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03 May, 2016

Federal Government Panel

Amanda Robbins

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Read time: 2 minutes, 5 seconds

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Pictured above (left to right): Katie Garrett (SMPS DC President), Justin Jacobs, Michael V. Geary (SMPS CEO), Wendy Liebl, Jamila A. Garrett, Daphney Minter, Rick Bond, Seth R. Takoch

Keeping track of federal opportunities can be overwhelming, which made the Federal Government Panel on April 14th a highly anticipated event. With speakers from the Department of Veteran Affairs as well as the National Institutes of Health, attendees gained insight into potential procurement opportunities.

Hosted at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, the event was bustling with A/E/C industry pros eager to network and make strong connections. With a mix of Principals, marketing managers, and directors of business development representing everything from small engineering firms to large multinational A/E firms, there was a lot of incentive to attend and network with industry peers.

As the networking session came to a close and everyone settled down for lunch and learning, SMPS DC President Katie Garrett welcomed the upcoming speakers. We first heard from two professionals who specialize in contracts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH): Jamila A. Garrett, Senior Contracting Officer, and Daphney Minter, Contract Specialist.

With expertise in the creation and award of potential contracts, Garrett had important advice:

  • NIH is constantly doing market research for socioeconomic disadvantaged small businesses, aiming for a small business set-aside as often as possible. Garrett urged the attendees to respond to their Sources Sought Notices.
  • With the current funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Garrett explains that they can only spend funds as they receive them. Often they want to spend the allotments quickly, proving that the funding is truly needed.

As the NIH presentation wrapped up, Rick Bond from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) began his presentation. The Department of VA takes care of the veterans and their families through health care and benefits support. The consistent nature of their work in servicing the nearly 22 million veterans requires their nearly 151 million square feet of facilities to be maintained and renovated.

Bond provided some insight into the VA’s reorganization into five districts, recent contracting change for projects in excess of $100 million, non-recurring maintenance budget, and upcoming A/E IDIQ procurement opportunities. Each being of major interest to the attendees.

After sharing a few major opportunities that the Department of VA is looking forward to in the coming years, Bond explains that market research has become of the utmost importance for their work as well. They had stringent small business goals that were easily met and surpassed in the year prior, and the push for more small business opportunities is consistently growing, as they also rely on market research including sources sought, national conferences, and pre-proposal conferences to gauge need and interest.

As the event wrapped up and business cards were passed, it became obvious that the attendees were able to get useful and important information simply by making personal contact with the federal agencies that have the tips and tricks to winning the next big project.

Amanda Robbins is a marketing coordinator at CallisonRTKL. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in communication focusing in public relations prior to joining the A/E/C marketing industry. She enjoys promoting events and creating social media strategies for SMPS Washington, DC, as a member of the communication/PR Committee.