Our guest today is Exodie Roe, the Associate Administrator for GSA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization or OSDBU. We’ll learn about Exodie’s life before joining the agency - and more about the role of OSDBU...and get the latest on GSA’s Small Business scorecard.
[ Music ] >> Welcome to GSA FAS Focus. Look at what is happening in and around the U.S. General Services Administration's Federal Acquisition Service. I'm Joan Kornblith, and my guest today is Exodie Roe, the associate administrator for GSA's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization or OSDBU. Exodie was appoint to his position by President Biden. He joined the agency in February of this year, and when he joined GSA, acting administrator Katie Kale welcomed Exodie and announced that "his team will partner with the Federal Acquisition Service and the Public Building Service to broaden diversity, equity, and inclusion into the way GSA does business. As you're about to hear, Exodie comes to the agency with more than 15 years of congressional and Capitol Hill experience, specifically focusing on policy advisory and external communication. This work includes roles as a policy advisor on Capitol Hill and as the director of policy and external affairs for the Congressional Black Caucus. Well learn about Exodie's life before joining the agency and more about the role of OSDBU, and we'll also get the latest on GSA's Small Business Scorecard. Of course, we'll also be running down some of the webinars and CLP opportunities coming up and also training opportunities coming up in the next couple of weeks. And later, we will pull a couple of fascinating facts into FAS Focus. [ Music ] Welcome back to FAS Focus, a look at is happening throughout GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. I am Joan Kornblith, and please, if you have not done so yet, click that button and subscribe to this podcast. That way you've a reminder at a quick link every time there is a new episode of FAS Focus. No more hunting around for the latest episode, normal distribution when you're sharing this episode, please let your friends know how easy it is to find FAS Focus. We are available on all the cool podcast platforms, but really, it is super easy if you just click on subscribe. In just a couple of minutes, I will be talking with Exodie Roe about his role as the associate administrator for GSA's office of small and disadvantaged business utilization or OSDBU, but first, news of a training opportunity that ties in perfectly with our subject this week, a webinar on marketing your GSA contract. On July 20th, GSA's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, or OSDBU, is presenting a free webinar with that very same name. This is one that new contract holders are always asking for. Presented by FAS and GSA's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, this one-hour program will cover how to develop a federal marketing and sales strategy, which is a really important tool that can help you achieve success in the federal sector. This webinar will provide info and tips on creating an effective federal marketing plan with a targeted approach to government procurement. Again, it takes place on Tuesday, July 20th from 2 to 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. More info available at GSA.gov/events. The date again, Tuesday, July 20th. Of course, that is the anniversary of the first moon landing. Everything begins at 2 p.m. Eastern, 11 a.m. Pacific. So no super early morning start time, unless, as I pointed out a couple weeks ago, you are summering in Seoul, where it is 3 a.m. Welcome back to FAS Focus, a look at what is happening in and around GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. I'm Joan Kornblith, and today, I am joined by Exodie Roe, GSA's associate administrator for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization or OSDBU. Welcome to the show, Exodie. >> Thank you, Joan. It is great to be here with you today. >> Thank you. Well, as I said at the top of the show, you were appointed to your position by President Biden. You are the associate administrator for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, better known as OSDBU. Before joining GSA, you were the director of policy and external affairs for the Congressional Black Caucus. You've also served in various staff positions in the U.S. Congress. Now, before we dive into your current position at GSA and what that's all about, can you give us a nutshell biography where you're from, and you know, I'd also bet that your first job wasn't on Capitol Hill. >> Well, thanks Joan, for the question. I am from Stockton, California. I'm a proud Californian. I grew up in Stockton, California. It's an area of the Central Valley and Northern California that's known to produce all kind of agricultural goods, and we feed the nation from Stockton, California, and Northern California. So, I grew up there. After college, actually, I got an opportunity to work for Congressman Jerry McNerney, and so my first job was actually working for the Congressman in my hometown, in Stockton, California, as a field representative, and it was the opportunity of a lifetime. I loved public service. I was able to represent the Congressman as a field rep to four different counties, serving and helping to serve his 700,000 constituents. So, I learned a lot working as a field rep, working as a caseworker, helping people with their veteran affairs benefits, their social security disability benefits, and housing. This was back in 2007, when Stockton was the epicenter for foreclosures at the time, and so, we kind of pioneered hosting foreclosure assistance workshops in Stockton, California, and all throughout the region to try to help people save their homes and to offer people where we can, partner with banks and other HUD resources to