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Agencies Report Slight Progress in Meeting Small Business Contracting Goals

Governmentwide 23 percent goal just missed; House chairman calls progress 'unacceptable.'

In its annual scorecard on small business procurement, the Small Business Administration on Tuesday announced “real progress” toward delivering 23 percent of all federal contracting dollars to small businesses, with 22.25 percent going to small firms in fiscal 2012, compared with 21.65 percent in 2011.

“As a result of a governmentwide focus on increasing small business contracting opportunities, during the first term of the Obama administration, $376.2 billion in contracting dollars went to small businesses,” SBA Associate Administrator for Government Contracting and Business Development John Shoraka wrote in a blog post. “This is a $48.1 billion increase over the four preceding years even as we have reduced contracting spending overall.”

SBA is required to update Congress on progress on boosting small business as identified by chief financial officers of the 24 largest departments.

“Federal contracting with small businesses remains a win-win,” Shoraka said. “Small businesses get the revenue they need to grow their revenues and create jobs. Meanwhile, the federal government gets the chance to work with some of the most responsive, innovative and nimble companies in the U.S. -- often with a direct line to their CEO.”

House Small Business Committee Chairman Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., was less enthusiastic. “The fact that the federal government hasn’t met this meager 23 percent small business contracting goal for seven years is simply unacceptable, and further proof that our government continues to give lip service to small companies,” he said.

A committee analysis shows that small businesses received only 19.38 percent of prime contract dollars, Graves said. “The administration shouldn’t be allowed to cook the books,” he said.

Another critic, the Petaluma, Calif.,-based American Small Business League, accused SBA of using “fabricated and fraudulent data” and releasing it near a holiday to “avoid media scrutiny.” The league said that many of the contracts agencies claim are going to small businesses are actually going to large companies. The group also said the agency understates the federal acquisition budget by more than half. “In reality, the nation’s 28 million legitimate small businesses are receiving no more than 5 percent of all federal contracts or at least $200 billion a year less than required by law,” the league said.

(Image via Ralf Kleemann/Shutterstock.com)