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On Wednesday, OPM brought its annual small business conference to Morgan State University’s Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management in the heart of Baltimore. There I met Jackie Boone.
Her story is a perfect example of the work OPM and the Administration are doing in communities all across the country to help entrepreneurs grow and develop their businesses.
Jackie founded Boonerang Consulting, a Baltimore company that provides insurance, management, and facilities consulting services, primarily to government clients.
As part of the Administration’s efforts to support entrepreneurs like Jackie, this past summer a Federal team from across government encouraged Goldman Sachs to increase its small business development efforts in Baltimore HUBZone communities. With help from the Small Business Administration and Baltimore City Hall, Goldman selected five local businesses to enroll in its 10,000 Small Business Initiative program. This 13-week national program helps small business leaders develop and grow their companies. It’s just the kind of public-private partnership that the Administration is spearheading across the country.
Boonerang Consulting was one of the businesses chosen. The program, Jackie says, helped transform her 7-year old business. It provided her with a clear growth plan, including how she could expand into the private sector market and connecting her with new clients and a national network of business experts.
Events like OPM’s, she says, “are well worth my time, even if I get just one new piece of information.” And Wednesday, she said, she got a lot more than that.
Entrepreneurs like Jackie are the very business owners we are trying to reach, especially in inner cities like Baltimore and at campuses like Morgan State.
I’m very proud that OPM is the first Federal agency to partner with an Historically Black College to host its small business event. It was a great match. In all of our work at OPM – whether in helping agencies hire the best talent or working with our small business contractors – we stress the importance of diversity and inclusion, which is also a key priority for the President.
At Wednesday’s event, OPM’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, seven other government agencies and six private sector firms were on hand to help local business owners learn what they need to do to successfully bid for government contracts.
In fiscal year 2014, the Federal Government awarded nearly $92 billion in small business contracts. And, in fiscal year 2015, OPM surpassed its goal of awarding 25 percent of our contracts to small businesses. In fact, last year we awarded more than one third - 34 percent – of our contracts to small businesses.
Events like our small business conference in Baltimore not only help inform business owners like Jackie about the Federal contracting process and what they can do to compete, they help OPM and our fellow agencies learn what more we must do to help work with and support the American economy’s fastest-growing sector – small business.
I want to share some good news. OPM has been recognized by the Small Business Administration with a rating of “A+” on its Small Business Scorecard for its success in contracting with small businesses. This is the first year OPM has received an “A+” score.
OPM’s success is due in no small part to the hard work and dedication of the team in our Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU).
Nurturing small business growth has been a major priority for President Obama, and I share the President’s view that small business is “the lifeblood of our economy.” In his time in office, the President has signed 18 tax breaks to bolster business growth and 166,000 small businesses have gotten much-needed loans through community banks, state-run loan programs and the SBA.
OSDBU was created in March 2011 as part of the Small Business Act to ensure that small and disadvantaged businesses have the maximum opportunity to participate in the agency's contracting process. The primary responsibility of OSDBU is to make sure that small businesses are treated fairly and have an opportunity to compete for agency contracts and subcontracts.
In the past, that was not always the case. Up until 2012, OPM had made progress, but fell short of its small-business contracting goals. In 2013, OPM implemented a new, comprehensive small business reform strategy with one critical goal in mind: to increase small business competition and expand the use of small businesses on direct contract awards.
The strategy worked. The key was better accountability. We established clear lines of accountability from senior leadership to the contracting specialists. We defined a strategic and comprehensive strategy. That included taking an aggressive approach to redefining contract requirements to ensure small business could fairly participate. We established “smart contracts,” directed towards small businesses. We also provided OPM’s contracting staff with extensive training in small business and data quality.
OSDBU focused its outreach on organizing conferences, fairs and meetings to help small businesses understand purchasing requirements. It counseled small businesses on what OPM needed from its contractors. OSDBU also met with interested small business owners to discuss various ways to market their services, and how to respond to a “request for proposal and request for information.”
OSDBU has repeatedly stressed the importance of tying performance measures for contracting officers to their success in creating opportunities for small business owners. Most importantly, people were held accountable for meeting OPM’s goals for doing business with small and disadvantaged businesses.
I am very proud of OPM’s A+ on the Small Business Scorecard. But I’m even more proud of all of the hard work OPM employees did to make it happen!
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