Small Business:

Low Participation in Set-Aside Program Expected for Sheltered Workshops

RCED-90-192: Published: Aug 6, 1990. Publicly Released: Sep 6, 1990.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO provided information on the impact of allowing sheltered workshops to compete for small business set-aside contracts.

GAO found that: (1) data on sheltered workshops' participation in the set-aside program in fiscal year (FY) 1989 were not available; (2) the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) received agencies' computer data, including information on set-aside contracts awarded to sheltered workshops in FY 1990; (3) federal agency officials said that they could not determine the level of sheltered workshops' participation in the small business set-aside program because federal data were not available; (4) officials from organizations that represented sheltered workshops said that workshops' participation was minimal; (5) sheltered workshop officials believe that the program's authorizing legislation is a major factor contributing to the low participation levels; and (6) federal agency officials responsible for monitoring the small business set-aside program said many sheltered workshops did not know they were eligible to participate.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The GAO November 1992 follow up report (GAO/RCED-93-44) on the issue again affirmed the matter in this report. However, according to the House and Senate Small Business Committees, no legislation is pending and none is planned. So, there is no need to keep the recommendation open.

    Matter: If greater participation in the small business set-aside program is to be achieved, Public Law 100-590 needs to be modified to reduce or remove some of the barriers. Specifically, Congress may wish to consider: (1) designating a federal agency responsible for informing sheltered workshops about the set-aside program and providing training on how to bid on federal contracts; and (2) allowing items supplied by workshops under set-aside contracts to be transferred to the list of items supplied exclusively by workshops under the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Program. If desired, the total dollar amount of contracts that can be transferred could be limited to a portion of the annual ceiling imposed by the existing legislation.


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