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Doan Urges Vets to Compete for Government Contracts

As prepared for delivery


Remarks by
 Lurita Alexis Doan
Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
“Connecting with America’s Heroes” Conference
Washington, DC
November 15, 2006


Thank you very much, Ann. and thanks to all of you for coming.

This is actually our second event in two days aimed at helping businesses owned by vets and service-disabled vets increase their odds of winning federal contracts. Yesterday, our Chief of Staff, John Phelps, spoke at a similar event in Ohio that was also attended by more than 200 veterans.  And some of you may have been with us in Las Vegas in June for the 2nd Annual National Veterans Small Business Conference.

I know Scott Denniston from Veterans Affairs was there.  Its nice to see GSA’s Brad Scott, who heads our Heartland Region and who has been a very key player in our efforts on behalf of veterans, Jim Blanco from the Department of The Army, and Anthony Jimenez from Microtech, LLC.  I hope all of you small business owners were able to participate in the workshop that featured Brad, Jim and Anthony earlier today.

This event – the one yesterday – the conference in Vegas – and many, many more going on around the nation are all part of our on-going initiative to assist the men and women who have served our nation so well.

Two weeks ago I had lunch with a young cadet at the Military Academy at West Point.  Here was a young man, just about to begin his active duty service, who was eager for the challenge and extraordinarily well prepared.  He told me that, “if you are not living on the edge…you are taking up too much space.’’  I have had the great fortune of being in and around military men all my life and I am always inspired by them.  Whether a cadet is just starting out or is a grizzled Retired Sergeant Major…the ‘can-do’ spirit is always the same.  And that is why I am here today.

You must all by now know that under my direction, GSA is boldly moving increasingly large contracts and service opportunities to the small business community, and especially service veterans.  This fiscal year, I expect GSA to spend around $720 million with service veteran companies.  It is a nice start, and I am proud of this good beginning…but it is not even close to what you can expect in the future. 

We will be issuing a VETS GWAC soon that will provide up to $5 billion worth of opportunity over the next ten years for service vet companies.  I am irritated that this procurement is not yet on the street but it has just about cleared all the legal and bureaucratic hurdles.  We will also be issuing one of the largest small business set aside contracts in history that is estimated to be worth between $600 - $800million per year.

I want you to know that I have taken some real heat on my decision to rely on the small businesses to perform increasingly large and complex procurements.  Many have told me that the procurements are too large, small companies do not have the experience; they are not going to be able to do something so big. 

Better, some have claimed that to award these procurements efforts to one of the big companies and ask them to include small companies as subs... My response has been…nonsense!  You know, one of the first things I learned from an Army guy was an acronym that means things are really fouled up.  Let me tell you, some things in government really are fouled up. 

The truth about small companies is far different.  Small firms - and particularly service vet companies - are ready and able to take on bigger challenges. 

Well, this is your chance.  

The nation once called you to service and you stepped forward.  Today I am asking you to do it again.  The nation needs you.  We need that “can-do” spirit and I am putting my faith in you and your abilities to confound the skeptics and pave the way for a profound change in government procurement.

As service members you found ways to adapt, to overcome problems, and you excelled in team work.  You always accomplished the mission.  I am asking you now to apply those same skills. 

Work together on these large procurements; do not be intimidated by the size.  Embrace the opportunity…go for it!  The stakes are high.  There are many in government and in industry who do not think you are up to the task. 

Since none of you could perform all of the work alone, you are going to need to find ways to work together and leverage the skills of other small companies.  I know you can do it because you have done it before... But the stakes are high and I am counting on you to succeed. 

Your success will pave the way for thousands of active duty soldiers, airmen, marines and sailors who one day soon will look to start their own companies once they have completed their military service. 

You are the pathfinders and you will be clearing the way for them.

GSA has a lot of tools to help you.  We have workshops set up, we have put together some real useful tool kits to get you started, and you can always give us a call.  My e-mail is lurita.doan@gsa.gov

I am also going to ask you for something else.  There are lots of great people in federal service, but we could use a healthy dose of the “can-do” spirit that typifies our military today. 

It is my hope that your dedication to mission, to duty, honor, and country will help inspire everyone around you.  

That cadet up at West Point had it just right…”if you are not living on the edge…you’re taking up space...”

Thanks and God bless.