After speaker Allison Silver at the Victory In Procurement event was up, John Shoraka of the Small Business Administration was up to speak.
The Small Business Administration provides many great resources for small businesses looking to acquire government contracts, including counseling, access to capital, and contracts themselves. The counseling and other similar services as provided by the SBA are free for government contractors, which can be helpful for both new and seasoned contractors. Anyone looking for advice should check out SBA.gov, and enter their zip code to find what resources are available from the SBA.
In regards to capital, the SBA doesn’t give out the loans, rather it guarantees them. Banks may decline to give a loan to a small business, but the SBA steps in and guarantees that the bank will receive its money back if the borrower is unable to fulfill his or her commitments.
The failure of small business negatively affects the economy, causing the current administration to focus on making sure it’s possible for small businesses to get government contracts. In the JOBS Act, there were many provisions to help small businesses acquire contracts; some of the rules have already been rolled out, while others are still in the process of being implemented.
In addition to these provisions, there are certain small business goals that must be met by agencies giving out contracts. For starters, the federal government as a whole must award 23 percent of contracts to small businesses. In addition to this, they have a five percent goal for women owned small businesses, five percent for economically disadvantaged small businesses, three percent for veteran owned small businesses, and three percent for companies operating in historically underutilized business zones (HUBZone). The White House has quarterly meetings with every deputy secretary about meeting these goals.
Agencies try to make meeting the goals a priority, so being a business which can help them achieve that gives a company a distinct advantage in the contracting marketplace.
Under the JOBS Act agencies are also allowed to set aside contracts for small businesses under the GSA schedule. The rule is currently in interim-phase as a final rule is being worked out, which unfortunately causes agencies to be hesitant to use it because the interim-rule lacks specificity. The White House is encouraging all agencies, and particularly those not meeting their goals, to use the interim-rule for now.
The socioeconomic goals are not being met, and are not even close. When you strip away the layers of loopholes and lack of accountability and governance that allows millions of “small business” dollars to flow to large companies, it makes you wonder just how toothless organizations like the SBA really are.