Dr. William Nolte, research professor and director of the Center for Intelligence Research and Education, University of Maryland, laid the problems on the line regarding industry and intelligence community organizations during the AFCEA Small Business Intelligence Forum, which took place today in Fairfax, Virginia. Ranging from determining who is in charge to the acquisition process, Nolte forthrightly shared that the many of the systems that facilitate government-industry partnerships are broken.
The U.S. Air Force is redoubling its efforts to reach out to small businesses. David Van Buren, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, and Ronald Poussard, director of the service's small business programs, explain that this effort seeks to remove the "check-the-box" mentality often associated with small business outreach. Innovation, agility, responsiveness and efficiency are some of the attributes small companies offer, but Van Buren also says, "We don't have enough competition now.
The U.S. State Department has made significant changes during the past 12 months to speed up the process of obtaining a license to export defense-related products. License application approval times for items that fall under International Traffic in Arms Regulations have decreased more than 50 percent, from an average of 35 days to 15 days. This is especially good news for small business owners who do not have the revenue flexibility to miss sales opportunities while they slog through miles of red tape.
The credit crunch that has defined the financial meltdown threatens to derail small business activity in the United States. Many small firms rely on credit for everyday operations because they lack the liquidity to fund their business activities. And, potential startups may remain stillborn as entrepreneurs find it increasingly difficult to obtain necessary seed money.