Three of Eastern Foundry’s members were recently awarded their SeaPort-e status which allows them to bid on professional services contracts for the Navy. We sat down with Tiffany Roth from SecureStrux, Chris Worden from Worden Technology Solutions, and Amina Elgouacem from NEOSTEK to discuss how the process went for them and their plans for using the contract vehicle in the future. We hope that their insight will benefit you during your future proposal writing endeavors.
Eastern Foundry- How did you feel about the SeaPort-e application process and how did you go about completing it?
Securestrux: “We used a group that has written SeaPort-e proposals before called Proposal Helper, they understand what the Navy is looking for. We contributed content and past performance to the technical writing. Having a strong technical response was very important for us so we wanted to be hands on with the Proposal Helper team. As for the pricing portion, it was quite easy. The pricing was based on a ceiling rate with cost build-up, or the highest rate you would charge the Navy that would cover your proposed labor categories.”
Worden Technology Solutions: “The process was quite simple for SeaPort- e, the only thing that was difficult was the amount of time it takes to write and to answer everything appropriately and to read the fine print. Last time we went after it we missed a piece of the fine print that got us denied, so this time we were extremely thorough.”
NEOSTEK: “Well to start I used a hot pink binder in order to stand out, I wanted to hammer home that we were a WOSB and apparently it worked out well! The instructions were very clear. What helped me the most was teaming up with a company that only works on SeaPort-e proposals, I had the added bonus of being able to sign up in all of their zones as well so that was a plus.”
Eastern Foundry: Was the process difficult or streamlined?
SecureStrux: “SeaPort-e has not changed that much over time, they have worked out a lot of the kinks over the years. Since it is relatively smooth, some companies go after it just to say they have the vehicle. We went on for a very specific reason, not just to say we were on it. We have Navy business we are targeting and will be able to give our customers an option of how to get to us.”
Worden Technology Solutions: “I would say It’s one of the easier IDIQ’s to go after. If you dot the I’s and cross the T’s you should not have problems.”
NEOSTEK: “With Schedule70 we needed a company to decipher the instructions and make sure it’s compliant. We did not with SeaPort-e, it was much easier.”
Eastern Foundry: What does SeaPort-e give your company and how will you benefit?
SecureStrux: “Working with the Navy is part of our strategic plan and SeaPort-e made more sense than the other vehicles at this time. Now we are able to put our customers in a better position to sell to the Navy, something our customers have really been looking for.”
Worden Technology Soultions: “Getting on the schedule this time was extremely important for us because this is the last onboarding period that they are doing for quite awhile, they are talking about 2019 before the next one comes out. It’s been so simple for everyone to get on, but it’s surprising to see that only 1% of awardees actually bid on work, and of that group only 10% actually win. The Navy is trying to make the vehicle more valuable by cutting those companies that don’t actually use it the way it is supposed to be used. Right now it’s sort of seen as a resume booster, we are going into this one determined to use it the right way and prove to the Navy that Small Businesses are there to work.”
NEOSTEK: “We will be able to compete as a prime contractor for the Navy and Marines which we couldn’t compete at all before without SeaPort-e. When we were a sub we had to wait till we were asked to join a team to do any business with the Navy.”
What are your short-term plans with the new contract vehicle?
SecureStrux: “Short term is heading down to Norfolk to start pursuing some work with the Navy. Our hope is that we can sway various opportunities to small business and have the vehicle in place for engaging with small business in the Navy.”
Worden Technology Solutions: “Our next step is to get our DCAA compliance evaluation done which the Navy sponsors. We are going to complete that so we can obtain even more opportunities as a more invested prime within SeaPort-e. This is also a great opportunity for us to build our partner relationships through the vehicle as well.”
NEOSTEK: “We must be DCAA compliant. We are in the auditing process now and we are almost there! Once we complete this step we can begin to go after the work.”
Eastern Foundry: What are your long term plans?
SecureStrux: “It depends on the other vehicles we get on. Long term it depends on how our customer changes over time and how the other big vehicles such as CIO-SP3 come into play with our target customers. When we sit down with a customer we can then give them options.”
Worden Technology Solutions: “It’s going to be a part of our job analysis, our business development for our company on an ongoing basis. I totally anticipate us being one of those companies using SeaPort-e as it was meant to be, you know actually trying to bid and drive work through the vehicle.”
NEOSTEK: “We can now actively go after prime contracts from the Navy to help them meet their small business goals. Some people are more large business friendly, they don’t like small businesses, as a small business you have to prove yourself. I know a company who lost their SeaPort-e because they were not active on the portal.”
Eastern Foundry: What is your advice to other Eastern Foundry companies that may want to pursue a SeaPort-e status?
SecureStrux: “Use someone who knows the solicitation, it will save you time and money when you are trying to do everything. As a small business, it’s important to think about what your time is worth.”
Worden Technology Solutions: “You really have to go through the effort to dot I’s and cross T’s, be patient and double and triple check everything. That goes for any submission, we are right now going through the IT Schedule 70 process and everything I am seeing is in the same ballpark as what we just produced. You don’t need to get too creative, It’s important to realize your not selling to them, you are showing that you have the ability to meet their minimum requirements in order to sell on their IDIQ.”
NEOSTEK: “Divide and conquer, team up as much as you can, you can’t do it on your own. Work with small and large businesses to complement your capabilities.”
Do you have any recommendations for the Navy about the process?
SecureStrux: “No, they made it very straight forward. If anything, I would just ask for fewer people to be awarded.”
Worden Technology Solutions: “I hope that they have the ability to do what they are intending to do now, making it more relevant, to make it more valuable then it seems to be right now. They first thing I hear is ‘ohh everyone gets on that’, when they find out less than 1 percent actually ever bid on it, it feels like everything is gummed up and you will still struggle to be heard. I hope that their cleaning up helps us to get across the information that we really value.”
NEOSTEK: “Make the submission electronic and have more WOSB set asides because there are not that many with the Navy. ”
Overall, the SeaPort-e process seemed pretty flawless with only a few qualms about the amount of competition. It certainly seems like the Navy has heard these complaints in the past and will be working diligently over the next few years to make this vehicle as valuable as it was once intended to be. While this vehicle is hotly contested, we are proud that our members are entering with the best of intentions, congratulations to those who were awarded and we wish you the very best of luck!
Dan Bowman is the Communications Associate at Eastern Foundry