Each year, the government dedicates nearly half a trillion dollars to the purchase of goods through federal contracts.  Because this is a significant amount of federal dollars, we owe it to the taxpayers to make sure that we are using them wisely and efficiently. 

Government contracting offers a unique opportunity to invest in small businesses while also stimulating our economy.  Small businesses play a central role in our economy and job growth, creating seven out of every ten private sector jobs in recent years.  With unemployment still hovering around ten percent, it is more important than ever to invest in the small businesses that support our communities and provide opportunities for our families. 

While several important provisions have been built into the federal procurement system in an effort to ensure small businesses receive a fair share of government contracting opportunities, these provisions are not being properly enforced.  Programs are abused and significant portions of contracting dollars are not properly allocated.  We must make it a top priority to fix these problems, not only to make sure taxpayer dollars have maximum impact, but also for the sake of our economy. 

To start, we should reduce the flawed practice of contract bundling, which occurs when the government consolidates smaller contracts into very large contracts for the sake of convenience.  This process can virtually shut small businesses out of contracting opportunities because they simply lack the capacity or resources to fulfill the requirements of the bundled contract. 

Additionally, we must work to strengthen the enforcement mechanisms built into the federal contracting system.  Managers and senior executive service personnel should be held accountable for not reaching outlined small business goals or for failing to properly enforce subcontracting plans.  All federal agencies need to make this a priority, which may require a reallocation of resources in order to ensure that no one is able to gain an unfair advantage of the contracting process. 

In coordination with limiting contract bundling and strengthening enforcement mechanisms, we should increase the percentage of federal contracting funds that are set aside for small businesses.  This is an easy step that would provide smaller firms with more opportunities to do business with the government and expand their operations and job force.

By addressing these problems, we can help small businesses compete in the national marketplace, foster job growth in our communities, and ensure that we are stretching the taxpayers’ dollars further.