provide loan modifications to people. So, it was the opportunity of a lifetime to serve Congress McNerney, and then subsequently, I was promoted to his Capitol Hill office in DC and became his senior policy advisor, where I worked on transportation committee. I worked on the veteran's affairs committee, energy and commerce committee, and I learned a lot. And then I was, had an opportunity to leave Congressman McNerney's office after I had done everything that I could possibly do serving him in the constituents of the 9th and 11th Congressional District, and then I was promoted again and became the director of policy and external affairs for the Congressional Black Caucus under Chairwoman Karen Bass and worked that for two years before having the opportunity to be appointed by President Biden to come to GSA and serve as the associate administrator for OSDBU. >> So, you really with those two position understand how things work, because I know the people that work in those field offices, they understand how to get things done. I mean you're the ones, people write letter after letter after letter to their congresspeople when things go wrong. When they have not been able to get any help on their local level, they go to their congressperson, and you people, you field office workers, are the ones that are actually moving those mountains. >> Yes, we are. When I was a field representative at the time and working in any congressional district office, you really do have a strong touch base day to day with the member of Congress constituents, right. You really are, you're answering phone calls. You're helping to draft casework correspondence to federal agencies. You're taking down and taking note of all of the concerns and issues and challenges that they're having with federal agencies, so you really do learn how the federal government process works by having to interact with so many different federal agencies to help the constituents with their challenges and issues. >> And you also know an awful lot about what the constituents want and expect from their representatives. >> Yes, yes, I do. Like anywhere else, just great service. I pride myself, and one thing I loved about the congressman that I worked for and every member of Congress I've had the great fortune of working for is that they really take seriously constituent services. That is first and foremost, and that's something that I also have had throughout my entire career is a total commitment to public service and making sure that we're meeting constituent needs and customer needs. >> So, what attracted you to public service in the first place? >> My mother. Growing up, I had the great fortune of having a mother who was a local public servant in Stockton, California, and so at a early age, you know, she really challenged me to get involved in the community, to attend, you know, different types of community meetings to really volunteer my time and services to mentor young people. That's something that I've don't throughout my entire career, because I love mentoring the youth as well, and so, my mom is someone who got me started, but my passion and service for public service, commitment to public service is what has kept me doing this work for the great time that I've been able to do it is because I truly, truly love making a difference and making an impact. >> Have you seen a difference on this side of the fence, working for an agency yet? You haven't been here very long? >> Well, we're in the process, right, we're making a lot of changes, but I've only been here for four months so far, but we are making a lot of great progress at GSA. One of the things that, you know, I love about this role is that we get to advocate for small businesses. I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My family has, you know, worked hard. You know, they worked very hard, early on in their careers to be small business owners, so I learned a lot. Working in the Congressional office as well, I had to touch base with a lot of small businesses. We used to work with SBA to host small business workshops. How can people, you know, understand and learn more about federal contracts and understanding small business needs was something that I learned at an early age working in a congressional office. So, I'm so thankful to have this opportunity to be literally at GSA [inaudible]. We are the chief advocates for small business programs, and we promote increased access to GSA's nationwide procurement opportunities. >> You're listening to GSA FAS Focus, and I'm speaking today with Exodie Roe, the associate administrator for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization at GSA. In the welcome video that was sent out house wide to employees when you joined the agency, you mentioned that you love to read. What's on your nightstand now? Is there a book that you would like to read over and over and over again? >> I do love to read, and I try to mix it up between fiction and nonfiction. So, right now, one of my favorite fiction books that I'm rereading again is the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian writer. I love that book. It's one of my favorite books of all time. For nonfiction I love right now The 5 AM Club. It's a leadership book, and basically the theme around the book is that some of the greatest leaders in every single industry, government, corporate, public/private and so forth, they tend to wake up at 5 a.m. in the morning to start their day because it allows you to focus. You can meditate. You can really strategize for the day, and I am a proud member of the 5 a.m. club myself. >> I'm glad we don't have the cameras on right now, because I have no poker face at the moment, and 5 a.m., I'm only awake at 5 a.m. because my neighbors are adding onto their house, and there is sometimes construction starting a little too early, and