Governor’s 2019 SWaM Awards
Governor Northam initiated and signed Executive Order 35 in July of this year with the primary goal of advancing “equity” in contracting for small, women, minority and service disabled veteran businesses. As stated in the executive order, “State contracting provides the catalyst for “economic opportunity” and expands access for businesses.” However, the State for more than a decade and several administrations has been challenged in its efforts to illustrate a more equitable platform for the groups identified.
It is imperative for Virginia to maximize the participation of small businesses, including those owned by women, minorities, and service disabled veterans, in the state contracting process. These groups are a critical component to the ecosystem that operates in Virginia and across the country. Providing access to SWaM and service disabled veteran businesses strengthens Virginia’s economy.
There are over 700 thousand small businesses in Virginia, each of them having at least 3-5 employees; and each of those employees having an average of 2-3 children in the household; and through our efforts as administrators of this initiative, families are afforded better living conditions, enhanced healthcare, appropriate education and potentially a better future. When we allow for access and awarding of contracts to SWaM businesses, a domino effect occurs long-term.
The “multiplier effect” for the awarding of contracts in the state procurement process allows for an “investment” in a SWaM business and their ability to employ more people within their communities. The businesses have opportunities to be an active contributor to build the communities they live and work in.
Remember, every large business was a small business once and we have to remove the transactional nature of procurement
for SWaM businesses and build transformative relationships.
Acknowledging the agencies and institutions of higher education
that achieved the highest SWaM spend percentage in their respective
categories of small, medium, and large in Fiscal Year 19.
Agency Size was determined by employee or discretionary spend totals:
• Small: 2-50 employees or less than $500,000 in discretionary spending
• Medium: 51-300 employees or $500,000 to $5 million in discretionary spending
• Large: 301 or more employees or $5 million or more in discretionary spending
The small agency that achieved the highest percentage of SWaM spend in FY19 was:
The Virginia Tourism Authority
achieving a total SWaM spend percentage of 87.72%
The medium agency that achieved the highest percentage of SWaM spend in FY19 was:
Catawba Hospital, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services achieving a total SWaM spend percentage of 63.11%
The large agency that achieved the highest percentage of SWaM spend in FY19 was:
Department of Human Resource Management achieving a total SWaM spend percentage of 85.87%
Institutions of Higher Education size was determined by discretionary spend totals:
• Small: had less than $8 million in discretionary spending
• Medium: had more than $8 million and less than $50 million in discretionary spending
• Large: had more than $50 million in discretionary spending
The small institution of higher education that achieved the highest percentage of SWaM spend in FY19 was:
Dabney S. Lancaster Community College achieving a total SWaM spend percentage of 50.98%
The medium institution of higher education that achieved the highest percentage of SWaM spend in FY19 was:
Eastern Shore Community College achieving a total SWaM spend percentage of 95.35%
The large institution of higher education that achieved the highest percentage of SWaM spend in FY19 was:
Norfolk State University achieving a total SWaM spend percentage of 66.19%
The 2019 SWaM Innovator Award
This award recognizes a state entity or individual that has developed and implemented a non-traditional approach to increasing SWaM expenditures within their organization through the use of creative, strategic, and effective means. This award required a nomination that had to highlight an innovative out-of-the-box approach to SWaM goal achievement or a best practice that could be modeled for other institutions.
As Director of Procurement, this individual has the full authority and oversight of Virginia Tech’s procurement processes for
(1) the effective and efficient acquisition of goods, services, insurance, and minor construction contracts,
(2) the electronic business system (HokieMart) that processes transactions,
(3) the surplus property disposal functions, and
(4) the supplier diversity program.
This individual has done an outstanding job elevating Virginia Tech’s procurement practices, standards, and overall levels of customer service. Her passion for VT’s SWaM program and the priority she places on its success is a perfect indicator of her determined, engaged, and results-oriented leadership style.
This individual monitors, reviews, audits, and ensures the SWaM program goals and compliance are realized each year.
She has instilled a procurement culture characterized by:
- Continuous outreach and promotion of SWaM opportunities at Virginia Tech for vendors.
- Robust presence at SWaM-themed events, including SWAMFEST, SWaM Vendor Fairs, meetings and workgroups for the Virginia Association of State College & University Purchasing Professionals (VASCUPP) and the Virginia Higher Education Procurement Consortium (VHEPC).
- Continuous education to the Virginia Tech campus community including the development of a SWaM Champions advocacy program.
Some of this individual’s recent noteworthy achievements include hosting an annual SWaM Vendor Fair which last year showcased 95 SWaM vendors, a new record for Virginia Tech. This annual event provides Virginia Tech employees with the opportunity to meet prospective SWaM vendors face-to-face and learn about the products and services they offer. It is a great method for SWaM vendors to promote themselves and get more involved with university business.
This individual also worked to ensure the SWaM program was embedded into Virginia Tech’s new Strategic Plan – “The Virginia Tech Difference: Advancing Beyond Boundaries.” Her guidance helped shape one of the Plan’s key milestones: “to achieve an increase of 10% in utilization percentage rate for each of the SWaM categories annually by FY22.” Progress toward this milestone will be critical to ensuring institutional excellence in the years ahead.
