Executive Summary of the Final Report
"[E]nsuring small businesses can thrive is about more than economic success. It's also about who we are as a people. It's about a nation where anybody who's got a good idea and a willingness to work hard can succeed. That's the central promise of America."
President Barack Obama
Small businesses are leaders in innovation and drivers of the economy. Small businesses hold more patents than all of the nation's universities and largest corporations combined, and create two thirds of all private sector jobs, employing half of all working Americans.
The Federal government is the largest buyer in the world, spending over $500 billion each year. For the Federal government, contracting with small businesses is common sense. Small businesses get the revenue they need to create jobs and drive the economy forward, and federal agencies get the creativity, innovation, and technical expertise of small businesses to help accomplish their mission. When small businesses are excluded from federal contracts, the Federal government, American taxpayers and the nation's economy lose out.
Over 30 years ago, Congress set a goal of having a certain portion of all federal contracting dollars go to small businesses and established sub-goals for small businesses owned by women, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and service-disabled veterans of the Armed Forces, and for small businesses in Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones). The current government-wide goal for small businesses' share of contracting dollars is 23%. Every year since 2006, the Federal government has missed the 23% small business goal and all but one of the sub-goals; the 2009 shortfall was greater than $4 billion. Removing barriers to federal contracting and increasing access for small businesses will go a long way in closing this gap.
Over the past 18 months, the Federal government has taken important steps to increase opportunities for small businesses, from creating new online training for small businesses to issuing a proposed rule to create set-asides for women-owned small businesses in industries in which women are underrepresented. Last summer, the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration (SBA) co-led a government-wide effort that involved over 300 matchmaking and training events across the country to ensure American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) contracts were awarded to a broad array of small businesses. With over 31% of Recovery Act contracting dollars going to small businesses, this initiative proved that, with committed leadership and the right tools, the government has the ability to meet - and exceed - the 23% small business contracting goal.
In keeping with this commitment to small businesses, the President established the Interagency Task Force on Federal Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses to ensure small businesses can participate in the Nation's economic recovery, including small businesses owned by women, minorities, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and service-disabled veterans of our Armed Forces, as well as HUBZone small businesses. The Task Force - co-chaired by SBA, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Commerce, and including twelve other federal agencies - created five working groups to address key barriers for small businesses in federal contracting. The working groups met, heard from key stakeholders, and identified three priority objectives:
Stronger rules. Insufficient guidance and gaps in current policy hamper the use of tools that provide contracting opportunities for small businesses. The Task Force recommends actions to strengthen and update policies where they are weak or outdated and develop policies where they are lacking.
A better equipped, more informed and more accountable acquisition workforce. A lack of knowledge and agency accountability inhibits the government's ability to meet and exceed small business procurement goals on an ongoing basis. The Task Force recommends increasing the knowledge base and efficiency level of the procurement workforce and providing appropriate incentives and accountability for agencies to meet small business goals.
Improved outreach and better use of technology and data. The current data systems in the federal acquisition environment are cumbersome and not user friendly for many small businesses, especially for those who are new to the systems and trying to "get their foot in the door." The Task Force recommends a one-stop shop for easier access to procurement information, as well as greater focus on the accuracy of procurement data.
In the following report, the Task Force outlines the key recommendations and actions needed to meet these priority objectives. The Task Force will report to the President by December 30, 2010, on progress in the implementation of the recommendations in this report.
SBA, Commerce, OMB, and the other members of the Task Force are committed to increasing opportunities for small businesses. Small businesses, including businesses owned by women, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and service-disabled veterans of our Armed Forces, must be able to participate in the Nation's economic recovery. They must be able to compete effectively for federal contracts so our agencies, taxpayers, and the broader economy can reap the full benefit of their talents and services.
To read the report in its entirety see attached file.