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Federal Government Surpasses Contracting Goal for Women-Owned Small Businesses for First Time
The United States federal government surpassed its five percent contracting goal for women-owned small businesses for the first time ever. In fiscal year 2015, 5.05 percent (or $17.8 billion) of all federal small business eligible contracting dollars were awarded to women-owned small businesses.
The news was announced by Maria Contreras-Sweet, the Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), who is a member of President Obama's Cabinet. She was joined for the announcement in Washington, D.C. by Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President; Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee; Representative Judy Chu, and Representative Cheri Bustos.
In a statement, Contreras-Sweet called the milestone a foundation upon which to build as opposed to a ceiling. She mentioned a study the SBA commissioned that revealed that women-owned businesses already employ eight million American workers, but that women are still underrepresented when it comes to receiving contracts and capital.
The study's findings will be used to expand opportunities for women-owned businesses and provide a broader range of industries for contracting officers to find eligible women-owned businesses.
Increasing federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses has been a top priority of the Administrator since she took office.
“Small businesses often get too little credit for their work as our nation’s leading job-creators, generating nearly two out of three net new jobs in our economy,” she said. “Last fiscal year the federal government awarded its highest percentage of contracting dollars to small businesses in the history of the United States, totaling more than $90 billion. Those resources supported more than half a million jobs in communities across this country. When these federal dollars churn in local communities, they create a multiplier effect that strengthens the local tax base and leads to better government services and better schools. That’s the promise of our work.”
The SBA has already added 36 industry categories where women can compete for set-aside contracts and sole-source awards. Contreras-Sweet touted the additions, saying they would dramatically expand contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses and pave the way for the creation of jobs and industries.
The federal government also surpassed its 23% small business procurement goal for the third year in a row, awarding 25.75% (or $90.7 billion) in federal contracts to small businesses, which is an all-time high. According to the Administration, these funds support over 537,000 jobs throughout the United States.
The Administration also announced that federal contract dollars awarded to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses and Small Disadvantaged Businesses also hit historic highs. For the fourth year in a row, the goal for the former was achieved with this year hitting 3.93% (or $13.8 billion) of all federal small business eligible contracting dollars. The latter group received 10.06% (or $35.4 billion). That too is the highest percentage in history.
Later this year, the SBA will release its Annual Procurement Scorecard, which will provide more details about its performance overall
Three years ago, the SBA launched ChallengeHER, a national initiative to help boost government contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses. It would seem that things are on the right track so far.