Summary: The United States Department of Defense established the Mentor-Protégé Program in 1990 to provide major DOD prime contractors incentives to those serving as mentors and developing technical and business capabilities in small, disadvantaged, women-owned, and other small businesses. This article provides information on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's Mentor-Protégé program.
By Margo Gasquet, Staff Officer, Small Business Programs Office, NGA
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) awarded a record 18 mentor-protégé agreements in 2011, a testament to building partnerships and the unprecedented growth and success of the program since NGA began participating,” said Small Business Programs Office (SBPO) Director Sandra Broadnax.
The Department of Defense established the Mentor-Protégé Program in 1990 to provide major DOD prime contractors incentives to those serving as mentors and developing technical and business capabilities in small, disadvantaged, women-owned, service-disabled, veteranowned, and historically underutilized business zone small businesses, their protégés. The protégé’s incentive is increased participation as subcontractors and suppliers under DOD contracts as well as long-term business relationships with major DOD contractors.
NGA seeks innovative and unique mentor-protégé agreements that focus on industry support of GEOINT, visualization, tasking, processing, exploitation and dissemination, persistent surveillance, timeline compression, horizontal integration, forward deployment, multi-intelligence and all forms of imagery in the electromagnetic spectrum.
The award process begins with a request for proposal for a stand-alone indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contract, which provides an indefinite amount, within stated limits, of supplies or services during a fixed period. Those interested describe their mentor-protégé approach in an executive summary and submit an overview of their proposed activities, cost estimates and anticipated benefits. In conjunction with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, the NGA small business office analyzes the submission. If approved the office determines the government’s objective based on the mentor’s proposal, the Defense Contract Audit Agency conducts an audit/rate check to validate the mentor’s accounting system and NGA negotiates labor, work hours, cost and milestones. Awards can range from one to three years with extensions possible.
NGA’s Mentor-Protégé Program has produced many success stories highlighting the technology transfer component, in which a mentor helps enhance or modify a protégé’s product or service so it can support NGA and/or other intelligence community missions. The technology transfer component helps build strong prime and subcontractor small businesses. In January the Army selected NGA protégé MicroTechnologies as one of four awardees for the Private Cloud Mobile IDIQ contract, while Air Combat Command awarded them a prime contract for the development and implementation of the Installation Geospatial Information and Services program for Central, Southern and African Commands.
MicroTech is a service-disabled veteran-owned small business. Along with cloud computing, they provide technology services, systems integration, product solutions and unified communications and collaboration. MicroTech and Northrop Grumman participate in a mentor-protégé agreement that began in 2010.
“The success of the mentor protégé program is a direct result of the NGA Small Business Office dedication to NGA’s mission,” said Matthew Markley, Operations and Training
Division director for three-time mentor CTSC, LLC. CTSC mentored Data Management Group in 2007, Stargates, Inc., in 2009 and entered into a third agreement in 2011 with Global Consulting International (GCI). “Everyone benefits from their (NGA’s) leadership and commitment to excellence,” said Markley.
The Air Force recently selected GCI, a small, disadvantaged business, as a prime contractor on the $1.9 billion Design and Engineering Support Program contract. GCI’s focus is on providing engineering services to improve system lifecycle cost, operational life, performance, sustainment, safety and environmental friendliness.
DOD recognizes mentors and protégés who achieve excellence in the execution of their agreements with the Mentor-Protégé Nunn Perry Award. The award acknowledges the protégé’s growth and development along with the mentor’s performance in technical assistance. DOD selected two NGA mentor-protégé teams, IBM Corporation and Foxhole Technology Inc., and SAIC and Vector Planning and Services, Inc., as winners in 2011, and Computer Science Corporation and NVision Solutions, Inc., in 2010.
CSC paired with NVision, a small, disadvantaged business program participant and women-owned company, to provide guidance and direction under the program.
“We recognize the tremendous effort put forth by NVision over the years and the knowledge they bring to bear,” said Bong Gumahad, vice president of CSC’s national intelligence operations. “They continually exemplified the dedication and professionalism we seek in all protégé companies and we are excited about our future endeavors as a team.”
NVision is a subcontractor on NGA’s Global Geospatial Intelligence contract, providing geographic information services that support warfighter needs. Specifically, NVision provides the warfighter feature extraction for mapping systems (mapping intelligence) and two-dimensional and 3-D image extraction that helps warfighters maneuver in theater.
“Our work to support NGA’s challenging mission has pushed us to be innovative with the technology we create and use as well as how we manage and run our business,” said NVision President Socorro Harvey. “We look forward to a continued relationship with both NGA and our mentor CSC.”
The key to the success stories is the technology transfer, said Broadnax. The commitment between the mentor and protégé to develop and/or enhance products or information to strengthen the intelligence community, to process GEOINT in a flash, and to protect national security is immeasurable but critical to the warfighter.
Identifying the technology transfer is a requirement in the executive agreement and transfers range from information assurance and cyber security to remote sensing and GIS solutions and support, just to name a few. Along with the mentor and protégé, DOD and NGA also benefit from technology transfers such as HP Enterprise Services providing a dedicated lab for their protégé Emagine IT in one of NGA’s 2011 agreements. The lab provides proof of concepts, demonstrations, application/database testing and development to NGA for existing, new and emerging technologies resulting in efficiencies, cost savings and better informed decisions on GEOINT analysis of imagery and geospatial data and information. The protégé and mentor gain an increased understanding of NGA’s business area architecture and NGA gains from two companies in a partnership providing expertise and knowledge and winners all around.
The NGA Small Business Programs Office continues to build partnerships by encouraging approved mentors to develop and enhance the capabilities of protégés. Potential mentors and protégés can meet up on NGA’s website at https://www1.nga.mil/Partners/Pages/MentorProtege.aspx.
Editor's note: This article was reprinted with permission from the NGA. It first appeared in the July-August issue of the NGA's Pathfinder Magazine.