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Open for Business - Frequently Asked Questions

Q:   I am a small business owner with an established product I want to sell to Homeland Security.  What should I do next?

A: If your product is ready for market, first try to determine if your product is most likely to be purchased directly by Homeland Security or a state or local government. If your product is a candidate for direct Homeland Security procurement, first you'll want to identify those organizations that might potentially buy what you sell. That can be done by:

  1. reviewing the information at the Small Business Assistance Web site to get a better understanding of the small business marketing tools and business information available to assist with your marketing efforts
  2. reviewing the Forecast of Contract Opportunities to get a better understanding of what each organization intends to buy
  3. determining which organizations to market, then preparing a marketing plan and contacting the appropriate Small Business Specialist by e-mail or phone to introduce your company. (Marketing Tips)
  4. scheduling a meeting with the Small Business Specialist through the Vendor Outreach Session Program;or visiting us at one of our National Outreach Activities Conferences
  5. preparing to discuss specific projects or solutions you can provide for the organization
  6. following-up with the Small Business Specialist, and reviewing postings on the Current Contract Opportunities and registering to receive Department of Homeland Security electronic notices through FedBizOpps.

In rare cases, firms may have an innovative and unique idea for which submission of an unsolicited proposal may be the right approach. Before beginning this process, however, you should carefully and objectively assess your idea to ensure that it is, in fact, innovative and unique, and that it is not already commercially available to the government. Unsolicited proposals are offered with the intent that the government will enter into a contract with the offeror for research and development or other efforts supporting the Government mission. Additionally, you should research Part 15.6 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) which provides simple but specific criteria that must be met before an unsolicited proposal can be reviewed. Once you have reviewed these requirements and made the determination that you have a valid unsolicited proposal, then you should submit your proposal to the most appropriate point of contact.

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Q.  I am a small business owner with an idea in the development stage.  Does Homeland Security have any opportunities for small businesses in the Research and Development (R&D) arena?

A: Yes. The Homeland Security Office of Science and Technology offers several programs in the research and development arena. These include opportunities announced as Broad Agency Announcements (BAA) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects. For additional information, please visit the Research Opportunities section of the Department of Homeland Security Web site.

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Q:   I am a small business owner that currently has contracts with federal agencies other than Homeland Security.  How do I best market my firm to Homeland Security?

A: Your efforts in this area should be similar to the other efforts you have undertaken in the past to secure contracts with other federal agencies. According to numerous discussions with small businesses that have been successful in the federal marketplace, typically these firms have undertaken the following efforts:

  • Reviewed all background information
  • Understood the difference between use of pre-existing contract vehicles (such as the GSA Federal Supply Schedule or the DHS Strategic Sourcing Program) and open market buying, then positioned their firms accordingly
  • Insured that the company is registered in the System for Award Management (SAM) database which combines the old CCR and ORCA databases
  • Periodically insured that data is updated to accurately reflect size and socio-economic business status in the SAM, and the Small Business Dynamic Search
  • Participated in small business outreach/networking activities
  • Considered prime contracts, subcontracts, mentor-protégé relationships, and teaming as part of an overall strategy.

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Q: I represent a large business with an interest in finding out how Homeland Security funds grants for state and local governments.  Should I market my firm's services directly to the state and local grant recipients?  If so, how do I identify who they are?

A: Homeland Security provides grant funding through several grants programs. Recipients of the grants funding are primarily state and local municipalities. A listing of grant recipients can be found by contacting the individual state homeland security offices in which you have an interest. Marketing your firm's services directly to the grant recipient may enhance you ability to compete for a state or local contracting opportunity.

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Q:  Does Homeland Security follow the basic federal procurement regulations and small business program?

A: Yes. Homeland Security components follow the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been exempt from the FAR in the past but as of June 23, 2008, a change required by the 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Signed in December 2007 requires TSA to adhere to the FAR. Additional information on TSA's small business program can be found on the TSA Web site.

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