by Justin Oakes
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
5/1/2015 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Hanscom
Air Force Base specializes in acquiring and managing weapons systems
used by U.S. warfighters. And like other acquisition-centered
installations, there are many aspects that go into developing, deploying
and sustaining these vital assets.
As the Air Force works to enhance its capabilities and plan for the long
term, the Service recognizes the need for innovative solutions at
affordable prices -- and to aid in this effort, the Air Force is looking
to small businesses.
During a visit to Hanscom AFB last week, Mark Teskey, the Air Force's
Small Business director, engaged with Life Cycle Management Center
program managers, engineers and contracting Airmen, reinforcing the
branch's stance on small business participation.
"The federal government overall is focusing on small business
participation, not just the Air Force and Department of Defense," said
Teskey, who is responsible for policy, advising and executing all Small
Business program matters for the department. "For us, it's all about
developing our industrial base and creating competition.
"Simply put, small businesses are key to driving competition."
But how does competition relate to the bigger picture?
According to Teskey, it's directly tied to the country's national and economic security.
The purpose of the Small Business program is to develop that aspect of
the industrial base so there's competition -- a duty levied by Congress
on the government.
"If we don't have a competitive industrial base, we can't affordably
produce the things that keep us economically and nationally secure,"
Teskey said, in an interview during his visit to Hanscom.
Currently, the Air Force has approximately 170 Small Business
specialists spanning the country, who advise program managers on what is
available and what can be done within the commercial marketplace. In
addition to advising Air Force program managers and leadership,
specialists conduct outreach and act as the liaison between the
department and industry.
"A large part of our job is advising, developing policy for programs,
market research and outreach," said Bill Donaldson, Small Business
director at Hanscom AFB. "We have to understand what the programs need,
and we have to understand what industry can deliver, then try to pull it
For the Battle Management and Command, Control, Communications,
Intelligence and Networks Directorates managed at Hanscom, there was a
combined small business obligation to the tune of $214 million in fiscal
Both directorates significantly surpassed their goals.
"Mr. Wert and Gen. Olson have had some very good successes, and they're
driving a culture change that is really valuable," Teskey said. "They're
developing the requirements in a different way in concert with industry
and setting a great example."
According to Teskey, not all programs are well-suited for small
businesses, but for those that require agility as well as innovation,
there can be great value added.
"Small businesses are not constrained, they rebound faster when changes
are needed," Teskey said. "They're more nimble, mostly capability with
little overhead and they can react quickly and responsively.
"We need to crack the code on trying to create more competition, which I
believe is at the small business margin on a lot of these large
While driving competition was certainly a key component of his
discussions during the visit, Teskey also made note of several current
and upcoming initiatives within the Small Business field.
Among those is creating a new Small Business career field, updating both
Air Force and DOD instructions and formation of Defense Acquisition
University courses, with the first set of classes slated for FY16.
"I think we need to continue to foster an environment where we
collaborate internally in the government and with industry," Teskey
said. "We have to immerse ourselves in the programs and understand what
we need and what industry can deliver. The Small Business program is an
industrial base development program, and we have a responsibility as an
institution to develop our competition so that we can get what we need.
We have a responsibility to tend to the entire industrial base, the
small and the big, and create competition that makes sense so that we
have a healthy, competitive base that protects our economic and national