In late 2022, Congress passed and the President signed a law that aims to make it easier for Small Business Contractors to track down small business compliance information for the wide range of agencies involved in government contracting, that are currently housed somewhere within each specific agency’s website. In this post, SmallGovCon reviews this law, and through it, can examine with our readers where you can currently find the many resources available for small business issues at federal agencies. While these small business offices may not be able to solve all your problems as a federal contractor, a free resource is always good to have.
In October of 2022, the “One Stop Shop for Small Business Compliance Act of 2021” was signed into law by President Biden. This Act amended the Small Business Act to create a “centralized website for compliance guides, and for other purposes.” The expectation from the wording of this Act is that no later than 6 months after passage, “the Ombudsman shall maintain a publicly available website” that will: 1) provide a list of hyperlinks to small entity compliance guides; and 2) for each compliance guide link posted, provide the contact information for an individual who can “offer assistance to small entities with respect to the rules that are the subject of such guide.” Finally, the Act requires the Ombudsman to include in its annual report, “an assessment of agency compliance with the requirements” of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, including the changes involved in the One Stop Shop for Small Business Compliance Act of 2021.
This Act should lead to a proverbial “one-stop shop” (clever name for the law!) for compliance guides for small business contractors, or at least lead contractors to an actual contact for their questions, within a single click. Unfortunately, at this time we are still in the “6-Month” window for the website to be created. So, for the time being, it may be good to review or discuss some of the most frequently requested Agency Offices of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization, as we eagerly await the website to come online. Below is a list and links to some of the more commonly referenced agencies in Government Contracting’s Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. While your mileage my vary, the people in these offices can serve as an advocate for small businesses in their dealing with the agency, and in some cases even in dealing with prime contractors if your company is a subcontractor.
We encourage you to familiarize yourself with these sites, or the site of any agency of which you contract with, as they can be a great help for your contracting questions.
- Department of Defense Office of Small Business Programs: https://business.defense.gov/ (this office now runs the Apex Accelerators programs, formerly known as PTAC).
- Department of Veteran Affairs, Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization: https://www.va.gov/osdbu/
- Department of Transportation, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization: https://www.transportation.gov/osdbu
- Department of Agriculture, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization: https://www.usda.gov/da/osdbu
- Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization: https://www.hhs.gov/about/agencies/asfr/ogapa/osdbu/index.html
- General Services Administration, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization: https://www.gsa.gov/about-us/organization/office-of-small-and-disadvantaged-business-utilization
This contact information isn’t always that easy to find, hence the need for a One Stop Shop.
When looking at these sites you will see a few similarities. They typically contain an email, phone, and address for contacting the Office itself. Some will also provide a “vision” or “mission statement” as to why they exist within their specific agencies, giving you a guidepost for what their assistance might be related to. The most important part of these offices as you will see if you visit most of their sites, is providing small business contractors with resources.
For example, the HHS OSDBU site provides links to it’s leadership, business staff, specialists, and heads of contracting activity, as well as multiple links to “small business information” such as guides about doing business with HHS, and engagement sessions. The DoD’s OSDBU site contains links discussing each type of socioeconomic set-aside (such as 8(a) Program, SDVOSB etc.) and an FAQ.
One of the goals of the One Stop Shop for Small Business Compliance Act of 2021, is to provide a site for regulatory updates. If you are a regular reader of our blog, you will be well aware of the large changes made to SDVOSB and VOSB certification processes recently (check out some of our blogs on this topic here: “SBA Issues Final Rule on SDVOSB Certification” and “SBA Provides Answers on Vets Certification Program Roll-Out in Q&A Session“). A good example showing regulatory change updates is the VA’s OSDBU website. It has some “News You Can Use,” including legislative updates, and at this time beside its small business goals in the center of the website, is a link to information about SDVOSB and VOSB certification through the VA being closed.
Clearly, these OSDBU websites contain some valuable information for small and disadvantaged business contractors–although more information is always better. However, as alluded to by the One Stop Shop for Small Business Compliance Act of 2021, the information is spread out over multiple agencies and websites, causing anyone who wants to utilize the helpful information to traverse the federal government internet on a quest for knowledge. As such, it would appear that this law could truly lead to a helpful resource for all federal contractors, and those of us that love keeping up to date on all things Government Contracting. But until the website is created, we will wait in hopeful anticipation for it, and continue to utilize agency websites similar to those discussed here.
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