Mr. McNamara, Program Executive Officer for PEO Submarines, described himself as an advocate of small business, and said that the centerpiece of his advocacy was the SBIR program. In his Requests for Proposals (RFPs) he incentivizes primes to subcontract certain percentages of the work to small business. For example, he contracted with General Dynamics on the Virginia-Class Program demonstrating that small businesses are a high priority and offered a million-dollar “bounty” per hull as an additional incentive fee for contractors who met small-business sub-contracting goals. The Navy owes it to the large prime contractors, he said, to provide real incentives for a policy considered truly important.
He said that attending meetings such as this one was part of his outreach strategy to share SBIR experiences and promote the program. He said that he spoke at conferences for many groups and hosted conferences for women-owned businesses. He also visits laboratories and other activities to suggest how they can get more actively involved in SBIR. In actual SBIR transactions he said he has dealt with about 150 different companies over the past decade. Of those, he found that about one in ten was a company he would take anywhere, on any job; one in ten he would not recommend; and the rest were reasonably competent firms that had not reached the transition stage.
He said that a significant feature of SBIR companies is that “they’re new faces on the landscape. People don’t know them.” He said that many people do not have the confidence to put money into a Phase III with an SBIR company, but his experience has given him the confidence to take that risk. In doing so, he found that the benefits outweighed the risks and that SBIR awards have become his preferred way of bringing competent small businesses and new faces into the submarine contracting community.
He recalled a memo of SBIR suggestions written in 1999 by Under Secretary Gansler and said that his office has followed many of them.37 For example:
August 10, 1999, Memorandum from Under Secretary Jacques Gansler on the SBIR Program. The memo requested the assistant secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, the Acquisition Executive of the U.S. Special Operations Command, and the Directors of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to, inter alia, “issue guidance to your Component’s acquisition program managers to include SBIR as part of ongoing program planning, and to give favorable consideration, in the acquisition planning process, for funding of successful SBIR technologies.”