Disclosure aids small-business goals
Small businesses are garnering attention when agencies' scores go public.
In the Small Business Administration's first score card regarding fiscal 2006 figures, half of the 24 graded agencies got the red mark of failure. In fiscal 2010, though, 13 agencies received an A under a new grading system based on meeting specific small-business goals.
Because SBA put the numbers out for the public to read, agencies have started to pay more attention to small-business contracting efforts, said Joe Jordan, associate administrator of government contracting and business development at the SBA.
“I think the transparency and accountability provided by this small-business score card is a big reason why,” he said.
In 2010, SBA gave the government as a whole a grade of B for its attempts to reach small-business contracting goals, including the annual 23 percent overall goal.
The government awarded 22.7 percent of its contracting dollars to small companies in fiscal 2010, compared with 21.9 percent the previous year. It awarded $97.9 billion to small businesses in 2010, compared with $96.8 billion in 2009, a $1.1 billion increase.
For 2010, the government improved in four of the five categories of small businesses compared to SBA’s previous score card.
The B grade means that the government met 90 to 99 percent of its goals for the year.
SBA has stepped up its game in terms of fighting for small businesses.
Richard Dean, chairman of the American Small Business Coalition’s Market Intelligence and Education Committee and director of strategic partnerships at Geneva Software, said SBA officials have taken action against agencies not only to improve their statistics but to also stick to regulations.
“When current work is or was a small-business set-aside, SBA has redressed the agency to continue pursuit of recompeting the contract as a small-business set-aside when there is no obvious change in scope,” he said.
SBA’s moves have had a positive effect on agencies’ office of small and disadvantaged businesses and small-business offices.
“They seem to be encouraged or are increasing their fight for small-business shares of contracting actions within the agency,” Dean said.
As the number of contracting officers has declined and the remaining ones are overloaded with work, it “means greater bundling of work within a contract offering and less of a chance for small businesses to compete for that work,” he said.
This fight from federal small-business advocates is key for small businesses to get their place in the federal marketplace.
Matthew Weigelt is a former FCW senior writer who covered acquisition and procurement.