[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 171 (Wednesday, September 8, 2021)]
[Pages 50333-50334]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-19352]



Office of the Secretary

[Docket ID: DoD-2021-OS-0077]

Notice of Request for Comments on Barriers Facing Small 
Businesses in Contracting With the Department of Defense

AGENCY: Office of Small Business Programs, Office of the Deputy 
Assistant Secretary of Defense (Industrial Policy), Department of 
Defense (DoD).

ACTION: Notice of request for public comments.


SUMMARY: The participation of dynamic, resilient, and innovative small 
businesses in the defense industrial base is critical to the United 
States' efforts to maintain its technological superiority, military 
readiness, and warfighting advantage. In furtherance of its efforts to 
maximize opportunities for small businesses to contribute to national 
security, the Department seeks public input on the barriers that small 
businesses face in working with the Department. This input will be used 
to update the Department's Small Business Strategy led by the DoD 
Office of Small Business Programs.

DATES: The due date for submitting comments is October 25, 2021.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by docket number and 
title, by any of the following methods:
    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments.
    Mail: DoD cannot receive written comments at this time due to the 
COVID-19 pandemic. Comments should be sent electronically to the docket 
listed above.
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency 
name, docket number and title for this Federal Register document. The 
general policy for comments and other submissions from members of the 
public is to make these submissions available as they are received, 
without change, including any personal identifiers or contact 
information for public viewing on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov.

Director, of the Office of Small Business Programs, at (703) 697-0051 
or [email protected].



    President Biden issued Executive Order (E.O.) 14017, ``America's 
Supply Chains''; E.O. 13985, ``Advancing Racial Equity and Support for 
Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government''; and E.O. 
14036, ``Promoting Competition in the American Economy.'' E.O. 14017 
focuses on the need for resilient, diverse, and secure supply chains to 
ensure U.S. economic prosperity and national security. E.O. 13985 
focuses on identifying potential barriers that underserved communities 
and individuals may face in taking advantage of agency procurement and 
contracting opportunities. E.O. 14036 focuses on reviewing the state of 
competition within the defense industrial base, including areas where a 
lack of competition may be of concern. In support of E.O.s and through 
DoD's Small Business Strategy, DoD is focusing on reducing barriers to 
entry that can reduce critical manufacturing capacity, competition and 
the availability and integrity of vital goods, products, and services.
    Small businesses play a major role in the DoD's supply chains, and 
they allow the U.S. to maintain its technological superiority, military 
readiness, and warfighting advantages. These companies also play a 
crucial role in ensuring supply chain resilience. Last year, the 
Department awarded a record $80 billion dollars to small businesses 
through prime contracts, of which over $30 billion dollars was awarded 
to small disadvantaged businesses.
    Still, over the last decade small businesses in the defense 
industrial base

[[Page 50334]]

have decreased by more than 40%. Further, a recent survey of small 
businesses conducted by the National Defense Industrial Association 
found that nearly four out of five (77.3%) businesses reported that the 
COVID-19 pandemic impacted them, with 85% of those saying the pandemic 
had negatively affected them. The Department seeks additional insight 
from the public in understanding the impact of the pandemic, as well as 
other negative influences, on small businesses in the defense 
industrial base.
    This notice requests comments and information from the public 
(specifically small business currently in, or interested in becoming 
part of, the defense industrial base) to assist the DoD in updating its 
Small Business Strategy.