This individual is passionate about seeing other universities’ SWaM programs succeed. She serves as the President of VASCUPP, a role in which she ensures that each member is aware of other institution’s strategic goals and priorities for SWaM and encourages the exchange of ideas and best practices.
This individual demonstrates several best-practice approaches to maximize opportunities for SWaM firms. At Virginia Tech, any purchase up to $10,000 can be procured from a micro small firm without further competition. She emphasizes and advocates for awarding to SWaM firms for cooperative term contracts that are available to other state agencies to purchase from as well. Since this individual became VT’s Director of Procurement, her sustained outreach has helped grow the SWaM program.
One of the most striking examples of her leadership is the creation of a new searchable SWaM directory housed on the university’s procurement system (HokieMart). Procurement had identified a need to help the campus more easily identify vendors that have been certified as SWaM or Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE). This individual organized a working group of functional and technical team members to design a tool with one guiding principle: to create a frictionless search experience. The tool needed to be accessible to anyone at Virginia Tech that handles purchasing, and it needed to be tailored to the university’s specific needs. The team’s final product delivered a search-optimized, online directory with many unique features to improve usability, including:
- Typo tolerance – allows the user to make a mistake while typing and still find the supplier, good, or service they were searching for.
- Synonyms – allows Virginia Tech to create a custom list of synonyms to improve search results (e.g. typing ‘VA’ = “Virginia”).
- Custom ranking – allows Virginia Tech to increase the visibility of a supplier, good, or service if or when needed.
The directory updates its search results in real time, even while the user is typing a query, and users can select from a host of filters to include certification type, region, state, and zip code to further refine their search parameters. Each vendor entry on the directory includes information about which certification(s) they hold, the goods and services provided, and contact information for the vendor. Since its May launch, the tool is averaging about 125 searches per week, and that number will grow as this individual’s team continues to promote it. This search tool is another way that she is helping to ensure institutional excellence at Virginia Tech. The tool’s usage – aside from being a best practice for university purchasers – should also transform the user experience and facilitate greater connections between SWaM vendors and Virginia Tech, which in turn will lead to increased SWaM spending.
This individual is a tremendous advocate for SWaM policies and procedures and communicates this passion in a number of ways. The Cart e-newsletter is regularly distributed to anyone with purchasing responsibilities at Virginia Tech, and frequently focuses on the latest SWaM activities, processes, or upcoming events. These are also periodically communicated to the entire campus community through Virginia Tech News, a daily email distributed to all university employees and other subscribers. This individual and her team also created a listserv for campus departmental buyers that showcases different SWaM businesses that are doing exciting things at Virginia Tech. And just this year, Procurement launched its first Facebook and Instagram social media channels to enhance its outreach capabilities.
This individual knows that actions speak louder than words; it’s one of the reasons why she’s also recently initiated a SWaM Champions program for the university. The program identifies “champions” who meet with potential vendors, share good experiences working with SWaM vendors, and help engage others around campus to SWaM activities. Right now, Virginia Tech is making strides toward the ultimate goal of having a SWaM Champion in each department.
The 2019 SWaM Innovator Award goes to:
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
The 2019 SWaM Champion Award
This award recognizes the procurement officer, designated agency SWaM Champion, or employee who is perceived to be by others the champion of the SWaM Procurement initiative. This recipient is acknowledged for their actions that brought about positive outcomes in enhancing procurement opportunities for SWaM businesses and their success in communicating to internal staff the importance of agency efforts to improve SWaM participation.
This individual enthusiastically participates with SBSD outreach initiatives, serves as VCU’s SWaM Champion to host VCU Supplier Diversity events, and SWaM reporting, as well as serving as VASCUPP’s SDAC Chair and the lead coordinator for this year’s VASCUPP SWaMfest which was held in Richmond.
This individual coordinated the first VCU held Supplier Diversity Event in December of 2018: The event had 608 businesses register, of these firms, five of them registered as DBE, 109 registered as Minority Owned Firms, 143 registered as Women Owned Firms, and 115 registered as Small businesses.
At this individual’s recommendation VCU joined several small and minority business advocacy groups to include the Virginian Asian American Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Business League, the Central Virginia African American Chamber of Commerce, and the Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council. As a result of this increased outreach and advocacy VCU did business with 23 Minority Owned Businesses and 40 Women Owned businesses that were new to VCU in FY19.
This individual held quarterly meetings with VCU departments where he discussed opportunities for increasing SWaM usage. He attended multiple SBSD hosted events, a CAPA SWAM Event, VASCUPP SWaMFest, JMU SWaM Event, W&M SWaM Event, Secretary of Commerce & Trade Town Hall Series, Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce ProcureCon and several MBL Supplier Diversity Events. Additionally, this individual coordinated a joint SWaM connection event with the MBL that was held July 24, 2019 at The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, which successfully connected MBL member businesses with VCU departments specific to marketing and print media.