WASHINGTON -- Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) today sent a letter to the head of the Small Business Administration (SBA) urging him to do more to ensure small businesses are awarded contracts related to Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts.

Citing recent reports showing that over 90 percent of prime contracting dollars were given to companies from outside the affected area and that 80 percent of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) contracts were awarded with little or no competition, Kerry called upon the SBA to take immediate action on behalf of small businesses in the Gulf Coast.

“Given the administration’s woeful record of delivering loans and resources to small businesses and the sheer size of the reconstruction effort, there needs to be a legitimate effort to guarantee small companies can compete for their fair share in the rebuilding effort as prime contractors. That's a win-win because it helps rebuild the Gulf Coast while helping the small businesses which are the engine of our economy,” said Kerry, top Democrat on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Kerry urged the SBA to increase the number of staff responsible for overseeing small business contracts, pointing out that the Agency has sent only four Procurement Center Representatives to monitor the billions of dollars in contracts up for grabs after Katrina. In his letter, Kerry also expressed concern about recent data showing that 99 percent of the 8(a) contracts awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers were given as sole-source awards to just two companies.

“Given the administration’s poor record on standing up for small businesses and the sheer size of the reconstruction effort, it makes sense that every contract be reviewed to ensure small companies have the chance to get their fair share in the rebuilding effort as prime contractors,” Kerry said.

The letter is part of Kerry’s continued efforts to fight for small contractors in the region. In September, Kerry introduced an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill that would establish a goal to award at least 30 percent of prime contract dollars and 40 percent of subcontract dollars related to Katrina rebuilding efforts to small businesses. The amendment was cosponsored by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and Jon Corzine (D-N.J.).