How to win defence contracts with the Department of Defense

Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) certification and solutions that adhere to the Trade Agreement Act (TTA) will help your company win contracts with the Department of Defense

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Adam Muspratt

Top tips for winning contracts with the DoD

You may remember our article on how SMEs can win and manage defence contracts. This time, we've asked William Hartwell, Vice President, U.S. Federal Government Area, Ribbon Communications, to share tips on working with the Department of Defense. 

Ribbon Communications Inc was recently selected by the DoD to complete the largest Voice Over IP (VoIP) deployment in their history.

Defence IQ: What are some key tips for winning a defence contract and proving that your company is up to the task? 

William Hartwell: One of the major keys to winning defence contracts is to have Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC)-certified solutions that are on the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Approved Product List (APL).

With JITC-certified solutions, the DoD is confident that they are purchasing secure solutions that have been put through the most stringent of tests and are interoperable with other third-party technology, which prevents vendor lock-in and makes it much easier to transition to next-generation technology.

Another tip is that the technology solutions should adhere to the Trade Agreement Act (TAA), which requires all products listed on the General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule Contract must be manufactured or “substantially transformed” in the United States or a TAA “designated country”.

This is another way to ensure that the DoD is receiving quality products and everyone is playing on a level playing field and by the same set of rules.

Defence IQ: Are there any areas the DoD could do to improve working relationships or incentivise other businesses to work with them?

Hartwell: In order to improve DoD working relationships with businesses, it is imperative to provide total transparency to business and industry partners as it relates to the future plans and directions of DoD agencies. A great example of this is that recently some of the larger agencies have begun hosting events like “forecast to industry days”.

Events such as this allow business and industry partners to listen to the roadmap and future direction of DoD agencies and thus tailor their business solutions and products to meet the customers’ long-term needs. 

An expansion of events like this is a great way in which the DoD and the industry can interact and have transparent,  open dialogue, which is critical to ensuring better working relationships between the DoD and its business partners.

Defence IQ: Are more defence contracts available than ever before?

 Even though there has been a substantial increase in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) budget recently, the procurement arm of the DoD is not able to keep pace with the large volume of requests for new contracts and significant budget is going unused.

Defence IQ: What are the different kinds of defence contracts?

Hartwell: There are numerous kinds of defence contracts, but we are increasingly seeing the government invest in large enterprise “as a service” type agreements, in which they can allocate Opex budget (which is much larger) over Capex.

RELATED: SMEs still face barriers to breaking into the defence industry

For example, in the IT Unified Communications (UC) space this type of agreement may allow the government to pay for services on a monthly cost per user basis. This type of contract is very beneficial to the government because it allows them to modernize their IT infrastructure much faster than they potentially could through traditional Capex contracts.

Defence IQ: Is the defence sector friendly for small businesses?

Hartwell: Absolutely. The defence sector is committed to working with small businesses. There are usually mandatory set-asides for small business procurement. In some cases, 30 to 40 per cent of overall program revenue must be dedicated to small businesses.

For more insight on winning contracts, check out this article

must fill manpower gap with civilian contractors