En Español WASHINGTON – Today, leading Senate and House Democrats called for the aggressive implementation of federal policy to ensure minority and disadvantaged small businesses have fair access to federal contracts. The executive order, signed by President Clinton in 2000, emphasizes the need for the government to “aggressively” reach out to minority and underserved firms.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Ranking Member John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Robert Menéndez (D-NJ), and Representatives Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Al Wynn (D-MD), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI.), and Mike Honda (D-CA) sent letters to the Office of Management and Budget and the Small Business Administration requesting details on how the federal government is complying with the executive order.

“This Administration has not met its obligation to the small business owner, particularly minority and disadvantaged businesses, which is unacceptable,” Reid said. “Small businesses are vital for job creation in our country, with Latino-owned firms growing three times faster than average. We look forward to hearing the Administration’s response as to why minority and disadvantaged businesses aren’t getting the amount of federal contracts they deserve under executive order.”

“Our minority entrepreneurs are being left behind by the Bush Administration. We need to get to the bottom of why minority and disadvantaged small businesses aren’t getting their fair share of federal advertising contracts so we can take steps to correct the problem,” said Kerry who requested the Government Accountability Office conduct a study of this issue in May.

“Nearly six years after an executive order aiming to increase the involvement of underserved small businesses in the federal marketplace, it is alarming how little has been done to ensure those doors are open to all who participate in our nations’ economy,” Menéndez said. “Women- and minority-owned businesses are a growing and vital part of the business community that should have an equal chance at receiving contracts, and our federal agencies must be held accountable for their effort in this process.”

“Over a million Asian American owned small businesses in the U.S. are being denied the opportunity to fully participate in bidding on federal contracts,” said Rep. Mike Honda, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). “This is wholly unacceptable. Six long years have passed since President Clinton issued an Executive Order (E.O.) ensuring access to the federal bidding process for people of color business owners. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget, and the Small Business Administration must take the necessary steps to implement the E.O. It is time for America to fulfill its promise to minority entrepreneurs.”

“Seven years ago, my efforts to expand contracting opportunities for minority companies resulted in the signing of a Presidential Executive Order. It is disappointing that this policy has not been enforced. Not much has changed in the six years that followed. We must continue to push for greater accountability in ensuring that minority companies have equal access and increased opportunities to do business with the federal government,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI). “As the world becomes more global, we must include and engage minority businesses in shaping our country's future. We must use the insight and innovation that results from the strength of our diversity to build stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger America.”

To read the letter to the Office of Management and Budget, click here.

To read the letter to the Small Business Administration, click here.