sometimes I get up so I can do my meditation before the construction starts, but 5 a.m. is not my most favorite hour, unless I'm heading to the airport so I can go someplace. Now, are those books that you also gift to people? What's the book that you give to people? >> I do. >> Oh, really those are those two. >> Yes. Those two books are books that I give to people. I also like to read a lot of books, biographies and autobiographies about entrepreneurs, great entrepreneurs. Another great book that I loved is the autobiography of John Johnson. John Johnson was the founder of a household American magazine called Ebony magazine and Jet magazine, and it's the great story of someone who literally started, like so many entrepreneurs, with very little resources. He actually started off with $5000 and was able to turn that into a multimillion dollar businesses and eventually he actually was on the Forbes 400 List in the 1990s. So, this is someone who literally started in the South, was discriminated against a lot at the time, and had to face great obstacles and challenges and literally started a magazine that became a household name. >> I had a chance to hear him speak once, and he was just a delight to hear. Had had so many wonderful stories and was really empowering no matter who, you know, whether you were young or old, it was just wonderful to hear him. And he was towards the end of his career at that point, but he had a lot of fire going, Bill. Yes, certainly, you know, one of the great inspirational figures in business icons in our country. Well, you know, we're going to have to get you together with Crystal Philcox from the Office of Enterprise Strategy. She is a double literature major, has two degrees in English literature, American literature. So, you're going to have to talk books with Crystal at some point. I think that I would like to be a fly on a wall for that conversation. >> I would love to have that conversation with Crystal. So, you're the associate administrator for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization or OSDBU at GSA. Could you break that one down for us a little bit. What is the role of your office. Now, I mean, we know, obviously the goal is to help small businesses work with government, but how do you make that happen? >> Sure, you know, really great question. So, at GSA, OSDBU, we advocate for small, small disadvantaged, veteran, hub zone, and women business owners. We accomplish this mission by working with our FAS, PBS, and OAS partners to achieve GSA's mission of meetings and exceeding the small business and socioeconomic small business goals. So, we do five key things, and we do them very well. First and foremost, we make sure we accomplish a mission by monitoring the small business and socioeconomic small business goal achievement. That comes from the SBA. So, first and foremost, we want to make sure that GSA is getting the A or A+ in that scorecard because we want to make sure that we are doing everything possible to create as many opportunities for small businesses as possible at GSA. The second thing that we do is small business compliance. That is critical for us. We have a number of statutory regulations that we have to monitor, the Small Business Act, section 15K and so forth. Acquisition strategy planning. So, we work with our FAS and PBS partners, and we try to get early at the table to make sure that we're providing and we're considering small businesses and all of the procurement opportunities from GSA. Four, subcontracting, a lot of small businesses start off as subcontractors, and so that is something that we advocate for, is the inclusion of small businesses. And five, training. We do a lot of training, and we do it very well. Both training, what we call the inside customer, those are FAZ, PBS, OES. We do a lot of acquisition training, and we also do a lot of small business training to the vendor community. So, small businesses that are listening to me right now, if you are interested and want to learn more about how to get a GSA contract, how to understand the federal procurement space, I would encourage you to please visit GSA.gov. You can do backsplash small business or on the front page of GSA.gov, small business is located prominently on the site. If you click on small business, it tells you everything anybody OSDBU and how we can actually add value and help your company understanding the federal procurement process at GSA. >> And we'll give you a chance to repeat that address again later in the show in case anybody had a chance to miss that. I'm Joan Kornblith. You're listening to GSA FAS Focus. By the way, if you have not subscribed to our podcast yet, please do so. It's just a quick click, and it will make everyone very happy, especially our producer, Max. And if you've got questions about anything that you're hearing today or someone you would like to hear featured on this program, just send us a note. The email address is GSAFASFocus@GSA.gov. That is GSAFASFocus@GSA.gov, and you can get in touch with us, and we will pass along all that information on how to contact our friends at OSDBU also. Today, we are talking with Exodie Roe, GSA's associated administrator for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. We were talking just a minute ago about numbers and scores and grades. As an organization, metrics and data drive everything that we do. How does GSA know if we're meeting those small business goals? Is it all numbers? Are there specific measures? And tell us again how the agency is graded. Sure. So, OSDBU monitors GSA's progress in reaching our agency-wide goals on a weekly basis. There are specific measures, which we refer to as our small business and socioeconomic small business prime contracting goals. These goals are negotiated on a yearly basis with SBA. To be specific, for fiscal year 21 GSA's small business