OMB calls on agencies to do more contracting with veterans' businesses

Agencies are not doing enough to meet their goals for contracting with veteran-owned small businesses, agency heads were told in a memo from Angela Styles, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in the Office of Management and Budget.

An analysis of prime contracts awarded by 58 departments and agencies to service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses and veteran-owned small businesses in fiscal 2001 and the first three quarters of fiscal 2002 showed that the percentage of prime contracts awarded to these businesses slipped from 2001 to 2002 in some agencies, and that 22 agencies awarded no contracts to these businesses in either 2001 or 2002.

Seven agencies increased the percentage of prime contracts they awarded to both service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses and veteran-owned small businesses.

The National Endowment for the Arts showed the biggest overall jump, increasing the percentage of its prime contracting with service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses from zero in 2001 to 24.43 percent in 2002 and the percentage of its prime contracting with veteran-owned small businesses from zero in 2001 to 0.46 percent in 2002.

The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999 set a 3 percent governmentwide goal for participation by small businesses owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans in federal contracting and subcontracting.

Individual agency goals are set through negotiations between the Small Business Administration and the agency in an effort to realistically reflect the potential of small businesses to perform contracts and subcontracts let by the agency.

"While low numbers are not surprising for the first year after a statutory goal is established, decreasing numbers indicate that we have issues that must be resolved. Although these goals may not be easy to accomplish, we must do better," Styles wrote in the April 29 memo. "We are asking each agency to take another look at ways to provide opportunities for small businesses owned and operated by veterans who are able and willing to supply quality goods and services at competitive prices."

To assist agencies in locating veteran-owned small businesses, the Department of Veterans Affairs is creating VETBIZ Vendor Information Pages at www.vetbiz.gov, according to the memo.

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