DOD MAY MENTOR-PROTÉGÉ PROGRAM PERMANENT
How long can a “pilot” program last? Thirty years in the case of the DOD Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP). Congress may act to make the popular program permanent after a long track record of success. The move comes after an “in depth” look at the program and a recommendation from the Defense Business Board. A review of annual DCMA surveys of the program found that there are “significant increases in revenues, contract awards, and employment at the protégé firms…” While current protégé contracts account for over $160 million on DOD spending each year, spending with former proteges makes up about $4 billion worth of DOD small business contracting. The MPP has been a good deal for both small and large businesses. Large businesses benefit from having access to small business acquisitions via their protégé, while helping such companies learn the ropes of government business. Mentors can also award noncompetitive subcontracts to their protégés, lend money to the smaller firms and provide other types of assistance. Small businesses benefit from having access to the DOD market via experienced contractors that know both the process and relationship sides of government business. The MPP’s success is one of a few bright spots in DOD’s small business use story. Over a thousand small businesses are thought to have left the DOD market in recent years as specialized, government-only requirements, such as cybersecurity standards, increase. The Defense Business Board suggests creating a single office of oversight for small business programs within DOD to provide sufficient resourcing as one way to address this issue. It is unclear whether Congress will act on the recommendations for the FY’23 defense bill or wait till next year.