GSA looks to help get LGBTQI-owned small businesses in the contracting mix

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The agency is going to work with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce as part of an effort to increase access to contracting for LGBTQI-owned small businesses.

The General Services Administration announced a new collaboration with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce last week in an effort it says will enhance access to GSA contracting for LGBTQI-owned small businesses.

The effort falls in line with the agency's equity plan and its goals to increase the diversity of businesses that work with the federal government, both of which are also part of the Biden-Harris administration's larger goals on equity, the agency says.

Specifically, GSA, which works as a centralized procurement arm for the federal government, announced Thursday that the two groups are going to collaborate on an awareness-building campaign to increase information about GSA programs and services among LGBTQI-owned small businesses via a new memorandum of understanding with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. 

"We need everyone's ideas and products to make America stronger, including the vibrant communities of LGBTQI-owned businesses throughout the country," said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan in a statement. "We're thrilled to be working more closely with NGLCC and its network to get the word out about how they can help us meet our mission and bring value to government."

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce already has memoranda of understanding with multiple other federal agencies, according to GSA. The organization has a national presence and a network of local affiliate chapters, both of which will get communications via the new effort.

GSA will be giving information on its programs and services, and the commerce chamber will give the agency its database of LBGT-certified small businesses, according to the memorandum of understanding.

"Diversity is good for the business of government. The American Dream must be open to every American, including the 1.4 million LGBTQ business owners that help power the national economy," said Justin Nelson, co-founder and president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce in a statement.

This is one of several ongoing efforts to use the government's purchasing power to accomplish the Biden administration's equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

In 2021, for example, the administration announced a 50% increase in set-asides for Black-owned, Latino-owened and other minority-owned businesses that count as small disadvantaged businesses. GSA is also working under a major increase in its annual goals for contracting with small disadvantaged businesses, which it increased by four-fold in March 2022.

All this is happening against a backdrop of declining numbers of small businesses working with the federal government—the number dropped by 17% between 2016 and 2019, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.