For a second consecutive year, women-owned businesses continued to lose out on government contracts, at a faster rate than that of male-owned small businesses.
“I don’t think you’re going to see any of these figures rise. Historically, the government has never put a strong emphasis on women-owned small businesses,” said Robert Burton, acting administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy under George W. Bush.
The disparity is alarming due in part to the government’s effort to boost the number of contracts awarded specifically to women-owned small businesses. The government has never met its goal of at least 5 percent of total eligible contracts being awarded to women-owned businesses. According to federal data, the highest percent of contracts women have ever been awarded is 3.2 percent.
Margot Dorfman, chief executive officer of the Washington-based U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce says there’s “no incentive to encourage agencies to use the program.” Further complicating matters is the requirement that contracting officers verify that businesses are legitimate, a process not required for regular businesses.
John Shoraka, the SBA’s associate administrator for government contracting and business development, didn’t provide a comment on the decline in small business contracts to women when asked by Bloomberg News.
“We will continue education, outreach and recruitment of women-owned small businesses to the federal procurement process,” he said in an e-mail.
Read More: Bloomberg News