While some federal contractors have (understandably) been focused on the court decision that found the 8(a) Program’s rebuttable presumption of social disadvantage for members of certain racial minorities unconstitutional, the SBA doesn’t just operate the 8(a) Program. It has to look out for all small businesses in America as well. In connection with this obligation, the agency recently released a new web application that allows visitors to discover a great deal about federal small business awards and socio-economic set aside awards. Called the “Small Business Data HUB,” this free program provides some interesting insights on how the government awards contracts. In this post, we’re going to explore this datahub a little and see what’s going on.
When you first go to the datahub, the default view is the local scorecard for the state of Alabama (As that is alphabetically the first state). The local scorecard provides details on the total federal awards to businesses within a certain state or territory, a certain SBA region, or a certain SBA district, depending on which area the user chooses in the dropdowns to the left. The data also shows a breakdown of award by small business type: Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDB), Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), HUBZone, and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB).
One curiosity we quickly noted is how much Alaskan small businesses received in federal contracts relative to all Alaskan businesses. The state’s businesses received about $5.95 billion in federal contracts in 2022. $5.29 billion of that was for small businesses, a whopping 88.81% of the federal contract value! And small disadvantaged businesses got most of that share, likely due to the many Alaska Native Corporation 8(a) companies based in Alaska. Compare this to California, where small businesses received only 25.44% of the federal contract value that the state’s businesses received in 2022. Or New York, where small businesses received only 12.49% of the federal contract value that the state’s businesses received in 2022. It does not appear that it’s just large (population-wise) states that tend to see most federal contracts go to larger businesses. For example, in 2022, only 9.38% of federal contract value went to small businesses for the state of Iowa. In fact, California has seen a great increase in the proportion of federal contract value going to small businesses, as it’s seen an increase of over 10% since 2017.
The Vendor Counts tab allows viewers to see how many active federal contractors there are, nationally as well as by state, NAICS, or agency the vendor is performing for. The idea is fairly straightforward, just like the local scorecard. One thing to observe is that there has been a clear trend going back at least as far as 2009 (which is as far back as the data on the site goes)—there has been a steep decline in the number of active federal contractors, going from 148,778 in 2009 to 85,013 in 2022. The decline has been quite consistent too, with the number only increasing for 2009 to 2010 and 2015 to 2016, and even there the increase has only been slight. The number of small business federal contractors has essentially followed the same path, going from 121,181 in 2009 to 62,670 in 2022. In fact, it is fairly safe to say that the drop in small business contractors has made up most of the overall decline in federal contractor numbers. One group bucks the trend though: Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs). This has increased from 13,080 in 2009 to 23,260 in 2022.
Top Funding Offices and Vendors
This tab is what it sounds like: It tells you which agency branches and which federal contractors have awarded and received the most awards in terms of contract value, respectively. This you can breakdown by state, congressional district, and even county, along with NAICS and PSC code. It only goes back for the past three fiscal years, however. Hopefully, more years will be added to help with data tracking. As for the information itself, unsurprisingly, when it comes to the agencies, the Department of Defense always takes up much of the top 10, and always holds 4 of the top 5 spots. It is a bit surprising that in fiscal years 2020 and 2021, the CDC did not jump any higher than the 6 spot, considering the COVID pandemic.
As for vendors, naturally the top vendors are almost all giants, such as Pfizer, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon. The one exception appears to be Modernatx, Inc., which in FY 2021 received $7,363,802,576 in federal contracts. The reason it appears to be an exception is that all of that contract value was small business dollars. So, congrats to Modernatx on what must have been a very successful year!
The final tab provides how much is being set aside for small businesses and the various SBA programs like 8(a) and WOSB. This can be broken down by department and agency as well. One thing that is very curious is that while the small business contractor count has decreased since 2010, the amount set aside for small businesses has nearly doubled since 2010, going from $55.9 billion in 2010 to $99.5 billion in 2022. While much of this can be attributed to general growth in the federal government and some is likely attributable to inflation and increases in size standards, the percentage of federal contract value set aside for small businesses has increased from 12.93% in 2010 to 16.40% in 2022. So, while competition has declined, demand has also increased, suggesting a favorable situation for small business contractors who have remained in the (increasingly consolidated) market.
This program could be very helpful, especially for new contractors or contractors wishing to expand their services, in helping determine where the money is. It will also be very useful for agencies in helping track their progress in achieving their goals with regards to set-aside percentages. From a legal perspective, some of the data could also potentially be useful in protests, although how useful and in what contexts will remain to be seen. Either way, this is a good resource from the SBA and we recommend it to all federal contractors.
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