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The Small Contractor's Socioeconomic Conundrum

Monday, March 26, 2012   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Chief Visionary Blog
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I was reading the blog post of an associate the other day that really surprised and concerned me. The title of the blog had me cautiously interested. In reading it, I found what I hoped I wouldn't. 

In a nutshell, the post encourages small government contractors to put more emphasis on socioeconomic designations rather than other factors such as capabilities and experience. In fact, the blog called these designations a "competitive advantage."

While it may (somewhat and sometimes) limit the competitive field, referring to a socioeconomic designation in this way is a slippery slope at best. Too many companies entering federal contracting over the last few years have developed the belief they can simply show up, get 8(a) certified or "vetted" by VA for SDVOSB status, and the skies of federal contract awards will simply open up for them.

As I see it, a socioeconomic designation is an attribute of lesser importance than other factors when it comes down to competing for work. It's something that might distinguish a company from a few other companies who have proven themselves to have let's say, the capabilities, capacity and experience to mitigate risk and deliver.

Yes, I know there is a lot of attention being given to small disadvantaged businesses currently, just look at all of the activity on Capitol Hill that's occurring just in time for elections. Seriously, but for a few exceptions (very few), most of the legislation coming down from the Hill won't amount to anything meaningful for the masses of small contractors trying to earn a living by doing the right thing. As usual. 

What doesn't help this situation is the lot of "other than small" companies required to subcontract to small business concerns who select companies by "checking the box" so they can live up to the small business subcontracting plans they submitted. They foster the mentality that this is the right way to do business here.

But we are talking about misguided approaches to supporting the men, women and organizations who among other things, protect and defend us, right?

Everyone is entitled to their own reasons for becoming a government contractor and there is nothing wrong with making money as a government contractor. However, at the end of the day, it should be about doing the best job possible since that job done well may result in lives being saved or taxpayer dollars being spent more efficiently.
It's about so much more than simply checking the "socioeconomic" box.

At least that's how I see it.


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."


James Fogarty PMP says...
Posted Tuesday, April 03, 2012
As a SDVOSB I would like to see our Socioeconomic designation to be something that highlights us in a positive way or otherwise helps us in our selection for work. Nothing more. I believe the designation is one of our proof points for our patriotism and for our service. But I also agree with you that the bottom line should be our capabilities and experience; skill and experience should qualify us or disqualify us. As most starting small businesses, we partner with those who offer us a hand-up based on our skills and capabilities and who think we are value added. So far our SDVOSB status has not really been a factor, but we still try to use our designation as a positive highlight of previous commitment. We look for SDVOSB opportunities and so far, the skies of federal contract awards have not opened up for us. Thankfully however, our skills and experience have resulted in us being added to tasks and I hope that these were the primary factors for our tasking. Like other SDVOSBs and ve

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