The lack of parity among various types of small businesses limits the flexibility of contracting officers to seek innovative solutions while meeting small business contracting goals. Existing small business preference programs create a diverse set of regulations related to contract size, special competitive rules, eligibility for set-asides, and so forth. Because of these rules, contracting officers do not always have the ability to “plug in” any one of the several categories of small businesses, including woman-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, HUBZone, and others.
Section 1347(b) of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-210) removed the order of preference from the various small business preference programs, but until the programs are unified under a common and simple structure, small businesses will not have an even playing field and contracting officers may be forced to choose a less-qualified small business alternative instead of a better-qualified alternative due to the variety of small business contracting rules involved. NDIA believes that fairness would be advanced and efficiencies would be gained if the next Administration implemented a universal set of standards for the entire community of small business preference programs, as that would grant maximum flexibility to contracting officers choosing from among different small business options.