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GSA's Records and Goals for Small, Minority and Disadvantaged Businesses

STATEMENT OF
MICHAEL RIGAS
DEPUTY ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR,
OFFICE OF SMALL BUSINESS UTILIZATION
BEFORE THE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT,
PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND EMERGENCY,
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MARCH 6, 2008

Good morning, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss doing business with the government, and the General Service Administration’s (GSA’s) record and goals for Small, Minority and Disadvantaged Businesses.  I am Michael Rigas, Deputy Associate Administrator for Small Business Utilization at the General Services Administration, and I am pleased to be here this morning.

As the premier acquisition agency of the Federal Government, GSA’s mission is to help Federal agencies better serve the public by offering, at best value, superior workplaces, expert solutions, acquisition services, and management policies. 

GSA works hard to ensure that small businesses have ample opportunities to compete in GSA procurements.  We know that small businesses are the engine of our national economy and that they bring new and innovative solutions to Government challenges. A successful and strong small business community is integral to job creation, community empowerment and economic revitalization. 

GSA works hard so that small businesses, including disadvantaged, women-owned, HubZone, veteran-owned, and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, have every opportunity to participate in the Federal procurement process.  GSA has significantly increased its spending with small businesses, and as an agency, we actually exceed the goals Congress has set.

The Small Business Act establishes, for Federal executive agencies, an annual goal of awarding 23 percent of prime contract dollars to small businesses.   This equated to $1.25 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2006.  At GSA, in FY 2006, over $1.7 billion, or 32 percent, of all prime contract procurement dollars spent went to small business.  That impressive result is 40 percent higher than the statutory goal and an increase of 13 percent over the FY 2005 level of $1.5 billion.  We are proud that we have surpassed the statutory goal.

Our Public Buildings Service (PBS) contracts for a wide variety of services to support their mission of providing superior workplaces for federal customer agencies at good economies to the American taxpayer. The largest contracting areas are maintenance, repair and alteration of buildings; construction of buildings; and housekeeping services. In FY 07, of the more than $1.8 billion spent in these areas, over $692 million (nearly 38%) were spent on contracts with small businesses.

PBS developed a number of regional outreach programs to heighten awareness within the small business community of PBS contracting opportunities. This includes small business fairs, trade group seminars, targeted informational/educational seminars, pre-award and post-award small business opportunity fairs. Since 2006, the Public Buildings Service has consistently exceeded its goals for contracting with small disadvantaged businesses, 8(a) procedure businesses, women-owned small businesses, and certified HUBZone small businesses. In the first quarter of 2008, we are making great strides and have increased the percentage of contracts with small businesses in all goal categories.

But the story of GSA’s support for small business doesn’t end with our direct GSA contracting.  GSA has a strong record of supporting small business contracting throughout the Government through the GSA Multiple Award Schedules Program (MAS Program) and Government-wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs). 

The MAS Program provides ordering activities with a simplified procurement process whereby GSA establishes contracts with firms for commercial products and services. The MAS Program offers Federal agencies a broad range of products and services from private sector vendors and suppliers at fair and reasonable prices that have been negotiated by GSA. 

For Federal agencies, this program offers a much more streamlined procurement process.  Federal agencies turn to MAS contracts to fulfill agency requirements, knowing that they can depend on the quality of the products or services these companies provide. 

The MAS program, in short, offers small businesses an expansive avenue of potential work with the Federal Government.   And I am happy to report that 80 percent of the companies which hold GSA Schedules contracts are small businesses.  In FY 2005, through the GSA's Schedules program, Federal agencies awarded over $12 billion in schedule orders to small business.  That amount increased to over $13 billion for FY 2006, which is approximately 37% of all prime contracting Schedules spending government wide going to small business.

