FORT SHAFTER, HI -- Department of Defense small business advocates on Oahu participated in the 10th Annual DOD Hawaii Small Business Forum at the Honolulu Country Club on Thursday, July 12, 2012.

The event was sponsored by the Minority Business Development Agency Business Center at the University of Hawaii and provided an interactive forum for industry representatives to network with acquisition professionals from the U.S. Army Regional Contracting Office, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tripler Army Medical Center, Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii, Pacific Air Forces Headquarters, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, U.S. Coast Guard, Defense IT Contracting Organization Pacific, Tripler Army Medical Center, Defense Logistics Agency, and the Small Business Administration.

After opening remarks and a presentation by the Minority Business Development Agency, a panel of DOD professionals shared upcoming contracting opportunities as well as advice for working with their respective organizations. Deputy District Engineer for Programs and Project Management Tony Paresa represented Honolulu District and stressed the importance of open communication.

"Success is based upon everyone going in the same direction -- when everyone understands what the goal is," Paresa said. "If you are unsure, ask questions. Don't assume; ensure we have a common understanding. Listen to what we are telling you; we will commit to listen to you are telling us. Read and understand the contract. And let's work together to build a trusting working relationship."

"We commit to you…we will keep the communication flowing," Paresa said. "We commit to being very honest with you."

In the afternoon, participants had the opportunity to attend breakout workshops covering Multiple Award Task Order Contracts (MATOCs), Safety Success on Navy Contracts, How to Obtain GSA Federal Supply Schedules, and How to Do Business with the Veterans Administration.

Honolulu District's Chief of Construction Branch Lou Muzzarini and Contracting Officer Kent Tamai presented "The ABC's of Multiple Award Task Order Construction Contracts" to approximately 30 workshop attendees.

Tamai provided guidance on submitting proposals for the MATOCs.

"MATOCs are how we get to the finish line," Tamai said, referring to the process of choosing multiple awardees to provide services within a pre-defined dollar amount.

He urged small business owners to use their best asset: Honolulu District Deputy for Small Business Programs Cathy Yoza.

"She is your interface to the Corps," Tamai said.

Muzzarini followed up with how contractors can better succeed by diligently complying with submission of all the preliminary requirements of their respective task orders to get them to the point where they can actually "turn dirt"(start construction). Understanding and following contract requirements will allow contractors to stand out and better qualify when submitting proposals for MATOCs in the future.

The best piece of advice Muzzarini said he could give was to read the contract carefully and in its entirety and above all else, emphasize safety.

"Engineer safety into your work process," he said. "Safety is very important to us and I think we all have a moral responsibility to get our employees home to their families in the same way they came to work. I want to help you learn to work better with the Corps so that we can work together to build higher quality projects…done on time, safely and within budget so we can turn them over to our customers on the day we said we would."

For more information on small business contracting opportunities with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu District, contact Cathy Yoza at (808) 835-4020 or by email at