WASHINGTON - Today the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship passed bipartisan legislation which will make it easier for small businesses to obtain federal contracts by a vote of 19-0. The Small Business Contracting Revitalization Act, S. 2300, improves the oversight of unbundling contracts for small firms, increases enforcement of protections for subcontractors, and expands opportunities for minority, women and service-disabled entrepreneurs.
"Passing this legislation out of Committee is just the first step towards making sure that small businesses, especially those owned by minorities, women, and veterans, are treated fairly in the contracting process," said Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "This legislation will help ensure that the Bush Administration identifies opportunities for small businesses to compete for contracts, and gives small businesses that subcontract with a large firm more recourse if they are mistreated. Small businesses are the lifeblood of America, and we need to eliminate all barriers that stand in the way of their success in order to keep the American economy healthy."
"The Federal government is not aggressive enough in fulfilling its statutory small business contracting goaling requirements and in assisting small businesses to access Federal contracting dollars," said Senator Snowe, (R-Maine), Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "Currently, small businesses are eligible for $340 billion in Federal contracting dollars, yet they receive only $77 billion. The legislation the Committee approved today will help ensure that small businesses no longer miss out on billions of dollars in contracting opportunities by taking steps to provide the Federal government with additional tools it needs to consistently meet and exceed its small business contracting goals. I look forward to the enactment of this bipartisan small business contracting legislation."
The bill was drafted by Senators Kerry and Snowe and cosponsored by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.). Specifically, the bill addresses challenges faced by small businesses by:
- Reducing contract bundling by improving oversight of bundling regulation compliance by the Small Business Administration(SBA);
- Preventing misrepresentations in subcontracting by prime contractors by increasing oversight and establishing enforcement mechanisms;
- Helping service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses gain government contract and subcontract opportunities by expanding the authority for sole-source awards;
- Directing the SBA to implement the women-owned small business program - enacted into law in 2000 but which the Administration has failed to implement - within 90 days;
- Extending the 8(a) contracting program through 2012 and improving it by:
- Allowing the small disadvantaged business certifications issued by other agencies to be accepted by the SBA;
- Adjusting for inflation the personal income and net worth requirements for 8(a) program participants; and
- Prohibiting qualified retirement plans from being used by the SBA to determine an individual's net worth.
- Strengthening the government's ability to enforce the size and status standards for small business certification.