GSA launches new mentor program for small businesses

The agency wants to broaden the base of small businesses awarded contracts, subcontracts

The General Services Administration has started its mentor-protégé program as part of an effort to include more small businesses in GSA contracts, the agency announced today.

Officials want to urge companies to help small businesses in establishing themselves in the federal marketplace and then foster long-term relationships between small and large companies, which often are prime contract-holders, according to a Federal Register notice.

The program includes contracts awarded under GSA’s Multiple Award Schedules program, the notice states.

The program will allow small businesses to become protégés and receive help in their development as federal contractors from large-business mentors. Mentor companies can offer business guidance and share with their protégés lessons they’ve learned along the way. GSA also will allow small businesses that want to mentor other small businesses, the notice states.

A mentor is an established company offering to help small-business subcontractors in being more successful.

GSA expects the program to increase the overall number of small businesses receiving GSA contracts and subcontracts. However, GSA won’t measure the program's success on the basis of awards and dollars alone. Officials plan to consider success as an increase in the number and value of subcontracts awarded to protégé companies by mentors. They also want to see expanded expertise by the protégé firms by seeing them enter industries that have they’ve not traditionally worked in, the notice states.

To encourage companies to be mentors, the program allows contracting officers to look more favorably at bids from mentor/protégés, and they can consider prime contractors' compliance with its subcontracting plans as a factor in evaluating the company’s past performance, the notice states.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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