Statement of the Hon. Nydia M. Velazquez on SBA Management Review: Office of Government Contracting and Business Development
Washington, June 23, 2022
When a small firm wins a federal contract, it creates a ripple effect that creates jobs, invests in communities, and generally boosts the economy. The presence of small firms also helps drive innovation nationwide and competition in the federal marketplace.
Congress recognized these benefits in 1953, when they created the Small Business Administration and tasked the agency with ensuring that a fair proportion of contracts and subcontracts are awarded to small businesses.
Today, SBA’s Office of Government Contracting oversees this mission and works to create an environment where small businesses can compete on a level playing field in federal procurement.
In addition to supervising governmentwide contracting goals, the office is also responsible for administering multiple programs like the 8(a) Program, the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program, the Women-Owned Small Business program, and the HUBZone program. These initiatives help create contracting opportunities for disadvantaged small businesses and are instrumental in helping the government reach its overall small business contracting goal.
Given its critical mission of maximizing small business participation in the federal marketplace, we must take steps to ensure the Office of Government Contracting and Business Development operates as effectively as possible.
Today, I hope we can take a close look at the office’s challenges and actions congress can take to alleviate them. For instance, despite the federal government consistently meeting its goal of awarding 23% of eligible federal contracting dollars to small firms, small business participation has been steadily declining. Last week, we held a hearing detailing the severe impact of category management and governmentwide contracting vehicles to small firms. I’d like to hear what steps SBA is taking to minimize these effects and safeguard the small business base.
And while the government has met the overall small business contracting goal in recent years, the goals for programs like HUBZone and the Women-Owned Small Business program were not. In fact, the goal for the Women-Owned Contracting Program has only been met twice, and the HUBZone goal has never been met. It’s important that we address these shortcomings and ensure that program participants are getting an adequate number of opportunities.
I also want to discuss IT challenges. As reported by the SBA’s Office of Inspector General, SBA abandoned Certify.SBA.gov alleging it was unsustainable in the long term and intended to replace it. Given the importance of having an IT platform that can successfully and efficiently service all of the contracting programs, I’m interested in examining SBA plans and timelines related to this initiative.
These are just a few important issues we’ll cover today. I would also like to hear more from our witness about staffing resources, strengthening internal controls, and implementing key legislation related to contracting programs.
When small contractors can thrive, our nation’s small businesses, government, and economy all benefit. I look forward to hearing from Associate Administrator Hidalgo about the ways Congress and the agency can work together to protect the role small businesses in the procurement process.