The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is rife with opportunities for the commercial sector, according to panelists discussing ways to do business with the department speaking during the final Wednesday session at the AFCEA International Homeland Security Conference. But companies should be aware that the rules of engagement are changing, or already have changed, in a number of instances, so they should thoroughly research upcoming contract awards. Kevin Boshears, director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, DHS, offered a few examples of the changes. Calling some of these adjustments "scorching hot," Boshears stated that the department has made a conscious effort to make small business participation a part of the acquisition process. "This participation has not been an afterthought and not the only thought but part of the process. And the accomplishments and the work that small businesses have done for us speak volumes," he said. "Some things you can absolutely count on to continue to see are that small businesses will continue to have both prime and subcontracting opportunities," he added. "At DHS, we are going to continue to use a variety of contracting vehicles." Boshears also explained some of the new items companies should examine closely. For the first time in the history of the GSA Schedules Program, federal agencies-including the DHS-haves the authority to do formal set-asides on the GSA Schedule. This change is the result of the amended Federal Acquisition Regulation, which went into effect on November 2, 2011. "That's having a ripple effect across the government," he stated. A key segment of the small business size standards also has changed, Boshears added. As of March 12, 2012, the 54 Series goes into effect. "One of the most commonly used small business NAICS codes is 541611. The current size standard is $7 million if you look it up today. The event that causes it to jump to $14 million is a big change. This also affects large business, because you have to ask for companies' sizes when you're looking for a subcontractor," he related.