Over the past eight years, the US Defense Department has met its small business prime contracting goals, but more can be done, said the director of the Defense Department's Office of Small Business Programs. During testimony, small business directors from the Army, Navy and Air Force told lawmakers about the barriers small businesses face when trying to work with the department, tools the department uses to increase small business participation, and DOD's recently released small business strategy. Right now, DOD has several programs in place to help with that, included among those are the Mentor-Protege Program, the Rapid Innovation Fund Program, the APEX Accelerators and the Indian Incentive Program.
Within the Mentor-Protege Program, mentor firms provide assistance in a range of areas, including internal business management systems, engineering support and manufacturing support. The department also currently funds 96 APEX Accelerators across the United States, Mitha said, which help small businesses learn how to work with the federal government.