Obama moves on small-business contracting

The president has created task forces to focus on small-business contracting problems and opportunities for companies owned by service-disabled veterans

President Barack Obama has formed two interagency working groups that will look for ways to award more federal contracts to small businesses.

Obama signed an executive order April 26 that established an interagency task force that will seek to develop opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses. He also signed a memo establishing an interagency task force to help small businesses overall win more federal contracts.

In addition, the memo directs Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra to build a Web-based dashboard by July that will illustrate how many contracts agencies award to small, disadvantaged businesses.

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The Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development will work with agencies to develop opportunities for veteran-owned businesses. It will also look for ways to identify small companies owned by service-disabled veterans to help the government meet its 3 percent small-business contracting goal, the executive order states.

The task force will develop regulatory and administrative proposals to increase the contracting percentage, the order states.

In fiscal 2008, covered by the Small Business Administration’s most recent goaling report, the government awarded only 1.5 percent of its contracting dollars to businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.

“In recent years, the federal government has not consistently reached its small-business contracting goals,” Obama wrote.

He also announced the new Interagency Task Force on Federal Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses, which will take a broader look at small-business contracting.

On the same day the president made his announcement, Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget and a co-chairman of the task force, wrote on his blog that the Obama administration has launched several programs to boost small-business lending.

In his memo, Obama gave the new task force until late summer to come up with recommendations for improving small-business contracting. He said he wants the government to use innovative strategies, such as teaming arrangements, and break down barriers, such as unbundling large contracts, so small businesses have more opportunities to compete for contracts.

He also suggested using new technologies to help agency officials identify and contact qualified small businesses.

“Where small businesses have the capacity to do more, we should strive to exceed the statutory goals,” Obama wrote.

About the Author

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


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