Submitted by Mauricio Vera

Today I spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus conference on a panel entitled “Pipeline to Prosperity: Creating Sustainable Partnerships for Minority Businesses”. The event was hosted by Congresswoman Barbara Lee and the audience consisted primarily of small and minority business owners. I enjoy participating in these events to hear from the firms about their experiences working with USAID or to share information with new firms about the nature of our development work.

At today’s session, I provided a brief overview of USAID and then talked about how we contract out for goods and services. I spoke about the services that my office, the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) provides. We are the advocates for small, minority, women-owned, HUBZone, and veteran owned businesses who are seeking to do business with the agency. USAID follows the Federal Acquisition Regulations and most of our work is performed overseas through task orders off of large Indefinite Quantity Contracts. OSDBU has an aggressive outreach program, we organize monthly vendor outreach sessions where small businesses spend a half day with us learning how to do business with USAID. We also constantly look for other opportunities to meet and dialogue with small businesses and this is an integral part of our internal outreach plan.

“USAID Forward” is a series of new operational reforms undertaken by our leadership and includes Procurement Reform as one of its key strategies. A key objective of the procurement reform strategy is to increase competition and broaden our partner base which includes increasing the use of U.S. small and minority businesses both as prime and subcontractors. We’ve set aggressive targets for both our domestic as well as our overseas contract awards. Transparency and accountability are key components of this reform strategy. Finally, our Mentor Protégé Program assists small businesses in formalizing collaborative partnerships with our large prime contractors