Hidden Treasures Within the TechNet Air Agenda

March 3, 2016
By Katie Helwig

My venture to San Antonio is fast approaching and the agenda for AFCEA International's TechNet Air 2016 gets stronger by the day. It's easy to be lured by the obvious draws: Deborah Lee James, secretary of the Air Force; Brig. Gen. Robert LaBrutta, USAF, commander 502nd Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio; Maj. Gen. Jerry Harris, USAF, vice commander of the Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia; Maj. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm, USAF, assistant deputy chief of staff for operations; and Maj. Gen. Roger Teague, USAF, director of Space Programs in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition. Having these power hitters at one conference is worth the price of admission in and of itself.

When you dig deeper, those interested in attending will find other golden nuggets that can provide industry with tangible information and tips that will, perhaps, provide that je ne sais quoi helpful tidbit businesses will need when writing winning proposals for federal contracting work.

On March 22, the inaugural day of the three-day symposium, Robert Smothers, program manager for Network-Centric Solutions-2 (NETCENTS-2), has an hour to provide an overview of the NETCENTS-2 framework and information industry members will need to leverage contract vehicles to support Air Force procurement offerings.

If NETCENTS-2 isn’t part of your procurement portfolio, perhaps participants will attend the Tech Talk at the Outreach Pavilion, presented by Robert Coen, program director for CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business and CIO-CS GWAC Programs. He promises to capture attendees’ attention during his discussion on how industry can best utilize governmentwide acquisition contracts to procure information technology products, services and solutions. This forum's purpose is to inform and engage the government acquisition officers and business capture strategists.

On March 23, Francine Nix, chief of contracting for the Enterprise Services Division, offers another hour-long training session for contracting offers to leverage NETCENTS-2 to fulfill task orders. Although this session is targeted for active government, if I owned a small business, I would make this session a priority to have the opportunity to see procurement from the other side.

Now that you are business-savvy in the contract vehicle procurement framework, take that knowledge and any unanswered questions to the afternoon business procurement roundtable, titled "Contract Vehicles and Small Business Trends." The 75-minute interactive session will foster a collaborative discussion on contract vehicles and small business trends in the federal contracting area. Program managers from NASA Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP, pronounced soup), One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS), the General Services Administration’s Federal Systems Integration and Management (FEDSIM), and NETCENTS-2 will join Murray Sewell, Harris Corporation’s vice president of business development, and Maj. Gen. Roger Burg, USAF (Ret.), for candid discussions on the questions participants ask. The panelists will be prepared to talk about:

  • Proposal strengths and weaknesses
  • Partnering strategies
  • Projections on contract vehicles trends
  • Advice to small business
  • Dates of interest

Sheena Little, procurement center representative for the Small Business Administration office based in San Antonio, moderates.

Perhaps the most valuable session to attend is the networking reception on the exhibit floor, where attendees can visit each exhibitor to engage and discuss lessons learned, strengthen ties with existing contacts and create new contacts.

I hope flights home are late Thursday or early Friday. You don’t want to skip out early and miss the strategic overview on cyber innovation or the new developments on space procurement.

I am excited to visit the Alamo, shop in downtown San Antonio, reconnect with former military neighbors and increase my intellectual acumen in the federal contracting process. 

TechNet Air 2016 runs March 22 through 24 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. See you there!

Katie Helwig is manager of small business programs at AFCEA International.

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