Despite budget fluctuations, women-owned businesses are maintaining their share of federal contracting dollars.
These businesses have maintained around 4 percent of the federal contracting market share — based on reported spending since fiscal 2010 — with about 80 percent of contract dollars held by the combined efforts of women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) and economically disadvantaged, women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs).
While market share has remained relatively consistent with the rise and fall of federal spending, specific industries have shown more variation.
Federal contracts awarded to women-owned businesses are concentrated in program management, logistics, administrative support and other professional services.
After a decrease in spending in fiscal years 2011 and 2012, reported spending for professional services contracts increased by 3.8 percent in fiscal 2013, to $6.4 billion.
This increase is in contrast to the 5.4 percent decrease in spending across all business types based on reported spending for this industry. Even with a 90-day delay for Defense Department spending reports, more than $2.4 billion has been reported thus far in fiscal 2014 — representing 41 percent of contracts held by women-owned businesses.
While professional services may be on the rise for women-owned businesses, the architecture, engineering and construction industry reported a steep decline.
Spending levels for contracts held by women-owned businesses dropped 50 percent from fiscal 2010 to 2013—$2.3 billion less than the $4.5-billion industry of fiscal 2010. This decrease mirrored the overall federal spending decline for this industry of $32.4 billion over the same period.
Architecture, engineering and construction contracts represented 20 percent of all women-owned business contracts based on spending, but obligations to date for fiscal 2014 reflect only a 7 percent market share.
In 2011, the Small Business Administration expanded contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses and economically disadvantaged, women-owned small businesses. Fiscal 2011 also represented the first time contract spending data included markers for WOSB and EDWOSB set-aside actions.
However, maintaining a 4 percent-plus market share still does not reach the government-wide small business goal of 5 percent for WOSBs.
Only 0.2 percent of all WOSB-held contracts were awarded through WOSB or EDWOSB set-aside procurements. By fiscal 2013, this number increased to 1 percent, aided by an expansion to the SBA ruling effective May 7, 2013.
Women-owned businesses, small and large, must continue to pursue opportunities through all means of procurement to maintain and increase their portion of federal contracting dollars.
Kathleen Sievers is a senior research manager at Herndon-based Deltek, which conducts analysis on the government contracting market and can be found at www.deltek.com.