Tell the Truth: It Wasn't Really an 'A' on the FY2018 Small Business Federal Procurement Scorecard

Here's how the press release starts:

Federal Government Achieves Small Business Contracting Goal for Sixth Consecutive Year with Record-Breaking $120 Billion to Small Businesses

Eight Federal Agencies Receive A+ Rating on FY2018 Small Business Federal Procurement Scorecard

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced that the federal government exceeded its small business federal contracting goal for the sixth consecutive year, awarding 25.05 percent in federal contract dollars to small businesses totaling $120.8 billion, an increase from the previous fiscal year of nearly $15 billion. The Fiscal Year 2018 Small Business Federal Procurement Scorecard marks the first time more than $120 billion in prime contracts has been awarded to small businesses. Overall, the federal government earned an “A” on this year’s government-wide scorecard.  

Here's the problem. It's true, to a certain extent, but this is a classic case of bending the truth, a lot. In fact, it's a $15B bending of the truth, maybe more.

That increase agencies are reporting as the huge boost from last fiscal year wasn't the result of a set-aside or sole source to a small business concern. That part is pretty plain to see in the data. Seriously. If you capture a report from FY2018 from FPDS-NG, the same place agencies pull the information to compile the scorecard, you'll see $17.8B in obligations with a big tag next to it that says "NO SET ASIDE USED." This means those dollars went to a small business through no assistance of a federal agency. The contract actions were UNRESTRICTED and small business concerns prevailed. This is less about how a small business won a piece of business and more about the interesting math used by agencies to calculate the scorecard. For every year Uncle Sam says they got an 'A' I can flunk them the exact same way. The point is that agencies refer to the 23% as a goal which to me and every dictionary I review, infers intent. Where is the intent of the Government when a small business wins work based on their own sweat, effort and merit?

For the record, the $15B was easy to spot. The part that takes more work is the $64B not associated with a set-aside type in FPDS-NG but attributed by the Contracting Officer as having been awarded to a Small Business. How much of that occurred with a set-aside or sole source?

Maybe a little, maybe a lot, but the fact remains, the 'A Grade' is wrong this year and for the past 5 years too.

Peace,

Go-To-Guy Timberlake, SCIIF

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