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IAE Assistant Commissioner Eric Ferraro Pens Guest Blog for GSA’s Office of Small Business Utilization

As Chair of GSA’s Veterans Small Business Forum, IAE Assistant Commissioner Eric Ferraro recently published a guest blog post for GSA's Office of Small Business Utilization. Please read more below about Eric and his role with GSA’s Veterans Small Business Forum.

In July of 2015, I joined GSA as the Assistant Commissioner for the Integrated Award Environment, which is one of the initial systems for learning how to do business with the Federal Government (e.g. SAM). I volunteered and was selected to replace Marty Jennings (who is retiring from Federal Service) and first I’d like to thank him for his efforts on your behalf and especially thank you for your Service to our great country as I am honored and proud to be able to support the soldiers, sailors and others who have completed their military service. I am a twenty year Navy Veteran, with tours on a submarine and aircraft carrier, and in the implementation of business information technology systems for the Navy. I also was on the industry side for seven years before joining the Navy as a civil servant in 2005. 

The military’s culture creates leaders well-suited for entrepreneurship.  The military has taught veterans skills such as strategic planning and risk mitigation which prepare them well for business, increasing their chances of success. When I reflect on the personal attributes I looked for in my DoD service, I recognize the same discipline, determination, and creativity these veterans now offer to federal agencies through their small businesses.

That is why I am excited to share with you a brief insight into my role as Chair of GSA’s Veterans Small Business Forum. The Forum is intended to serve the Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) community, with a particular focus on Service Disabled VOSBs, by increasing awareness of the government’s contracting goals with this segment of the commercial marketplace, and advocating on behalf of this community with a goal of increasing its contracting opportunities. In pursuit of long standing GSA goals, we are working to build awareness, recognize success stories, and and foster advocacy efforts in order to link the veteran community with federal buyers and champion small business veteran concerns.

We’ve had success with awards to SDVOSBs under various programs. Our Office Supplies (OS3) Purchasing Channel made three awards to SDVOSBs from a total of 24 awards made., while the One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) SB had 18 awards made to SDVOSBs.  Just last week we sent out an email message to almost 7,000 contacts to promote our Veterans Readjustment and Counseling Services. So while GSA is currently exceeding its goals for small business and SDVOSB contracting for fiscal year 2015, we’re not going to sit back and relax. We are seeking to support the veteran-owned business community through a variety of acquisition mechanisms, including Schedules, Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC) and the pending expansion of our strategic sourcing initiatives. In doing so, we are not striving to reinvent the wheel. My intent is to work closely with an established network of veterans service organizations to maximize our outreach efforts. At the same time, we know that many federal agencies are actively working to achieve and exceed their goals so we’ll be glad to share lessons learned and build upon their success.

I am confident that GSA is well-situated to bridge the gaps that can sometimes arise between federal buyers, even those in the military, and the SDVOSB community. Based on GSA’s decades of experience in forging public-private partnerships across the broad spectrum of federal acquisition activities, I’m certain that we have the tools needed to improve SDVOSB access to federal contracts. I’ve challenged my team to consider how we might improve our outreach, nationally and regionally, to leverage our investments and multiply the benefits for our partners in the veteran-owned business community. Those solutions might be as simple as offering relevant training materials for SDVOSB owners, or webinars for federal buyers. Whatever form those take, we will strive to enhance opportunities for SDVOSBs and draw attention to success stories that will foster increased participation. In any case, GSA stands ready to be the liaison between these stakeholders that will ensure mutual progress in this vital sphere, and I’m proud to be your voice here at GSA!

Visit www.gsa.gov/osbu to learn more!



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