LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Another look at SBSAs

The article "How does a company challenge small-business set-asides?" [FCW, July 1] provided an enlightening and informative discussion. The legal advice given appeared to represent the best deliberative approach that a large company could possibly take to challenge a small business set-aside (SBSA). Unfortunately, the article provided the correct legal answer to the wrong business question.

Given today's business climate in the federal marketplace, a better question would be, "How does a large business share in the opportunity of an SBSA procurement offering?"

The original question reflects an all-too-common attitude that unfortunately continues to exist in today's evolving government procurement environment, whereas the answer to the restructured question is obvious to many successful large businesses. For example, "good" pre-procurement initiatives might include the development of business strategies that position the large company for successful participation in SBSA procurements. These pre-RFP strategies may include the identification and assessment of small businesses that demonstrate appropriate and successful performance histories on similar contracts; formalizing business relationships with these companies; then pursuing emergent SBSA opportunities with a small business based on these pre-RFP relationships.

Hitting the mule over the head with a stick to get his attention is a self-destructive way for the farmer to plow his field. Sometimes a kinder, gentler approach, such as using a carrot, achieves better results - for the mule, the field and the farmer. This more intelligent approach is epitomized in large-company business development activity that seeks positive cooperation and participation with small businesses, not in legal challenges to the government SBSA procurement policies and practices.

Lee T. Cearley

Mt. Laurel, N.J.

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