, is holding many events across the country to bring contracting expertise to women owned businesses. The program brings women business owners together through WIPP, harnesses the power of the Small Business Administration and leverages the support of American Express Open to provide the program.

It is my honor to moderate at each of these events the panel of agency contracting officers or small business advocates.  Following these sessions, I will do a short blog on what I learned from my panel in the hopes that, even if you didn't attend, you will find useful information.

First up, the Department of Energy, which hosted a Washington, DC event at their own agency.

Lessons learned

1.    Learn the lingo: The laboratories maintained by the Department of Energy are either run by M&Os (Management and Operations) or GOGOs (Government owned and operated). M&Os are run by large prime contractors and GOGOs are run by the DOE itself. 

2.    Because of these differences, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) only applies to the GOGOs. 

3.    If you want to do business at a particular lab it is wise to get to know the community around them.  You don't have to have a physical presence, but you need to show up.

4.    Small business officers will help you with business intelligence on existing contracts and contracts up for renewal.

5.    Each lab is its own island.  Most of the buying is localized rather than at HQ in Washington, DC.  Save your travel money for visits to lab sites rather than Washington DC.

People you need to know

The panelists gave excellent insight and offered to be a reference point for interested women-owned businesses.

Cassandra McMee Stuart, Oakridge National Lab: mcgeecm@ornl.gov
Larry Sullivan, National Energy Technology Lab: larry.sullivan@netl.doe.gov

Don Devoti, Sandia National Lab: lloyd@jlab.org

Danny Lloyd, Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility: lloyd@jlab.org

Next Stop: ChallengeHER Seattle, Washington on April 22, 2014.