By Susan Cersosimo
The 2019 Annual Department of the Navy Gold Coast (GC) Conference was held July 24-26, 2019 focused on “Engaging with Small Business to Fortify National Defense.” In its 31st year, the Gold Coast is the nation’s premier Navy-centered small business procurement event and the only procurement event co-sponsored by the Department of the Navy’s Office of Small Business Programs.
The Navy’s primary purpose in co-sponsoring the event with the San Diego Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) is to educate, guide, and assist businesses in providing vital goods and services to meet government needs, particularly in the Navy and Department of Defense (DoD). Events like this are more critical than ever in light of the 2018 National Defense Strategy to compete, deter, and win across every operational domain through leveraging novel and innovative military technologies including those developed and deployed by small businesses.
In addition to professional networking, workshops and small business matchmaking, attendees also presented new research including how to improve the defense industrial base’s cybersecurity readiness, why micro-small businesses have lagged in compliance with NIST 800-171 and inefficiencies associated with implementing a one-size-fits-all Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). Additional presentations included a discussion related to cybersecurity audits by Vice Adm. Lewis of the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), a briefing on the NIST 171B cybersecurity standards from OSD’s Vicki Michetti, and a question and answer session facilitated by Katie Arrington, CISO for Assistant Secretary for Defense Acquisition regarding “Securing the DoD Supply Chain: Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC).
”Some of the attending government officials included the Honorable Mr. Kevin Fahey, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition (ASD(A), Vice Admiral Michael Moran, Principal Military Deputy to Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition (ASD(A)), Vice Admiral David Lewis, Commander, Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), Rear Admiral Christian Becker, Commander, Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR), Ms. Bridget Gauer, Director, National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment (NITAAC) and Mr. Lee Rosenberg, Director, Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Office of Small Business programs.
Sponsors included Bank of America (Platinum), BAE Systems (Diamond), Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Deltek (Gold) and over 40 small businesses including Unanet, Virtual Computing Technology, BecTech, and Fedvet Construction.Bank of America’s SVP Southeast Regional Government Contracting Specialist, Edward Spenceley, shared that he attended the GC “to add value and insight to the industry in support of small businesses.”
He continues that the conference helps him meet a primary goal: to assist the DoD and other government agencies meet mission objectives while also helping industry partners grow. Among other means, Spenceley’s approach is to increase capture and teaming opportunities for SDVOSB and 8a’s by connecting them with other companies.“ As a leader in the government contracting industry… we have relationships with 75% of the top 200 federal contractors (primes) and about 1/5th of all contractors across the nation – this is a great network for small businesses to leverage.”BecTech’s VP of International Business, Michael Fierro, stated that “As a Women-owned Small Business, BecTech has been a long-time exhibitor at Navy Gold Coast.
The small business focus increases the visibility and profile of small businesses both among peers and interested (larger) major suppliers who are looking to fill out their small business portfolios.” Echoing Spenceley, Fierro shared “the most value gained in attending… is to maintain contact with our current slate of partners and friends, and to make and follow up with new connections for future opportunities. As we are looking into developing several new competencies, we are looking for new teammates and [the GC] is a good place” to find them. He also noted that the NDIA-facilitated presentations were “informative, especially those that address current and emerging issues, such as changes in laws, regulations and policy.
”Finally, the NDIA San Diego Chapter presented its annual “Twice a Citizen Award” given to Reserve Service or National Guard Members from the San Diego Area. Nominees are those who demonstrate outstanding leadership, self-sacrifice, commitment to service and overall performance including professionalism while participating in contingency/support activities outside of drill weekends. This year’s winners were SSgt Carey, LT Rivera, LCDR Saenz, and OSC Silva.
Next year’s Gold Coast themed “Small Business: Providing Innovation for the Navy the Nation Needs,” is scheduled for 31 August – 2 September, 2020 in San Diego.