WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug, 6, 2014) -- The Small Business Administration announced Aug. 1, that for the first time in eight years the federal government met its 23 percent statutory goal for small business contracting in fiscal year 2013.

The Army played a major role in this success, spending more dollars with small businesses than any other federal agency, according to Department of the Army Office of Small Business Programs, or OSBP.

The $17.47 billion the Army spent with small businesses in fiscal year 2013, accounts for more than a fifth of all federal small business spending that year. This was also more than 27 percent of total Army contract spending, significantly higher than the Army's Department of Defense-assigned goal of 26.5 percent, and the highest Army small business spending percentage on record.

Moreover, the Army exceeded the statutory goals for all small business socioeconomic programs, according to OSBP. Most notably, the Army awarded 5.12 percent of contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses, marking the first time that the Army has exceeded the 5 percent goal for that program.

Other Small Business Socioeconomic Program categories, statutory goals with Army achievements for fiscal year 2013 are:

- Small disadvantaged business goal: 5 percent, achieved: 12.6 percent

- Historically underutilized business zone small business goal: 3percent, achieved 3.16 percent

- Service-disabled, veteran-owned small business goal: 3 percent, achieved 3.92 percent

"The Army consistently leads the federal government in total contract dollars awarded to small businesses, because we consistently engage and build relationships with small firms," said Jackie Robinson-Burnette, deputy director, OSBP.

"Army commanders know that a critical component of our industrial base is formed by our small business partners, whose contributions drive innovation in the production of goods and services that support our warfighters. We award contracts to the nation's small firms, not only because it's the law, but more importantly, because capable small businesses increase the competitive nature of our contract solicitations, resulting in better value, cost, and contract performance," Robinson-Burnette added.

The OSBP is supported by more than 230 Army small business advocates nationwide, who work to ensure small businesses receive full consideration for Army contracts, according to the office.

In addition to working closely with contracting officers, these advocates plan numerous industry outreach events. At the start of fiscal year 2013, for example, OSBP organized the Army Small Business Conference in Washington, D.C., which attracted more than 450 attendees from small businesses, prime contractors, and the federal government.

The conference's educational and networking sessions paid dividends throughout the year as small businesses leveraged what they learned to more effectively pursue contracts. Looking to repeat the success of this event, OSBP organized the Army Small Business Forum at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting at the start of fiscal year 2014.

At this event, senior Army leaders, including former Under Secretary Dr. Joseph W. Westphal, met with hundreds of small business owners.

The hard work so far in fiscal year 2014 seems to be paying off, as the Army is ahead of where it was this time last year in small business utilization, OSBP noted. To date this fiscal year, the Army has awarded $10.60 billion in contracts to small businesses, compared to $10.50 billion at the same point in fiscal year 2013.

The Army is committed to continuing its strong support of small businesses.

Small businesses seeking assistance in navigating the Army contracting process can contact an Army Small Business Specialist by using this online directory at http://sellingtoarmy.com/army-small-business-specialists."

For more information on the Army Small Business Program, visit www.sellingtoarmy.com and follow the program on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ArmySmallBiz, and via Facebook at www.facebook.com/ArmySmallBiz.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Anthony Braun is project manager, support contractor to OSBP. Burt Stanko contributed to this article.

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