WASHINGTON – Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today sent a letter to the heads of 11 federal agencies demanding that small business representatives and concerns be addressed at the highest levels.

Kerry wrote the letter in response to a study released today by the General Accounting Office (GAO) which found that 11 of 24 federal agencies were not in compliance with legislation requiring the director of each Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) to report directly to the head or deputy head of the agency. The OSDBU is the small business representative within each agency responsible for promoting small business access to federal contracts.

“Immediate access to the agency head or second in command is critical to an OSDBU’s ability to advocate effectively for small and disadvantaged business participation in federal contracting,” Kerry wrote. “Any effort to reduce the stature and standing of the OSDBU would be contrary to congressional intent and detrimental to the small-business community.”

The letter -- also signed by Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Chair of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship -- was sent to the following agencies that were found to be out of compliance with the Small Business Act: the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Justice, State, Interior, and Treasury; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and the Social Security Administration.

The 13 agencies the GAO found to be in line with the law are: the departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Air Force, Army, Navy, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs; the Defense Logistics Agency; the General Services Administration; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; the Office of Personnel Management; and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Kerry requested the GAO study after an investigation by the Senator last year found that several federal agencies were potentially flouting the law.