Key agencies tout plan for single small-business contract

HERSHEY, Pa.?The Defense Department and NASA are backing a plan to create a single small-business contracting goal.

Defense and NASA support the plan drafted by procurement officials to do away with the individual targets that agencies negotiate with the Office of Management and Budget, said Mark Clark, deputy chief of acquisition plans and policy at the National Security Agency.

Defense officials are drafting a legislative proposal that would give the department one goal across all its agencies, Clark said this week at the Industry Advisory Council's Executive Leadership Conference 2003.

The Veterans Affairs Department also supports the idea, said Scott Denniston, director of VA's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. VA doesn't have the contracting staff to completely track its progress on the multiple small-business goals negotiated by VA bureaus, he said.

Clark said he'd welcome one goal because it would save time and money.

"It's so difficult for us to look at subcontractor participation to see if [the primes] are doing a good job," he said. "We don't have the time. A combined goal will allow us to more accurately represent the dollars going to small businesses."

Governmentwide, 23 percent of federal prime contract dollars are supposed to go to small businesses each year. In addition, prime contractors on large jobs often have small-business subcontracting plans.

(Updated 4:37 p.m. Oct. 22, 2003)

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