The General Services Administration (GSA) today explained a range of steps the agency is taking to advance equity and supplier diversity in Federal government procurement, including category management changes and commitments to help reduce contracting obstacles for small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs).

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GSA and the Biden administration are already active on both of those fronts, including making news last month when GSA announced that it boosted its Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 goal for SDB contracting to 21 percent – a four-fold increase from the government-wide statutory goal of five percent in FY2021. And last week, the agency released its Equity Action Plan that aims to increase equity in Federal procurement, among other aims.

In the category management arena, GSA said it is “conducting research, collecting feedback, and addressing barriers that keep SDBs from succeeding,” in support of changes laid out

by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in December that aim to increase Federal contracting opportunities for SDBs.

GSA said today those changes “focus the Federal workforce on reaching small businesses and help agencies use more equitable practices by:

  • Giving agencies automatic credit towards all awards made to socioeconomic small businesses, beginning in FY2022.
  • Encouraging implementation of category management plans consistent with statutory socioeconomic responsibilities and ensuring that these plans do not prioritize spending on ‘Best-In-Class’ solutions at the expense of meeting socioeconomic small business goals.
  • Ensuring that the use of ‘Best-In-Class’ solutions is balanced with decentralized contracts and other necessary strategies to increase diversity within agency supplier bases.”

Separately, GSA detailed five public commitments that the agency said will help to reduce obstacles to SDBs, including:

  • Creating its already-underway Polaris IT governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC);
  • Simplifying how firms can obtain a multiple award schedule (MAS) contract;
  • Creating post-award engagement strategies to help contractors new to the government;
  • Establishing a supplier diversity plan that will include “a strategy and criteria for regular on-ramping relative to GWACs and multi-agency contracts”; and
  • Improving e-tools that allow SDBs to better evaluate Federal marketplace opportunities.

“Small disadvantaged businesses are the heartbeat of the American economy,” commented Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Sonny Hashmi today. “Our goal, and this Administration’s goal, is to make it easier for small businesses to get in the Federal marketplace and have them succeed once they are onboard,” he said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.