Contracts awarded to small businesses fell by about 4 percent in Obama’s first term, according to government data.
“It is unacceptable that noncompetitive awards grew by $9 billion while small business awards shrunk,’’ Graves said in an e-mailed statement. “It will require more work from senior agency officials, and possibly the White House, but more must be done.’’
In his March 2009 memo to agencies, Obama said a reliance on non-competitive orders “creates a risk that taxpayer funds will be spent on contracts that are wasteful, inefficient, subject to misuse, or otherwise not well designed to serve the needs of the Federal Government or the interests of the American taxpayer.’’
Shifting to full and open competition “could result in savings of billions of dollars each year for the American taxpayer,’’ he said.
The Office of Management and Budget released guidance on the contract awards process the following October, calling for agencies to evaluate their use of no-bid contracts.
The memo said that non-competitive “contracts carry risk of overspending because they have been negotiated without the benefit of a direct market mechanism.’’ The document directed agencies to consider mitigating that risk by limiting the length of awards, ensuring fair prices and regularly assessing contractor performance.
Obama can “send out nice memos, telling agencies not to sole-source, but the law hasn’t changed,’’ said Joe Hornyak, a Tysons Corner-based partner at law firm Holland & Knight.
Hornyak said that by law, many sole-source contracts require the approval of a senior official, meaning that the administration could have crafted a better record on competition.
“I would expect senior officials to be more sensitive to the optics of a sole-source award under this administration,’’ Hornyak said.
— Bloomberg Government