Case Study

Surveillance Reviews Evaluation for the U.S. Small Business Administration

Challenge: As part of its efforts to increase opportunities for small businesses, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Government Contracting conducts surveillance reviews (SRs) to assess whether agency Procurement Centers (PCs) are providing maximum practicable opportunity for small business participation in federal contracting.

The roughly 30 SRs conducted each year assess the quality of a PC’s small business program, evaluate the PC’s performance on attaining its assigned small business contracting goals, evaluate the program’s impact on small businesses, and enable the SBA to recommend changes to improve small business participation in the PC’s acquisition process. Although surveillance reviews are typically conducted by in-person teams, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the use of virtual reviews.

The evaluation conducted by the Summit Consulting, LLC, and Industrial Economics, Incorporated, team (“the Team”) was designed to analyze (1) the effectiveness and efficiency of the surveillance reviews and (2) outcomes for PCs that have undergone surveillance reviews.

Solution: The Team conducted a mixed-methods evaluation that used qualitative and quantitative data to determine how SRs could be made more effective and efficient, what could be learned from the shift to virtual SRs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to what extent PCs increase their small business contracting goal achievement following surveillance reviews.

The evaluation design was structured to collect information from all relevant sources through a variety of methods:

Surveillance Reviews case study crop
Result: The Team made nine recommendations to improve the SBA’s SR program. Key recommendations included addressing challenges in accessing virtual contract files by standardizing a list of options for PC submission of files, given that virtual file access was the most salient challenge in switching to virtual SRs. The Team also recommended utilizing a hybrid SR mode in which some components of the review are conducted in person and others are conducted virtually, with the specific mix of hybrid elements depending upon the particular PC undergoing review. The Team also made recommendations to update and improve program documentation, such as the Surveillance Reviews Desk Guide, and improve effectiveness of SR steps, such as the entrance briefing and selection of contracts for review.
The full list of recommendations can be found in the written report (published on the SBA’s website), which includes a feasibility/impact matrix.