Press Releases

Engaging Energy: How the Energy Department is Helping Small Businesses

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Washington, January 18, 2018 | comments

WASHINGTON—Today, Subcommittee Chairman Rod Blum (R-IA) and the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade heard from Charles R. Smith, the Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) at the United States Department of Energy (DOE).

“Small businesses are integral to the success of the DOE mission and the energy industry; however, the high cost and high technology required in the energy field often leaves small businesses struggling to compete with large corporations,” said Subcommittee Chairman Rod Blum.

“Today’s hearing [addressed] the ways in which DOE is working to minimize the barriers that often exclude small businesses from succeeding in the energy field and highlight the resources the agency offers to small businesses looking to participate in the federal contracting process.”

Energizing Small Businesses: Resources at the Department of Energy

“My focus during my time with this Department is to not only continue to meet our prime contracting and subcontracting goals, but also the subcategory goals like Woman-owned, HUBZone, Service Disabled Veteran and 8(a) disadvantaged owned businesses,” said Director Smith.

While DOE is anticipated to meet its prime small business contracting goal prior to the end of the fiscal year, the Department is currently underperforming in its subcategory goals.  This issue, a concern of the Committee, led Mr. Blum to question, “Is there a plan in place? [Earlier] you said we’re hitting the numbers for the small businesses, but missing the numbers in the subcategories—so, is there a plan in place, or not? If so, can you provide that plan to this Committee?”

Beyond the federal contracting process, the DOE maintains a number of programs aimed at assisting small businesses with navigating the federal contracting process, producing and developing energy products, and competing in the energy industry. Many of these programs are run through the DOE OSDBU. Director Smith laid out an array of resources that the Department of Energy offers for small businesses:

  • DOE hosts an annual Small Business Forum & Expo, connecting small business attendees with DOE offices, power administrations, prime contractors and subcontractors.
  • The DOE Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP) encourages seasoned contractors to provide business development and sub-contracting opportunities to small businesses interested in partnering with the Department.
  • The Small Business Vouchers program (SBV) allows eligible small businesses to tap into the reserve of national laboratory intellectual and technical assets to overcome critical technology and commercialization challenges.
  • The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) program provides the nuclear community with access to technical, regulatory, and financial support. GAIN hosts workshops discussing regulatory review processes, licensing processes, industry consensus standards and Quality Assurance Program development.
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