Notice of Request for Comments on Barriers Facing Small Businesses in Contracting With the Department of Defense

CourtDefense Department
Citation86 FR 50333
Record Number2021-19352
Publication Date08 Sep 2021
Federal Register, Volume 86 Issue 171 (Wednesday, September 8, 2021)
[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 171 (Wednesday, September 8, 2021)]
                [Notices]
                [Pages 50333-50334]
                From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
                [FR Doc No: 2021-19352]
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                DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
                Office of the Secretary
                [Docket ID: DoD-2021-OS-0077]
                Notice of Request for Comments on Barriers Facing Small
                Businesses in Contracting With the Department of Defense
                AGENCY: Office of Small Business Programs, Office of the Deputy
                Assistant Secretary of Defense (Industrial Policy), Department of
                Defense (DoD).
                ACTION: Notice of request for public comments.
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                SUMMARY: The participation of dynamic, resilient, and innovative small
                businesses in the defense industrial base is critical to the United
                States' efforts to maintain its technological superiority, military
                readiness, and warfighting advantage. In furtherance of its efforts to
                maximize opportunities for small businesses to contribute to national
                security, the Department seeks public input on the barriers that small
                businesses face in working with the Department. This input will be used
                to update the Department's Small Business Strategy led by the DoD
                Office of Small Business Programs.
                DATES: The due date for submitting comments is October 25, 2021.
                ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by docket number and
                title, by any of the following methods:
                 Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the
                instructions for submitting comments.
                 Mail: DoD cannot receive written comments at this time due to the
                COVID-19 pandemic. Comments should be sent electronically to the docket
                listed above.
                 Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency
                name, docket number and title for this Federal Register document. The
                general policy for comments and other submissions from members of the
                public is to make these submissions available as they are received,
                without change, including any personal identifiers or contact
                information for public viewing on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov.
                FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Victoria Mundt, Associate
                Director, of the Office of Small Business Programs, at (703) 697-0051
                or [email protected].
                SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
                Background
                 President Biden issued Executive Order (E.O.) 14017, ``America's
                Supply Chains''; E.O. 13985, ``Advancing Racial Equity and Support for
                Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government''; and E.O.
                14036, ``Promoting Competition in the American Economy.'' E.O. 14017
                focuses on the need for resilient, diverse, and secure supply chains to
                ensure U.S. economic prosperity and national security. E.O. 13985
                focuses on identifying potential barriers that underserved communities
                and individuals may face in taking advantage of agency procurement and
                contracting opportunities. E.O. 14036 focuses on reviewing the state of
                competition within the defense industrial base, including areas where a
                lack of competition may be of concern. In support of E.O.s and through
                DoD's Small Business Strategy, DoD is focusing on reducing barriers to
                entry that can reduce critical manufacturing capacity, competition and
                the availability and integrity of vital goods, products, and services.
                 Small businesses play a major role in the DoD's supply chains, and
                they allow the U.S. to maintain its technological superiority, military
                readiness, and warfighting advantages. These companies also play a
                crucial role in ensuring supply chain resilience. Last year, the
                Department awarded a record $80 billion dollars to small businesses
                through prime contracts, of which over $30 billion dollars was awarded
                to small disadvantaged businesses.
                 Still, over the last decade small businesses in the defense
                industrial base
                [[Page 50334]]
                have decreased by more than 40%. Further, a recent survey of small
                businesses conducted by the National Defense Industrial Association
                found that nearly four out of five (77.3%) businesses reported that the
                COVID-19 pandemic impacted them, with 85% of those saying the pandemic
                had negatively affected them. The Department seeks additional insight
                from the public in understanding the impact of the pandemic, as well as
                other negative influences, on small businesses in the defense
                industrial base.
                 This notice requests comments and information from the public
                (specifically small business currently in, or interested in becoming
                part of, the defense industrial base) to assist the DoD in updating its
                Small Business Strategy.
