Coalition pushes Congress to bolster federal contracts for small businesses

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A business coalition led by Goldman Sachs, the Bipartisan Policy Center and Center Forward is pushing lawmakers to help small businesses access federal government contracts.

The number of small businesses contracting with the federal government shrank by 38 percent over the last decade, according to a report released by the group this week. The number of small businesses receiving contracts for the first time shrank by 79 percent from 2005 to 2019.

Coalition members met with 60 congressional offices this month to discuss how the current system creates barriers to entry for small businesses. They’re telling Congress to simplify the procurement process and enhance programs that help historically disadvantaged small businesses score contracts.

“Our report makes clear that significant reforms are needed to ensure the federal contracting process gives small businesses a level playing field to compete and succeed,” Joe Wall, director of Goldman Sachs’s 10,000 Small Businesses Voices program, said in a statement Friday. 

John Shoraka, who oversaw procurement at the Small Business Administration in the Obama administration, is helping lead the outreach effort alongside small business executives in Illinois and Kentucky. 

The coalition says Congress could make changes to the procurement process in an infrastructure package, or in the Small Business Administration reauthorization that will likely pass later this year or in 2022. 

President Biden on Thursday struck a deal with a bipartisan group of senators on an infrastructure package that includes $579 billion in new spending. Democrats are also eyeing a second package they could pass through the reconciliation process, which would require no GOP support.

The federal government has met its goal of allocating 23 percent of procurement spending to small businesses in each of the last seven years. But it has frequently failed to reach its own thresholds for women-owned small businesses and small businesses located in historically underutilized business zones. 

This month, Biden announced his administration would aim to grow federal contracting with small, disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent over the next five years, providing them with an additional $100 billion in revenue.  

“The federal government is the largest consumer of goods in the world, buying everything from software to elevator services to financial and asset management,” the White House said in a press release. “Federal procurement is one of our most powerful tools to advance equity and build wealth in underserved communities.”

Tags Joe Biden Procurement Small business Small Business Administration

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