Obama increases focus on small-business contracting

The president has created task forces to focus on small-business contracting problems and opportunities for companies owned by service-disabled veterans

President Barack Obama has formed two interagency working groups that will look for ways to award more federal contracts to small businesses.

Obama signed an executive order April 26 that established an interagency task force that will seek to develop opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses. He also signed a memo establishing an interagency task force to help small businesses overall win more federal contracts.

In addition, the memo directs Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra to build a Web-based dashboard by July that will illustrate how many contracts agencies award to small, disadvantaged businesses.

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The Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development will work with agencies to develop opportunities for veteran-owned businesses. It will also look for ways to identify small companies owned by service-disabled veterans to help the government meet its 3 percent small-business contracting goal, the executive order states.

The task force will develop regulatory and administrative proposals to increase the contracting percentage, the order states.

In fiscal 2008, covered by the Small Business Administration’s most recent goaling report, the government awarded only 1.5 percent of its contracting dollars to businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.

“In recent years, the federal government has not consistently reached its small-business contracting goals,” Obama wrote.

He also announced the new Interagency Task Force on Federal Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses, which will take a broader look at small-business contracting.

On the same day the president made his announcement, Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget and a co-chairman of the task force, wrote on his blog that the Obama administration has launched several programs to boost small-business lending.

In his memo, Obama gave the new task force until late summer to come up with recommendations for improving small-business contracting. He said he wants the government to use innovative strategies, such as teaming arrangements, and break down barriers, such as unbundling large contracts, so small businesses have more opportunities to compete for contracts.

He also suggested using new technologies to help agency officials identify and contact qualified small businesses.

“Where small businesses have the capacity to do more, we should strive to exceed the statutory goals,” Obama wrote.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

Reader Comments

Mon, Jun 14, 2010 Mary California

Small Disadvantaged Bussinesses have a very hard time winning any part of contracts. The bonding amounts are too high and the mobilization is expensive. This is difficult in today's economy. A line of credit once available is no longer open if past income and payment obligations don't meet the tougher criteria set by lenders. Without financial help or coorperation from the Prime contractors, there is no chance of winning any part of the work. They advertise in the solicitations they will 'assist' with bonding, insurance and bidding. But when you call to find out, verbally they give the runaround. We have even gone out to the job sites after the project gets started and asked the workers on break how their sub-contract employer got the bid....the answer: Our comapny is part of the prime contractor's sub companies.When will this government allow the bigger contracts to be divided into seperate job orders to be bid seperately with lower insurance and bonding levels set aside for independently, not related to the Prime, small businesses like DVBE, WOSBE, MBE,SBE? Please wake up so jobs can be created and competition will level out.

Thu, Apr 29, 2010 Brandon Washinton, DC

I've said it before and I'll say it again: If you want agencies to procure a certain way, then make that way EASY to follow. People will generally migrate towards the path of least resistance. Make it quick, straight-forward, and efficient to contract with small businesses, and that's exactly what agencies will start doing.

Thu, Apr 29, 2010

Who would you contact to review existing contracts and see if they could be split up or renewed using small businesses? Currently at Redstone arsenal there are two contracts which support the entire post for IT services and they were awarded to only two companies. These are growing more and more with new units coming to Redstone Arsenal and there is no way a small business can even bid because of the way the existing contracts are written. They can keep adding as many people as they want on these two contracts, they have the contractors purchasing software and hardware from ODC clins and other businesses have no opportunity to bid. I feel contracts with the NEC should be reviewed.

Wed, Apr 28, 2010 Shama

God Bless you President Obama! Finally we have a leader with some integrity & ethics. Once investigation goes underway it will be a surprise revelation to see that there are many fraudulent activities that has taken place over the years. There are some well respected individuals who support the two major political parties in the country have certified as small businesses or got an 8 (a) certification and won huge contracts based on their personal relationships with the major government contractors. Millions of dollars has been made by small businesses who were created under false pretense while the true small business have suffered & struggled. It would be great to identify crooks owners of these 8 (a) and small businesses & throw them in jail. It is a known facts that government agencies & departments have a revolving door, once official leave their government positions they are hired by system integrators, beltway bandits in high positions & then they go and win the multimillion dollar & multi years contract not because they are qualified but merely because of personal relationship. Is this ethical to steal from the American tax payers and from players who can actually add value? When will our elected officials wake up to the call of fair, honest way of conducting business? When will they realize that this much greed is not good for them or this country? President Obama, legitimate women owned business with the know hows and actual knowledge and experience are struggling because the government contracts space is covered by dishonest men & women who do not know how to play by the rule and who are only looking out for themselves. Since you have taken office you have promoted creation of small businesses and based on your encouragement and your vision some of us have taken the daring step but we do have have sugar daddies in the federal space and the opportunities does not go to the ones who will deliver with integrity, it is going to the friends & family. how do you plan to address dishonesty & corruption in the Government procurement process. Retired officials do deserve to be provided with opportunities but there has to be a set criteria, many start their business & flourish based on their internal connections not the expertise. The number one disease that has spread in America is greed & corruption among the corporate tycoons & the government officials, it has tarnished America's image all over the world & I know our visiting guests from the Muslim countries pointed it out several times during the course of the conference. Trust in America, its officials, its policies both foreign & financials is at a high time low, you need to look into this matter closely

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