SBA Releases 2011 Small Business Procurement Scorecard–And The News Ain’t Good

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.”

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