August 18, 2013

The Aug. 14 news story “Energy Dept. faulted for falling short on use of small contractors” omitted facts that are critical for a complete understanding of how this agency works with our small-business partners.

In fiscal 2012, 26 percent of the department’s overall procurements went to small businesses. That represents $6.4 billion in procurement investment with $1.3 billion in prime contracts and $5.1 billion in subcontracts for small businesses.

The Department of Energy is responsible for managing 17 national laboratories and 13 other major facilities, such as nuclear cleanup sites and nuclear weapons facilities. These facilities — run by major contractors — account for 85 percent of our procurement budget.

While it’s unrealistic to expect that a small business could be a prime contractor responsible for running these facilities, small businesses make exceptional contributions as subcontractors. Almost half of subcontract awards from these facilities go to small businesses. When these subcontracts are factored in, the department performs very well, with 26 percent of our procurement budget going to small businesses. In fact, the department did well on the Small Business Administration’s scorecard in subcontracting, exceeding our goals in working with women-owned small businesses and small disadvantaged businesses.

Dot Harris, Washington

The writer is director of the Energy Department’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity.

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