Pentagon officials see ‘troubling’ small business decline since COVID

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a decrease in the number of small businesses competing for contracts as disclosed by the Pentagon contracting arm. Although the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency has awarded lucrative contracts in response to COVID-19, it is questionable whether the department’s regular vendors, notably its small business vendors, have been substantially benefited.

Dwight Deneal, the director of the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency’s Office of Small Business Programs, conveyed that, “participation level from our supplier base’s standpoint has steadily declined” in reference to small businesses during a small business panel at the Association of the U.S. Army’s yearly meeting. To stimulate involvement from smaller suppliers, the Department of Defense has planned virtual outreach efforts for November. As of late, the Pentagon has faced controversy for awarding substantial contracts to inexperienced companies for disposable medical gowns as opposed to awarding them to vendors with considerable experience completing federal procurement contracts.

Furthermore, the Pentagon has faced contention for allocating $688 million for aircraft engine part suppliers, shipbuilding, electronics, and space launch services over implementing those funds to augment the nation’s medical supplies. Deneal did not mention either controversy at the small business panel and instead applauded the DLA’s commitment to reviving the domestic supply chains for personal protective equipment. This move, he communicated, would benefit not only the nation as a whole due to the pandemic but also would benefit small business suppliers.

In addition to the Department of Defense, there has been a decline in small business participation within the Navy, according to Jimmy Smith, the director of the Navy’s Office of Small Business Programs. To combat this, Smith will urge contracting officers to open a direct line of communication with small businesses. Also, he aims to ensure that large contractors will “flow work” to smaller partners.

Author: Donny Sunny