Federal government procurement officers met Monday with Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Laboy-Rivera to create alliances and outline a joint action plan to help increase federal contracting from Puerto Rican companies.
Under the slogan “Opportunities to Increase Federal Contracting in Puerto Rico,” Laboy-Rivera explained that it is a priority for the current administration to be able to significantly increase contracts to local companies that supply goods and services to federal agencies operating on the island.
“This is the responsibility of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Corp.’s Federal Contracting Center program, whose experts are dedicated to expanding opportunities for Puerto Rico to participate in the federal purchasing market, guiding those interested in bidding with the U.S. government on the technical aspects they must meet, and conducting market research to report which areas show more opportunities with federal agencies,” said Laboy-Rivera, of the meeting at La Fortaleza.
According to the Federal Procurement Data System, some 667 Puerto Rican companies have contracts with the federal government, resulting in purchases of goods and services of some $685 million.
However, Laboy-Rivera said this represents only .15 percent of the federal government’s total purchases. Of that total, 57 percent corresponds to companies established in Puerto Rico, representing $395 million.
“Those numbers have to increase to benefit more Puerto Ricans who are certified contractors and prepared in different areas of manufacturing and services. Moreover, considering that more than 40 percent of federal contracts awarded in Puerto Rico are granted to companies that are not in Puerto Rico,” said Laboy-Rivera.
Federal agencies were also urged to award contracts to companies certified under the Puerto Rican HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) program.