Sen. Doesn't Buy Small Biz Stats

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Committee on Small Business and

Entrepreneurship, says he is "cautious" about statistics the Small Business Administration released today on how much business federal agencies are giving small businesses.

The SBA today released its "first-ever Small Business Procurement Scorecard," in which half of the agencies it tracked did not meet goals to award a certain percentage of contracts to small business. Out of 24 agencies graded, 12 were given a red score indicating they had not awarded a certain percentage of business to small businesses. See all the scores here.

SBA also said it revised its 2005 statistics for how much government business small businesses received. Small businesses received 23.4 percent of the value of all government contracts in 2005, down from the original reported figure of 25.4 percent, according to an SBA press release.

But the report -- along with the revised numbers -- didn't sit well with Kerry. "Despite the federal contracting budget increasing by at least $20 billion last year, the percentage going to small businesses decreased, and the government still isn't counting the whole pie because of special exemptions and exclusions," Kerry said in a statement. "It's critical that we continue to improve the reporting system and count all contracts in calculations so we know the reality on the ground."

That means small businesses are actually falling behind in securing the increasing amount of government work and the problem could be worse. We just don't know because the procurement statistics the federal government keeps are so suspect. SBA says it will continue to work with agencies through its Goaling Program to improve the reporting process for contracts awarded to small business.