Agencies spent more than a quarter of their contracting dollars on small businesses last year, earning the federal government an A on the FY 2020 small business procurement scorecard.
But the General Services Administration stands out as one of only eight agencies that received an A+, meeting all of its prime and subcontracting goals last year – including women-owned and HUBZone small business prime contracting goals that the federal government as a whole struggles to meet.
GSA in fiscal 2020 awarded $2.6 billion —nearly half of all eligible contract dollars — to small businesses. This marks the 11th consecutive year that GSA earned an A or higher on the small business procurement scorecard.
Exodie Roe, GSA’s associate administrator for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) said the agency is committed to increasing small business participation in the federal marketplace across all categories, as part of the Biden administration’s focus on improving the diversity, equity and inclusion of agency programs.
“We reach out to entrepreneurs and similar constituencies that we’re trying to reach. We listen to their concerns, and we tell them about our training and how we can work with them one-on-one to learn about procurement. And we listen to some of the sticking points that some of those small businesses and diverse small businesses have,” Roe said.
To help more small businesses understand what it takes to do business in the federal marketplace, Roe said GSA’s OSDBU will launch its first annual virtual small business training event on Sept. 29.
Roe said the training will provide plain-language advice on helping small businesses break into the federal market, and will develop a “strategy for success.”
“That’s what we specialize in at OSDBU, [and] we’re doing even more around advocacy and education,” he said.
GSA OSDBU is expanding virtual opportunities for small businesses by hosting matchmaking sessions for prime contractors and subcontractors, hosting nationwide training events and one-on-one counseling sessions, all with the goal of reducing the barrier to entry for small businesses.
GSA OSDBU held its first matchmaking event with prime contractors and subcontractors over three years ago, and the program continues to yield results. Roe small businesses benefit from these partnerships because they’re able to present their skills and experience to prime contractors during one-on-one vendor breakout meetings.
The OSDBU has hosted hosting more than 128 virtual events nationwide for more than 9,000 businesses more than 900 small businesses have participated in matchmaking opportunities.
The goal of these matchmaking sessions is for the prime contractor and subcontractor to develop subcontract and arrangements or potentially a mentor-protégé agreement.
“It’s important for small businesses to know that while it may take some time to navigate federal procurement, simple connections and sharing your company’s capabilities can open up doors down the road,” Roe said.
GSA OSDBU is also taking steps to ensure that small businesses receive the certifications they’re eligible for. Roe said his office is focused on reaching out to eligible small businesses located in HUBZone areas that are not yet HUBZone-certified, and recently hosted a prime contractor-subcontractor match-making session for HUBZone businesses.
GSA is also partnering with the Small Business Administration to educate eligible businesses on the HUBZone certification program and encourage certification.
While the COVID-19 pandemic put a heavy toll on small businesses across the country, GSA saw more of its contracting dollars go to small businesses last year.
Of the $515 million GSA spent on COVID-19 support last year, more than $115 million of that went toward small business, with the following amounts going to the following categories:
$29 million small, disadvantaged businesses
$25 million went to women-owned small businesses
$4 million went to HubZone small businesses, and
$15 million sent to service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses.