Government agencies for the first time since 2005 appear to have met the goal of awarding 23 percent of prime contracts to small businesses, leaders of the House Small Business Committee said March 5.
Although the Small Business Administration has not finalized the tally of federal contracts awarded to small businesses, it appears the government has reached the 23 percent goal, according to Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), chairman and ranking member of the committee. Their observations came at the outset of a meeting to mark up several bills to help expand access to the federal marketplace for small firms.
One of those bills, the Greater Opportunities for Small Business Act (H.R. 4093), sponsored by Graves, would increase the small business prime contracting goal to 25 percent. While progress has been made, there's a long way to go, Graves said.
Velazquez said raising the goal is “timely” given that it appears the government may have met the 23-percent threshold for the first time since 2005. The SBA's preliminary figures show that small businesses were awarded $83.2 billion in prime contracts in fiscal year 2013, she said.
According to the SBA's annual procurement scorecard, agencies awarded 22.25 percent ($89.9 billion) of their prime contracting dollars to small businesses in FY 2012, up from 21.65 percent in FY 2011.
Additionally, H.R. 4093 would:
• establish a goal of awarding 40 percent of all subcontracted dollars to small businesses, compared to the current goal of 36 percent; and
• increase reporting accuracy by requiring that only prime contract awards can count toward the prime contract goal.
The bill was reported out of the committee with unanimous support, but faces opposition in the procurement community.
Professional Services Council President and CEO Stan Soloway, for instance, warned against increasing the goal until accurate data showing the total extent of small business participation in federal contracting is available. Raising “either the prime or subcontracting goals without fully understanding total small business activity would be premature and counter-productive,” he said.
“Prior to raising any of the contracting goals, it is important for federal agencies and policy-makers to understand the total small business participation in federal contacting. To do so, clear and accurate data is needed of not just prime contracting dollars flowing to small businesses, but also federal dollars flowing to small businesses via subcontracts. However, such subcontracting data still does not exist in any meaningful or accurate form,” Soloway said.
SB Bills on the Move
In addition to H.R. 4093, the committee approved:
• the Contracting Data and Bundling Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 4094), also sponsored by Graves, to improve transparency and accountability in contract bundling and consolidation;
• the Commonsense Construction Contracting Act of 2013 (H.R. 2751), sponsored by Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), to prohibit use of reverse auctions when a construction services contract is suitable for award to small business, or when the procurement is made using a small business program;
• the Improving Opportunities for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Act of 2013 (H.R. 2882), sponsored by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.). to transfer responsibility for verifying the status of service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the SBA';
• the Security in Bonding Act of 2013 (H.R. 776), also sponsored by Hanna, to increases the access of small construction companies to surety bonds; and.
• the Women's Procurement Program Equalization Act of 2013 (H.R. 2452), sponsored by Velazquez, to standardize sole source authorities among the SBA's procurement programs in order to promote parity.