Good morning. Let me call this markup to order. Before us today is S. 2300 – the Small Business Contracting Revitalization Act of 2007:

I am hopeful that we will get a quorum as quickly as possible. Once we get a quorum of seven (7), we can start voting on the substitute amendment. And then when we have ten (10) members, we can take roll call votes on the underlying bill.

We will be voting on S. 2300, the Small Business Contracting Revitalization Act of 2007, which incorporates many of the provisions included in last years attempt at re-authorization. Last year many of the provisions in this bill passed this committee unanimously. We have worked hard to maintain that consensus and as we move this bill forward we hope to continue to work in a bipartisan spirit. It is no secret that the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship places a great deal of importance on moving legislation forward in a bipartisan manner. And nowhere is the bipartisan consensus stronger than in the area of federal procurement and ensuring that our Nation's small businesses receive their fair share of procurement opportunities.

As the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I have focused a considerable amount of energy promoting the interests of small businesses in the federal marketplace. The legislation that we are marking up today marks a critical step forward in expanding opportunities for small businesses to contract with the federal government. Small business is the engine that drives our economy, but when it comes to federal procurement the engine needs an overhaul. Our bill looks to make that overhaul in five key areas. Bundling: The first area we attempt to make improvements in is the area of contract bundling. The proliferation of bundled contracts, coupled with a decimation of contracting professionals within the government, threatens to kill small business’ ability to compete for federal contracts. Our bill looks to address those issues by ensuring: (1) accountability of senior agency management for all incidents of bundling; (2) timely and accurate reporting of contract bundling information by all federal agencies; and (3) improved oversight of bundling regulation compliance by the Small Business Administration.

Subcontracting: The second area that this bill attempts to address is subcontracting, where large prime contractors are all too willing to exploit the current system at the expense of small businesses. This bill attempts to address that issue with new provisions designed to prevent misrepresentations in subcontracting by prime contractors and require subcontractor participation in prime contracts.

Socio-economic Programs: The third area that our legislation attempts to address is the updating of the socio-economic programs administered by the SBA. For instance, our bill will assist service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses in obtaining government contract and subcontract opportunities and will allow the surviving spouse of a service-disabled veteran to retain the business’s SDV designation for up to 10 years following the veteran’s death. In our bill, we also implement the women's procurement program, which the Bush administration has postponed since the program became law seven years ago. This bill tells the SBA to get it done within 90 days.

Another socio-economic program sorely needing our attention is the 8(a) program. This program was created to assist socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses. But financial thresholds for the program are now out-dated and too restrictive. This bill allows for an inflationary adjustment to be made to the thresholds and it excludes qualified retirement accounts from consideration.

This bill also makes a number of changes to the HUBZone program. The bill would expand HUBZones to areas adjacent to military installations affected by BRAC. It will also make other changes that will expand the HUBZone program to subcontracting as well as creating a mentor protégé program.

Acquisition Policy: The fourth area that we intend to update is the acquisition process. This bill aims to increase the number of small business contracting opportunities by including additional provisions to reduce bundled contracts and by reserving more contracts for small business concerns.

Small Business Size and Status Integrity: The last area that we tackle in this legislation is small business size and status integrity. As many of you know, I have been adamant that small business contracts must go to small businesses. Yet small businesses continue to lose billions of dollars in opportunities because of these size standard loopholes. This bill attempts to address the issue by adding a new section to the Small Business Act that is designed to strengthen the government’s ability to enforce the size and status standards for small business certification.

Manager’s Amendment: The substitute amendment makes seven additions to the bill and I want to thank my colleagues for all their work and suggestions. Specifically, the substitute adds a provision requested by Senator Cantwell that requires a study and report of the SBA’s mentor-protégé program by the GAO to evaluate the administration and effectiveness of the program. Second, it includes two provisions requested by Senator Cardin. The first requires federal agencies to report on the number and dollar value of bundled contracts that are going to small businesses if any. Senator Cardin’s second provision requires a study of the difficulties encountered by women owned, 8(a), small disadvantaged and HUBZone businesses in obtaining surety bonds.

We also include a provision at the request of Senators Pryor, Landrieu and Corker that will make it easier to make the distinction between big and small businesses in the temporary services industry. Two provisions have been added to the substitute at the request of Sen. Snowe. The first provision expands the BusinessLINC program by authorizing grants to expand business to business relationships for small businesses seeking to form teams to participate in federal contracting. And the other amendment offered by Sen. Snowe requires a GAO report regarding the effectiveness of the PCR program as well as requiring implementation of the E-PCR program. And lastly, I have included a provision that will improve data collection for small business contracts.

In your briefing books, there is an outline that lists the specific changes in the substitute amendment.

In closing, I want to reiterate that this has been a truly bi-partisan effort and we look forward to working with each Member of the Committee as we move this legislation forward. It is well past time to provide greater opportunities for the thousands of small business owners who wish to do business with the federal government. I believe that this legislation is a good step toward opening those doors of opportunity.