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Small Firms Still Being Shut Out Of Government Spending; Options Abound

Business Chronicle
July 3, 2006

Although the Small Business Administration (SBA) claims $79.6 billion in federal prime contracts was awarded to smaller firms in 2005, many advocacy and congressional critics say this is just not the case.

According to critics, many of these contracts went to large corporate entities working through small firm subsidiaries or as partners with smaller firms.

In announcing the program's "success," the SBA trumpeted "another record year for small business."

While there is no doubt that set-asides are providing opportunities for smaller firms, there is a huge disparity in the success of companies not "connected" and those who have "big brothers" in the form of large corporations helping them win contracts.

According to Lloyd Chapman, President of the American Small Business League, he has challenged the statistics as "significantly inflated and unsupportable."

Chapman has filed a series of lawsuits against the SBA that shows in his estimation that "the government has reported billions of dollars in contracts to giant corporations such as Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and Titan, as small business awards."

The SBA has a new administrator who promises to expand and improve these programs. This is a familiar reframe that is heard with every change in leadership. However, the best way to get into government marketing is to be a smart marketer and learn how it is done.

One way of learning more about procuring government contracts is signing up to receive the Government Express, a newsletter published by Bob Amtower. It is available free at http://governmentexpress.com/.

Another is the GSA Schedule, a preferred, not a mandatory, contract-letting venue. There are 46 broad categories of products and services on the Schedules. Many of these have multiple sub-categories. Currently, there are over 11,000 companies that have GSA Schedules. In FY 2005, $33, 571,112,107 passed through these Schedules.

However, of those 11,000+ contract holders, several thousand companies made $0 in FY 2005.

The reason? Largely, this represents a lack of marketing the contract, or marketing to the wrong audience. The GSA Schedule is a tool a great tool that allows small firms to approach a specific audience within government that probably needs what they have. But the Schedule is a tool, and it needs to be applied in carefully-defined situations.



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Reid Brownlie
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American Small Business League
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Petaluma, CA 94954

707-789-9575 | fax 707-789-9580
email to rbrownlie@asbl.com




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