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At a small business contracting conference on Monday, one senior federal executive demonstrated some bona fides.

During a session called a “Smackdown” put on by the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council, in which industry representatives were permitted to vent, question and challenge a panel of federal small business contracting supervisors, some in the audience complained that government bureaucracy was opaque and unresponsive to their efforts to win business for their small firms.

The federal officials, in turn, explained that many contractors fail to do their homework before inquiring about their prospects to qualify for work and don’t follow agency announcements in the Federal Register.

Bridget Bean, district director of the Washington Metropolitan District Office for the Small Business Administration and acting regional administrator, instructed the audience to put their complaints in writing and copy her on an email. She gave her full email address.

“You are the government and we are the government,” she told the business people. “We need to work together.”

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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