Small business contracting hits 23 percent; 8(a) numbers fall

Small businesses reaped a record $69.2 billion in federal prime contracts in fiscal 2004, up nearly 6 percent from the previous high, the Small Business Administration said today.

The contracts awarded to small businesses represented 23.1 percent of all federal contracting dollars and 43.7 percent of all federal contracting jobs in 2004. A report from the Federal Procurement Data Center (FPDC) shows $299.9 billion was spent on nearly 10 million contracts last year. Small businesses won 4.4 million contracts.

Contracting dollars rose for all small business categories except for the 8(a) program. Participants in 8(a) program received $8.4 billion in contracts, 2.8 percent of the total. Results for 2004 are down from 2003, when 8(a) programs received $10.1 billion in contracts, 3.6 percent of the total.

Hector Barreto, SBA administrator, said that while the federal government surpassed its goal of awarding 23 percent of all federal contracts to small businesses, there is room for improvement. "We can still do better," he said.

The FPDC report showed that small disadvantaged businesses won more than their goal of 5 percent of all federal contracting dollars, registering 6.2 percent, or $18.5 billion.

Women-owned businesses also saw an increase, up $814.6 million to a record of $9.1 billion, or about 3 percent of the federal total.

Contracts to businesses owned by service-disabled veterans more than doubled, reaching $1.2 billion, up $550 million from 2003.

Contracts awarded through the SBA's HUBZone program to businesses in economically distressed communities increased 40 percent to $4.8 billion, 1.6 percent of the total money awarded.

Of the $299.9 billion awarded in total, about $210.7 billion?more than 70 percent?was awarded by the Defense Department. DOD awarded $46.9 billion of its contracts to small businesses, about 22.3 percent of its total.

The FPDC report also shows that 59.1 percent of SBA's own contracting dollars went to small businesses in 2004, up from 48.1 percent the year before.

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