Washington, D.C. – Following the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship’s roundtable discussion regarding small business contracting today, Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) released the following statement:

“We must remain diligent in our efforts to improve the economic climate for small firms and ensure the Federal government maintains its end of the bargain with regard to small business contracting goals and objectives,” said Ranking Member Snowe.  “Indeed, while Federal contracts provide vital economic benefits for entrepreneurs, the Federal government consistently fails to meet its goals for small businesses in general and service-disabled veteran-owned, women-owned, and HUBZone firms in particular.  This is simply unacceptable, and the testimony from today’s witnesses offered specific and realistic solutions for increasing small business participation in Federal contracting and for the government to not only achieve the statutory small business goals, but also to exceed them.  I was also pleased to learn of the efforts the SBA has undertaken to eliminate fraud in the HUBZone program, including conducting over 800 site visits in six months – more than a hundred-fold increase – in order to ensure the viability of this critical program.”

Ranking Member Snowe also sent a letter to Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Karen Mills last night praising the SBA for its work to prevent fraud and abuse in the HUBZone program.  At the same time, Senator Snowe urged her to further improve Agency efforts to provide greater contracting outreach to small businesses, particularly by filling vacant Procurement Center Representative (PCR) positions, and to enhance oversight of agency contracting and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.  Specifically, Senator Snowe asked for detailed information on when the Agency will fill vacant PCR positions so that PCRs can help ensure that the government satisfies its statutory goal of ensuring that small businesses receive 23 percent of all government contracts.  In 2008, the government awarded just 21.5 percent of contracts to small firms.  Additionally, the letter requested that the SBA provide an explanation of its approach to better assessing the integrity of procurement data, as well as the steps it is taking to combat fraud and abuse in the SBIR program.