Office of Rep. Marilyn Strickland announcement.
U.S. Representative Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) led her colleagues in calling on U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shalanda Young to make changes to how the federal government recognizes military spouse-owned businesses. This change would ensure that military spouse entrepreneurs are adequately represented and accounted for.
“The federal government must do everything in its power to support entrepreneurial military spouses,” said Rep. Strickland. “I urge Director Young to recognize military spouse-owned businesses to ensure military spouses are getting the support they need to provide for their families.”
The policy change would allow U.S. military spouse-owned businesses to self-identify in the Federal Procurement Data System overseen by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the OMB. Congress and federal agencies use the federal procurement data system to inform policy decisions and provide reports on trends, meaning data collection on military spouse-owned businesses could lead to better federal insight into the support these businesses need and potentially encourage more spouse-owned businesses to bid for and receive federal contracts.
Military spouses face a 20% unemployment rate, with almost 63% reporting underemployment. Many also experience employment discrimination that forces them out of traditional employment opportunities. As a result, military spouses often turn to entrepreneurship as a way to provide for their families.
The letter was signed by: Representatives Marilyn Strickland (D-WA-10), Andre Carson (D-IN-7), Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16), Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06), Kim Schrier M.D. (D-WA-08), Jill Tokuda (D-HI-02), Rick Larsen (D-WA-02), Mike Levin (D-CA-49), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-06), Sara Jacobs(D-CA-51), Dean Phillips (D-MN-03), Suzan K. DelBene (D-WA-10), Chris Pappas (D-NH-01), Steven Horsford (D-NV-04), and James C. Moylan (R-GU).
The full letter text can be found below and here.
Dear Director Young,
Requested policy change at OMB
One of the many ways we can support military spouse entrepreneurs and bridge the unemployment gap is through federal contracting opportunities. That is why we respectfully request your agency:
- Make a federal procurement policy change allowing entities to self-identify as U.S. Military SpouseOwned Business in the Federal Procurement Data System.
- Provide an answer on what support, either administratively or through annual appropriations, you need from Congress to carry out this policy change.
While military spouse owned small businesses can compete for federal contracting opportunities across agencies, we want to make sure that these entrepreneurs are being adequately represented and accounted for.
The federal government does not currently track military spouse participation levels in government-wide contracting opportunities. As a result, there is no way for Congress to know how many military spouses bid for and win federal contracts, or about potential trends in the businesses’ participation levels so we can begin to address any deficiencies that might exist.
Federal Procurement Data System
As you know, the purpose of the Federal Procurement Data System, overseen by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy within your agency, is to be a centralized database for government contracting transactions with the goal of ensuring trust and transparency. The award information available in this system is used by the President, Congress, Government Accountability Office (GAO), and other agencies to inform policy decisions and provide reports on trends.
Additionally, the Federal Procurement Data System already contains a Data Element Dictionary with a Data Entity list composed of many different self-identified businesses, including women-owned, veteran-owned, service-disabled veteran owned, Asian-American owned, Black American owned, and many others. The federal government must step up and finally recognize military spouse owned businesses by adding them to this list.
Challenges faced by military spouses
Military spouses step up in service to our nation in many meaningful ways, but employment discrimination, access to childcare, and other challenges continue to take a toll on their ability to stay employed and find new employment. In fact, military spouses face a 20% unemployment rate, with almost 63% reporting underemployment . As a result, many spouses turn to self-employment and entrepreneurship to provide for their families.
We must do everything we can to support these entrepreneurs and that starts by ensuring they are recognized in our Federal Procurement Data System.
Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to hearing from you and working together to address this important matter.