The federal government is setting a new record for overall small business contract spending — with more than a quarter of federal contracting dollars going to small businesses last year.

The Small Business Administration, in its fiscal 2022 Small Business Federal Procurement Scorecard released Tuesday, found agencies spent a record $162.9 billion dollars on small business contracts last year — an $8.7 billion increase from fiscal 2021. 

About 26.5% of all federal contracting dollars in fiscal 2022 went to small business prime contracts awards — which exceeds a government-wide goal for 23% of that spending to go to small business prime contracts.

SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman said small business owners in the federal marketplace support over a million jobs across several sectors — including manufacturing, construction, and research and development.

Guzman, speaking at a press conference Tuesday, said the FY 2022 results show “real and substantial progress” toward meeting the Biden administration’s equity goals. She said 11.4% of federal contracting spending went to small, disadvantaged businesses last year.

President Joe Biden announced in June 2021  a goal for 15% of all federal contracting spending to go to small, disadvantaged businesses by 2025. The current goal is 10%.

“We have seen great performance and agencies taking huge leaps in debundling contracts and trying to seek out and work with and support small businesses,” Guzman said.

SBA leadership, she added, meets regularly with agencies to ensure they advance the Biden administration procurement equity goals through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.

“We want small businesses to come back to the federal government, to figure out how they can better navigate through the SBA to access these great contracts,” Guzman said.

Ten federal agencies earned an “A+” on the small business contracting scorecard, and an additional ten agencies received an “A” grade. The federal government, overall, earned an “A” on this year’s government-wide scorecard.

NASA earned its sixth “A” grade in a row, and awarded $3.6 billion in prime contracts to more than 1,700 small businesses in fiscal 2022 — about 18.4% of its overall contract spending. That exceeds its 15.75% small business contracting goal.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the agency is doing its part to find more opportunities to do business with small firms, as the president has mandated.

“He’s wanted all the agencies of government to take this very seriously as we go about the question of diversity and inclusion. And small business is certainly part of that,” Nelson said.

NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melrose said nearly 500 small businesses contributed to the development of the James Webb Space Telescope, and were awarded contracts to develop solar cells, batteries and other parts.

Melrose said small businesses “are the lifeblood of our daring and creative mission,” and that NASA will continue to find opportunities to do business with them.

“We as a team are incredibly committed to making sure that small businesses have a fair shot at every exciting mission that we have.

Timothy Richardson, program manager of OPR LLC, NASA’s small business prime contractor of the year, said NASA is “lowering the barrier to entry for companies like ours to be able to support the federal government.”