WASHINGTON – United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, filed an amendment this week to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 that will place three small business government contracting programs – HUBZone, 8(a) and service-disabled veterans – on an equal playing field when competing for business. Sen. Levin and Sen. McCain have both agreed to include the amendment in any final Senate-passed legislation.

“All small businesses should be given an equal opportunity to succeed,” Chair Landrieu said. “That’s what this amendment does – it puts businesses that are part of these programs on equal footing when competing for government contracts. This is a strong step in the right direction for all entrepreneurs.”

“I am pleased that this crucial amendment was included in the National Defense Authorization Act,” said Ranking Member Snowe. “I worked hand-in-glove with Small Business Committee Chair Landrieu and Armed Services Committee Chair Levin and Ranking Member McCain to ensure its adoption as a necessary step to bring parity to the SBA’s contracting programs. Additionally, I have filed an amendment that would take this step and bring even greater parity to the programs by authorizing a mentor-protégé program for service-disabled veteran, HUBZone, and women-owned firms, and am working closely with my colleagues to ensure it will be part of a final package.”

The amendment is a response to two GAO decisions released in September 2008 and May 2009 that contradicted a long-standing SBA interpretation that the Agency’s procurement programs should be treated equally when it comes to awarding contracts. The decisions stated that the HUBZone program had preference over all other small business contracting programs. Accordingly, the amendment will provide equity for the SBA’s small business contracting programs.