Written Comments

    The DoD is particularly interested in comments and information 
directed to the policy objectives listed in E.O. 14017, E.O. 14036, and 
E.O. 13985 as they affect the U.S. and global supply chains. The 
Department is seeking input from small businesses as well as from those 
with relevant expertise on the following topics:
    i. Government business practices that might inhibit or deter small 
businesses' from producing and/or providing goods, services, and 
materials for DoD requirements, to the detriment of the small business 
sector and in turn the defense industrial base;
    ii. Regulations and business practices which may strain rather than 
strengthen the relationship between the Department and small 
    iii. The impact of the Department's major programs to support small 
business participation in the defense industrial base, specifically, 
the Mentor-Prot[eacute]g[eacute] Program, Indian Incentive Program, 
Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, the Rapid Innovation Fund, 
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology 
Transfer (STTR);
    iv. The use of past performance information during the periods of 
source selection, ongoing performance, and collection of information;
    v. Increasing the Department's utilization of small business 
    vi. The Department's efforts to assist small businesses that seek 
to do business with the government, including experiences in working 
with the Department's contracting workforce;
    vii. Contracting timelines and the impact of those timelines on 
small businesses;
    viii. The availability of skilled labor and other personnel to 
sustain a competitive small business ecosystem;
    ix. Research, development, and demonstration priorities to support 
production and an advanced manufacturing base for the Department's 
    x. Policy recommendations or suggested executive, legislative, 
regulatory action to foster more resilient supply chains, greater 
competition in the defense industrial base, and/or more small business 
participation during the procurement process;
    xi. Any additional comments from small businesses relevant to the 
assessment of supply chain resilience required by E.O. 14017, E.O. 
14036, and E.O. 13985.
    The DoD encourages respondents to structure their comments using 
the same text above as identifiers for the areas of inquiry to which 
they are responding. This will assist the DoD in more easily reviewing 
and summarizing the comments received in response to these specific 
areas. For example, a commenter submitting comments responsive to (i), 
``Government business practices that might cause deterioration in 
capabilities, to the detriment of the small business sector and in turn 
the defense industrial base,'' would use that same text as a heading in 
the public comment followed by the commenter's specific comments in 
this area. The Department encourages the use of an Executive Summary at 
the beginning of all comments and information to affect a more 
efficient Departmental review of the submitted documents.

Requirements for Written Comments

    The http://www.regulations.gov website allows users to provide 
comments by filling in a ``Type Comment'' field, or by attaching a 
document using an ``Upload File'' field. The DoD prefers that comments 
be provided in an attached document. The Department prefers submissions 
in Microsoft Word (.doc files) or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf files). If the 
submission is provided in a format other than Microsoft Word or Adobe 
Acrobat, please indicate the name of the application in the ``Type 
Comment'' field. Please do not attach separate cover letters to 
electronic submissions; rather, include any information that might 
appear in a cover letter within the comments. Similarly, to the extent 
possible, please include any exhibits, annexes, or other attachments in 
the same file, so the submission consists of one file instead of 
multiple files. Comments (both public comments and non-confidential 
versions of comments containing business confidential information) will 
be placed in the docket and open to public inspection. Comments may be 
viewed on http://www.regulations.gov by entering docket number DoD-
2021-OS-0077 in the search field on the home page.
    All filers should name their files using the name of the person or 
entity submitting the comments. Anonymous comments are also accepted. 
Communications from agencies of the United States Government will not 
be made available for public inspection.
    Anyone submitting business confidential information should clearly 
identify the business confidential portion at the time of submission, 
file a statement justifying nondisclosure and referring to the specific 
legal authority claimed, and provide a non-confidential version of the 
submission. The non-confidential version of the submission will be 
placed in the public file on http://www.regulations.gov. For comments 
submitted electronically containing business confidential information, 
the file name of the business confidential version should begin with 
the characters ``BC.'' Any page containing business confidential 
information must be clearly marked ``BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL'' on the top 
of that page. The non-confidential version must be clearly marked 
``PUBLIC.'' The file name of the non-confidential version should begin 
with the character ``P.'' The ``BC'' and ``P'' should be followed by 
the name of the person or entity submitting the comments or rebuttal 
comments. If a public hearing is held in support of this assessment, a 
separate Federal Register notice will be published providing the date 
and information about the hearing. The Office of the Deputy Assistant 
Secretary of Defense (Industrial Policy) does not maintain a separate 
public inspection facility. Requesters should first view the 
Department's web page, which can be found at https://https://open.defense.gov/ (see ``Electronic FOIA'' heading). The records 
related to this assessment are made accessible in accordance with the 
regulations published in part 4 of title 15 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations (15 CFR 4.1 through 4.11).

    Dated: September 1, 2021.
Aaron T. Siegel,
Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
[FR Doc. 2021-19352 Filed 9-7-21; 8:45 am]