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DISA Backs Small Businesses Via SETI Vehicle; Carlen Capenos, Christopher Riley Quoted

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Carlen Capenos
Carlen Capenos DISA

The Defense Information Systems Agency initiated steps to remove barriers that restrict small businesses from competing for a potential 10-year, $7.5B contract vehicle for systems engineering, technology and innovation (SETI) support services, Federal News Network reported Tuesday.

Carlen Capenos, director of the office of small business programs at DISA, said the agency eliminated barriers to small business contracting by incorporating feedback during the development of the draft and final solicitation for the SETI contract.

“Two specific examples were the clearance requirement. Generally everything we do in DISA requires a facility site clearance of the prime contractor at time of proposal. That is a huge barrier not only to small businesses but to joint ventures themselves. We removed that barrier and said that we would sponsor that award to a company or joint venture who didn’t have it,” Capenos said. 

“The other thing we did is removed the requirement for the cost accounting certification. Again, we normally require it at time of proposal, but in this case we said you didn’t need it at proposal, you would need it before you did cost contracts. We would sponsor that certification process for you,” she added.

Christopher Riley, SETI program manager at DISA, said the agency also eliminated other hurdles to bring in nontraditional contractors.

“One of the things that was a typical barrier of entry for small businesses was you had to have past performance references related to the Department of Defense. We allowed for past performance references from outside of the DoD, which allowed them to bring historical capabilities to the table when they propose,” Riley said.