DHS opens doors for small biz

The Homeland Security Department (DHS) is reaching out to small and minority businesses to help them get a piece of the action as the new agency builds its infrastructure and deploys technology to protect Americans at home.

DHS has an office that is committed to small and disadvantaged businesses reporting directly to Gordon England, deputy secretary of the department, according to Ashley Lewis, who is in charge of acquisition transition at DHS.

Lewis, who spoke today at the Bureau of National Affairs Inc.'s conference on contracting with DHS, said the position heading the office has not yet been filled, but that the department is committed to helping small and disadvantaged businesses get a foothold there.

She said DHS is working hard to expand the Web page, especially the section on doing business with the agency. Although there is little information right now, she said it would grow to include more details.

Other department representatives echoed her comments at the conference.

While the Transportation Security Administration is exempt from many government procurement requirements, TSA's director of acquisitions, Elaine Duke, said the fledgling agency intends to use the same categories and reporting goals required of others.

"We'll be different where it makes sense but sometimes it doesn't," she said.

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