Did you know that over 90 BILLION DOLLARS in federal prime contracts were awarded to small and disadvantaged businesses last year? If you didn’t, you’re not alone. As I’ve traveled around the country over the last few months talking to small business owners about contracting with the federal government, three very important thoughts have run through my head:
- More small businesses need to know what contracting opportunities are out there for them and how they can compete for these contracts.
- Every government agency needs to know about all of the small businesses owned by women, minorities, and veterans that can provide the quality goods and services they need.
- There’s no way I can get to everybody in person…I wish there was a way to provide every business owner with the tools they need from the comfort of their own home.
Oh right, there is!
President Obama has tasked all of us across the Federal Government with using new technologies to make government more accessible.
And when that approach helps to benefit small businesses, it’s a special priority for the President.
That’s why this week SBA has launched a new online training program: "How to Win Federal Contracts" available at www.sba.gov/fedcontractingtraining.
It’s the latest in a series of steps we’re taking with our colleagues at the Department of Commerce on an initiative the President asked SBA Administrator Karen Mills (my boss) and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to spearhead.
It’s called…the "Stakeholder Outreach Initiative" or "SOI". It’s not the most glamorous name…but the idea behind the initiative is important.
As President Obama has said, "It is essential that we provide our Nation’s small businesses with maximum practicable opportunity to participate in Federal Government contracting."
Over the course of the Recovery Act, roughly $60 Billion in federal contracts will be awarded. And ensuring small businesses and firms owned by minorities, women, and veterans are involved in the Recovery is a "win-win."
As Administrator Mills puts it: "Government contracts can play a key role in helping small businesses turn the corner in terms of expansion and job creation. But make no mistake, the benefits the government receives are equally as impressive – working with small businesses allows the federal government to work with some of the most innovative companies in America, often with direct contact with the CEO."
In announcing this initiative, President Obama has reiterated his Administration’s commitment to small and disadvantaged businesses. My team and our colleagues at the Department of Commerce are working hard to deliver on this commitment. We are working with all federal agencies to host or participate in hundreds of contracting-focused events around the country in the next few months. We are reaching out to contracting officers at federal agencies and large prime contractors to make sure they know about all the great small and disadvantaged businesses out there who can provide the prime and subcontracting work that they need. We are developing new online training courses that businesses can use to learn how to enter this marketplace.
So, stop by your local SBA or MBDA (Minority Business Development Agency) office. Check out our new online Recovery Act contracting training (www.sba.gov/fedcontractingtraining). Together, we can make the goals of small and disadvantaged business contracting a reality.
Joseph Jordan is the Assistant Administrator for Government Contracting and Business Development at the U.S. Small Business Administration