Government misses small-business goal

The federal government missed its overall small-business contracting goal for fiscal 2007, Small Business Administration officials said today.

The government spent $83.27 billion, or 22 percent of its contracting dollars, on prime contracts with small businesses in that year, an increase of $6.07 billion compared with the previous year, according to SBA’s small-business contract score card released today. The governmentwide goal is 23 percent annually.

Agencies as a whole reached only one of the governmentwide socioeconomic goals in fiscal 2007. Small, disadvantaged businesses received $24.9 billion, or 6.58 percent of agencies’ contracting dollars. The goal is 5 percent. Agencies fell short of contracting with small businesses owned by women, service-disabled veterans and businesses located in Historically Underutilized Business Zones, according to the score card.

“The federal government, across all federal agencies, has more work to do to ensure that we meet, or hopefully exceed, our government goal for small-business contracting,” Sandy Baruah, acting SBA administrator, said.

For fiscal 2007, three of the 24 departments measured on the score card reached all of their small-business goals: the Veterans Affairs and Energy departments and SBA. However the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Justice Department reached none of their five small-business goals, according to the score card.

SBA rates agencies with green, yellow or red scores on each individual goal established by Congress. Individually, each federal agency and SBA work out a different annual small-business goal.

To grade agencies on those goals, SBA uses data from the Federal Procurement Data System, which is filled out by agencies. Baruah acknowledged that the data has errors because of mistakes by agencies. Agencies enter the contracting information into the data system, although procurement officials have pushed for cleaner data through certifications by agencies. SBA does not directly control that input, he said.

As a result of checking the FPDS’ information, officials removed $5 billion from 2006’s total contracting dollars, he said. Baruah estimated about a 6 percent error rate for the data.

SBA’s score card includes those errors and they may affect the scores, but Baruah said SBA relies on agencies to do their part in entering accurate data into FPDS.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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