Small Defense Firms Provide Big Support for Warfighters
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2005 The Defense Department does much business with large companies, yet smaller firms also make big contributions that help U.S. warfighters accomplish their missions, a senior DoD official said here today.
In fact, small businesses accounted for about 23 percent of all contracts awarded by DoD in fiscal 2004, said Frank M. Ramos, director of the department's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. DoD awarded nearly $47 billion in contracts to small businesses in fiscal 2004 -- a record, Ramos said.
"I'm so impressed in the four years that I've been here of the value and the innovation that small businesses have brought to the forefront - just huge," Ramos said at the conclusion of the 2004 Small Business Awards ceremony honoring DoD's military and civilian acquisition specialists today in the Pentagon.
For example, Ramos said, small defense contractors have up-armored Humvees, provided ceramic plating for anti-ballistic vests and developed the hand-held language-translation device that's used by servicemembers serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the world.
Key speaker Kenneth J. Krieg, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, praised the awardees.
"You, the award winners, have set the standard for innovation, reasonable and intelligent risk-taking," Krieg said, "and that dogged persistence to achieve."
It's important that DoD seeks out ideas from small businesses, Krieg said, since they make up such a large portion of the U.S. economy. In fact, small businesses with fewer than 500 employees employ 52 percent of all American workers, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
"Our small business partners can help us fill gaps in our skill sets," Krieg said, "and also bring a more entrepreneur spirit to the department."
Air Force civilian Elizabeth A. Bryant, a small business adviser at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., was recognized as under the Individual Achievement category - Small Business Specialist of the Year - for doubling her unit's small business contract awards since fiscal 2002.
"I think it's important to DoD to show that small business is capable beyond such a small, confining word as 'small,'" Bryant said. "They are extraordinary in so very many ways.
"This is not an award for me," Bryant said. "This is an award for all the strong, capable small businesses out there."
Other recipients of DoD's 2004 awards included:
Individual Achievement, Reinette Alecozay, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, Small Business Contracting Professional of the Year;
Individual Achievement, U.S. Army Maneuver Ammunition Systems Team: Col. Mark Rider, Bill Sanville, Robert Crawford, Lt. Col. Matt Butler, Robert Kowalski, Mary Crosson, Maj. Bruce Floersheim, and Kimberly Ritacco, Small Business Program Manager of the Year;
Strategic Management System Awards, U.S. Army, Outstanding Small Disadvantaged Business Participation Program;
Strategic Management System Awards, Defense Threat Reduction Agency; Outstanding Small Disadvantaged Business Participation Program;
Strategic Management System Awards, U.S. Army, Outstanding Historically Underutilized Business Zone Program;
Strategic Management System Awards, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Outstanding HUBZone Program;
Strategic Management System Awards, Defense Logistics Agency, Outstanding Support of Women-Owned Small Businesses in DoD Acquisition;
Strategic Management System Awards, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Outstanding Support of Women-Owned Small Businesses in DoD Acquisition;
Strategic Management System Awards, U.S. Air Force, Overall Outstanding Small Business Program Award; and
Strategic Management System Awards, Defense Intelligence Agency, Overall Outstanding Small Business Program Award.