Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley is chairing a subcommittee hearing today on federal contracts awarded to small businesses owned by women. Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, says there’s a requirement that five-percent of the contract be awarded to businesses owned by women, but that’s not happening.
Braley says studies show one-third of federal agencies failed to meet the five percent threshold and in 2005, women-owned businesses only received three-point-five percent of government contracts. Braley says there’s three key government agencies that failed to meet the five-percent goal. He says the Department of Energy only awarded point-five-seven percent of its contracts to women-owned businesses, NASA only awarded two-point-one-percent, and the Department of Education which Braley says "surprisingly" only awarded two-point-five percent.
Braley says he’s also concerned that the contracts aren’t getting outside the capital city. Braley says another concern is "geographic imbalance" among the businesses involved as a majority of the contracts are going to Maryland and Virginia, which on in the greater Washington, D.C. metro area, and not many are going to other parts of the country.
Braley says the numbers don’t add up. Braley says if you look at the raw numbers of women-owned businesses in Iowa and across the country, there must be an outreach, procurement and education problem. He says the geographic concentrations show the federal government is not doing a good job of opening up the process of awarding the contracts. Braley says a northeast Iowa woman, Karlyn Smith, will testify at the hearing.
Braley says Smith owns Iowa Valley Appraisals, a real estate appraisal firm in Waverly. Braley says Smith does appraisals for the USDA and is concerned about the USDA tracks and awards contracts to women-owned small businesses. This is Braley’s first hearing of the Subcommittee on Contracting and Technology.