We often get asked the question, “How do I do business with NASA?” One avenue that I always stress, that is often overlooked, is subcontracting opportunities. Last year, or the first time since I’ve been at NASA, subcontracting awards accounted for more dollars to small businesses than prime awards. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, NASA awarded $5.5 billion to small businesses. Subcontracting awards accounted for 51% of those awards.
Subcontracting provides you a path to get your foot in the door with NASA by establishing past performance and a relationship with NASA stakeholders. You’re able to learn the ins and out of the agency while handling smaller, more manageable scopes of work. This is especially important for new businesses that are just starting out.
This is where business development becomes a key factor in your small business. You must build relationships with prime contractors and demonstrate how you will help them achieve their goals faster, more efficient or with better quality. Prime contractors attend many government small business outreach events and should not be overlooked when you are attending. You may be able to find information for small business liaison officers (SBLO) on many company websites, as well.
The opportunities are out there. Over 800 small businesses worked on each the Orion and Space Launch System (SLS) programs. Our large primes can’t do this work alone and are actively searching for companies like yours to help achieve the NASA mission.