DISA event attracts more than 20 HUBZone-based IT companies
More than 20 Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) firms participated in a showcase hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) at the agency’s headquarters on Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, Feb. 27 and 28.
The event provided an opportunity for DISA employees to learn about the products and services offered by the HUBZone firms, reflecting the government’s desire to increase the percentage of federal contracting dollars that are designated for small businesses.
“Historically, DISA has a stellar small business program with significant small business goal achievements and strong industry engagements,” said OSBP Director Sharon Jones. “It is our intention to increase HUBZone utilization by increasing DISA personnel’s knowledge of the HUBZone program by increasing interactions with HUBZone firms through unique outreach events.”
The Small Business Administration's HUBZone Empowerment Contracting Program was created to stimulate economic development and create jobs in urban and rural communities by providing federal contracting preference to small businesses.
Frank Hameed, president and chief operating officer of Computer World Services, participated in the showcase to support the HUBZone community and represent his company.
Hameed said he believes the increase in the utilization of HUBZone companies is a result of growing confidence in the ability of small businesses to provide products and services that meet the standards set by the federal government.
“Today, more than ever before, there are many highly qualified HUBZone companies that can do very sophisticated information technology work,” said Hameed.
In order to qualify for the HUBZone program, a small business must be physically located in a HUBZone, with at least 51 percent of the company owned and controlled by at least one or more U.S. citizens, or a Community Development Cooperation, or an agricultural cooperative, or an Indian tribe, and at least 35 percent of its employees must reside in a HUBZone.
“HUBZone firms offer a wide array of diverse services and products that DISA requires to pursue its daily mission of providing instant communications,” said Jones. “HUBZone firms bring the value of access to fresh innovation and emerging technologies, the ability to generate pathways to smarter solutions based on experiences, and, finally, the ability to create cost efficiencies without compromising the mission requirements.”
“Small businesses are able to provide many of the same products and services that a large company can provide, but sometimes, they can provide more specific, more detailed services, which can make that particular contract nicely focused as opposed to larger, often more expensive contracts,” said Glenora Keeve, a DISA information technology (IT) specialist who attended the event to learn more about the companies.
Alex Jupiter, president of Jupiter Cybsec, had similar feelings about the benefits of contracting with small business. Jupiter said that from a talent standpoint, small businesses may be more advantaged when it comes to recruiting IT professionals because “younger generations look for small companies because there is more upward mobility [...] we can recruit and get the IT professionals with the right skillset to come in and help DISA.”
On the second day of the showcase, DISA Director and Joint Force Headquarters – DOD Information Networks Commander Army LTG Alan R. Lynn, DISA Vice Director Air Force Maj Gen Sarah Zabel, and members of the Senior Executive Service stopped by and thanked the HUBZone companies in attendance.
“HUBZone companies help DISA achieve its security, mobility, and cyber requirements,” said Infrastructure Executive Jessie Showers. “They have the technical skill that DISA is looking for and these events allow DISA to give back to the community as well.”