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Why is it that federal agencies take credit for the hard work of small federal contractors?

Posted By Guy Timberlake, The American Small Business Coalition, LLC, Monday, September 09, 2013

Why is it that federal agencies take credit for the blood, sweat, tears, time away from family and dollars spent by small federal contractors, when the fact is nearly half of what agencies get credit for had little, if anything, to do with their help?

I don't know why after all these years this bothers me, but it does. It stems from a recent email conversation where this fact was unintentionally "thrown in my face" one could say. It's pretty straight-forward though. Federal agencies commit to goals each year based on how much business they intend to do with companies meeting the criteria of a "small business concern" or one of the socio-economic subcategories of small business. Subsequently, their performance is measured against those stated goals.

Now if an agency "intends" to engage small business for an opportunity using other than a sole-source justification, it would seem to me they would use set-aside competition(s) vice full and open competition. However, when a small business concern ventures into the land of full and open competition, squares off with and beats Lockheed, Booz, CACI or any "other than small" business, the agency takes credit for "doing business with small business" as if they somehow effected the outcome.

Consider the impact on agency small business goals if my formula were applied to the current fiscal year. As of today, sixty-four federal agencies, boards and commissions have obligated $302 billion dollars.

Of these total obligations:

  • less than ten percent, just under $30 billion, has been set-aside for small business concerns.

Where small businesses competed for business that was not sole-sourced or set-aside for small business concerns:

  • Contracting Officer's report making $55,923,465,526.54 in awards to small business concerns FY13 YTD.

This means small business was able to win $26 billion more than was set-aside by agencies.

Give credit where credit is due. Let agencies get credit for when they truly make a difference to small business and make a sole-source or set-aside. The rest should be looked at as a lesson to other small businesses to develop their ability to make set-asides secondary and compete for business Survivor-style.

Outwit. Outlast. Outplay. That's what business and competition are all about.


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

Tags:  COBSS  FPDS-NG  set-asides  small business 

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