By NEIL GORDON
On Thursday, a coalition of small business advocates, trade organizations, businesses, and non-profit organizations (including POGO) led by the American Small Business League (ASBL) sent letters to the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the White House asking for more accurate reporting of the proportion of federal contracts awarded to small businesses.
The SBA's annual Small Business Procurement Scorecard is due out this summer. Past years’ scorecards have been marred by accusations that they overstated the percentage of contract dollars awarded to legitimate small businesses.
The federal government has a statutory goal of awarding 23 percent of the total value of all prime contract dollars to legitimate small businesses, but according to the ASBL, it has never accomplished this goal. This is mainly because agencies overstate the percentage of contracts awarded to small businesses by including contracts awarded to large businesses. In February, POGO blogged that the government had nearly met the goal in fiscal year 2010 (22.7 percent), but that milestone is rendered meaningless by the worsening problem of large businesses being counted toward the goal. Last year, 72 of the top 100 federal “small” business contractors last year were actually large companies that snagged more than $16 billion in federal contracts.
Increased competition and small business opportunities are good for taxpayers and the economy.
We deserve to know whether the government is actually achieving the small business contracting goal. To that end, the government must ensure that small business contracting data is accurate and timely.
Neil Gordon is a POGO investigator.