Agencies end 20 years of contracting failures

For the first time ever, agencies met the governmentwide goal for awarding contracts to women-owned small businesses.

The Small Business Administration announced March 2 that 5.05 percent of all “eligible” contracts went to women-owned small businesses in fiscal 2015, surpassing the goal of 5 percent established in 1994.

SBA defines “eligible” contracts as only those that a small business could have a chance at winning so that removes products such as tanks or ships as well as other large services such as running an Energy Department national lab.

SBA says women-owned businesses received $17.8 billion in contracts last year out of a total of $352.2 billion that it considers eligible.

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Overall, the government met its small business goals overall and in every socioeconomic category but with Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) companies.

SBA said overall small businesses won 25.7 percent, or $90.7 billion of all eligible procurement dollars, surpassing the 23 percent governmentwide goal for the third straight year.

Last year, SBA said agencies awarded 24.99 percent, or $91.6 billion out of $366.8 billion eligible, to small firms. That is also up from 2013 when agencies awarded 23.39 percent — $83.1 billion of all contracts out of $355.2 billion.

Prior to 2013, agencies hadn’t met the governmentwide goal of 23 percent since 2005.

In all, 19 of 24 agencies met their small business goals for 2015, including five of the top seven largest contracting agencies such as the Defense Department, the General Services Administration and the Homeland Security Department.

Agencies just didn’t meet the small business goal, but also achieved the objectives for contract awards for small disadvantage businesses and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

Last year, agencies awarded 10.05 percent, or $35.4 billion, to SDB firms, well over the 5 percent governmentwide goal. Service-disabled veteran-owned businesses received 3.92 percent, or $13.8 billion, in federal awards in 2015, beating the 3 percent goal.

The HUBZone program was the only probram agencies did not meet the 3 percent governmentwide goal, awarding 1.82 percent of all eligible contracts to those firms.

The idea of “eligible” contracts remains a topic of contention between the House Small Business Committee and SBA.

Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) has said many times over the last few years that SBA is not following the spirit or intent of the Small Business Act. The committee says looking at only “eligible” contracts lets SBA exclude up to 20 percent of all spending.

He introduced legislation several times, including most recently in January in the Defending America’s Small Contractors Act of 2016.

Several lawmakers asked the House Armed Services Committee to include the bill’s provisions in the 2016 Defense Authorization bill. The Small Business Committee lawmakers received a positive response from Armed Service Committee members.