There’s good news for small businesses that want to become further entrenched ― and those that simply want to gain entry ― in the government contracting fray as the COVID-19 pandemic moves toward the endemic phase: The U.S. Small Business Administration is updating its approach on size standards for companies to bid on government contracts. The move is intended to heighten access to contracting and loan opportunities for approximately 59,000 additional firms.
The SBA recently issued four final rules to modify revenue-based small business size standards in 16 North American Industrial Classification System sectors. The final rules are part of the second five-year review of size standards, as required under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.
As part of the process, the SBA received more than 1,100 public comments from nationwide constituents during the proposed rule stage of the four rules. As a result, the SBA will increase 229 size standards across those 16 sectors.
The SBA also estimates that the four final rules will create contracting opportunities estimated at $1 billion for 844 newly qualified small businesses, as well as extend 96 7(a) and 504 loans to newly qualified small businesses worth nearly $45 million.
The size standards revisions adopted in these final rules reflect SBA’s considerations of the relevant data, public comments, and impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on small businesses, as well as the overall economy and government response. In response to the pandemic, the SBA will retain current size standards where other data suggests that size standards should be lowered.
The increases in size standards will enable some mid-sized businesses to regain their small business status and current small businesses to retain their small business status for a longer period, thereby increasing the benefit of participating in SBA’s procurement and loan programs. For more information, visit www.sba.gov/size.
GSA unveils diversity plan
Federal procurement is a key focus of the General Services Administration’s first equity action plan, which is intended to increase investment in small, disadvantaged businesses as the White House seeks to address the systemic issues impacting underserved communities.
GSA, with more than 90 federal agencies, unveiled an equity plan that highlights its role in overseeing $75 billion worth of annual contracts. The administration plans to center its equity efforts on federal procurement, federal buildings, and federal technology design and delivery.
The plan also identifies five major barriers impacting small, disadvantaged businesses from achieving equitable outcomes in the federal marketplace. They include the lack of a centralized portal for opportunities in which new entrants can assess potential awards.
A lack of resources and knowledge of the complexities of addressing federal procurement requirements also impacts small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) in winning task or delivery orders, according to GSA. To address those barriers, the administration will look to find new paths for SDBs to find places on existing government-wide acquisition contracts, create a supplier diversity plan and a “robust post-award engagement strategy” to help them succeed.
GSA is looking to simplify the process for new entrants and improve vendor education, thus creating new pathways into federal procurement. GSA also will award all remaining cohorts for major contracts 8(a) STARS III, Polaris and women-owned small business pools this year, as part of an effort to support the White House goal of increasing federal contract spending on SDBs by 50 percent during the next five years.
Gloria Larkin is President and CEO of TargetGov and a national expert in business development in the government markets. Email glorialarkinTG@targetgov.com, visit www.targetgov.com or call toll-free 1-866-579-1346 x 325 for more information.