A favorite procurement vehicle is the simplified acquisitions because they’re easy to handle and easy to disguise as purchases going to small business. More times than not, however, simplified acquisition awards land in the laps of big business. Oh, sure simplified acquisitions can be as high as $150,000. But are they? In certain situations, the FAR regulations allow agencies to use them for purchases in the millions. Big business can qualify for a “simplified acquisition” of up to $6.5 million for “certain commercial items,” whatever that means.
From 2011 until early 2013, the government awarded $33 billion — using simplified acquisition procedures — that could/should have gone to small business. Usually, but not always, the simplified acquisition gets filed in the “small business” bucket and counted toward the government’s small business ‘goal’ of 23 per cent. But most of those contract awards did not go to small business. Contracting officers know this and use the tactic more often than not.
Had those funds gone to small business, the SBA Scorecard would have reflected that more than $16 billion went to small business, exceeding the federal government beyond the current small-business contracting goal of 23 percent. Perhaps the ‘goal’ figure for small business is skewed by a few billion dollars.
Some types of set-asides in FY 2013 may be boosted, but Hubzone small companies in economically depressed areas (Historically Underutilized Business Zones), would remain at the age-old ‘goal’ of three per cent. Recent U.S. Census data knocked many companies out of the Hubzone designation. But did the SBA Scorecard account for this? Probably not.
Companies owned by service-disabled veterans will also retain the ‘goal’ of 3%. Now truthfully, the goals for SDVOSB have never been met by most agencies—and in particular the Department of Defense. Many have commented on this ultimate irony and slap in the face of the disabled veteran. By far and away, the vast majority of government agencies don’t even come close to the spirit of Public Law 106-50.
Set-asides always seem to take the hit.