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The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) announced on Friday that for the first time in eight years, the federal government has met its goal of 23 percent for small business contracting -- which it displays in the form of a Small Business Procurement Scorecard.
Like a report card for federal agencies, this scorecard gives a letter grade to each agency based on a goal for contracting with small businesses and the actual small business contracts awarded. According to a recent SBA press release, this upswing in small business contracts in the 2013 financial year has "resulted in more than $83 billion of revenue for small businesses."
What else can small businesses learn from this 2013 Scorecard?
Federal Government Gives Itself an 'A'
Based on both prime and subcontracting, the federal government made 100 percent of its projected goals for 2013, giving itself an "A" on the Small Business Procurement Scorecard. In addition, the government managed to secure $30.6 billion in prime contracts for disadvantaged small businesses, perhaps on the strength of government programs for minority-owned businesses.
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Federal Agencies Did Well... Except for One
Of the 24 federal agencies accounted for by the Scorecard, the lion's share received "A"s and "A+"s for their contribution to small businesses. But one agency received an "F."
According to the 2013 financial year Scorecard, the Department of Energy (DOE) was woefully short of its 2013 goal, earning it an "F" on the Scorecard. With $21.7 billion eligible to be spent on small business contracts, the DOE spent only 5.7 percent on small businesses. The DOE has earned a failing "F" grade from 2011 to 2013, despite earning an "A" in 2009.
Perhaps some of this dismal performance can be attributed to the standoff between the DOE and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over sites like Yucca Mountain. Yucca Mountain was designated by federal law as a nuclear dumping site, yet no progress has been made in actually developing it as such. The D.C. Circuit Court intervened in 2013, removing the DOE's ability to collect a nuclear waste fee until someone moves on actually using that money to build a nuclear waste depository.
That DOE money could have gone to small businesses in the form of federal contracts and subcontracts. But despite the DOE's failure, the federal government is helping out small businesses more than ever.