The AZBITC, headed up by Vigilant staff, is gaining ground and starting to make a difference in the Federal contracting landscape in Arizona for Arizona-based small IT and engineering businesses!
The AZBITC was founded by a group of small tech and engineering business owners, all members of the Phoenix Minority Business Development Association, who have noticed the lack of Federal contract awards to "set-aside" contractors for IT and engineering work to be done inside their home state. This lack of awarded work has caused significant consternation among those who have spent exorbitant amounts of time and money to qualify for these programs, yet see over 80% of the work awarded to similar companies based in other states. For example, in 2016 and 2017, over 40% of the set-aside contracts went to Virginia companies, and over 41% were awarded to companies in Colorado, California, Maryland, D.C., and several other states. Since so many contracts for work to be done in Arizona are being won by companies outside the state, the question has become: Why aren’t more Arizona companies getting this business, and how do those set-aside programs help build Arizona’s jobs and economy when most of the work is being awarded to outside companies?
“Set-asides” are programs established by the Federal government to assist small businesses owned by historically disadvantaged individuals – Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned, Women-Owned, Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, SBA 8(a), and others – in improving their economies and providing increased job opportunities across the Federal market.
Research over the last several years has shown that only between 5 and 19% of the available Federal IT and engineering set-aside contract work to be done IN Arizona is being awarded to Arizona set-aside companies. The AZBITC was established as a response to the issue; it functions as a non-profit Business League, focused on improving the Federal IT and engineering contract awards earned by Arizona companies.
Recently, Dan Huffman of the AZBITC Executive Board, spearheaded the effort to reach out to our Arizona legislators in an effort to both raise awareness and also to enlist their aid in spreading the message. Dan met with AZ Senator Catherine Miranda of Arizona’s 27th District, engaging with her to develop her understanding of the issue, and discuss various ways to move forward. Sen. Miranda was very supportive, even going so far as to help get us some time with Sen. Steve Smith’s chief analyst for the Commerce Committee, and also reaching out to her Federal counterpart, Rep. Martha McSally, in support of our efforts. She has been of invaluable service to our efforts in starting the networking among our legislative teams. Our intent is to continue to broaden our research efforts and to get on to the Commerce Committee’s meeting agenda, to give a presentation about our group, the observations we’ve made, how it impacts Arizona’s jobs and economy, and what it is trying to accomplish on behalf of Arizona set-aside companies.
Dan has also been in close touch with Rep. Krysten Sinema’s office, meeting with her District Director, Kendra Burton, and Senior Legislative Assistant, Michael Wong, to discuss the issue, and has received a pledge of support and further investigation into the issue from their office. Another critical meeting was held in Tucson, with C.J. Karamargin, District Director for AZ District 2 in Rep. Martha McSally’s office, who also encouraged and supported our investigation and suggested we work to get the support of the various Chambers of Commerce; we have since reached out to the Tucson Metro Chamber, the Arizona Chamber and the Black Chamber. With their involvement we believe our message will gain ground much faster. We appreciate these legislative teams for the depth they bring to our efforts.
Another dimension that the AZBITC is bringing to the table is the idea of an independent research commission, which will lend serious professional focus to the issue, and we hope will provide the deep detail and data needed to press the message home and reach our goals of the improved Federal contracting landscape in Arizona for IT and engineering small business set-asides. Mr. Huffman has reached out to Dr. Michael Goul and Dr. Dennis Hoffman of ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business with the idea of engaging with them to undertake a research study that would provide the deeper details we seek on the issue; both Dr. Goul and Dr. Hoffman were receptive and interested in our efforts, and our communication with them about the project is ongoing.
Vigilant Technologies is a certified 8(a), Veteran Owned company headquartered in Chandler, Arizona. We provide products, services and enterprise-wide integration of innovative IT solutions to commercial, Federal, State and Local government clients. Our Leading edge services include Private/Hybrid Cloud, Server Consolidation, Virtualization implementation, and Infrastructure Management.
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