The ordering procedures applicable to the Schedules Program encourage ordering activities to consider and, where applicable, give preference to small businesses, thus making it easier for GSA and other agencies to reach small businesses.  GSA Advantage!®, one of the MAS programs' e-Tools,  is the online shopping and ordering system that provides access to thousands of contractors and their supplies (products) and services.  This e-Tool  promotes increased access to the small business community by allowing customers to tailor their searches specifically for products and services provided by small, minority, veteran, and women owned businesses.  Contracting officers ordering via GSA’s Schedules may make socioeconomic status a primary evaluation factor when making a best value determination

We at GSA pledge to continue to improve, and to keep striving to make sure that any small company with a commercial product or service will have a much easier path in regards to negotiating a GSA Schedule than ever before, and to make sure that GSA does a good job of tracking that participation. 

In addition to the Schedules program, which is comprised of over 80% small businesses, GSA offers a range of small business acquisition vehicles and solutions.
 
Through our Small Business GWAC Center, GSA offers a number of set aside acquisition vehicles and solutions.

The 8(a) STARS (Streamlined Technology Acquisition Resources for Services) is a GWAC that is set aside exclusively for small, disadvantaged, 8(a) firms.  The companies on this contract vehicle provide a full range of IT solutions—including application development, computer facilities management services, and information assurance.

As an 8(a) set-aside, this contract vehicle provides small businesses which have been historically left out of the procurement process, a chance to compete in the federal marketplace. GSA customers benefit by having access to a portfolio of over 200 industry partners distributed across eight areas of expertise. Federal agencies also receive 8(a) and other small business credits toward their procurement preference goals through the use of these contracts.

Alliant Small Business (SB), a small business set-aside GWAC, is designed to provide worldwide information technology solutions to Federal agencies, while strengthening federal contracting opportunities for small business concerns. Alliant SB is assisting agencies in reaching their small business utilization goals, while providing small business concerns opportunities for prime contracts in the information technology arena and to develop their business skills before moving into unrestricted acquisition environments.

VETS (Veterans Technology Services), a service-disabled veteran-owned small business set-aside GWAC, encompasses the functional areas of systems operation and maintenance, and information systems engineering.  VETS is designed to provide worldwide information technology solutions to federal agencies, while strengthening federal contracting opportunities for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

The VETS GWAC assists agencies in meeting their 3 percent service-disabled veteran-owned small business goals, by providing pre-qualified industry partners in one easy-to-use contract vehicle. Service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses will, in turn, be provided with opportunities to compete within a
smaller group of contract holders, allowing self-marketing opportunities, and a chance to develop their businesses before moving into larger acquisition environments.

Madame Chairwoman, as an agency, GSA’s focus on small business starts at the top.  As one of the few Government agency heads who was an entrepreneur, a former small and minority business owner, and a Federal Government contractor, Administrator Doan is our agency’s biggest advocate for small business. She knows from experience that starting a business is hard, and that sustaining and growing a business is even harder.  She is a strong advocate for ensuring that doing business with GSA is not one of those hardships.

Our Office of Small Business Utilization assists small businesses by answering the many questions that are submitted by phone, e-mail, letters, and in person.  We consult with most companies over the phone; however, we also conduct one-on-one counseling sessions to help companies in understanding and participating in the Federal procurement process.  We also attend procurement conferences to conduct workshops that provide important information to small business owners on how to do business with GSA.

GSA has many resources available to help small businesses and provide them with useful information.  One such resource is our Doing Business with GSA booklet, which is geared toward new and prospective contractors.  It explains the process, offers practical advice, and lists helpful websites, including www.gsa.gov/sbu.

Our website also provides links to resources that will help small businesses better understand how to submit an offer for a Government contract.  It provides them with points of contact and keeps them informed of upcoming conferences in which we will be participating.

GSA has a strong record of supporting small businesses and small business contracting.  We conduct hundreds of outreach events a year across the country for small businesses, to open doors to Federal contracting opportunities to them, and continually work to improve on our already impressive performance record with regards to small business contracting.  We share the Administration’s view that small businesses are the backbone of our economy. 

Madame Chairwoman, I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.  I will be happy to answer any questions you and other members of the Committee may have.


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