Obama Helps Small Businesses and Vets Win More Contracts

President issued executive orders to establish two task forces

President Obama issued executive orders Monday that establish two task forces to improve and increase federal contracting opportunities for all small businesses and those owned by veterans and service-disabled veterans.

Citing the inability of government agencies to consistently meet their small business contracting goals, Obama wrote in one order that he is “committed to ensuring that small businesses, including firms owned by women, minorities, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and service-disabled veterans have fair access to federal government contracting.” The president also said that if those firms can, in fact, do more work than statutory goals call for, the government also should try to exceed those goals.

The heads of the Commerce Department, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Small Business Administration will co-chair the Interagency Task Force on Federal Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses. They’ve been given 120 days to provide the president with proposals and recommendations for innovative strategies to increase opportunities, such as mentorship programs; remove barriers to participation by unbundling large projects; and improve training for federal acquisitions officials.

The task force also must expand outreach efforts to small business advocates and associations and develop strategies to match firms, including those owned by minorities or located in HUBZones, with contracting and subcontracting opportunities. Within 90 days, the task force will develop a Website that documents small business participation in federal contracting to ensure greater transparency and accountability.

The Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development, which will be chaired by the SBA chief, calls for an improvement in capital access and capacity through loans, surety bonding and franchising and that agencies achieve their pre-established goals.

“It’s a great day in America—potentially,” said Richard Copeland, president and CEO of Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Thor Construction (No. 48 on the B.E. Industrial/Service 100 list with $103 million in sales). Copeland is also national president of the National Association of Minority Contractors.

“We haven’t had this kind of exposure, sensitivity, and initiative around our issues, and the issue of inclusion and making America work for all of its citizens, in decades. This is long overdue,” said Copeland, who a few months ago felt very pessimistic over black business owners’ inadequate access to contracting opportunities.

Timothy Adams is president of the Maryland-based Systems Application Technology, Inc. (No. 87 on the B.E. Industrial/Service 100 list with $45.3 million in sales) and contracts primarily with the Department of Defense.

“The administration understands the importance of small business across the spectrum of government spending, and this shows us how important small business is to the American economy,” said

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