The U.S. Department of Energy recently recognized Stacey Francis as its 2015 Facility Management Contractor Small Business Program Manager of the Year. Francis’ successful effort to increase Idaho National Laboratory’s partnerships with small businesses led to her earning this national award.

“In my world, small business trumps everything,” Francis said. “They are the incubators, the shops that keep jobs running.”

The honor is given to an active and innovative individual within a DOE facility who exceeds the expectations of the job as small business program manager. Under Francis’ lead, INL’s small business program did just that, surpassing the Idaho and small business goal by 15 percent and the program’s five socioeconomic goals in 2015.

“One of my main duties is to ensure that what we do makes sound business sense, not just what meets the goals,” she said.

Francis has managed INL’s Small Business Program for the past six years. Working with a staff of 40 in the Acquisition Management Department, she describes her position as the first stop for small businesses interested in partnering with INL. From there, she investigates what they can offer the lab, and then connects them to the right people.

“Stacey has led INL’s Small Business Program to increase small business awards yearly, leading to FY 2015’s outstanding goal-breaking numbers,” said Don Stevens, INL Governance, Systems and Support Procurement manager. “She is a great coach and a great cheerleader for the entire acquisitions team.”

Stacey Francis P   resized
INL Small Business Program Manager Stacey Francis

Small businesses make up 96.6 percent of all companies in Idaho and 55.9 percent of Idaho’s workforce. Francis pointed out that when the lab partners with a small business, that doesn’t just affect the business, but also eastern Idaho’s economy and the nation as a whole.

INL relies on small businesses to provide a wide range of materials, such as office supplies, tools and lab supplies. Services such as construction, information management support and expertise in areas of research are also contracted to small businesses.

Francis said one benefit of partnering with small businesses is efficiency. These businesses will accept INL’s contracts and clauses, whereas bigger companies tend to negotiate and drag out the process. This allows INL to get jobs done more quickly, something that aids the lab’s clean energy and national security mission.

Stephanie Walsh, owner of Walsh Engineering Services, said, “Partnering with INL has provided not only growth for Walsh Engineering, but also the ability to invest in mid- and long-term initiatives that support INL and our community. Their open communication and fair treatment allow us to be focused and committed to INL’s mission.”

Francis said small businesses are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. This includes conducting business in an ethical and honest manner. She noted it’s possible to form personal relationships with smaller businesses, which sometimes can’t be made with larger companies.

“They are our partners, to help us ensure that the mission at INL is carried out,” Francis said. “It’s a relationship in which both parties benefit.”

Another advantage is that small businesses often have made connections with larger firms. INL can go to the smaller business, reap the benefits of the partnership with the large business, and bypass the time and effort required to negotiate.

As a national laboratory, INL has an obligation to do what is most cost-effective. Partnering with small businesses boosts the economy, the efficiency of INL and nuclear energy field, and enables the small businesses to grow and prosper.

Francis was officially recognized at the U.S. Department of Energy’s 15th Annual DOE Small Business Forum and Expo on May 24 in Atlanta, Georgia. But on her own recognition, she maintains modesty. “The award is nothing I’ve done,” she insisted. “It’s all the staff.”


Posted May 31, 2016