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Cardin touts federal small biz goal

The federal government steered $83.1 billion in contracts to small businesses last year, meeting a goal intended to boost those firms for the first time in eight years, according to a report released by the Obama administration Friday.

Just over 23 percent of $355 billion in federal contracting dollars last year went to small companies, up about 1 percentage point from 2012, according to the Small Business Administration. The higher share was driven in large part by an overall decrease in federal spending.

"It came despite the meat-cleaver cuts of sequestration and the self-inflicted wound of a government shutdown," Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, told employees at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt on Friday, referring to last year's deep budget cuts.

Cardin, who represents a state where companies won about $30 billion in federal contracting in 2011, has pushed legislation to increase the small business goal for prime contractors from 23 percent to 25 percent.

Maryland is home to roughly 250,000 contractor employees. An annual SBA "scorecard" released Friday showed virtually all Cabinet-level departments met their internal targets except for Justice, Defense, Energy and Homeland Security.

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