Small Business Program:

Efforts to Increase Participation in State Department Contracts

NSIAD-92-130: Published: Mar 19, 1992. Publicly Released: Apr 21, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the State Department's program to promote the participation of small, small disadvantaged, and women-owned businesses in its contracts.

GAO found that: (1) the State Department met or exceeded most of its goals for awarding contracts to small, small disadvantaged, and women-owned businesses; (2) about 90 percent of the target businesses that receive State Department contracts are located in the District of Columbia (DC) area; (3) the State Department's centralized location, travel costs to pursue contract opportunities, and the lack of awareness of contracting opportunities by target businesses located outside of DC impede wider geographical distribution of contract awards to target businesses; (4) the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization lacks an automated file detailing the capabilities of target businesses; (5) the limited awareness and understanding of the program exists because there is no formal relationship and little interaction between the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization and State Department units with procurement authority; and (6) the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization has not reviewed overseas procurement contracts to see if they could be awarded to target businesses and has excluded overseas contracts from its goals for target business participation because it believes that target business participation in overseas procurement opportunities is not required by law.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An action plan was initiated in August 1992. To heighten awareness of their programs, the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization briefed GSO at the Foreign Service Institute, cabled all posts on U.S. policy concerning the use of U.S. small business overseas, and started a pilot program at regional procurement support offices to increase the use of U.S. small business.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Administration to develop a plan to promote participation by small, small disadvantaged, and women-owned U.S. businesses in overseas procurements.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The October 1992 revision to 1FAM subchapter 540 incorporated language concerning the department's Small and Disadvantaged Business Program. The department's handbook, Doing Business With the Department of State, was revised in March 1993 to include information on the program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Administration to prepare written descriptions identifying the roles and responsibilities of the major procurement units under the small business program.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Funds were made available to the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization to automate its records. A contractor modified and installed an existing software package and submitted the final version to the User Manual. The office is now working with the National Technical Information Service to execute an interagency agreement to distribute diskettes to constituent small businesses.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Administration to automate records maintained by the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization on target businesses.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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