Small businesses received $105.7 billion in federal contracts in 2017 

Declines in percentage of small business contracts to women, small disadvantaged, and rural entrepreneurs in 2017


(Washington, DC) – Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), the Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, today commented on the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 2017 assessment of how well federal agencies are meeting small business federal contracting goals.

According to SBA, in 2017 the federal government met its small business federal contracting goal for the fifth consecutive year (awarding $105.7 billion).  However, the percentage of small business prime contracts awarded to women-owned small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses, and businesses located in SBA’s Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) each declined from 2016, failing to reach their respective 2017 contracting goals. 

“The federal government is the world’s largest buyer of goods and services, but we clearly have work to do when it comes to ensuring more small businesses in Maryland and across the country are competing for – and winning – federal contracts,” said Senator Cardin.  “Selling to the federal government offers tremendous upside for small businesses and helps ensure our country has a strong and diverse supply chain.  I’m increasingly concerned that we are moving in the wrong direction and leaving women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned small businesses behind.  This has long been a top priority for me, and as ranking member of the Small Business Committee, I intend to press SBA for more contracting opportunities for these underrepresented and innovative entrepreneurs.”

In 2017, the federal government awarded 23.88 percent of prime federal contracts to small businesses (compared to 24.34 percent in 2016), exceeding the government wide goal of 23 percent.

After meeting its five percent goal of contracts to women-owned small businesses for the first time in 2015, the federal government failed to meet that threshold in 2016 (4.79 percent) and 2017 (4.71 percent).

While prime contracts for service-disabled veteran-owned firms grew in 2017, subcontracts to service-disabled veteran-owned firms are almost nonexistent according to SBA data.  In 2017, federal agencies spent 1.9 percent of total eligible dollars on subcontracting to this population – well below the federal government’s modest three percent goal.