The SBA has released its 2011 Small Business Procurement Scorecard, and the news ain’t good. The scorecard indicates that government-wide, just 21.65% of prime contract dollars went to small businesses. The result falls well short of the government-wide 23% goal, and also represents a significant backslide from last year, in which small businesses were awarded 22.66% of contract dollars.
The SBA gives the government a “B” for its overall efforts, but I come from a family of educators, and know that a “B” is not deserved if a student is not making adequate progress. With government-wide small business prime contract spending dipping by more than a full percentage point in the last year, the government is in for some well-deserved criticism.
Although there were a few bright spots, the government’s sub-goals also trended in the wrong direction. Despite the implementation of the women-owned small business program, WOSB contracting dipped from 4.04% to 3.98%, more than a point shy of the 5% goal. Small Disadvantaged Business contracting came in at 7.67%, ahead of the 5% goal, but not as strong as last year’s 7.95% result. HUBZone contracting, too, fell significantly, down to 2.35% from 2.77% last year. The HUBZone Program goal is 3%.
Among the four socioeconomic set-aside programs, only the service-disabled veteran-owned small business program showed improvement. Awards to SDVOSBs amounted to 2.65%, a modest improvement from last year’s 2.5% result. Unfortunately, even with the small improvement, the government still fell short of its 3% SDVOSB goal.
Small business subcontracting was also down slightly, from 35.4% in 2010 to 35%. This result fell short of the 2011 35.9% goal. Subcontracting with SDBs and SDVOSBs increased slightly, while subcontracting with WOSBs and HUBZones decreased by a small amount. SDVOSB and HUBZone subcontracting did not meet the government-wide 3% goal.
The SBA’s press release announcing the results reads like the work of a spin doctor, trumpeting that “in FY2011 the federal government awarded more than $91.5 billion in federal contracts to small businesses,” without offering a comparison to last year. (In case you’re wondering, the government awarded about $97.9 billion to small businesses the last time around). Despite the focus of the press release, the government must know that this data is not good news. In fact, a cynic might wonder whether the release of this not-so-great data on July 3, right before the Independence Day holiday, is the SBA’s version of “Take Out the Trash Day.”
The SBA should not be spinning this data in a positive light, but telling it like it is: the government not only failed to meet its goals, but took several steps backward. Some might call this a “B” effort, but I’d mark the report card with “not making adequate progress.”