                Written Comments
                 The DoD is particularly interested in comments and information
                directed to the policy objectives listed in E.O. 14017, E.O. 14036, and
                E.O. 13985 as they affect the U.S. and global supply chains. The
                Department is seeking input from small businesses as well as from those
                with relevant expertise on the following topics:
                 i. Government business practices that might inhibit or deter small
                businesses' from producing and/or providing goods, services, and
                materials for DoD requirements, to the detriment of the small business
                sector and in turn the defense industrial base;
                 ii. Regulations and business practices which may strain rather than
                strengthen the relationship between the Department and small
                businesses;
                 iii. The impact of the Department's major programs to support small
                business participation in the defense industrial base, specifically,
                the Mentor-Prot[eacute]g[eacute] Program, Indian Incentive Program,
                Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, the Rapid Innovation Fund,
                Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology
                Transfer (STTR);
                 iv. The use of past performance information during the periods of
                source selection, ongoing performance, and collection of information;
                 v. Increasing the Department's utilization of small business
                innovations;
                 vi. The Department's efforts to assist small businesses that seek
                to do business with the government, including experiences in working
                with the Department's contracting workforce;
                 vii. Contracting timelines and the impact of those timelines on
                small businesses;
                 viii. The availability of skilled labor and other personnel to
                sustain a competitive small business ecosystem;
                 ix. Research, development, and demonstration priorities to support
                production and an advanced manufacturing base for the Department's
                requirements;
                 x. Policy recommendations or suggested executive, legislative,
                regulatory action to foster more resilient supply chains, greater
                competition in the defense industrial base, and/or more small business
                participation during the procurement process;
                 xi. Any additional comments from small businesses relevant to the
                assessment of supply chain resilience required by E.O. 14017, E.O.
                14036, and E.O. 13985.
                 The DoD encourages respondents to structure their comments using
                the same text above as identifiers for the areas of inquiry to which
                they are responding. This will assist the DoD in more easily reviewing
                and summarizing the comments received in response to these specific
                areas. For example, a commenter submitting comments responsive to (i),
                ``Government business practices that might cause deterioration in
                capabilities, to the detriment of the small business sector and in turn
                the defense industrial base,'' would use that same text as a heading in
                the public comment followed by the commenter's specific comments in
                this area. The Department encourages the use of an Executive Summary at
                the beginning of all comments and information to affect a more
                efficient Departmental review of the submitted documents.
                Requirements for Written Comments
                 The http://www.regulations.gov website allows users to provide
                comments by filling in a ``Type Comment'' field, or by attaching a
                document using an ``Upload File'' field. The DoD prefers that comments
                be provided in an attached document. The Department prefers submissions
                in Microsoft Word (.doc files) or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf files). If the
                submission is provided in a format other than Microsoft Word or Adobe
                Acrobat, please indicate the name of the application in the ``Type
                Comment'' field. Please do not attach separate cover letters to
                electronic submissions; rather, include any information that might
                appear in a cover letter within the comments. Similarly, to the extent
                possible, please include any exhibits, annexes, or other attachments in
                the same file, so the submission consists of one file instead of
                multiple files. Comments (both public comments and non-confidential
                versions of comments containing business confidential information) will
                be placed in the docket and open to public inspection. Comments may be
                viewed on http://www.regulations.gov by entering docket number DoD-
                2021-OS-0077 in the search field on the home page.
                 All filers should name their files using the name of the person or
                entity submitting the comments. Anonymous comments are also accepted.
                Communications from agencies of the United States Government will not
                be made available for public inspection.
                 Anyone submitting business confidential information should clearly
                identify the business confidential portion at the time of submission,
                file a statement justifying nondisclosure and referring to the specific
                legal authority claimed, and provide a non-confidential version of the
                submission. The non-confidential version of the submission will be
                placed in the public file on http://www.regulations.gov. For comments
                submitted electronically containing business confidential information,
                the file name of the business confidential version should begin with
                the characters ``BC.'' Any page containing business confidential
                information must be clearly marked ``BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL'' on the top
                of that page. The non-confidential version must be clearly marked
                ``PUBLIC.'' The file name of the non-confidential version should begin
                with the character ``P.'' The ``BC'' and ``P'' should be followed by
                the name of the person or entity submitting the comments or rebuttal
                comments. If a public hearing is held in support of this assessment, a
                separate Federal Register notice will be published providing the date
                and information about the hearing. The Office of the Deputy Assistant
                Secretary of Defense (Industrial Policy) does not maintain a separate
                public inspection facility. Requesters should first view the
                Department's web page, which can be found at https://https://open.defense.gov/ (see ``Electronic FOIA'' heading). The records
                related to this assessment are made accessible in accordance with the
                regulations published in part 4 of title 15 of the Code of Federal
                Regulations (15 CFR 4.1 through 4.11).
                 Dated: September 1, 2021.
                Aaron T. Siegel,
                Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
                [FR Doc. 2021-19352 Filed 9-7-21; 8:45 am]
                BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
                

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