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Ins and outs of landing a government contract

By Pam Mellskog
The Daily Times-Call

BOULDER — These days, landing a government contract isn’t such a long shot, according to Theresa Alvillar-Speake, the Washington, D.C.-based director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

During a 30-minute presentation Thursday at the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, she said the Department of Energy alone subcontracted $7.5 billion last year — 50 percent of which was pocketed by small businesses.

“We’re not just asking you to bid for janitorial work,” she added.

Instead, as a multi-program federal agency, the DOE buys a variety of goods and services that range from engineering and research and development to construction, administrative services and security.

She admitted that the government’s notorious paperwork and red tape make recruiting qualified small business candidates challenging. But work is available to those willing to undergo the bidding process.

“You’ve got to do it our way,” Alvillar-Speake explained. “If we ask for you to do it on purple paper with black ink — or the other way around — you’ve got to do it.”

Yet, procurement staffs remain committed to hiring small businesses.

“The trend right now is that we’re getting requests on how to get in with the government,” said Kara Williams, program manager of the small business development center at the Boulder chamber. “There are just so many opportunities with all the federal labs here.”

To that end, DOE has laid out a nine-step process: do your homework; prepare a company profile; find your niche; register your business; be accessible; market your company; be flexible; match and bid; and don’t give up.

“And tell your friends that the federal government is serious about small businesses,” she said.

Pam Mellskog can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 224, or by e-mail at pmellskog@times-call.com.