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Source : Pixabay
July 13, 2021
Author : Patty Rodriguez
The Professional Service Council (PSC) is a contracting association that represents more than 400 companies that do business with the federal government. The group submitted a response last week to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) after the government agency issued a request for information [RFI] about “advancing equity and supporting underserved communities through the power of the federal government.”
As we have previously reported, the Biden Administration is attempting to ramp up procurement from small disadvantaged businesses by an additional $100 billion. Currently, just 10 percent of federal contracting dollars go to such businesses. However, the RFI comes as part of the rollout of an executive order entitled “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” which was signed on his first day in office.
The request for information asked for recommendations for “effective methods for assessing whether agency policies and actions (e.g., programs, services, processes, and operations) equitably serve all eligible individuals and communities, particularly those that are currently and historically underserved.”
“OMB will consider the usability, applicability, and rigor of submissions in response to this RFI as OMB gathers resources to support agencies as they conduct internal assessments on the state of equity in their policies, programs, services, processes, and operations,” the request for information reads. “OMB will also use what it learns from responses to this RFI as OMB works to expand use of equity-assessment methods and approaches across the Federal Government, as agencies develop agency Equity Action Plans.”
The comments from from the Professional Services Council on their response can be read in-full here. “We commend the Biden-Harris Administration for prioritizing social justice issues, including but not limited to diversity, equity, and inclusion, within its Build Back Better agenda,” wrote PSC Executive Vice President Stephanie Sanok Kostro.
“Regarding the former, there are currently goals promulgated by the Small Business Administration for the federal government to award 23 percent of prime contract dollars to small businesses and 3-5 percent of prime and subcontract dollars to various, well-defined categories of small businesses,” she wrote.
However, better data keeping is one recommendation: “we have limited data on the performance and reach of these programs—e.g., if an organization is owned or controlled by at least 51 percent by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, how many underserved individuals are employees or contractors and benefit from a particular contract award?”
“PSC recommends that federal agencies begin identifying and maintaining aggregate data about who is performing the work so that we can better understand the full scope and impact of contracts on underserved communities,” Kostro wrote.
The association also pushed for more “clarity of definitions and goals,” emphasizing that the federal government should “develop clearly communicated, commonly understood goals and a data-driven baseline for measuring effectiveness going forward.”
The PSC also suggested that federal agencies examine the kinds of work that are being undertaken by small and disadvantaged businesses. “If there is no upward mobility within a given field, increasing contract dollars may perpetuate or even exacerbate a socio-economic disparity that runs counter to the intent of the Administration’s efforts,” the executive VP wrote.
According to Government Executive, OMB has received 529 responses to their RFI including HUBZone, Contractors National Council, Native American Contractors Association and Procurement Roundtable.Those responses can be viewed here.