Women-owned small businesses win record $25.5B in federal contracts

That's still below the governmentwide goal of 5% of all contracting dollars going to women-owned small businesses.

  • Women-owned small businesses won more federal contracting dollars in fiscal 2023 than ever before. New data from FedMine, a government business intelligence platform, shows women-owned small firms won more than $25.5 billion in federal contracts last year, up from $22.6 billion in 2022. FedMine said that 13% year-over-year increase represents about 3.3% of all federal contract dollars going to women-owned small businesses. That is still below the governmentwide goal of 5%. FedMine also found that out of the more than 13,000 companies that won contracts in 2023, more than 1,500 of them were first-time awardees.
  • Letter carriers are getting recognition from their union for saving lives and other heroics. The National Association of Letter Carriers track about 150 cases a year where its members act as first responders in an emergency. Now the union is rewarding these letter carriers for going above and beyond. Phillip Moon is a letter carrier who has been delivering mail on the same route in Amarillo, Texas for 27 years. He won this year’s Heroes of the Year award for saving a woman and her two dogs from an attacking pitbull. Moon said he is honored to receive the award, but does not think he is a hero — just someone who did the right thing. "I don’t consider myself a hero. I’m just very grateful and honored and thankful that I was in a place where I could be of some assistance to somebody in need," Moon said.
  • The Navy is updating its basic training phone call policy by allowing boot-camp recruits to use their personal cell phones to call family and friends. Most recruits who don't make it through boot camp tend to drop out during their first few weeks. The service hopes that allowing personal cell phones, instead of using a pay phone, will reduce the dropout rate. Recruits are allowed five phone calls during their 10-week training period. The updated policy is one of the latest changes the Navy has introduced to its basic-training experience, as the service struggles to meet its recruitment goals.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services is trying to centralize its cybersecurity resources. HHS’s Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) will be the department’s one-stop-shop for cybersecurity, according to Brian Mazanec, the deputy director of the Office of Preparedness at ASPR. "There are too many doors into cybersecurity when engaging with the federal government generally, let alone HHS,” Mazanec said. “Within HHS, there are a lot of different players. So we're in the process now of really establishing this front door through ASPR to all of those resources.” HHS is also working to set new cybersecurity standards, as well as potential requirements, for the health sector.
  • Here is your chance to help ensure your agency buys artificial intelligence tools and capabilities in a responsible and trustworthy way. The Office of Management and Budget is seeking help to inform the development of guidance to ensure the responsible procurement of AI by agencies. In a new request for information, OMB is asking for feedback around 10 questions as part of its initiative to develop a set of requirements to ensure that agencies buy AI systems and services in a way that aligns with the recent guidance required by the November executive order for secure and trustworthy AI. This RFI is the first step for OMB in meeting the deadline to issue this new AI acquisition guidance by late September. Responses to the RFI are due by April 29.
  • The Defense Department awarded $17.6 million to 27 universities to strengthen basic research in defense-related areas. The research collaboration competition winners from West Virginia University, Arizona State University and the University of South Carolina, among others, will receive up to $600,000 over three years to pursue DoD-related science and engineering research. Louisiana Tech University and the University of Tulsa will receive up to $1.5 million over two years as winners of the capacity-building competition, to pursue activities that will help them achieve basic research excellence in areas relevant to DoD.
  • The Department of Homeland Security used some limited exceptions to the Buy American Act last year. In fiscal 2023, DHS said it executed 1,050 contract actions valued at $67 million, by using the domestic non-availability exception under the Buy American Act. That represents less than 2% of applicable procurement dollars obligated by DHS last year. Most of those contract actions were awarded by the Coast Guard for various aircraft components that are only made in foreign countries.
  • The Census Bureau is looking to roll out a remote work policy it drafted at the end of last year, but is rethinking how many employees can opt in after Congress recently set minimum utilization rates for federal buildings. The bureau recommends employees should not move outside the commuting area of their official duty station until they are approved for remote work. The Census Bureau is also consolidating office space while its headquarters is being renovated by bringing in employees from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Census HQ renovation is expected to be complete this summer.

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