Recognition of the Defense Logistics Agency's success partnering with American small businesses reached new heights Feb. 15 when it was named Agency of the Year at the sold-out National Small Business Conference in New Orleans.
The honor was presented by the National 8(a) Association and National HUBZone Council. The Small Business Administration's 8(a) program focuses on socially and economically disadvantaged businesses, and the HUBZone program assists those in historically underutilized business zones.
"This is a great honor and recognition of the collaborative and collective work we're achieving in strengthening and deepening our industry engagement with the small business community," said Dwight Deneal, DLA's director of small business programs.
Daily efforts from DLA's acquisition and information technology teams helped make the award possible, he added.
The award was based on DLA's ability to meet fiscal year 2022 small business contracting goals set by the Defense Department and for its history helping small businesses understand and navigate federal contracting processes so they can compete more effectively for contracts.
DLA exceeded its small business goal for the 10th consecutive year in fiscal year 2022 by obligating 39% of its contracts to small businesses against a 35.1% objective. The agency also exceeded its 3% goal in the historically underutilized business zone category for the second consecutive year at 3.5%.
Fiscal year 2022 small business contracts at DLA were worth more than ever at almost $16 billion, said Chris Hall, DLA's deputy director of small business.
Deneal praised DLA small business specialists' work connecting small business owners with contracts for items like spare parts and other consumables that need routine replacement. Aligning small businesses with DLA contracts has become a repeatable process, he added, and the agency is working on new ways to identify businesses capable of meeting unique or sudden requirements.
DLA's Small Business Innovation Program, which uses small businesses to eliminate gaps in parts for weapons systems, is one example of how DLA has become a model for matching vendors with military needs. Contracts for over 500 national stock numbered items have been awarded through the program.
Small business experts throughout DLA are working to overcome the decline in the defense industrial base by increasing contracts with underserved business communities in addition to HUBZones, Deneal added.
The agency's fiscal year 2023 small business goal is 37.3%.