Set-asides express the client's desire to work with a certain type of business. Typically, set-asides are shaped by the firms themselves during marketing. The message to the client is, "Hey, we have a match here between what you need and what we can do. If you set aside the contract, it'll narrow the competition and, ultimately, help you look good for supporting a growing business."
From the contract data I pulled yesterday from usaspending.gov, I took a closer look at the trends around set-asides. Not surprisingly, the overall contract numbers are down since the high in 2008.
8A competed, total small business, and service disabled veteran-owned are all up. Woman-owned and economically disadvantaged woman-owned are up slightly. I didn't flag these because the overall total is less significant. The rest are down or flat.
Does this track with what you're seeing in your market?