Obama calls for more small business contracting

Tuesday - 4/27/2010, 6:11am EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

President Barack Obama wants more accountability for how agencies are meeting federal small business contracting goals.

The President today signed an executive order requiring federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra and federal chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra to develop a Web site to track agency progress in meeting all small business goals.

He also signed an executive order to create a new Veterans Small Business Development, led by the Small Business Administration, to focus on six areas to make veteran-owned businesses more successful.

Obama also calls for a new interagency task force small business federal contracting opportunities led by the Office of Management and Budget, the Commerce Department and SBA, to make recommendations for improving small business contracting.

"In recent years, the federal government has not consistently reached its small business contracting goals," Obama writes in the executive order. "Although we have made some progress -- particularly with respect to Recovery Act contracts -- more work can and should be done. I am committed to ensuring that small businesses, including firms owned by women, minorities, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and service-disabled veterans, have fair access to federal government contracting. Indeed, where small businesses have the capacity to do more, we should strive to exceed the statutory goals."

SBA reported for fiscal 2008, the latest year data is available, that agencies missed the governmentwide goals in four of five areas. SBA says agencies met the 5 percent small disadvantage business goal, by awarding 6.7 percent to these firms. But the government dropped the ball in achieving the goals for small businesses, women owned, service disabled veteran owned and historically underutilized business, or HUBZone, goals.

Overall, agencies awarded $10 billion more dollars to small firms in 2008, up to $93.2 billion, than in 2007, but the overall percentage of contracts going to small businesses fell to 21.5 percent from 22 percent. The governmentwide goal is 23 percent.

The small business executive order calls for the Web site to improve collection, verification, accuracy and availability of small business contracting information. The site must be up by late July, or in 90 days.

The task force will take the next 120 days to develop recommendations around four areas:

  • Using innovative strategies to increase contracting opportunities and expanding mentoring programs;

  • Removing barriers for small businesses in the federal market, including unbundling large projects, improving acquisition workforce training and using new technology to help federal program managers and directors of Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization identify and provide access to contracting opportunities.

  • Expanding agency outreach to veterans and socially or economically disadvantaged firms.

  • Establishing policies, revising legislation or regulations to ensure more contracts are available for small businesses.

"Obtaining tangible results will require an honest and accurate accounting of our progress so that we can have transparency and accountability through Federal small business procurement data," Obama writes. "Additionally, we must expand outreach strategies to alert small firms to federal contracting opportunities."

Under the veterans executive order, Obama says the new task force should develop proposals to increase access to capital by veteran-owned firms, ensure agencies are meeting their governmentwide contracting goals and increase the integrity of certifications of status as a small business concern owned and controlled by a veteran or service-disabled veteran.

Obama wants the task force to submit to his office a report annually the proposals and implementation of them to increase the development of veteran-owned businesses.

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