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Washington Business Journal on sole source: Finding the deep pockets to make change

Friday, December 12, 2014  
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The Washington Business Journal mentioned WIPP in an article on sole source, here is the article




CEO, Summit Insight - Washington Business Journal


 Finding the deep pockets to make change




This is often the time of year when we as business owners take a look at our budgets to come, including all those association memberships. Are they worth it? Think carefully.

So much of the reporting about Congress is about the short game: who's in, who's out, or who had the worst week in Washington. That tends to obscure the fact that real progress on every aspect of doing business with the government is about the long game. Whether you're talking about business development, proposals and contracting, or getting rules and laws changed to make the system work better, the wins go to those who have the deepest pockets and the most persistence. That's a tall order for small business.

When the federal contracting program for women-owned small business was implemented in 2011, it took 11 years of effort and a lawsuit to galvanize action on the original law that approved the program in principle. Even then, the triumph included disappointments for women business owners. Unlike the other small business programs, there were limits on the value of contract that could be awarded through the program, and there was no authority for sole source contract awards.

Fast forward almost four years.

Each year, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) traditionally gets a lot of relatively small provisions tucked into it — basically because it's a bill that has to pass. This year's bill, now in the final stages of making its way through Congress, includes long-sought changes to give the WOSB Program equal footing with the other three small business programs.

How did that happen? A lot of hard, quiet work by several associations, including the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce with the support of the National Women's Business Council, and Women Impacting Public Policy, or WIPP, which is a coalition of groups and individuals representing over 4.7 million businesswomen.

While the defense authorization bill isn't out of the woods yet, its progress is a sharp reminder of an essential relationship: small businesses need to be involved in associations to help advocate for the changes that make federal procurement work better.

So when you look at the value you got from your association memberships this year, ask yourself this: how effectively did those associations advocate your interests on Capitol Hill? How well-informed did they keep you on the issues that affect your business? And, perhaps most importantly, how do they invite your involvement – which they really need to be truly effective?

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