A 10 year extension program was requested by the Defense Department to help improve the socioeconomically disadvantaged small businesses and strive for defense contracts.
According to Robert Stewart in his DoD News interview, this program began in 1991 and is known as the Small Business Mentor- Protege Program. This aims to nurture small businesses and cultivate technology transfer between the industry and the Defense Department.
The program is in existence for almost 25 years, but still considered as pilot. Moreover, it has to be reauthorized every few years under the National Defense Authorization Act. Through the intermittent reauthorization, Stewart said that this leaves an impression that the program is only temporary. Most likely, it has a chilling effect, especially when the reauthorization schedule approaches.
The request for extension program seeks to provide stability, save department money, and reassure industry.
Participating on the program requires small enterprises to become prime contractors through selecting one out of the 50 participating larger companies. The selection process ensures alignment on the strategic goals of the two companies to make it successful.
The mentoring and training of the larger companies to the small business lasts no longer than three years. After that, the larger company receives credit from the small business goals. For instance the mentoring is provided by a small business development center, procurement technical assistance, black university or colleges and they get the credit four times the actual enterprise participation levels.
After the completion of the agreement, the small business graduate gets the title of a DoD contract’s prime contractor.
Stewart also elaborated their goals of focusing on the criteria, evaluation, and factors to boost the DoD enterprise contracting demands to benefit from the Mentor-Protege. This serves as a conduit to reach the goals of subcontracting small businesses.
Developing a defense acquisition regulation will help in accomplishing these goals, Stewart said.