The strong focus on national security as part of the defence sector is often a major challenge, according to legal officer Daniel Mendoza who is also founder and chief executive of Mendoza Legal and Consulting.
Speaking to Defence Connect, Mendoza said in most cases it was quite straightforward to deal with representatives of the defence industry.
“I've found them fundamentally different because what they're doing is operating in a sector which has regard, of course, to the national interest and the projection of Australia's military force, perhaps on an expeditionary basis overseas or for more local purposes,” said Mendoza.
“And that common purpose and interest in participating to that national interest effort is not something that I've found in providing services to clients outside the defence industry.”
Another factor why Mendoza’s SME has managed to do well in the defence sector is the company’s cost basis, which means it can charge fees that are necessarily much lower.
“We don't have the overheads of running an established practice and the level of personal attention to detail … and to the relationship that my practice is able to offer to those, perhaps, smaller clients has been very well received,” he said.
Mendoza was upbeat in terms of the firm’s long-term outlook, particularly in a sector that is evolving as constantly as defence.
“Those clients that I think have been able to achieve the most successful relationships with government agencies, in this case Defence, have been those that have really kept up to date with … the legal and policy changes that have taken place,” he added, noting that many industry participants losing out are those “who are operating with a, perhaps, outdated mindset about their approach to dealing with the government (and) take a, perhaps, unnecessarily adversarial approach in dealing with, in this case, the Commonwealth”.
“Whereas, I think, what government agencies are looking for much more these days is a partnership-oriented relationship with their potential suppliers, and those suppliers that enter into a more collaborative approach of dialogue with the government agencies tend to be those who are much more across those legal and policy developments,” said Mendoza.
For example, Mendoza explained how the Defence procurement policy manual was frequently being updated, “or more recently, completely rewritten”.
“A few years before that, we've had the replacement of the Financial Management and Accountability Act with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act,” he said.
Mendoza said these were the kind of changes that those customers who have managed to successfully negotiate with government, and subsequently also conduct talks through to contract execution, were across.
“And I think it doesn't need to be anything more complicated than simply staying across the defence industry media about what those updates mean and getting good advice when the time's right,” he said.
To hear more from Daniel Mendoza-Jones, tune in to our podcast here.