The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced steps to advance equity and supplier diversity in federal procurement, in line with recent changes to the category management program, and other actions to reduce obstacles for small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs). These steps will help GSA reach the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of increasing the share of contracts awarded to small disadvantaged businesses by 50% by 2025.
“Small disadvantaged businesses are the heartbeat of the American economy,” said Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Sonny Hashmi. “Our goal, and this Administration’s goal, is to make it easier for small businesses to get in the federal marketplace and have them succeed once they are onboard.”
GSA is supporting implementation of the changes OMB recently announced to the governmentwide category management program. These changes focus the federal workforce on reaching small businesses and help agencies use more equitable practices by:
• Giving agencies automatic credit towards all awards made to socioeconomic small businesses, beginning in FY 2022.
• Encouraging implementation of category management plans consistent with statutory socioeconomic responsibilities and ensuring that these plans do not prioritize spending on “Best-In-Class” solutions at the expense of meeting socioeconomic small business goals.
• Ensuring that the use of “Best-In-Class” solutions is balanced with decentralized contracts and other necessary strategies to increase diversity within agency supplier bases.
GSA is conducting research, collecting feedback, and addressing barriers that keep SDBs from succeeding.
In addition to supporting the category management changes, GSA just released a set of five public commitments to reduce obstacles and improve SDB outcomes. Through those commitments, GSA will:
• Establish a new IT governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC), Polaris, to increase SDB representation. GSA has released the small business and women-owned small business solicitations.
• Simplify the process for firms to obtain a multiple award schedule (MAS) contract and improve vendor education using human centered design principles to create a pathway to federal procurement through the MAS contract vehicle.
• Create a post-award engagement strategy to help contractors who are new to government to succeed.
• Establish a supplier diversity plan promoting successful outcomes for vendors. This will include a strategy and criteria for regular on-ramping relative to GWACs and multi-agency contracts.
• Enhance e-tools so SDB contractors can evaluate federal marketplace opportunities.
These five actions will help to increase participation of underserved and disadvantaged communities in the federal procurement process, and advance the agency’s efforts to use federal buying power to expand opportunities for small disadvantaged businesses.