The Washington Post

Gaps in federal set-aside goals present opportunities

With only five months left in the federal fiscal year, some agencies are scrambling to meet small-business contracting goals.

Each department has its own negotiated small-business goals, which support an overall federal goal of 23 percent.

The government has yet to meet this objective, averaging 22 percent over the past five years. This year, the government is at 18.5 percent, short of both the yearly goal and five-year average.

The gap may offer an opportunity to small businesses that can grow or diversify their customer base.

Deltek has identified more $80 billion in full and partial federal small-business opportunities to be released during what remains of fiscal 2013. Of this total, 70 percent is associated with departments that have yet to meet their annual small-business goals.

More than $53 billion of these opportunities are in defense.

Professional services, information technology and architecture, engineering and construction have historically been the top federal industries for small businesses. Here’s what to watch in each of those areas:

Professional services

In this area, the federal government has committed $5.3 billion in small-business obligations, which represents 18 percent of all reported federal professional services obligations.

The top departments for this type of work are the Army, Department of Homeland Security, Navy, Air Force and Department of Health and Human Services.

Information technology

The government has made $11.4 billion in small business obligations, or 15.6 percent of all reported federal IT obligations, well below the small-business goals.

The top departments for IT small-business spending are the Army, Navy, Defense Department, Department of Veterans Affairs and Air Force.

Architecture, engineering and construction

In this area, the government has committed $10.1 billion in small-business obligations, or 25 percent of all federal obligations in this area.

The top departments are the Army, Navy, Department of Veterans Affairs, Air Force and General Services Administration.

Jennifer Sakole is principal research analyst at Herndon-based Deltek, which analyzes the government contracting market and can be found at

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