Black federal procurement hasn’t bounced back

Black federal procurement

As the George W. Bush administration ended, Black federal procurement was coming in at eight percent. During the Obama administration, levels fell consistently. As President Trump entered the White House, levels were at 1.8 percent and falling.

Today, the levels have yet to turn around. For first half of fiscal year 2019 (October 1 to March 31, 2019) the average is 1.3 percent. Hopefully, we have now hit bottom and the subsequent reports will show an upward trending consistent with an improved economy.

Federal agencies are encouraged to utilize the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) procurement program which emphasizes utilization of designated minority firms. The SBA is a proven example of the value of this program. This agency’s Black procurement levels are at 34 percent which leads all other agencies by far.

During the second Bush administration, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson committed his procurement to 8(a) utilization. His agency approached the 30 percent Black procurement level during his tenure. The Congressional Black Caucus formally recognized his achievement. Secretary Jackson is no longer at HUD and those numbers have shrunk. Today, HUD is at 5.9 percent.

The NBCC encourages all decision makers and associations of influence to encourage our federal agencies to improve their status of Black business procurement. Positive activity will result in an improved overall economy and increased employment levels. The federal government is the No. 1 business customer. Improved performance will strengthen the weakest link of our economic chain.

Here is our strategy to increase the numbers:

  • Contact each agency head and inform him/her of their procurement level status.  Suggest increased utilization of the SBA 8(a) program on a recurring basis.
  • Encourage our members to apply for 8(a) status.
  • Make quarterly updates on Black procurement status for each agency and follow up with correspondence to agency heads.
  • Worldwide marketing and publicity.
  • Garner Trump administration support.

Here is a few federal agencies and their current procurement rates: Labor, 9.3 percent; Transportation, 3.2 percent; Treasury, 2.8 percent; Agriculture, 2.6 percent; Homeland Security, 2.3 percent; Justice, 2.1 percent.

The 1.3 percent total Black procurement is intolerable! We must all come together and improve this performance. Business growth, employment and economic empowerment are at stake.

Harry C. Alford is the co-founder and president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC). Kay DeBow is the NBCC co-founder. Contact them via



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