View release on Sen. Ernst's website HERE.

WASHINGTON – As the Biden administration touts an increase in federal contracts awarded to small businesses, it fails to mention that the pool of small business contractors continues to shrink. Between 2009 and 2021, the number of small businesses receiving government contracts fell dramatically from 121,181 to 65,455. In 2022, the number of prime small business contractors fell to 62,670, down more than 4% from the 65,455 reported in 2021.


The Small Business Administration (SBA) may be content to dole out easy A’s on its Small Business Procurement Scorecard, but U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee, is fighting tostop the cycle of increased concentration and continual unmet goals in federal contracting. 


“Wacky government jargon, a lack of accountability, and misplaced priorities in federal contracting continue to push our small businesses to the sidelines. The fact that fewer entrepreneurs are receiving federal contracts is nothing to celebrate and surely does not deserve an A!” said Ranking Member Ernst. “By reforming the contracting landscape and making it more accessible for small business owners, we can promote job creation, support local communities, and ensure that our country’s national security industrial base is upheld by many American small businesses rather than dependent on a few.” 



Ernst’s ACCESS (Accountability and Clarity in Contracts to Engage Small Suppliers) for Small Businesses Act will prioritize small businesses in federal contracting by increasing accessibility through plain language requirements and diminishing agencies’ misplaced focus on small business dollar goals, which are easily manipulated and distort the truth of agencies’ engagement with small businesses. 


Ernst’s effort requires government agencies to:

  • Make federal notices (i.e. solicitations) easier to understand, requiring that they be written in plain language and mandating that key terms of the contract be included in the title or description;
  • Measure the health and variety of small businesses supporting the industrial base;
  • Ensure the participation of a broad spectrum of small businesses across industries;
  • Limit “double-dipping” to meet goals by capping agencies' ability to count the total contract award value two times only;
  • Evaluate large prime contractor’s past use of small businesses as subcontractors prior to granting any awards; and,
  • Testify before Congress when goals are not met. 


Ernst has long been concerned with the mismanagement and fraud in small business contracting. In May, sheintroduced the Accountability in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act and the Stop Stolen Valor for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Contractors Act, forcing agencies to only take credit for contract awards made to certified women-owned small businesses and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. 


To support Iowa small businesses currently navigating the federal procurement process, Senator Ernst ishosting an Entrepreneur Expo at Iowa State University on Friday, September 22. Learn more and registerhere.