goal is 30%. That means GSA works to ensure that 30% of our eligible dollars are awarded to small business. Furthermore GSA's small, disadvantaged business and also the women-owned small business goals are 5%, which is the statutory goal establish by Congress while the service disabled veteran owned and also the hub zone goals are 3%. This is also statutory goals establish by congress. So, to give you an idea, Joan, of where we stand today, GSA has awarded a total of 3.9 billion eligible dollars of which 1.75 billion have been awarded to small businesses. That is 44.66%. So, we are far exceeding the small business goal of 30%. So, as you can see, we are exceeding our small business goal of 30%, and this really shows GSA's strong commitment to small business. >> And it does not sound like you're slowing down at all just because you've hit those metrics. >> Not at all. Our team is committed. We are committed at GSA of providing opportunities for small businesses, and we take the President's mission seriously to expand opportunities and procurement opportunities for small businesses. >> On that subject, how is OSDBU advancing equity for small disadvantaged and socioeconomic small businesses in underserved communities? >> Great question. So, we're doing a few things. One of the things we also do is we have a HBCU initiative, and as part of that initiative, we are working and partnering with the nation's historically black colleges and universities do an overview of federal procurement opportunities and how they can do business with GSA as well. And so, we're reaching out. We have an HBCU initiative. We're also being as inclusive as possible with partnering with national chambers of commerce, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and all, just diversity in every shape and form to make sure that people know about the value of GSA small business commitment and how OSDBU can actually help small business owners in understanding the federal procurement process and making it easier. The other thing that we're doing is we're putting resources into our e-tools to make it easier. Right now, it can be a little challenging at times to kind of navigate sometimes the small businesses procurement websites, and so what we're doing and we've been doing is we're putting more resources into e-tools to make it easier for small businesses to navigate the federal procurement space. >> And that's a big thing all over GSA is really making it easier for small businesses and businesses that aren't used to working with the government, making it easier for them to get through that roadblock. >> Yes, absolutely. >> I know that you wrote a blog about this recently, and there is a very long web address for that one. We're going to spare people me reading out that entire web address. They can drop us a line at GSA FAS Focus, and we'll send them that email address, or what they could really do is go to the blog that's located on the front page of GSA.gov and do a search under your name or HBCU is in there or just you could put in equity for small businesses into that blog search, and it would come up with the blog that you wrote about prioritizing advancing equity for small businesses in there. We'll make sure that people can find that blog. I'm Joan Kornblith. You are listening to FAS Focus from the U.S. General Services Administration. I'm talking with Exodie Roe, the associate administrator for GSA's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. On top of measuring our success and being the chief advocate for small and disadvantaged businesses, you also hold a lot of training for businesses on how to get the most out of their relationships with the government. We recently highlighted a session for getting on the GSA schedule. How important are these training sessions for small businesses, and do they make a real impact? >> They make a tremendous impact. One of the added values that we do at OSDBU is we do teach small businesses literally from soup to nuts or A to Z how the federal procurement process works at our agency, and the other thing that we do that's an added value is we can make introductions to the contracting officers. The contracting officers are the ones who actually sign off on the contracts, and so that's another added value that we're able to do at OSDBU. Our small business technical advisors, I'm so proud of them, they are some of the most business savvy, smartest people in the federal government. They literally really understand everything about small businesses. They're out there on the front lines every day working with small businesses, and they actually do one-on-one counseling as well. So, they're able to kind of sit down with small businesses to do one-on-one counseling, to tell them about, you know, forecasting of opportunities. These are some of the opportunities that are coming ahead, right. They're able to kind of really do a deep dive with those small businesses. >> So, we are just about out of time. Thanks so much for joining us today, Exodie. However, one more thing, I'm going to pull out my crystal ball right now. We're going to take a look about three and a half years into the future. Things are looking pretty good to me. What is the one thing that you hope to see as a result of your time at GSA? >> I want to see more equity in procurement. I take seriously President Biden's mission to have more equity in procurement, to really make sure that we're doing our best job to increase opportunities for small and small disadvantaged businesses, for minority-owned businesses, and we do everything we can to really have more equity in procurement. So, that is a major focus and priority of mine. >> Well, finally, and really finally this time, if somebody needs assistance or they just want to provide feedback, how can they get involved with your office? >> Yes, if they go to