Government Nears 25% In Small Business Awards; WOSBs & HUBZones Lag

The government awarded 24.99% of prime contracting dollars to small businesses in Fiscal Year 2014, a sharp increase over the 23.39% figure from 2013.

The SBA’s 2014 Small Business Procurement Scorecard, which was released today, shows that the government beat its 23% goal for the second year running.  It wasn’t all good news, though: the government again failed to meet its WOSB and HUBZone goals.

The 24.99% number will draw most of the headlines, and deservedly so.  The government should be commended for awarding nearly 25% of prime contracting dollars to small businesses.  Small Disadvantaged Business and SDVOSBs also fared well.  SDBs accounted for 8.61% of prime contract awards, well above the 5% goal.  SDVOSBs, in turn, accounted for 3.38% of awards, above the 3% goal.

Now, the bad news.

WOSBs accounted for only 4.68% of prime contract awards, well below the government-wide 5% goal.  As a percentage matter, WOSB contracting has trended upwards since the adoption of the WOSB program, but very slowly.  In 2010, WOSBs accounted for 4.04% of government-wide prime contracting dollars.  The percentage has edged higher each year since.  Perhaps the introduction of sole source awards will push WOSBs over the five percent mark in 2015.

HUBZones continue to be left in the cold.  In FY 2014, HUBZones accounted for just 1.82% of prime contracting dollars–far below the 3% goal.  HUBZone contracting was just slightly better than in FY 2013, when the government-wide achievement was 1.76%.

It is also worth remembering that the numbers represent percentages.  In an era of falling budgets, percentages do not tell the whole tale.  For instance, in FY 2009, the government awarded only 21.89% of prime contract dollars to small businesses, but the awards amounted to $96.83 billion.  In FY 2014, the pie was smaller.  Although the government awarded almost 25% of prime dollars to small businesses, the total spent on those awards was just $91.7 billion.  In other words, while the increased percentages are worth celebrating, this does not feel like boom times for most small contractors.

The SBA assigned the government an “A” grade for its FY 2014 goaling achievements.  The government is undoubtedly deserving of credit for its 24.99% small business achievement, and for increasing numbers in other categories.  Nevertheless, I do not think an “A” was warranted.  The government was responsible for five overall prime contracting goals (small business, WOSB, SDBs, SDVOSB, and HUBZone), and failed to meet two of those five goals.  To me, 60% success is not an “A.”

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