Federal Procurement

Trends and Challenges in Contracting With Women-Owned Small Businesses Gao ID: GAO-01-346 February 16, 2001

Procurement regulations implemented in 1996 mandated that women-owned small businesses (WOSB) receive five percent of governmentwide contracts. Although the number of contracts awarded to WOSBs has risen more than four times as fast as other federal contracting efforts since 1996, the goal of awarding five percent of federal contracts to WOSBs has not been met. More agencies succeeded in meeting the WOSB subcontracting goal than their prime contracting goal. GAO found that three federal agencies--the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of State, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration--met or exceeded both goals in three of the four years it studied. Because the Department of Defense, which accounted for 64 percent of federal procurement in 1999, did not come close to achieving its five-percent goal, the governmentwide goal for prime contracting with WOSBs could not have been met even if all other federal agencies reached their prime contracting goals. Government officials cited many obstacles to increasing federal contracting with WOSBs, including a reduced contracting personnel force and the absense of a targeted WOSB government program. These contracting officers offered suggestions for increasing WOSB participation in federal contracting, including a strengthened outreach program and expanded excess to contract financing.


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