By Michael Cohn
April 28, 2010
President Barack Obama has ordered the establishment of two interagency task forces on federal contracting opportunities for small businesses and for veterans small business development.
The task forces aim to increase opportunities for small businesses to receive federal contracts, especially for small businesses owned and controlled by veterans and service-disabled vets.
“In recent years, the federal government has not consistently reached its small business contracting goals,” said Obama in a memorandum issued Monday. “Although we have made some progress — particularly with respect to Recovery Act contracts — more work can and should be done. I am committed to ensuring that small businesses, including firms owned by women, minorities, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and service-disabled veterans, have fair access to federal government contracting. Indeed, where small businesses have the capacity to do more, we should strive to exceed the statutory goals.”
The contracting task force is supposed to provide the president, not later than 120 days after his memorandum, proposals and recommendations for using strategies, such as teaming, to increase opportunities for small business contractors; using and expanding mentorship programs; and removing barriers to participation by small businesses in the federal marketplace by unbundling large projects.
At least 23 percent of all federal prime contracting dollars are supposed to go to small businesses, but large corporations often end up with the contracts instead.
Chris Gunn, a spokesman for the American Small Business League, had mixed feelings about Obama’s task forces. “It’s somewhat encouraging, but also discouraging,” he said. “The administration has been closed off to our opinions that have raised concerns about the administration’s priorities. We put forth a number of recommendations, but they weren’t addressed, and the administration hasn’t followed through on those recommendations. Small business owners need help now, not in 120 days.”