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GSA's Outreach Effort to Women-Owned Businesses

STATEMENT OF
EMILY W. MURPHY
CHIEF ACQUISITION OFFICER
U.S. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
BEFORE THE
COMMITTEE ON SMALL BUSINESS
AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
UNITED STATES SENATE
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2006

 

Good afternoon Senator Allen, and other distinguished members of the committee. 

I am Emily Murphy, Chief Acquisition Officer of the General Services  Administration (GSA). 

Thank you for inviting me here today to testify on GSA’s support of women-owned small businesses and how GSA is doing its best to support this vital aspect of the economy.  During Small Business Week earlier this year, President Bush reaffirmed his commitment to “fostering an environment where innovation succeeds and small businesses can flourish.”  Indeed, he stated that “The great thing about the entrepreneur in the small business sector of our economy is that you provide great steam and strength to the growth of our economy.”   GSA wants to make sure that that these innovations are available to our federal agencies, which means having small businesses, including women-owned small businesses, continue to make up a vibrant part of our vendor community.

I am proud to represent our Administrator, Lurita Doan, who was selected by President Bush for the proficiency she demonstrated as a small businesswoman.  She has brought incredible entrepreneurial energy to GSA, and she is committed to small businesses.  Indeed, entrepreneurial women seem to run in her family. Her great-grandmother sold pralines in New Orleans shortly after the Civil War.  Like all good entrepreneurs, she knew the key to success was being first to market, so she made her pralines before sunrise so that she was at the docks as the businessmen  were enjoying their first cup of coffee.  Ms. Doan's grandmother started a small business school in 1908 – during the Teddy Roosevelt administration – when women still couldn’t vote. 

The strength and viability of small businesses are fundamental to our nation’s economy.  A successful and strong small business community is integral to job creation, community empowerment and economic revitalization.  GSA supplies a wide range of products and services from construction equipment, tools, telephone and information technology to furniture and office supplies. GSA is committed to creating opportunities for small businesses, including women-owned small businesses, to compete through our acquisition programs.

Let me underscore how GSA encourages the participation of women-owned small businesses in the Federal marketplace.   One of the largest procurement programs in the Federal Government is GSA’s Federal Supply Schedules program. Under this program, GSA establishes contracts against which any Federal agency can place an order directly, or obtain access through our assisted acquisitions.  The ordering procedures applicable to the Schedules program make it easier for GSA and other agencies to reach women-owned small businesses and other types of small businesses.  Contracting officers ordering off of GSA’s Schedules may make socioeconomic status a primary evaluation factor when making a best value determination, and, under a policy issued by my office, GSA specifically asks our customers about their socioeconomic goals when we conduct an assisted acquisition.

These policies have paid off in meaningful contracts and real opportunities for women- owned small businesses.  The Small Business Act established a goal of awarding 23% prime contract dollars to small businesses and 5% to women- owned small businesses.   At GSA, approximately 80% of our Schedule contracts are with small businesses, and they account for 37.7% or $12.8 billion of the $33.9 billion sales under the Schedules program last year (FY 2005).  Woman owned small businesses received 6.4% or nearly $2.2 billion of the total Schedule sales last year.  We are proud that we have surpassed the goals established by the Small Business Act.

And there is more good news in this area at GSA.  While the Federal acquisition community at large spent 3.3% of its dollars on women-owned businesses last fiscal year, GSA spent nearly twice as much - 6.2% - and surpassed the 5% goals when purchasing on behalf of others.  Perhaps there is no better example of this than the work that GSA did in response to Hurricane Katrina.  Despite the enormous time constraints associated with the relief effort, over 10% of the contracts GSA awarded went to women-owned small businesses.

Let me briefly share with you a few other highlights of GSA’s partnership with women-owned businesses.   GSA provides training programs and networking sessions throughout the country, in addition to one-on-one assistance to address specific questions.  We have adapted our acquisition planning wizard, our online tool that helps contracting officers develop strong acquisition strategies so that it encourages the use of small businesses and involves small business technical advisors at the beginning of the acquisition process.  In addition, at the behest of our Administrator, we are investigating various streamlining and innovative measures to enable contract negotiation, for small businesses submitting offers under the Federal Supply Schedule program, to be completed within 30 days from date of application.  This will reduce barriers to entry for small businesses, further honoring the commitment the President made in his Small Business Agenda to “Ensure that Government contracts are open to all small businesses that can supply the Government's needs.”

Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you here today. I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.


Testimony, Emily Murphy, Congressional Testimony