Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic celebrated its 50th Small Business Industry Outreach Initiative (SBIOI) April 2 at Trident Technical College in Charleston, commemorating more than 12 years of engagement with industry.
SBIOI gatherings, which are sponsored by the Charleston Defense Contractors Association (CDCA), focus primarily on fostering small business participation in contracting and expanding industry engagement at all levels to increase shared understanding. During 2018, approximately 40 percent of eligible prime contract dollars were awarded to small businesses.
“We are committed to making sure we have strong partnerships so we can maintain our Navy moving forward,” said Chris Miller, NIWC Atlantic executive director. “The beauty and the power of the CDCA is not the fact that we’ve come together, but the fact that we’ve stayed together and are working together.”
Miller opened the golden anniversary session discussing the center’s recent name change and highlighted a number of NIWC Atlantic accomplishments.
“We built a solid relationship…a solid collaborative model here that I think really is a great example of how this is supposed to work across the Department of Defense,” said Miller.
Keynote speaker Department of Navy (DON) Office of Small Business Programs Director (OSBP) Emily Harman also provided remarks during the event discussing key initiatives of her office.
“DON OSBP places a strong emphasis on communication with industry and educating the small business industrial base on how to help us become the Navy the Nation Needs,” said Harman.
As part of the event, senior scientific technical managers (SSTMs) discussed technical growth areas and upcoming technology exchanges between center leaders and industry partners. Leadership from the Expeditionary Warfare Department also held a panel discussion about services provided to Marine Corps Systems Command, their largest sponsor, and upcoming opportunities for industry.
Contracts manager Steve Harnig spoke on the evolution of SBIOI events over the years and the current contracting strategy, initiatives and metrics relevant to industry partners.
“SBIOI meetings are truly a model of collaboration with industry,” said Harnig. “We’re happy to get to 50 and we want to continue getting better.”
Based on the success of SBIOI, representatives from defense contracting firms also have the opportunity to serve on several joint councils and task forces, meeting regularly with NIWC Atlantic contracting and technical leads to reduce obstacles to more effective and efficient ways of doing business.
“The SBIOI provides a great forum for an open and transparent dialogue between industry partners and government technical and contracting leads,” said NIWC Atlantic Small Business Deputy Director Robin Rourk. “These outreach events allow NIWC Atlantic to emphasize a culture of small business inclusiveness in our acquisition strategy.”
SBIOI began in 2006 when NIWC Atlantic was known as Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Charleston, with headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina. Fifty industry partners attended. The events continued through several name changes, mergers with the addition of detachments along the East Coast, as well as the addition of overseas offices in Stuttgart, Germany; Naples, Italy; Rota, Spain; and Manama, Bahrain.
Attendance has grown steadily over the years, with an average of 385 individuals attending each session. Approximately half of SBIOI participants are first-time visitors and half are returning representatives from a wide variety of organizations; many participants travel from outside the region to attend.
As a part of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, NIWC Atlantic provides systems engineering and acquisition to deliver information warfare capabilities to the naval, joint and national warfighter through the acquisition, development, integration, production, test, deployment, and sustainment of interoperable C4ISR, cyber and information technology capabilities.