DOD urged to speed up small-biz contracting

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned the Defense Department's senior leaders that they will not reach the small business contracting goal for the fiscal year if they keep moving at the current pace.

“With only six weeks left in this fiscal year, we are falling short of meeting our departmentwide small business contracting goal of 22.3 percent,” he wrote in a memo on Aug. 24. “I therefore urge you and everyone in your organization who is involved in the acquisition process to review all planned acquisitions for the remainder of the year to identify opportunities for increased contracting with small businesses."

Ashton Carter, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, would issue more guidance, Panetta also wrote.

“Dynamic small businesses play a central role in strengthening the Department of Defense industrial base and improving our acquisition outcomes,” he wrote. “Small businesses not only lead the nation in innovation, they are also proven drivers of competition and incubators for business growth.”

In a letter sent to Panetta on Sept. 2, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), chairwoman of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, offered her full support because Panetta had made small-business contracting a priority.

She recommended that DOD consider small businesses when officials write policies that influence how acquisition officials and program managers interact with contractors.

About the Author

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

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Reader comments

Sat, Sep 10, 2011 testpilot DC

leadership is not commited to small business at any level, as demonstrated by the announcement in the last 4 weeks of FY and well past the deadline of FY contracting. ____Small businesses are the worst body shops, create tons of administrative overhead, provide the worst benefits (2 weeks vacation), and have the least happy employees.

Tue, Sep 6, 2011

It is great to know that our senior leaders are supportive of small businesses. We actually have needed such encouragement for a long time. However, this message needed to go out a couple months ago, not in the last weeks of the fiscal year. Now everyone between the Secretary of Defense and the working contract officers wants a detailed report on what we are doing to increase small business awards. (Some have even asked for weekly reports!) All this is taking time away from actually making those awards. Please don't help motivate and guide us by issuing any more such encouraging memos this FY!

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