Small Business:

More Transparency Needed in Prime Contract Goal Program

GAO-01-551: Published: Aug 1, 2001. Publicly Released: Sep 4, 2001.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

David E. Cooper
(617) 788-0555
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

The Small Business Reauthorization Act of 1997 directed the President to set a goal of awarding not less than 23 percent of the federal government's prime contracting dollars to small business for each fiscal year. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is charged with working with federal agencies to ensure that agency goals, in the aggregate, meet or exceed the overall goal. To help SBA determine if agency goals are being met, the Federal Procurement Data Center (FPDC)--part of the General Services Administration--collects data on all federal contract actions and calculates the government's annual small business achievements on the basis of procurement information received from the agencies. This report reviews (1) SBA's process for establishing annual small business prime contract goals and the reasons for recent changes to the process; (2) the types of contracts that are excluded when achievements are calculated, as well as SBA's rationale for excluding them; and (3) the dollar value of the excluded contracts. GAO found that in fiscal year 2000, SBA began assigning goals directly to individual agencies because the goals that agencies proposed did not in the aggregate reach the mandated 23-percent governmentwide goal. When calculating the percentage of federal procurements awarded to small businesses, FPDC must exclude (a) those contracts for which small businesses' chances to compete are limited or nonexistent, (b) those using non-appropriated funds, and (c) those made by agencies which are subject to the Federal Acquisition Regulation or are otherwise exempted by statute. The excluded contracts total about 10 percent of federal procurement dollars and are usually military contracts for foreign sales and contracts performed outside the United States. SBA's annual guidance is the only source of information to which federal agencies, the small business community, and Congress can turn for information on the contracts that are excluded from the small business baseline. However, the guidance is unclear and incomplete, precluding a clear picture of the universe of contracts reflected in FPDC's annual reports of small business achievements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SBA revised its "Goaling Guidelines for the Small Business Preference Programs" on July 3, 2003, clarifying the goaling exclusions.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, SBA, should document SBA's rationale for excluding contracts from the small business baseline and ensure that this documentation reflects the fact that the United States Mint is legislatively exempt from the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SBA revised its "Goaling Guidelines for the Small Business Preference Programs" on July 3, 2003, which clarifies the goaling exclusions.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, SBA, should determine whether the exclusion for the Federal Highway Administration is appropriate.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SBA revised its "Goaling Guidelines for the Small Business Preference Programs" on July 3, 2003, which clarifies the goal-setting process.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, SBA, should ensure that all agencies have an opportunity to negotiate goals for fiscal year 2002 and future years.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SBA revised its "Goaling Guidelines for the Small Business Preference Programs" on July 3, 2003, in response to the five GAO recommendations in GAO-01-551, "More Transparency Needed In Prime Contract Goal Program." In July 2004, GAO determined that the revised guidelines addressed the procedures for establishing goals, including SBA's policy and time period for negotiating goals. The guidelines also included detailed discussions on the exclusions with a rationale for each of the exclusions. This recommendation is considered closed.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, SBA, should set forth clearly the approach and criteria used to establish individual agency goals. This documentation should be presented in SBA's annual guidance and in letters to individual procurement agencies.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SBA revised its "Goaling Guidelines for the Small Business Preference Programs" on July 3, 2003, which clarifies the goaling exclusions from SBA and FPDC.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, SBA, should revise the goaling guidance to (1) clarify the types of contracts that are excluded at the behest of SBA versus those that are not reported to FPDC, (2) delete reference to the wholesale supply source exclusion if it is determined to be inapplicable, and (3) reflect the fact that FPDC excludes contracts performed outside the United States and does not consider where the contract was awarded.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Oct 14, 2014

Sep 22, 2014

Sep 16, 2014

Jul 28, 2014

Jul 23, 2014

Jul 22, 2014

Jul 21, 2014

Jun 26, 2014

Jun 20, 2014

Looking for more? Browse all our products here