Q&A with Carter Merkle
New federal legislation requires
contracting with small business
Q: Earlier this year, President Barack Obama recommitted to meeting small business contract goals. What does this mean and how can small businesses take advantage of the federal contracts available?
A: When President Obama started his new term, he signed legislation to deliver even more government contracts to small businesses and ensure federal agencies take their annual small-business contracting goals more seriously. This new legislation requires small business contracting performance as part of employee reviews for senior agency officials. Each year, the U.S. government spends $500 billion on private contracts, and 23 percent of those funds are specifically allotted to small businesses. It's a significant piece of the pie that small businesses can pursue with the aid of many free resources and tools.
Q: Why have so few small businesses been granted federal contracts in the past?
A: Last year marked the 11th consecutive year the federal government missed its goal to grant contracts to small businesses. For small businesses — many with limited resources — the process can seem daunting. The reality is, while the requirements can be extensive (for good reason!), there are resources available to help companies overcome these hurdles and demystify the process.
Q: What resources are available for small businesses to navigate the federal procurement process?
A: With the support of Microsoft, Braddock Communications has published an online guide for small businesses (www.microsoftbusinesshub.com/procurement_guide) to navigate the procurement process. The guide provides valuable information to allow a small business to compete for government contracts. The Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network (www.okbid.org), a complementary local resource, also is available to help coach Oklahoma businesses through the process of securing contracts with federal, state and local governments. Both tools offer support with step-by-step guidelines so small businesses can realize even more success.
Q: What prompted Microsoft's involvement in this issue?
A: Microsoft has more than 20 million small business customers and recognizes the important role technology plays in the success of these companies. More specifically, given some of the requirements specified by the federal government, Microsoft offers a number of technology solutions as it relates to audits, security, etc.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER