On the Road with ChallengeHER: Lessons Learned - San Francisco Edition

1:55 PM June 20, 2014

By: Ann Sullivan

San Francisco, CA Edition - June 13, 2014

The women business owners in San Francisco are ready to tackle federal contracting.  Based on their questions and enthusiasm, I am counting on the WOSB registry to go up.  A personal highlight of this event was that our champion in Congress, Representative Jackie Speier spoke about the importance of making the WOSB program equitable to other programs by adding sole source authority to the program.  I was ready to conquer the world after her speech.


Lessons Learned:

Here's what I learned from our panelists who were contracting and small business liaisons from the US Park Service, the US Forest Service and the Veterans Administration VISN 21 in the San Francisco area.

  • The emphasis in the local region for the Forest Service is firefighting and services supporting firefighters.  Construction/AE services are the heaviest buy from the Park Service and many contracts fall under the Simplified Acquisition Threshold of $150,000.  Medical supplies are the biggest buy at the local VA hospitals.
  • IT services are bought nationally from all three so calling the local contracting officers won't help.
  • This group of contracting officers is much more interested in getting good responses to Sources Sought notices (fbo.gov) than a general capability statement or capability briefing.
  • Yes, much to my dismay, one of my panelists said "do your homework."  What she meant by that was don't use your contact time with contracting officers to ask basic questions.  Save that for SBA or small business liaisons or resources like WIPP's Give Me 5 programming.  Only contact the contracting officers when you are ready to respond to solicitations and are ready to do business. 

My three panelists were:


Please take a few moments to tell us about your experience at ChallengeHER!



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