The Obama administration’s efforts to reach a congressional goal of steering 5 percent of federal contracting to women-owned small businesses were showcased Wednesday at an unusual forum that brought together Small Business Administration officials; a female contractors advocacy group; and specialists at the Pentagon, the largest awarder of federal contracts.
After two years, SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program has fallen short of the 5 percent goal, awarding about 3.4 percent of contracts to women-owned contractors, according to Antonella Pianalto, vice president for government affairs at American Express. The company joined with the advocacy group Women Impacting Public Policy to sponsor the event held in Alexandria, Va., at the Defense Department’s new Mark Center.
Of 205,000 women-owned small businesses, she said, only 1.8 percent gross more than $1 million a year compared with 5.3 percent of all small businesses. But in federal contracting, as many as 42 percent top $1 million, which is a reason she helped launch a “Give me 5 percent” campaign in 2008 to educate women in small business and to make sure they register in a federal database and certify themselves as qualified women-owned entities.
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