Confirming an achievement first leaked in April, the Small Business Administration on Friday announced that the government met its small business federal contracting goal for the first time in eight years.
The agency average of 23.39 percent of eligible contract dollars for fiscal 2013—totaling $83.1 billion—was released as part of the annual scorecard on the goals of steering contracts to more small firms, including those owned by women, disadvantaged owners, and service-disabled veterans, along with those located in poor communities, known as historically underutilized business zones in government parlance.
“When we hit our small business procurement target, it’s a win,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet at a press conference at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in suburban Maryland. “Small businesses get the revenue they need to grow and create jobs, and the federal government gets the chance to work with some of the most responsive, innovative and nimble companies in the U.S. while the economy grows.”
Performance in four out of five of the small business prime contracting categories showed significant improvement, with increases in performance against statutory goals, SBA reported. All agencies achieved the 23 percent goal, even though overall dollar figures are down due to cuts in contracting, the agency noted. Twenty agencies received an “A” or “A-plus” on the scorecard.
While contract dollars have gone down in all categories as a result of overall reduced federal spending, small businesses still secured a greater percentage of the contracting dollars.
Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., chairman of the House Small Business Committee, who has shepherded a bill through the House to raise the goals to 25 percent, said agencies’ success in meeting the 23 percent goal “demonstrates that the reforms enacted during the past two Congresses are working. We've focused on helping small businesses compete for federal contracts by including small business goals in senior agency employee performance reviews and bonus discussions, increasing the authority of the small business contracting advocates, and making the size regulations easier to follow,” he said in a Friday statement.
“Once SBA implements the rest of these reforms, such as making it easier for small companies to team on larger contracts or find mentors, small business participation will continue to rise.” He called on the Senate to pass the House bill.
A women’s small business advocacy group led by American Express OPEN applauded the progress, noting that the 4.32 percent of 2013 federal contracting dollars that went to women-owned small businesses represented an increase, though it fell short of the 5 percent goal of SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program.
“Despite missing the goal, the WOSB program has been extremely successful since its inception in 2011 and has spawned creation of other programs to aid WOSB contractors,” the group said.