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DISA Focuses on Small Business Partnerships

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Office of Small Business Programs hosted a forum designed to educate small business representatives about the latest trends and challenges facing the Department of Defense (DOD) at its Headquarters Sept. 16.

“We believe that when DISA partners with small businesses, it helps the economy grow.” “I love [having] the opportunity to interact with industry to help explain what DISA is trying to do for DOD and how we serve the greater federal government,” said DISA Infrastructure Executive Jessie Showers.

According to Showers, information technology is constantly evolving and everything DISA does supports forces in the field.

The civilian community is accustomed to an information environment of instantaneous access to information and technology, and it is important for DISA to be able provide the same on-demand type of user experience for current and future generations of military personnel.

“Today’s service members grew up with tables and cellphones and instant access to information and technology,” said Showers. “But in the military, there are restrictions and limitations that aren’t’ easily understood.”

To bridge this gap, DISA is focusing on providing more services and capabilities from a customer’s perspective. Showers said that in order to be successful, DISA must begin to understand what, and how customers – mainly warfighters – view the services provided by the agency.

To facilitate becoming more customer-focused, DISA Director and Joint Force Headquarters – DOD Information Networks (JFHQ-DODIN) Commander Army LTG  Alan R. Lynn reorganized the agency in 2015 in order to make it more agile and productive. This reorganization included increasing contracting opportunities for small businesses.

Showers also explained that while there are certain services and capabilities that should be created and maintained by the government, it is often more efficient and cost-effective to offer opportunities to industry – both large small business owners.

“We need you to partner with us to deliver capabilities so that we can get better at providing services to the warfighters. We need your help to evolve technologies,” said Showers.

Showers explained that while DISA is willing to purchase capabilities from private industry, it is imperative that developers disclose the specific capabilities and limitations of their products.

“There’s a tendency [for developers] to oversell the ability of their product,” said Showers. “If [a product] has limits, or there’s work to be done, that’s absolutely okay, we just have to understand the limitations of it and what we have to do to make it suitable for use.  We need your help to understand all the great things that you can do for us, but also, it is just as important for us understand the things that [your product] cannot do. We have to work together to get things done.”

Showers concluded by stating that DISA is looking at how to leverage current and future capabilities in order to provide agile, dependable, and secure services to the warfighters and small businesses may be able to help the agency bring certain capabilities to bear faster.





Published October 11, 2016