Agencies Show Poor Contracting Achievements

More than half of government agencies did not successfully meet small business contracting goals in fiscal 2006, according to a scorecard released today by the Small Business Administration.

The agency released its charter scorecard on the topic to provide greater transparency, integrity and accountability in improving opportunities for small contractors, said SBA Administrator Steven Preston in a Friday morning conference call.

SBA designated green, yellow or red ratings to 24 agencies on whether they reached their annual small business contracting goals and on their progress to make contracting opportunities available to small businesses. To garner a green rating, a federal agency had to meet its overall small business contracting goal and the goals for at least three of four subcategories. For their current status, seven agencies were rated green, five yellow, and 12 were red. In the second "progress" category, 12 agencies were rated green, eight were yellow, and four were red.

The departments of Homeland Security, Energy and Transportation were among the entities that received a green rating. The SBA assigned a yellow to Commerce, Justice and Labor, among others. The departments of Defense and Health and Human Services along with the Environmental Protection Agency and NASA were among those that received a red mark.

The SBA provided data on five subcategories for small business procurement - small disadvantaged businesses, service-disabled veterans, women, and two special programs. Only the category of small disadvantaged businesses reached its goal of receiving at least 5 percent of government contracts, all other categories fell short.

Each federal agency has a different small business contracting goal, determined annually in consultation with SBA.

When Preston came into office about a year ago, the SBA and the White House Office of Federal Procurement Policy asked government bodies to review and resubmit their 2005 data by cleaning up potential miscodings and to more thoroughly vet their 2006 data. The revised sets of data from 2005 and 2006 were released Friday.

"With 5-and-a-half million contracting actions in the government each year, [the data is] not perfect but we've made progress," said Preston.

Due to the revised data submitted from agencies for fiscal 2005, the share of contracts awarded to small businesses in 2005 was reduced $4.6 billion from the previously-reported 25.4 percent to 23.4 percent.

"To meet their goals in 2007 and beyond, federal agencies know they will have to place more new contracts with small businesses," said Preston, who added that SBA is increasing its staff and technical assistance to help other parts of the government meet contracting needs.

Meanwhile, federal regulations were changed June 30. Contracts awarded to small companies acquired by large corporations no longer count toward federal agency small business goals, even if the acquisition took place before the rule change.

The scorecard will be updated every six months and is publicly available on the SBA Web site.

By Sharon McLoone |  August 17, 2007; 11:21 AM ET Gov't Contracting
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