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Supplier Diversity

Northrop Grumman invites diverse suppliers to register

Northrop Grumman has high expectations for its suppliers: certifications, quality and subcontracting plans are key. The rewards include assistance, mentoring and growth


Northrop Grumman Corporation (Falls Church, VA) is a major global security company. It provides government and commercial customers with innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), logistics and modernization.

Northrop Grumman began its supplier diversity program in the early 80s. “When our program started, our focus was on informing management of the new government requirements for supplier diversity, and developing a plan to ensure we had the mechanisms in place to capture data and measure performance,” says Gloria Pualani, corporate director of global supplier diversity programs and government relations. “Our plan included socialization of this new requirement within the company, establishing data collection systems to accurately capture subcontracting performance, and determining how small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses could support our programs.”

Today, Northrop Grumman’s supplier diversity program identifies and engages not only minority and women-owned businesses, but also HUBZone, veteran, service-disabled veteran, disability-owned, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-owned, and AbilityOne program businesses.

Robust tracking and award-winning mentoring
Northrop Grumman spent 12.5 percent of its total subcontracting dollars with minority and women-owned suppliers during the 2013 government fiscal year. “While fluctuations have occurred, this percentage shows steady growth over the past few years,” Pualani notes.

Companies interested in becoming suppliers are encouraged to register at the company’s supplier portal, oasis.northgrum.com/corp/supplier_information.htm to be considered for future subcontracting or teaming opportunities. Supplier information entered there is reviewed and routed to the relevant business unit for consideration, Pualani explains. The supplier information is updated daily and made available to the procurement, technical and program management organizations.

“We also consider recommendations from our customers, other companies, trade associations, our own technical and program management, protégé companies and other suppliers,” Pualani adds. “And we conduct commodity, program and small business category-specific outreach to find suppliers that complement our programs and can be developed into long-term strategic partners.”

Supplier requirements and perks
Suppliers are expected to maintain the certifications appropriate to their areas of expertise, as well as any other certifications required by Northrop Grumman’s government customers, she says.

Through Northrop Grumman’s mentor-protégé program, small companies receive formal training and informal coaching, Pualani reports. The program is administered in partnership with government agencies like the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Navy, Department of the Treasury, and the state of Texas.

“In 2013, we maintained fourteen active mentor-protégé agreements with small companies that covered a wide geographic area and a broad set of disciplines,” she notes. “We have mentored more than 120 companies since 1992. Northrop Grumman’s mentor-protégé program is aligned with current programs and government objectives for best results.”

As a testament to the program’s success, Northrop Grumman has received twenty-two DoD Nunn-Perry awards, named in honor of former Senator Sam Nunn and former Secretary of Defense William Perry. These awards are the highest recognition a prime contractor and small business team can receive for successful participation in the DoD mentor-protégé program, Pualani says.

An emphasis on small business subcontracting
All large business suppliers awarded contracts in excess of $650,000 with Northrop Grumman must have a small business subcontracting plan. “We develop small business goals for our large suppliers and include these requirements in the request for proposal instructions,” says Pualani. “Bidders are asked to develop small business plans or teaming strategies to ensure small, minority-owned, or women-owned business participation as first-tier subcontractors.”

All RFPs require large business bidders to include a small business plan to be considered for an award. The small business plans or teaming strategies are an important part of the criteria Northrop Grumman uses to evaluate its subcontractors, and extra points are awarded to bidders whose strategies exceed RFP requirements.

Frontier Electronics: a long-term supplier relationship
“Maintaining a diverse supplier base is a business imperative that promotes creativity and ingenuity, and helps our company develop and produce the very best products for our customers,” Pualani says. “We utilize the diverse viewpoints and experiences of our employees and suppliers to help us introduce new, innovative and affordable products and services to the marketplace.”

One of those diverse suppliers is Frontier Electronic Systems (FES, Stillwater, OK), a women-owned, Native American small business. It designs and manufactures electronic systems and products for government and commercial customers around the world. Frontier has had a successful long-term relationship with Northrop Grumman.

“Northrop Grumman was instrumental in helping Frontier implement automated manufacturing lines for complex circuit card assemblies for aerospace, strategic missile and maritime applications,” says Pualani. “We also helped develop the company’s capabilities and credentials to procure and manage the acquisition of high-reliability electronics for aircraft and space applications.”

In turn, Frontier has expanded Northrop Grumman’s business base and increased the number of scientific and technical jobs in the community, Pualani reports.

“Northrop Grumman seeks to develop long-term productive partnerships with suppliers that consistently produce technologically superior, cost-effective products and services that complement our company’s offerings,” she says. “We are committed to helping our customers complete their missions, and we are diligent in ensuring that our suppliers provide the required support.”


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