Sandia National Laboratories is offering open houses three times a month to provide a forum for suppliers to talk to staff and contracting experts about doing business with the labs.
Qualified companies are added to Sandia’s Supplier Diversity database and can be introduced at matchmaking events so labs technical staff become aware of capable small businesses. Companies that lack some qualifications are referred for further assistance to the Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC), which are government organizations that help small businesses with federal contracting; and the Small Business Administration (SBA).
PTAP, PTAC and the SBA took it a step further and agreed to attend the open houses to advise people who might not be ready to do business with Sandia. “Having them there has been critical,” notes Del Salazar, manager of Sandia’s Small Business Program and supplier diversity department. “Sometimes companies come in and are not yet in a position to work with the labs. We can say, ‘Here’s a resource that can help you get there.’ PTAP, PTAC and the SBA can help them get SAMS [System for Award Management] registrations, D-U-N-S [Dun & Bradstreet] numbers and help with proposals. They help them navigate the system and grow their businesses to the point that they can do government procurement.”
“It’s been great to open our doors to the community, to give people the opportunity of face-to-face engagement,” said Del Salazar, manager of Sandia’s Small Business Program and supplier diversity department. “Being able to speak to someone instead of just sending off an email is important. We’ve had an exceptionally positive response.”
Sandia’s small-business advocate Eric Lochausen recommends that potential suppliers get familiar with www.sandia.gov, under the “Working With Sandia” webpage, to understand what Sandia buys and how, and to determine if Sandia is the right market for them. He also pointed companies to the following procurement resources:
- Sandia Business Opportunities Website (BOW)
- Dynamic Small Business Search Database (DSBS)
- GSA Schedules Program
- System for Award Management (SAM)
- FedBizOpps (FBO)
- USA Spending
- Federal Procurement Data System
- Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP)
- Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC)
“It takes a lot of preparation and time to do business with the government and its prime contractors,” Lochausen said. “You want to be as well prepared as possible and ready to sell your capabilities, experience, technical expertise, business acumen and financial strength.”
Salazar said Sandia wants small businesses to be successful, and that meeting face-to-face starts a relationship on sound footing. “This is what people have been waiting for, to sit down with someone from Sandia,” she said. “They learn how to do business with us and we learn more about them so we can build our database of interested, capable, qualified suppliers. These are people we’ve met and know something about.”
Lochausen said he expects the open houses to increase the number of small businesses Sandia contracts with. “We have momentum and want to keep it,” he said. “If you’re ready to do government contracting, come talk to us.”
The open houses are on the first Tuesday from 9-11 am; second Wednesday from 1-3 pm; and third Thursday from 2-4 pm, through March 2017. Times can be confirmed by emailing email@example.com.