DISA sets two new agency small business achievement records for fiscal year 2023

By Kashia Simmons / Office of Strategic Communication and Public Affairs
November 6, 2023 

The Defense Information Systems Agency exceeded four of its five assigned goals for fiscal year 2023 – missing the fifth by 0.26%, while exceeding all the federal and United States Department of Defense small business goals. The agency also set two new records in the historically underutilized business zone, or HUBZone, category.

"This year’s accomplishment marks the second highest dollar amount awarded to small business to date and is the result of ongoing collaboration between contracting, small business and program managers across the agency,” said Carlen Capenos, Office of Small Business Programs director.

Photo of Carlen Capenos speaking
Carlen Capenos, Office of Small Business Programs director, delivers a presentation at Forecast to Industry 2023. (DISA photo by Austin Suggs)

The agency awarded $1.86 billion directly to small businesses. This is 29.25% of DISA’s obligations against a 25% goal.

DISA awarded $283 million to HUBZone businesses, roughly 4.4%, setting a record for the agency.

The HUBZone program fuels small business growth in historically underutilized business zones with a goal of awarding at least 3% of federal contract dollars to HUBZone-certified companies each year, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Photo of Carlen Capenos speaking
There are five small business categories: small business, small-disadvantaged business, woman-owned small business, service-disabled-veteran-owned business, and HUBZone small business.

DISA’s Office of Small Business Programs serves as the principal advocate for small businesses and primary advisor for the small business program. It coordinates with stakeholders in and outside the agency to ensure DISA is making the maximum practicable opportunities for small businesses.

Internally, DISA’s small business professionals work with contracting personnel and program offices at the beginning of the solicitation process to consider small business set asides, review sources sought notices, and to help with assessing the market – all with an eye to ensure the agency is executing DISA’s “Small Business First” procedures. The team serves as internal advocates for leveraging small businesses to meet DISA’s contracting needs.

“We are a small business first organization, and we work to help DISA execute this policy,” said Jessica Bathon-Logsdon, DISA small business professional.

DISA’s “Small Business First” policy states that every requirement that comes through the agency for execution is automatically included in the Small Business Program unless and until market research demonstrates that small business cannot execute the requirement.

Just over a year ago, DISA began forecasting its acquisition opportunities quarterly directly from the agency’s public-facing website, DISA.mil, said Christopher Gray, Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization - National Capital Region chief. “Rather than doing it the standard of just once a year, we do it four times a year, once per quarter, and this is a forecast of all requirements that we have that are known across the agency for the next three-year period that are valued at $5 million or more.”

These forecasting efforts were validated externally in the 2023 Federal Business Forecast Scorecard issued annually by the Professional Services Council, a trade association for government technology and professional services contractors, which upgraded DISA’s rating two marks to the highest rating of “good.”

The Office of Small Business Programs also posts monthly acquisition decisions to the DISA home page, which provides updates to any items that were projected on the forecast, as well as any opportunities that were added within the previous month.

 “A strong, dynamic and robust small business sector is critical to the health of our economy,” Capenos said. “Small businesses buttress production of the most cutting-edge technologies and advanced capabilities, bolster our national security, and form an important part of our industrial base. The DOD and DISA recognize that small businesses are a crucial component in our nation’s effort to meet increased challenges from competitors and adversaries that threaten U.S. technological and industrial dominance. Not only are America’s nearly 30 million small businesses the engine of our economy, but they also provide critical goods, services and technologies which actively contribute to the health of the manufacturing and defense industrial base. DISA supports our small businesses with its ‘Small Business First’ policy and considers each requirement first for small business.”

Visit YouTube/@USDISA to watch Capenos' remarks during the 2023 Forecast to Industry.


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