Friday, June 8, 2012

OMB's Pushing Agencies to Meet Small Business Goals

Small business contracting and subcontracting goals have been on the books for many years. Its a rare year however when Government agencies and prime contractors meet those goals. Generally, there is no penalty for failing to meet them. No one in the Government will be punished. Contractors are not going to lose work or lose money (although in some cases, award fees are based in part on meeting small business subcontracting goals). With no adverse consequences threatened, there's little incentive to strain oneself to meet some arbitrary goals.

The OMB (Office of Management and Budget) is at least trying to invigorate the program. They held a conference last April with many top Executive Agency procurement officials and asked each of them to take immediate steps to ensure small businesses are utilized to the maximum extent practicable. The steps include:
  1. Maximizing opportunities for small businesses under the simplified acquisition threshold (generally under $150 thousand).
  2. Increasing opportunities for small businesses under multiple award contracts; and
  3. Strengthening accountability for small business goal achievement.
The first two items are nothing new. Agencies have never felt restricted in awarding small dollar purchases and multiple award contracts to small business firms. We would put this into the category of motivational talk. The third idea is a little different from what we've seen in the past. The OMB is asking executive agencies to "hold senior leadership accountable for meeting ... small business goals, including any of the statutory socio-economic  goals (Small Disadvantaged Business, HUBZone Small Business, Woman-Owned Small Business, and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business)".

How does the OMB suggest that Agencies make senior leadership accountable? By including small business contracting goals in the performance evaluations of all Senior Executive Service (SES) staff members who oversee the acquisition workforce.

The OMB is convinced  that Agencies that have implemented performance evaluations containing small business contracting goal elements meet or exceed their small business contracting and socio-economic goals. 

Maybe that will help - threaten to take away someone's bonus, that is.

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