The government's in the red

The government often earns a failing grade for small-business contracting

When it comes to awarding contracts to small businesses, the government struggles to reach any of the annual goals it strives for. The Small Business Administration’s most recent small-business procurement score card for fiscal 2008 shows that the government achieved only one of its contracting goals last year: It spent 6.76 percent of its prime-contract dollars with small, disadvantaged businesses, topping the goal of 5 percent.

However, the government fell short of its goals in the other categories and the overall goal of 23 percent of total contract spending. Even though agencies spent $93.3 billion with small companies — an increase of nearly $10 billion since 2007 — that dollar amount represented only 21.5 percent of total contract spending. And that overall percentage was down by nearly a percentage point from the previous year.

Seven of the 24 agencies that SBA tracks failed to reach more than one goal, while two of them — the Office of Personnel Management and the U.S. Agency for International Development — missed all of the goals. The General Services Administration was the only agency to achieve all the goals.

SBA rates the agencies with a green, yellow or red score based on the contracts they awarded to small businesses overall and specifically to small, disadvantaged businesses; small businesses in Historically Underutilized Business Zones; woman-owned small businesses; and businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.

About the Author

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

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