The SBA has released its Small Business Procurement Scorecards for 2011, and for the second year in a row the results paint a grim picture. In 2011 [pdf], small businesses were awarded an even smaller share of federal contract dollars than they received in 2010—$6.4 billion smaller. Prime contract awards to small businesses in 2011 totaled $91.5 billion, or 21.65 percent of federal agency contract expenditures. The previous year [pdf], small businesses were awarded 22.66 percent of all federal prime contracts, or $97.9 billion. It’s official: federal agencies have failed once again to meet the 23 percent government-wide goal for prime contract awards to small business concerns set by the Small Business Act.

As part of the procurement scorecard, SBA assigns each agency a letter grade by taking into account the agency’s individual small business contracting goals. SBA works with each agency every two years to develop prime and subcontracting goals specific to the agency, including goals for awards to small businesses, women-owned small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and HUBZone small businesses.

Out of 24 agencies, 15 actually exceeded their small business contracting goals for 2011, earning “A” grades. This list includes GSA and SBA, as well as the Departments of State and Homeland Security. GSA exceeded its goals by 34.29 percent and received a grade of A+.

The agency most responsible for the overall decrease in small business contracts is the Department of Defense. For 2011, DoD’s small business prime contracting goal was 22.28 percent, but it fell short by almost 2.5 percent. For an agency expected to award more than $200 billion in contracts this year, DoD’s failure to meet its small business contracting goals has the largest effect of any agency. Had DoD satisfied its small business prime contracting goal in 2011, it would have resulted in an additional $1.4 billion in contracts for small businesses.

Overall, the SBA procurement scorecard reinforces what we already know: federal agencies need to do a better job in acquisition planning, and they need to make small business contracting a priority. The poor numbers put up by DOD, coupled with its large share of federal procurement dollars, put it directly in the line of fire. Let’s hope that federal agencies (DoD in particular) step up in the upcoming fiscal year.

UPDATE: A longer version of this article is available on Law 360.