Small businesses have always gotten the short end of the stick where it counts most in Washington, the $314 billion a year that the federal government spends on goods and services.
By law, 23 percent of that amount is supposed to be set aside for small business contractors. But the government consistently falls short of that goal. During the Bush administration’s term in office, the Small Business Administration has consistently dragged its feet on reform. And, the Republicans-ruled Congress, did nothing as well. It was left to groups like the American Small Business League to agitate for change.
Last Feburary, I wrote about ABSL President and Founder Lloyd Chapman and his quixotic campaign to compel the government to enact reform. From the courts to Congress, he’s waged the battle for more than five years. Well, Congress, at least, is starting to respond.
The House Small Business Committee passed a bill last Friday that will toughen reporting requirements for companies seeking to qualify as small businesses. It will also raise contracting goals to 30 percent, and will require the SBA to report to Congress annually on the number of contracts that are erroneously awarded to big companies.
That’s not everything Chapman has been seeking, but it is a step forward. But the SBA isn’t getting the messsage. At about the same time, the agency was resurrecting a proposal from 2004 to give current contractors five years to re-certify their status as small businesses. According to Chapman, that gives major corporations a five-year free ride to grab small business contracts.
Even the heavily pro-Republican National Federation of Independent Business opposes the idea. But unless the administration changes its tune, little is likely to change.