SBA turns eye on Navy
- By Dan Verton
- Apr 03, 2000
The Small Business Administration last week urged the Navy to disclose the
number of small businesses that could be cut off from future Navy business
once the service awards its $16 billion intranet contract.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development
and Acquisition last week transmitted a "data call" to Navy contracting
offices requesting a list of all small businesses that hold prime contracts
with Navy units. The Navy initiated the data call after SBA expressed concern
that the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (N/MCI) contract, slated for award in
June, may end the chances for many small businesses to sell services to
In an official e-mail obtained by Federal Computer Week, a Navy contracting
official explained that "the small business community is concerned about
lost opportunities to serve the government as a prime contractor resulting
from implementation of N/MCI. Therefore, SBA has requested certain information,
and [the Navy] has agreed to provide statistics on small business firms
that will be displaced by N/MCI."
The N/MCI is designed to serve 700,000 Navy and Marine Corps users.
A single contractor team from among four possible primes will win the deal
when the Navy awards the contract.
Joan Benning, procuring contracting officer for N/MCI, said the philosophy
has always been to include small businesses as major players in the contract.
Small businesses account for 35 percent of the contract, said Benning, adding
that at least 10 percent of the winning prime's top-tier team must be small
"This is a requirement, not a goal," said Benning. She added that the
Navy has various "contractual remedies" it can call on if the prime contractor
does not abide by the small business requirement, including contract termination.
However, "for N/MCI services, there will be a singular [prime] vendor,"
The flap over small businesses has also reached Congress. In a joint
letter sent on March 10 to Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig, Rep. Jim
Talent (R-Mo.), chairman of the House Small Business Committee, and Rep.
Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), chairman of the Government Programs and Oversight
Subcommittee, urged the Navy to halt N/MCI until "prudent planning" has
been completed with respect to small businesses.