Business owner: Contracting playing field not always level

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Phil Castle

Scott Fasken hopes plans to relocate the headquarters of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to Grand Junction will result in more opportunities for small businesses to compete for government contracts.

But as the owner of a Grand Valley operation who said he’s had both good and bad experiences with federal contracting, he’s concerned the playing field between small businesses and large corporations isn’t always level. “We want to make sure everybody gets a fair shake with the big guys.”

The Department of Interior, which oversees the BLM,  announced plans to move the headquarters of the agency from Washington, D.C., to Grand Junction as part of a reorganization that will move staff to western states and closer to the public lands the BLM manages. A total of 27 executive and support positions are expected to move to Grand Junction.

While having the BLM headquarters in Grand Junction could help, local businesses might not necessarily benefit, Fasken said.

Fasken is vice president of operations at the Colorado Document Security onsite document destruction business based in Palisade. The company shreds documents and helps customers protect confidential information and comply with laws, including a new state law governing the destruction of data containing personally identifying information.

Fasken said his company provides services in a four-state region for some federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Agency, Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration.

But he wasn’t successful in winning a contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Grand Junction even after the VA small business development group in Salt Lake City asked him to submit a bid.

Fasken said he was told his was the only small business to bid on the contract and therefore wasn’t considered. “It was a paperwork shuffle so they could say they did it.”

The contract went to a larger company based in Canada, he said. “It would be nice to be a local vendor, but it’s not going to make us or break us.”

Other small business owners should realize, he said, government contracting can involve onerous processes and might not always result in equal treatment between small firms and large corporations.