Computer Sciences Corp (CSC, El Segundo, CA) began as a small business in 1959, says Diane Dempsey, senior manager for the company's supplier diversity program. "We grew, as many small business do, through subcontracting," she notes with a smile.
CSC has become one of the largest global companies in the IT field, offering services in consulting, systems integration and outsourcing to businesses and government agencies. Some 78,000 professionals in eighty countries work for CSC.
And so do a great many diverse suppliers. "CSC established its supplier diversity program in 1981, and this year its mentor/protégé program will be ten years old," Dempsey reports with pride.
Of the total dollars CSC subcontracted in 2004, 6 percent was spent with MBEs and 7.8 percent with WBEs. The company won an award last June for exceeding the 3 percent government subcontracting goal for service disabled veteran owned businesses.
"There are a great many well-qualified small businesses in the IT sector," Demp-sey says. "We have a tremendous amount of resources in the Washington, DC Metro area. There are small businesses, WBEs and MBEs, Hubzone and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses that are very capable." Since the program started, CSC has developed longstanding relationships and some legacy partnerships, she notes.
Dempsey came to CSC as part of the 2003 Dyncorp acquisition. Others in the supplier diversity group include Addie Olsen, manager of supplier diversity; Annie Martin, federal sector small business liaison officer and Chireda Gaither, mentor/protégé program coordinator.
Dempsey's team works with a variety of CSC groups to help facilitate inclusion. "our mission is to make sure that small businesses have every possible opportunity to participate in our subcontracting opportunities," she says.
Teammates large and small
Part of CSC's winning scenario, Dempsey explains, "is bringing in the best and the brightest small businesses. We reach out to the business community to find other teammates large and small."
Where the teammates are large, she adds, "they are encouraged to use second tier subcontracting to make sure that there's proper inclusion."
A unique supplier database
CSC's supplier diversity group has created its own database focused on companies offering products and services that meet the requirements of CSC customers. "It's been a huge success," Dempsey notes. Small businesses can access it on line and complete a supplier profile; the CSC website (www.csc.com/supplierdiversity) is the point of entry.
"We're very focused on proper certification because it tells a story about a company's past performance," Dempsey explains. "Every company on our team must be risk free. That means solid past performance and qualifications."
Dempsey's team requires SBA certification for small disadvantaged businesses and HUB Zone businesses for federal contracts, and favors NMSDC and WBENC certification for commercial contracts. CSC is a national member of NMSDC and WBENC.
Dempsey, who works in CSC's Chantilly, VA location, is vice-chair of the Northern Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council (NVMSDC), a regional NMSDC affiliate. She chairs its certification committee. Addie Olsen is vice chair for the certification committee of WPEO, the regional WBENC affiliate.
Mentoring in the federal sector
Mentoring is part of the performance equation. CSC has entered mentor/protégé relationships on behalf of a number of agencies in the federal sector, including NASA, DISA, Homeland Security, Treasury, NASA, the Department of Defense (DOD) and SBA.
Congressman Sam Nunn (D-GA) originally created the mentoring program about ten years ago. The idea was inclusion, Dempsey stresses. "All taxpayers should have an equal access to government contracts."
Providing the processes
The original mentor/protégé focus was small disadvantaged businesses. Many of them, Dempsey recalls, "were simply not qualified. They didn't have the infrastructure or marketing skills, an adequate contract department or accounting systems. They simply didn't have the processes in place to compete."
Nunn's idea was to get the large government contractors to tutor the smaller ones. "Prime contractors like CSC have helped grow some really wonderful companies and they in turn have reached back and helped other companies grow," Dempsey says.
Agencies like NASA and the DOD have "extraordinarily complex needs. It's essential for the federal government and prime contractors to broaden the industrial base and promote competition."
CSC has ten current mentees and is reviewing applications from several more. "When you understand that only a third of our business is in the federal sector, I think that speaks very highly of our program," Dempsey says.
The mentor/protégé relationship involves very intense activity, Dempsey notes. "We assign people to the protégé to define areas where CSC can assist them, from a technical standpoint and in building their business infrastructure.
"CSC may include them in internal training, or help them pursue contract management certification. It varies depending on what their needs are." CSC sponsors MBE subcontractors to attend the week-long minority business executive management program at the University of Virginia's Darden school of business. "It's like a mini MBA," Dempsey says. "It helps the companies we're already doing business with, so both benefit."
Dempsey herself teaches business management courses as an adjunct professor. "I'm a big proponent of education," she says.
She also makes a point of including protégé companies in networking opportunities, like the recent tenth anniversary celebration for the mentor/protégé program at the CSC management club. "It's an opportunity for them to meet company people at a lot of different levels," she says.
SaiTech is one of CSC's protégés. The company works on the NASA Stennis Space Center IT services contract. "They've also been a very successful subcontractor with us," Dempsey adds.
Mangala Annambhotla is the president, CEO, and founder of SaiTech, and her husband Krishna Annambhotla is VP, COO, and co-owner. Both Mangala and Krishna hold EE degrees, earned in India and the U.S.
The Annambhotlas worked for Boeing Computer Services on a NASA contract in Huntsville, AL. "At the time of the contract changeover from Boeing to CSC in 1994, I left my job and started our company," Mangala explains. Krishna went to work for CSC as a principal engineer and engineering manager.
Mangala incorporated SaiTech in 1994, and Krishna joined her in 1997, continuing to work for CSC as a consultant. "Soon we had five people doing telecom network engineering on NASA subcontracts from CSC. We continued growing and now we have almost ninety employees at six locations."
SaiTech headquarters moved from Huntsville to Fairfax, VA at the end of 2003. "Our focus is on government and there's more government here," Krishna says with a smile.
SaiTech currently supports CSC on three NASA contracts, one at Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, CA and two at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The first subcontract with CSC started with one person in Huntsville, AL and eventually expanded to forty-five people.
"Even before CSC established a formal mentor/protégé relationship with us, they awarded more work to us because of our good performance," Krishna notes. "They took us on their team as a preferred subcontractor for all new bids. We have fifteen employees at SSC now, and within a few months we'll be adding eighteen more."
SaiTech was an SBA 8(a), but graduated last year. CSC is still the company's largest customer; others include ITT Systems, the DOD and the Defense Contract Management Agency.
Making contact with new clients is a challenging job, Krishna notes. "We go to trade shows and small business conferences, our name gets around by word of mouth, and CSC gives us a good recommendation."
Mentor/protégé conferences are also helpful. NASA conducts some and other government agencies, Homeland Security and HUD, for example, have similar matchmaking conferences.
SaiTech's core is telecom
SaiTech's businesses include telecom and network engineering, management, helpdesk support, antenna systems engineering and network security. Another area of strength is electronic document management and database applications support.