GSA Small Business Contracting and COVID-19 Response

Published: May 14, 2020

Federal Market AnalysisContracting TrendsCoronavirus (COVID-19) PandemicGSASpending Trends

GSA is spending nearly 50% of its COVID-19 contract dollars with small businesses.

Key Takeaways

  • Small businesses have received nearly half of GSA’s COVID-19 related contract spending since March.
  • Women Owned small businesses have received the highest percentage of GSA’s small business spending.
  • GSA’s spending is not supporting 8(a) businesses as strongly.
  • Small businesses should remain in contact with GSA program personnel to learn about requirements.
  • Respond to the GSA’s Market Research as a Service RFI.

Small businesses have been particularly hard hit during the current public health crisis. Typically comprised of small staffs and having limited cash resources, staying afloat amidst mandated lock downs and closed federal facilities has been a challenge. Fortunately, small firms doing business with the federal government have an advocate in their corner alongside the Small Business Administration – the General Services Administration.

Since early in the epidemic, Administrator Emily Murphy has made a point of marshaling her agency’s resources to help small businesses remain viable. GSA has been expediting payments to small vendors, ordering significant quantities of personal protective equipment, contracting for cleaning services, and, using the authority provided in Section 3610 of the CARES Act, making payments to small business service providers currently unable to access closed federal and approved contractor work sites. Few things better illustrate the effort GSA is making than the statistics concerning small business contracting. This data, published on the Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation website, allows us to take a look at the progress GSA has made.

Total COVID-19 Related Contract Spending

The chart below shows GSA’s total spending on COVID-19 related requirements since the beginning of the crisis in March. Totaling $33M, we can see that the agency has directed an impressive 49.2% of its COVID-19 related spending, or $16.2M, to small businesses.

To offer a little perspective on how different this contract spending mix is from normal operations at the GSA consider this. In an average federal fiscal year, the GSA spends 25.5% of its total contract spending with small businesses of all types. When it comes to COVID-19, the GSA stepped up its game by doubling that percentage.

Spending by Small Business Type

Further breaking down the data by small business type yields the results shown below.

Women Owned small businesses have received nearly half of the small business contract dollars related to COVID-19 response spent by the GSA. HUB Zone and 8(a) businesses, by contrast, have received far less. These distributions differ from what we saw in fiscal 2019 when 3.15% of GSA’s small business spending went to Women Owned businesses while 2.05% went to 8(a) businesses.

Spending discrepancies often originate with the type of work performed by the businesses in question, but I suspect other factors related to the pandemic have made the picture more complex. For example, a higher percentage of Women Owned small businesses may be able to leverage telework for the services they provide compared to the types of work done by many 8(a) businesses. Whatever the case may be, I’m sure GSA has noticed the difference and staff are trying to help as best they can.


Based on the data, it is clear that business opportunities exist at GSA for small firms. So, how do smalls find these?

  • Reply to the GSA’s Market Research as a Service (MRAS) RFI. GSA teams are using these replies to align businesses with COVID-19 requirements.
  • Ping your agency contacts. If your business has already done work with GSA you should be reaching out to agency personnel to see what requirements they may have coming up.
  • Reach out to your prime partners. Most primes have more extensive connections. Ask them if they’ve heard about requirements.
  • Leverage your GovWin IQ subscription. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this. Searching for COVID-19 related business is easy and IQ is tracking nearly 300 current opportunities. Just use the search terms “COVID” or “Coronavirus” to identify them or ask your Customer Service Manager for help.
  • Lastly, inform the GSA if lock down mandates have closed the facility where your personnel work. You may be able to receive payments for idled employees. Not an opportunity, I know, but it helps with cash flow.