WASHINGTON -- Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today introduced legislation designed to expand protections for small businesses with federal contracts.

“For far too long, small businesses have been getting the short end of the stick when it comes to federal contracting,” Kerry said. “We need to be helping small businesses compete by providing fair access and equal opportunity at the federal level.”

Kerry’s bill, the Small Business Federal Contractor Safeguard Act, mirrors legislation he introduced in the 108th Congress. It would hold prime contractors accountable for their subcontracting agreements by requiring them to certify their subcontracting plans, and it would protect small business subcontractors by increasing the penalty for big businesses that falsely report. In addition, federal contracting officers would be required to keep a record of contract performance so that small firms can build a history of subcontracting performance. The bill also continues Kerry’s efforts to curb the practice of contract bundling by requiring federal agencies to meet specific standards for consolidated contracts over $2 million, and more stringent requirements for contracts greater than $5 million. Last, the legislation would hold contracting officers accountable for meeting their procurement goals by tying performance evaluations to meeting such goals.

“This bill addresses a number of serious problems in federal contracting that are reducing competition, eliminating opportunities, and making contracting programs vulnerable to fraud and abuse,” Kerry added. “Unless you're happy with the status quo that hurts small businesses, we need to change the culture at federal agencies and close the loopholes the Bush administration and large firms use to shut small businesses out of the procurement process.”

Kerry originally introduced the bill in the 108th Congress as part of the Small Business Administration Reauthorization bill, S. 1375, that unanimously passed the Senate. In the House of Representatives, however, the Republican leadership refused to allow a vote on it.

To read Kerry's floor statement on this bill, click here.