What an Administration Change Could Mean for Federal Contracting

Published: October 28, 2020

Federal Market AnalysisAdministration TransitionPolicy and LegislationPresident TrumpSmall Business

This piece examines stances the 2020 presidential candidates are taking on federal contracting.

Key Takeaways:

  • Presidential candidates are vocal about issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, social injustices and health care, yet each platform also outlines plans related to federal contracting.
  • The Trump administration centers its contracting platform on buying American, reducing regulations and improving the HUBZone program.
  • The Biden campaign focuses on small disadvantaged businesses assistance, extending the 8(a) small business program, and closing federal contractor loopholes.

With less than a week to go, the presidential election of 2020 is heating up. Presidential and vice-presidential debates have taken place, and the candidates are leaning in on topics such as COVID-19, economic recovery, social injustices and health care. However, each campaign platform also depicts federal contractor-related plans.

Actions taken by the current administration help outline the Trump campaign’s upcoming priorities. The White House rolled back regulations, directing federal agencies to eliminate two outdated regulations for every new proposed rule. Moreover, the administration issued the Buy American, Hire American order, requiring agencies to award contracts maximizing the use of American-produced products and strengthening H-1B visa programs to protect the interest of U.S. workers. The SBA also made changes to the HUBZone program, improving size standards to increase agency and business participation for the small business category.

While the Trump administration has taken several other contractor-related actions in the past four years, I want to spend some time charting the Biden campaign’s stances on federal contracting, since those may be more unfamiliar at this point.  

Several of Biden’s planned policies in infrastructure, R&D and national security (i.e. ending national emergency funding for the border wall) will have impacts on contractors within those specific disciplines, however, I want to focus on general contracting and small business provisions in this writing.

At initial glance, the Biden campaign outlines several steps to assist the Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) community:

  • Require prime contractors to implement plans to increase subcontracting opportunities for SDBs
  • Expand long-term technical assistance and federal contracting preferences for SDBs
  • Triple the federal goal for contracting with SDBs from 5% to a minimum of 15% of all federal procurement dollars by 2025
  • Incentivize state and local governments and private sector partners to contract with SDBs
  • Request state and local governments and private sector partners to publicly share their small disadvantaged business contracting goals and strategies, facilitate partnerships with those entities and publish a nationwide scorecard of each state’s effort to contract with SDBs
  • Build on anti-bundling provisions under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, by conducting a government-wide review of existing contract bundling to ensure small business participation in federal and state procurement opportunities

In addition to SDB assistance, the Biden campaign is targeting several other contract-related policies, such as extending the maximum length of participation in the 8(a) program and expanding supportive off-ramp transitions for 8(a) graduates. Moreover, Biden will pursue implementation of the Buy Indian Act within the BIA and IHS to increase procurement opportunities for Native-owned businesses.

Should there be an administration change; Biden also promises to close the federal contractor loophole, which allows officers and directors of federal contractors to contribute to federal candidates. In that same vein, the democratic presidential nominees plans to issue an Executive Order prohibiting White House influence on awarding of government contracts and grants.

Who knows that the future holds? Either way, contractors should arm themselves with the knowledge of impacts to their businesses no matter the election results. Should there be an administration change this year, look for a detailed report by the Federal Market Analysis team to aide contractors with the transition of government leadership.