Small biz trying to get piece of DoD procurement pie

Monday - 1/23/2012, 10:08am EST

John Shoraka, acting associate administrator for government contracting and business development, SBA

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Small companies wanting to do business with the Pentagon have to find new ways of getting contracts because of tighter budgets.

Fortunately for small businesses, the Defense Department is re-emphasizing the need for the department to meet small business contracting goals, said John Shoraka, acting associate administrator for government contracting and business development at the Small Business Administration.

Federal agencies are required to establish contracting goals, with at least 23 percent of all government buying targeted to small firms, according to SBA.

Shoraka testified before the House Armed Services Committee about the challenges for small firms to do business with DoD.

"The Department of Defense has a unique procurement mix, as you imagine, so small businesses trying to get into the Department of Defense market have certain challenges because of the nature of [DoD] purchases," Shoraka said in an interview with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin.

Shoraka said SBA is working closely with DoD. Over the last year, the involvement of defense senior officials has been "unprecedented," he said. And in September 2011, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued a memo that urged all services to find ways to step up contracting with small businesses.

"Small businesses not only lead the nation in innovation, they are also proven drivers of competition and incubators for business growth. Increasing small business contracting opportunities is a priority of mine, and also of President Obama," Panetta said in the memo.

What's also helping small businesses is the passage of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. This legislation was one of the most significant ones dealing with small businesses in the last decade, Shoraka said.

"It really gave us 19 provisions to put small businesses on a level playing field," he said.

Among those provisions was a reaffirmation of "parity" among small-business contracting programs. "When awarding contracts that are set-aside for small businesses, contracting officers are free to choose among businesses owned by women and service-disabled veterans, as well as businesses participating in HUBZone and 8(a) programs," according to the SBA website.

Another provision eliminated the "Competitiveness Demonstration" program which limited small contractors in 11 industries, according to SBA.

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