WASHINGTON - Senators John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Senator Max Cleland (D-Ga.), today sent a letter to the General Accounting Office (GAO) requesting an investigation and report on the Small Business Administration's practices regarding monitoring and reporting on subcontracting agreements. Large businesses enter into subcontracting agreements, which require them to subcontract with small businesses. Too often, large contractors do not live up to the terms of their agreements, and small businesses are afraid to complain for fear of being black listed.

"Subcontracting always looms as a major concern for small businesses competing for government contracts. The process we have established to successfully award enough small businesses with these contracts and the ability of the SBA to monitor compliance with subcontracting agreements is being inhibited by a lack of resources," said Senator John F. Kerry. "It is vital to the continued success of all small business subcontractors - especially minority and women owned small business subcontractors - that subcontracting agreements and opportunities receive sufficient attention."

Senator Cleland, a member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, said, "Congress needs to make sure the SBA has the necessary tools to both monitor its own subcontracting awards and then report the awards to the American people. Without these tools, small businesses, especially those owned by women and minorities, could be overlooked in the awarding of valuable government contracts. In this era of mega-mergers and e-commerce, small businesses are still the engine to American economy. Congress must stand up and protect our nation's small businesses. I appreciate Chairman Kerry's leadership on this issue and I look forward to hearing what the GAO's investigation uncovers."

The letter calls for the GAO to examine the importance placed on subcontracting the SBA and what the agency has done to ensure small businesses are receiving subcontracting opportunities. The letter also asks the GAO to examine what the SBA has done in the way of field audits to ensure large contractors are complying with their agreements.