While rioting at the U.S. Capitol, impeachment proceedings against former President Donald Trump and the inauguration of President Joe Biden have heightened the world’s focus on Washington, the nation’s chief executive has also been focusing on the new business at hand – including simplifying the process for small and minority-owned businesses to obtain government contracts.
That’s part of Biden’s Build Back Better recovery plan to address longstanding issues in the federal contracting system.
While the president has stated that his priorities will include tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, the recession, climate change and racial inequalities, all of that progress could involve federal contracting.
Biden’s plan includes setting up a historic procurement effort that is designed to support small businesses while addressing long-standing inequities in the federal contracting system. The plan is to tighten Buy American requirements for existing procurement and invest $400 billion in additional federal purchases of products made by American workers.
In addition, he has committed to making transparent, targeted investments that unleash new demand for domestic goods and services, as well as create American jobs in communities.
As part of this effort, Biden’s multi-pronged small business contracting strategy will include formula-based awards; widespread outreach and counseling to entrepreneurs, especially Black and Brown business owners, and transparent, frequent monitoring of contract awards.
That approach is intended to make certain that the largest mobilization of public investment in procurement, infrastructure, and research and development since World War II is equitably distributed across communities and businesses; on that note, the Biden campaign also said it would triple the federal government’s contracting goal for small, disadvantaged businesses (currently at 5 percent) in the next four years.
Biden’s key is to streamline the federal procurement process as a whole and ensure that it finally mirrors the demographics of this country.
Equalizing Federal Procurement
Specifically, the Build Back Better plan will:
- Require prime contractors to develop and execute plans to increase subcontracting opportunities for small, disadvantaged businesses (SDBs).
- Expand long-term technical assistance and federal contracting preferences for SDBs.
- Incentivize state and local governments, as well as private sector partners, to contract with SDBs.
- Protect SDBs from federal and state contract bundling which often prevents smaller firms owned by Black and Brown people from effectively bidding on procurement contracts.
- Strengthen implementation of the Buy Indian Act.
Throughout, Biden will ensure federal dollars support American workers and their families.
As called for in his plan to strengthen worker organizing, collective bargaining and unions, Biden will require that all companies receiving procurement contracts are using taxpayer dollars to support good American jobs. That directive will include a commitment to pay at least $15 per hour, provide worker with paid leave, maintain fair overtime pay and scheduling practices, and guarantee a choice to join a union and bargain collectively.
The Biden plan should dovetail nicely with the recent performance of small businesses within the federal contracting market, said Daniel Snyder, director of contract analysis at Bloomberg Government.
“Small businesses have been performing particularly well, which is mostly a byproduct of the increased funds” for contractors over the last five years,” Snyder said. “The incoming Biden and Harris administration has certainly suggested they’re going to utilize some of the policy directives to increase small business influence.”
Gloria Larkin is a national expert in business development in the government markets. Email her at glorialarkinTG@targetgov.com.