The chapter was proud to host Carlen Capenos, director, Small Business Programs, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), as the guest keynote speaker for its May Small Business virtual breakfast event. Throughout the hour-long event, Capenos provided suggestions and advice on working with DISA and how small businesses can best identify business opportunities.
The Small Business Programs Office serves as the principal advocate for small businesses and the primary advisor to DISA for the small business program. With a staff of five (the largest in DISA history), they seek to educate small businesses and to advocate for maximum small business opportunities to support DISA in serving and protecting the warfighter in cyberspace. As of fiscal year 20, the Small Business Programs Office has set five new records for the allocation of dollars to small businesses, awarding more than $1.74 billion in prime contracts.
Capenos stressed the importance of small businesses doing organizational research prior to meetings with DISA. She recommended several resources to help small businesses start doing their research, beginning with visiting DISA's website (www.disa.mil), specifically the Small Business page (https://www.disa.mil/About/Small-Business). She also recommended reaching out to the Small Business Program Office to request an invitation to DISA 101 Small Business Orientation (a two-hour event held monthly).
DISA also maintains a Forecast of Procurement Actions (updated semi-annually), which is a 24-month forecast of upcoming acquisitions. This can be found at https://disa.mil/NewsandEvents/Events/Forecast-to-Industry-2020.
Capenos ended her discussion by presenting what to expect at meetings and how to differentiate as a company in those meetings. As the director of the Small Business Programs for DISA, Capenos ensures that small businesses are provided with maximum opportunities to participate at both the prime and subcontract levels. She is level III certified in Contracting and has served in numerous roles within the organization. She is a graduate of the North Atlantic Division's Executive Leadership Program, graduated as a fellow in the Excellence in Government Leadership Development Program sponsored by the Partnership for Public Service and completed the USACE Pilot Program for Contracting Personnel. She has also earned a Construction Management Certificate from Auburn University.
The event concluded with a question-and-answer session moderated by Alison Gonzalez, the chapter's Small Business Committee chairperson. Please be sure to check the calendar for details on upcoming chapter events focused on helping small businesses do business with the government.