WASHINGTON - Today, Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, offered legislation to increase the amount of federal contracts secured by small businesses by appointing a small and disadvantaged business Ombudsman, or a legislative commissioner to investigate small business’s complaints of bureaucratic abuse, within the Federal government. The legislation, the Small and Disadvantaged Business Ombudsman Act, will also increase the federal procurement goal for small business from 23 percent to 30 percent per year.

"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. This Administration owes our small businesses better, and it's up to us to insist the Administration meet basic commitments to the small businesspeople who create the jobs and grow the economy of our country."

Sparking from a series of complaints from small businesses who felt they have not been treated fairly by the Federal government, introduction of the Kerry legislation will also strengthen the office at each Federal agency that advocates for small, disadvantaged businesses, minority and women-owned businesses, small businesses owned by disabled veterans and businesses located in economically depressed areas.

The Small and Disadvantaged Business (SDB) Ombudsman will be responsible for ensuring that these small businesses are treated fairly in the procurement process and will track and rectify complaints received from small firms regarding potentially unfair treatment by the federal government and non-small business prime contractors.

The bi-partisan legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Bond (R-MO), Senators Cleland (D-GA), Cantwell (D-WA), Bingaman (D-NM), and Carnahan (D-MO). Congressman Albert Wynn (D-MD) will introduce the House companion legislation. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), National Small Business United (NSBU), Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and minority contracting groups have also backed the legislation.