The Small Business Administration and the Commerce Department plan to offer more federal contracts to small businesses, but a small business advocacy group is skeptical.
Federal officials from the two agencies intend to participate in more than 200 procurement events across the country over the next 90 days. The aim is to increase contracting opportunities to minority-owned and small businesses, including women- and veteran-owned businesses. Officials will be offering information on government contracting opportunities at the events, including contracts available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Small and minority-owned businesses must play a significant role in our efforts to restore economic growth, said President Barack Obama in a statement. Small businesses employ half of the nations private sector workforce, create a large share of the nations new jobs, and introduce many groundbreaking ideas into the marketplace. It is essential that we provide our nations small businesses with maximum practicable opportunity to participate in federal government contracting.
In order for the federal government to meet or exceed the goal of 23 percent of prime contracts going to small businesses, Obama said that he and Vice President Joe Biden have tasked Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke with leading a federal government-wide initiative to increase outreach.
The SBA and the Commerce Department will expand their outreach to fellow contracting officials across the federal government, passing along best practices for outreach and education to every agency to ensure they have the tools they need to meet their annual contracting goals.
Locke and Mills will promote small business contracting opportunities in remarks, events and discussions with small business groups across the country, including minority, women and veteran groups. Beyond the next 90 days, Commerce and the SBA will support, monitor and track the impact of these efforts going forward to help ensure the administration is maximizing opportunities for small businesses.
However, Lloyd Chapman, president of the American Small Business League, which has advocated against the diversion of federal contracts from small businesses to large companies, has his doubts about the plans. His group estimates that during the first six months of the Obama administration, over $50 billion in federal small business contracts were awarded to clearly large businesses. Of the funds allocated as part of the Recovery Act, the ASBL estimates that approximately 1 percent has actually gone to America's 27 million small businesses.
"It is reprehensible that President Obama would make these statements about his support for small businesses when he has done nothing to stop the daily diversion of up to $400 million in federal small business contracts to corporate giants around the world," said Chapman. "The administration's press release appears to be just another public relations ploy. If President Obama really wants to do something for small businesses, he'll make good on his campaign promise to stop the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants by publicly supporting legislation such as H.R. 2568, the Fairness and Transparency in Contracting Act of 2009.
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