Congress created the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program to stimulate economic development and create jobs in distressed urban and rural areas. To achieve these goals, the HUBZone program provides small businesses with greater access to federal contracting opportunities. Reported HUBZone program achievements for fiscal year 2000 were inaccurate because of data entry errors and insufficient guidance on how to report agency data. Federal agencies are having difficulty implementing the HUBZone program. The primary reasons that federal contracting personnel gave for not using the HUBZone program to award contracts were (1) the small number of Small Business Administration (SBA) certified HUBZone firms, (2) difficulty identifying certified firms with the capabilities needed by federal agencies, (3) SBA's guidance that emphasizes the 8(a) program over the HUBZone program, and (4) easier and quicker procedures to award contracts under the 8(a) program.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Office of Federal Procurement Policy||1. To improve the accuracy of the data reported by federal agencies, the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, in consultation with SBA when appropriate, should strengthen the guidance for all federal agencies about reporting small business program contracting activities to the Federal Procurement Data Center (FPDC). At a minimum, this guidance should address how the forms should be completed and verified, and clarify how to report which small business preference program was used to award the contract.|
|Small Business Administration||2. To improve the accuracy of data at an agencywide level, the Administrator of SBA should develop guidance for all federal agencies about identifying contracts to be reported to the FPDC that meet the HUBZone Act criteria.|
|Office of Federal Procurement Policy||3. To help ensure that FPDC does not perpetuate data inaccuracies, the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy should develop follow-up review procedures to emphasize to federal agencies their responsibility in providing accurate data and promptly correcting inaccurate data.|
|Small Business Administration||4. To help contracting officers identify firms with the appropriate capabilities, the Administrator of SBA should inform small businesses listed in the PRO-Net database about the importance of entering and maintaining timely, complete, and accurate data.|