WASHINGTON - Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today hosted a roundtable discussion, Are Government Purchasing Policies Failing Small Business?, to review and discuss the federal government’s procurement performance and goals, as well as to review policy options to improve the government’s procurement programs and legislation before the committee pertaining to small business procurement.

"The bottom line is simple: the federal government today is not keeping faith with America's small businesses," Senator Kerry said. "The Administration is allowing bureaucratic excuses to shortchange millions of small businesses every year when it comes to competing for the federal procurement dollar, and the Administration's delay of implementing the Small Business Reauthorization Act is keeping women-owned businesses out of the federal marketplace. This Administration owes our businesses better, and it's up to Kit Bond and me and our House counterparts to insist the Administration meet basic commitments to the businesspeople who create the jobs and grow the economy of our country."

Sparking from an analysis that revealed the government’s failure for the second consecutive year to meet its 23 percent small business procurement goal, the roundtable set out to review the SBA’s procurement policies and discuss policy option to improve the SBA’s procurement programs.

Today’s roundtable reviewed three pieces of legislation currently pending before the committee to improve small business procurement practices in the federal government: The Combined 8(a) and HUBZone Priority Preference Act (S.1994), the Small Business Federal Contractors Safeguard Act (S.2466), and draft legislation, The Small and Disadvantaged Business Ombudsman Act, all sponsored by Kerry.

The Small and Disadvantaged Business Ombudsman Act would create a Small and Disadvantaged Business Ombudsman at the SBA who would address several procurement issues raised through program oversight and communications with small business owners. The Ombudsman would serve as a point person for small businesses wishing to file a confidential complaint with the government and would also track trends in the treatment of small business and report it to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship for oversight. In addition, the Ombudsman would work to change the culture at federal procuring agencies by tracking the training of procurement personnel and working to ensure that the training includes proper procedure and emphasizes the importance of small business procurement to agency success and the national economy.