Over the last year the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has been focused on creating contracting opportunities for small business owners. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and HHS welcomes the opportunity to work together.
Certainly the highlight of our year was the high-level small business matchmaking events we conducted in support of the President’s efforts around small business contracting.
On April 13 we held our “Getting Back to Business” event in Atlanta, GA where HHS Assistant Secretary for Administration Ned Holland joined Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed, the General Services Administrator (GSA) Martha Johnson, GSA Region IV Administrator Shyam Reddy and White House Deputy Assistant to the President Michael Strautmanis. More than 130 small and minority business entrepreneurs were registered for matchmaking opportunities and workshops to learn of upcoming contracting opportunities with HHS and GSA. An often heard comment from vendors was how impressed they were that senior government officials were there to support the event and to talk with them.
On June 1 in Raleigh, NC HHS partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency to host “Marketplace”. HHS Region IV Administrator Anton Gunn addressed some 500 small businesses encouraging their interest in doing business with the Department. This event featured several workshops on how to market and do business with Government as well as one-on-one counseling sessions with agency contracting and program staff.
In addition, HHS supported 30 local and regional workshops and 9 national events to educate the small business community on how to conduct business with the Department and connect with agency contracting and program decision makers. In addition to Atlanta and Raleigh, HHS traveled to Miami, Baltimore, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Reno, San Diego and Orangeburg, SC to support small and minority owned firms as well as Minority Institutions of Higher Education (MIHEs). These efforts have led us to exceed last year’s goal in awards to small businesses – following our success in 2010 when we received an “A” on the Small Business Administration “Scorecard”.
We are equally pleased that we continue to see new small businesses winning contracts with HHS for the first time. One of our newest contractors is Dobson, DaVanzo and Associates, LLC, a women-owned small business located in Vienna, VA. They secured a contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that will support a demonstration project under the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). When the vendor was asked what attributed to their success in winning this first contract, they quickly gave credit to their attendance at a CMS Industry Day and the support and encouragement from the HHS Small Business Staff.
At HHS, the support of the Small Business Program is directly related to the strong support it receives from HHS Secretary Sebelius. The Secretary has spoken on several occasions about the need for government to diversify its supplier base in order to create jobs and build wealth in communities that struggle to meet raising healthcare costs.
HHS is proud to work with small business owners. We will assure that the playing field is level for small business – a key part of the Small Business Jobs Act. Ultimately, our economic recovery will be driven by America’s businesses and workers. The HHS team is dedicated to working with small businesses, including assisting them in understanding the government contracting process and how to market themselves to the Department.
Bill Corr is the Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.