GSA.gov on the front page it says small business, it's featured very prominently. If they click on small business, it will take them to the OSDBU small business website, and they can see who our small business technical advisors are, reach out to them directly. They can send emails to our SBTAs. They can learn all about the federal procurement process. We have a lot of helpful information on the website. >> We have been talking with Exodie Roe, the associate administrator for GSA's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. If you have any questions for Exodie or you would just like to learn more about anything that we've been talking about today or you just want to drop us a line, the address is GSAFASFocus@GSA.gov, and please, I hope you have clicked to subscribe to the podcast. If you haven't, do it now. We'll wait. Coming up, news of another great training opportunity and some fascinating FAS facts. I'm Joan Kornblith, and you are listening to GSA FAS Focus. Welcome back to FAS Focus. A look at what is happening throughout GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. I am Joan Kornblith, and as always, we have got a full plate of FAS-specific webinars and trainings coming up. I am joined now by our producer, Max Stempora, who is here with information about another training specifically for folks interested in what this week? >> Well, just like the rest of the conversation today, we are talking small business, and more importantly, rurals. A very important one about suspension and environment in federal contracting. On Thursday, August 5th at 2 p.m. Eastern, GSA OSDBU is presenting Suspension and Debarment, What Small Businesses Should Know. This webinar will explain the nuts and bolts of suspension and debarment, the impact it can have on one's small business and proactive steps your small business can take to avoid such mishaps in your organizations. Visit www.GSA.gov/events to sign up and learn more. >> And I will take it from here without making any jokes, because this is a very serious topic. Again, this webinar is scheduled for 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, August 5th. That is, however, 1 p.m. central time, starting at noon in the mountain time zone, 11 a.m. Pacific on Thursday, August 5th, and since travel is opening up and you decided to jet off to those beautiful beaches in Croatia, it'll be 8 p.m. but still daylight when you're taking that course. Wherever you are, just remember to visit the GSA.gov/events page. Where can you find that? Www.GSA.gov/events. To learn more and register for Suspension and Debarment, What Small Businesses Need to Know. I'm Joan Kornblith coming up FAS Focus, a few fascinating FAS facts. [ Music ] Welcome back to GSA FAS Focus. I'm Joan Kornblith. We are almost out of time for today. I do want to leave you with a few fascinating FAS facts. And since we were speaking with Exodie Roe earlier, Exodie being the associate administrator for GSA's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, I thought it might make sense to check out a few things related to OSDBU. So, Max, this week I learned that there is a big place for sustainable goods and services in acquisitions. GSA's green procurement website, which is an online search away, has details on all the products that are part of that program, and there is room for small businesses there. GSA's forecast tools of opportunities is free, and it provides information on planned federal contracting opportunities including small business opportunities, and GSA's E-library is just one of the places that offer information about subcontracting opportunities. It's a way for small businesses to sell goods or services to government by partnering with a business that is already on schedule. You can learn more about subcontracting by reaching out to the regional GSA small business centers. But let's crunch some numbers now, shall we? Are you ready -- >> Sure. >> Ready to crunch those numbers? >> I can try. >> Okay. You know that GSA's multiple awards schedule or MAS is home to services and solutions. Do you want to know how much small businesses are represented on MAS? >> Well, I'm thinking back to the interview we just had with Exodie, and I want to say he might have said our small business goals was something like 40% of contracting actions or something. >> That's a good goal, but we're doing pretty well. >> So, maybe 50% of the contractors in MAS are small business? >> Well, that would even be a good goal. But listen to this. So, far in fiscal year '21, and we're about three-quarters of the way through fiscal year '21, just finishing up the third quarter. So far in fiscal year '21, within the MAS program, 81.76%, that's practically 82% -- >> Wow. >> Of MAS contracts are small businesses. Thirty-eight point eight, excuse me 38.08% of the fiscal year sales to small business contracts. >> That's just within the MAS program. >> Yeah, yeah. Yeah. >> That's impressive, wow. >> Just within MAS. Not to mention OASIS small business. Fifty-six task orders with 1.7 billion obligated to small businesses. >> That's a good amount too. >> Yeah, those are very fascinating FAS facts, and those are all the fascinating FAS facts I have for you today. Don't forget, if there is anything else FAS related that you would like to learn about or someone you would like to hear featured on FAS Focus, let us know. Send a note to GSA FAS Focus at GSA.gov, that is GSAFASFocus@GSA.gov, and don't forget to click subscribe. I know how much you liked our conversation this week. It is going to be just as good next time. I'm Joan Kornblith. I put the words together. Max Stempora is the producer. Domini Artis handles our social media. Thank you to Exodie Roe for joining us this week. FAS Focus is a production of the U.S. General Services Administration's Office of Strategic Communication. [ Music ]