Black Firms, Federal Business Contracting

Proposed Legislation Seeks To Improve Transparency In Federal Contracting For Minority-Owned Businesses

The bipartisan initiative intends to demystify the federal contracting space for small businesses selling goods to the government.

The federal government is one of the largest global purchasers of goods, making it a significant and attractive marketplace for entrepreneurs seeking international business opportunities.

However, this marketplace’s operations require greater clarity to enhance the bidding process, particularly for minority and other businesses aiming to secure lucrative contracts.

To address this issue, U.S. Reps. Kweisi Mfume (D-Maryland) and Mark Alford (R-Missouri) have introduced the “Transparency and Predictability in Small Business Opportunities Act” to provide more transparency and predictability in government contracting for small businesses.

Along with other provisions, the bipartisan initiative intends to demystify the federal contracting space for small, minority, and women-owned businesses inclined to supply products or services to the government.

The new bill comes as the latest data shows that Black-owned small businesses received $9.5 billion from federal contracts in 2022, up $490 million from 2021. However, the 2022 number is minuscule compared to the almost $163 billion spent on all federal contracts that year.

Earlier this year, the Biden-Harris administration announced actions to expand small businesses’ access to the over $700 billion spent on federal contracts annually. However, this report shows that only 12% out of 23% of businesses registered to get federal contracts are owned by Blacks.

Mfume and Alford reflected in statements what the legislation would do. Here is a condensed look at their comments.

“Our nation’s small, minority, and women-owned businesses embody the resiliency and determination of the American dream and are a driving force in our economy. However, the current bidding process for small businesses hoping to contract with the federal government too often leaves our local entrepreneurs in the dark when a solicitation is canceled without full disclosure,” Mfume stated.

He said the bill would provide small businesses with total transparency on canceled solicitations, which Mfume says would allow them “to amend their business strategies and plan for future bids going forward.”

Alford pointed out, “This legislation  will require agencies to be accountable when they cancel contract solicitations, leaving small businesses to face thousands or tens of thousands of dollars lost.”

Further, he stressed the bill “would force the existing Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization to help small businesses find contracting opportunities.”

The act would mandate the Small Business Administration to issue regulations addressing canceled solicitations for small business contracts, per a news release. It also would require a federal agency to help small businesses seek additional opportunities if a bid is canceled.

The next step for this legislation is a vote on the U.S. House Floor at an undermined date.

Read more on the bill here.