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Technology Opportunities with the Federal Government

Remarks by Connie J. Correll Counselor & Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of Technology United States Department of Commerce

Delivered May 27, 2003

Discussion at the Homeland Security Business Forum Hosted by Enterprise Florida Orlando, FL

Thank you Darrell.

It is a pleasure to be here this morning.

I want to thank Enterprise Florida for sponsoring today's forum.

I also want to thank Dr. Albright for his comments. The Technology Administration through our National Institute of Standards and Technology, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with DHS last week. This MOU will enable us to work more closely on standards development and metrology as it relates to homeland security. NIST is the crown jewel of federal labs and has been doing some tremendous work in cybersecurity, biometrics, and interoperability.

I am from the federal government and believe it or not I am here to help.

At the Technology Administration, housed in the Department of Commerce, our mission is to serve as the portal between the technology community and the federal government. We are working to make sure that we have a policy environment that promotes innovation and let's the technology sector grow and prosper.

It is not too different from the mission you have at Enterprise Florida to increase economic opportunities for all Floridians through the creation and retention of quality jobs and the active support of strong and growing businesses....we do it with a national focus.

At the Technology Administration we continue to advocate for funding for research and development, broadband deployment, and a 21st Century education system. More recently, we have been working to help companies, especially small to medium sized companies who don't have the resources to be in Washington, DC, figure out how to sell their technology products to the government. Our role is less of funding source and more of resource by helping to direct companies to the right person/agency.

I don't need to spend too much time telling you, the true innovators, that information technology (IT) has revolutionized our society. We saw it on the battlefields in Iraq where instant information and enhanced surveillance made a real difference. We see it in our economy where, despite some tough times, technology continues to play a key role in economic growth.

Where we don't see it as much is in the federal government. I am fond of saying that the federal government is rushing in to the 20th Century. The government was never designed to be cutting edge but we can and should utilize technology to work smarter, faster and more efficiently than we do today.

The President's Fiscal Year 2004 budget proposal includes $59 billion for new information technology spending for the federal government. This money will be used to implement the President's e-government initiative, invest in new technologies for the government and find, new, innovative ways to protect our national security and our homeland. The President's FY 2004 budget includes about $800 million for Advanced Technology Programs in Homeland Security to support new technologies.

You are smart to be here today because while spending and investment has slowed in the commercial sector there is one big customer with a lot of money...the federal government.

That is where we need your help. As the leading innovators and entrepreneurs you are on the cutting edge of technology, you are developing new solutions, you have the products and services that will help our country.

We have a history of taking new innovations, using them in the government and then turning them over to the commercial sector:

World War II saw the widespread use of Duct Tape to keep moisture out of ammunition cases...the product was commercialized following the war and now is widely used to fix nearly everything.... The Internet developed by the Department of Defense in an effort to network their computer communications....The Gulf War gave us the Global Positioning System (GPS)...a technology that is becoming standard in automobiles.

This was made possible...because unlike in the commercial sector...companies who sell to the government don't have to worry about achieving scale at the start - they get instant scale in the government market. Government isn't just a new market for your products, it can also be the place where a new idea is launched.

With the challenges we face in upgrading the government and in protecting our homeland, now more than ever, we need better technologies.

But how do you tap in to the government market...there are many challenges, and I wish I had an easy answer....

The good news is, that despite the lack of a long-term coherent vision for the acquisition process, recent reforms have revolutionized the way the government does business with the private has improved the process.

Information is just one click away.

At the Department of Commerce, you can log on to from your office in Orlando or Tampa and get access to vital information. You can find out how to get on the Federal Acquisition Regulation website which outlines the government rules and regulations for procuring goods and services. We also post a spreadsheet that outlines the immediate and longer terms needs of the Department...broken down by agency. Most Departments post this type of information so companies can see where budget dollars are being spent.

To help you better understand the needs and mission of the various different departments and agencies, do some research, learn about the different agencies at the Department of Commerce by looking at their websites.

When you meet with procurement officials from Commerce, or any other department, be prepared to discuss how your product or service can help meet their mission. Like in the commercial is about knowing your customer and being able to translate how your product can fulfill a critical mission.

I have brought with me some brochures that our procurement office at DOC puts together....there is some very helpful information contained in it. If you look on the back, it lists each of our bureaus small business specialists. This is a good place to start when you want to discuss how to market and eventually sell to our Department.

Outside of Commerce, there are other resources in which you should be aware: is the single government point-of-entry (GPE) for Federal government procurement opportunities over $25,000. Government buyers are able to publicize their business opportunities by posting information directly to FedBizOpps via the Internet. Through one portal - FedBizOpps (FBO) - commercial vendors seeking Federal markets for their products and services can search, monitor and retrieve opportunities solicited by the entire Federal contracting community.

The General Service Administration, is one of the key places where federal procurement officers, those making the spending decisions, go to get information about products and services. The opportunities for small business are numerous through GSA....70-75% of all GSA contracts (including those for IT) are held by small businesses. If you haven't already you should get your product listed on the GSA schedule.

When it comes to homeland security DHS and other Departments will be looking for a variety of products in these areas:

  • Alerts and Warning technologies
  • Cyber and Information Security
  • Wireless Technology
  • Modeling and Simulation address interoperability, first time responders
  • ELearning
  • Privacy and Security
  • Smart Card Technologies

The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology agency has set up an email to collect information on products in the homeland space: [at] (science[dot]technology[at]dhs[dot]gov).

Probably the biggest piece of advice is to be patient and don't give up. We know that the process can be frustrating, it takes much longer to market to the federal government than it does in the commercial sector because our budget cycle means that our procurement officers have to plan two years in advance. That is a challenge, especially for an industry as dynamic and changing as your industry, where product cycles are significantly less than two years. But, now more than ever, we need your products.

But be patient...use the Internet to do research....look at the budgets for agencies/departments, see where the money is being spent, try to determine the needs and how your product fulfills the mission. From implementing e-government to protecting our homeland....the government will need to make greater investments in technology....we will need cutting edge technology.

In closing... I spent nearly 2 years in Silicon Valley before returning to Washington DC at the end of last year....and these are difficult times for your industry...all industries. But some relief is on the way. The President is expected to sign a $350 billion economic growth package in the coming days, tax payers and businesses should see the benefits from the package as early as July. This was a huge accomplishment and will help kick start our economy, create more jobs, return equity to our markets, and, most important for this community, help get your customers healthy and spending again.

Thank you.

For technical questions concerning the Office of Technology Partnerships, contact us:
Office of Technology Partnerships, NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, Stop 2200, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-2200
Phone: (301) 975-3084, Fax: (301) 975-3482, Email: otp [at] (otp[at]nist[dot]gov)

Created: November 19, 2007

Created December 17, 2009, Updated October 5, 2010