WASHINGTON – An amendment filed by United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., and co-sponsored by Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, passed the Senate late last night as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010. The amendment will place three small business government contracting programs – HUBZone, 8(a) and service-disabled veterans – on an equal playing field when competing for business.

“With the passage of this amendment small businesses will be given a more equal chance to compete,” Chair Landrieu said. “This is a victory for small firms competing for a government contract because it levels the playing field within these important programs.”

“I am pleased that this crucial amendment was included in the National Defense Authorization Act,” said Ranking Member Snowe. “I worked hand-in-glove with Small Business Committee Chair Landrieu and Armed Services Committee Chair Levin and Ranking Member McCain to ensure its adoption as a necessary step to bring parity to the SBA’s contracting programs. Significantly, the Senate also unanimously approved a separate amendment I offered that would take this step and bring even greater parity to the programs by creating a mentor-protégé program for service-disabled veteran, HUBZone, and women-owned firms.”

The amendment is a response to two Government Accountability Office (GAO) decisions released in September 2008 and May 2009 that contradicted a long-standing Small Business Administration (SBA) interpretation that the Agency’s procurement programs should be treated equally when it comes to awarding contracts. The decisions stated that the HUBZone program had preference over all other small business contracting programs.