An integral part of our mission at the Department of Labor is to “foster, promote and develop advance opportunities for profitable employment,” and one way we do that is by supporting small businesses through our procurement and contracting practices. Small businesses employ half of our nation’s private sector workforce and are creating a large share of the nation’s new jobs.
The Small Business Administration recently announced that the federal government reached its small business federal contracting goal for the first time in eight years, awarding 23.39 percent − or $83.1 billion − in federal contracts to small businesses in fiscal year 2013. The SBA’s annual Small Business Procurement Scorecard is an assessment tool that measures how well 24 federal agencies reach their small business and socioeconomic prime contracting and subcontracting goals, as well as the efforts taken by these agencies to stimulate small business participation in federal contracting. The goals measured include targets for small businesses, women-owned small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and small businesses located in Historically Underutilized Business Zones (known as HUBZones).
At the Labor Department, we exceeded our overall goal of 33.5 percent small business contracting participation by awarding 38.44 percent − or $746.4 million − to small businesses, and have received an “A” rating from the SBA for the fifth year in a row on the scorecard. We also exceeded some of the specific targets by obligating 23.06 percent to small disadvantaged businesses, more than quadruple our 5 percent goal, and 7.55 percent to women-owned small businesses, also exceeding a 5 percent goal. We met the 3 percent goal for contract obligations to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and slightly exceeded the 3 percent goal for HUBZone small businesses with 3.16 percent.
We understand that small businesses are the engine of our economy and are committed to both supporting and ensuring they are represented in our federal contracting programs. We also understand that we must be be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and are required to do more with less in the current budget environment; for example, we just awarded a contract to a small business for service desk support that is expected to save over $10.6 million over the next five years.
While we’ve hit it out of the ballpark five years in a row when it comes to small business goals, we know there is still more we can do. We will continue to stimulate small business participation in our contracts by reaching out to the small business community and counseling them on how to get their foot in the door through marketing best practices; and conducting “in-reach” with our acquisition professionals to ensure they are aware of the small business community’s vast capabilities. Finally, our senior leadership continues to be engaged and supportive of our small business initiatives and efforts. We look forward to building on our momentum to hit our next small business homerun.
Sonya Carrion is the director of the department’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.