Partnering with IBM in Federal Procurement


As an IBM Small Business Liaison Officer, I often hear one question: “How does a small business enter the federal world of IBM?”

While there is no single measure a small business owner can take to ensure entry into IBM’s federal procurement space, there are four steps they can take to help open the door.

They are:

1. Have capabilities aligned with IBM’s technology procurement focus

IBM Federal focuses on five key areas of technology procurement:

• Cloud,

• Analytics,

• Mobile solutions,

• Security (particularly cybersecurity), and

• Social computing.

We refer to these areas as CAMSS.

If the capabilities of a small business are aligned with these areas, then it’s in IBM Federal’s wheelhouse.

2. Have previous federal procurement experience

While IBM Federal seeks small businesses with CAMSS capabilities, past performance within the federal space, particularly in the areas and agencies that IBM Federal focuses on, is critical.

It is especially helpful to have High Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting ratings for contracts awarded in recent years.

Small businesses that already possess certified/cleared personnel in the four specific procurement areas and agencies that IBM Federal focuses on have a significant advantage.

IBM Federal focuses on:

• U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Intelligence agencies (U.S. Navy/U.S. Army)

• Healthcare (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

• U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Justice

• Federal Civilian (U.S. Department of Energy/General Services Administration/Internal
Revenue Service/U.S. Agency for International Development)

Current examples of how IBM Federal is helping the U.S. government:

IBM is integrating the United States Air Force’s military and personnel pay processes into one system. IBM designed an enterprise resource planning based solution to serve over 500,000 service members. The system will reduce payroll errors by 75 percent.

At the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, IBM’s Watson helps veterans prepare for post-military life. Watson advises veterans on a range financial and life decisions with the “Ask Watson” online tool. So far, Watson has analyzed more than 3,000 documents on topics related to military transitions.

IBM‘s Thomas J. Watson Research Center has received a $1.3 million contract from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security‘s Science and Technology Directorate for research and development work on mobile technology security. The award aims to utilize mobile security management tools to secure mobile devices for the federal government.

The Internal Revenue Service uses IBM’s data analytics and fraud detection system to stop tax fraud. In 2012, the system stopped $14 billion in suspected refund fraud.

3. Help us help you

If you discover a federal procurement opportunity that is in keeping with the focus of IBM Federal, then please reach out to us.

My colleagues in the IBM Small Business Office and I would be happy to put you in touch with the appropriate teams to discuss opportunities, either as a subcontractor or prime.

4. Register with Supplier Connection

IBM’s procurement teams utilize the Supplier Connection database to identify appropriate small businesses for teaming opportunities.

Please be sure to include as much detailed information about your firm as possible in your Supplier Connection profile. When we’re looking for partners, the difference between one supplier and the next could be a capability statement or past performance project showcase.

Raynard Nowden is a Small Business Liaison Officer at IBM. He designs procurement “packages” to permit the maximum possible participation of small, small disadvantaged, women-owned, HUBZone, veteran, and service-disabled veteran owned small businesses in IBM federal contracts.