Government receives a B in small-business contracting

The government awarded more money to small businesses in fiscal 2009 than the year before, with the help of Recovery Act money

The federal government received a B today from the Small Business Administration for its attempt to reach the 23 percent small-business contracting goal for fiscal 2009, according to a new report.

As a whole, the government awarded $96.8 billion to small businesses in fiscal 2009, according to SBA officials. That means that 21.89 percent of all federal contracting dollars went to small businesses.

Despite falling shy of its goal, the government awarded a larger percentage of dollars to small businesses compared to fiscal 2008. The economic stimulus law helped agencies inch closer to the 23 percent mark, SBA officials said.

This is SBA’s fourth annual assessment of federal agencies’ efforts to award prime contracts and subcontracts to small businesses.

SBA also graded 24 agencies and departments individually and gave As to:

  • Agriculture Department.
  • Education Department.
  • Energy Department.
  • Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Homeland Security Department.
  • Interior Department.
  • Labor Department.
  • SBA.
  • Transportation Department.
  • Veterans Affairs Department.

EPA received the highest score, based on SBA's formula for tallying percentages. EPA awarded 47.32 percent of its contracting dollars to small businesses in fiscal 2009, which surpassed its 39.81 percent goal, according to SBA officials.

EPA exceeded its goal of 5 percent for small disadvantaged businesses and its 3 percent goal for contracting with small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. It was also less than 1 percent short of its contracting goals for both woman-owned small businesses and companies located in Historically Underutilized Business Zones, the report states.

EPA also directed 59.1 percent of its economic stimulus funds to small businesses, SBA officials said.

At the other end of the grading scale, the Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the National Science Foundation received Fs. USAID got the lowest score and missed all of its contracting and subcontracting goals, according to SBA.

About the Author

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

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