House Small Business Committee Members today introduced three bipartisan pieces of legislation as part of the Committee's contracting reform initiative. Small businesses have proven that they can perform a service or produce goods for the government cheaper and often quicker than their larger counterparts; however, various bureaucratic impediments remain for small contractors. Today's bills are a continuation of the Committee's effort to address those impediments by creating protections to fight contracting fraud and empowering advocates who fight for small business during the federal acquisition process.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) said, "The small business owners I meet across Southwest Washington hope to grow and hire more people, and these solutions will allow them to do both. I'm proud to help expand opportunities for small businesses to compete. Our committee will keep looking for ways to empower these job creators any way we can so that folks can get back to work."
Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) said, "Since coming to Congress over a year ago, I have fought tirelessly to protect and defend American small businesses. Washington must not unfairly force small businesses to compete against much larger businesses with more resources and capital. Small Businesses are the backbone of this country, a hallmark of the American dream. Washington needs to stop penalizing small businesses and get out of the way so that they can create jobs and grow on their own."
Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL) said, "As a small business owner, I understand that many federal programs intended to help businesses are ultimately too time consuming or onerous to navigate. Unfortunately, many mentor-protégé programs are no different. The Building Better Business Partnerships Act would streamline the contracting process, and place the SBA in charge of overseeing and setting standards for mentor-protégé programs based on what we know works. This bill also adds transparency to the program by requiring the SBA to report on the number of small businesses participating in each program, including the number of those that are women-owned, disadvantaged, HUBZone, or service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. This will help all small businesses to more easily and more effectively contract with the federal government, enabling them to grow, create jobs, and get folks back to work."
Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce Ranking Member, Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) said, "I hear over and over from small businesses that the one thing they need in these tough times is customers. With average annual spending at $500 billion, there is no bigger customer than the federal government. Unfortunately, only 20 percent of that spending is going to small businesses right now. The Building Better Businesses Partnership Act of 2012 will help small firms break into federal contracting by making it easier for them to join mentor-protégé programs. Helping small businesses win contracts will help put Americans back to work, and with two out of every three jobs coming from small businesses, this bill will help the true driving force behind America's economy."
Details of the legislation:
Small Business Opportunity Act of 2012:
Sponsors: Small Business Committee Members Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Rep. Kurt Shrader (D-OR)
The Small Business Opportunity Act will help provide more opportunities for small business contractors by requiring small business advocates to be part of federal procurement and acquisition planning processes.
Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBUs) and Procurement Center Representatives (PCRs) are advocates for small business contractors, but are not included in the acquisition process until just before a Request for Proposal or Quotation is to be released. The Small Business Opportunity Act would provide the OSDBUs and PCRs with access to those acquisition plans on the front end, and require that acquisition plans address how small businesses will be utilized.
Modernizes PCR responsibilities to allow them to focus on the core contracting-related assistance most valuable to small businesses, rather than requiring them to perform duplicative and redundant tasks. For example, SBA currently requires PCRs to provide training to contracting officers on the small business contracting programs. However, the government already funds contracting officer training through the Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI) and the Defense Acquisition University (DAU), so this legislation directs FAI and DAU to create mandatory small business contracting classes.
Small Business Protection Act of 2012:
Sponsors: Small Business Committee Member Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA)
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is creating new group size standards that will define what businesses qualify as "small." By the SBA's own analysis, these proposals that lump different industries together are excluding legitimate small businesses from the SBA contracting programs.
The Small Business Protection Act protects legitimate small businesses by requiring that the size standard assigned to each common group is appropriate for each individual North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code that is put in the new group.
For example, SBA's analysis of the size standards for architectural firms indicated that it should be increased from $4.5 million to $7 million. However, because SBA chose to group architects with engineers for the purposes of the size standard definition, SBA proposed increasing the standard to $19 million -- a number which would have included 97.8% of all architecture firms, thereby allowing large businesses to compete as if they were small businesses.
Building Better Business Partnerships Act of 2012:
Sponsors: Small Business Committee Members Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL), Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)
Mentor-Protégé programs are intended to partner small businesses with established mentors in order improve the small business' ability to win and perform on contracts and subcontracts, but the 13 federal agency programs are duplicative (creating an unnecessary paperwork burden for participants) and lack standardized measures of success.
The Building Better Business Partnerships Act allows the Small Business Administration (SBA) to oversee civilian agency mentor-protégé programs in order to promote portability of agreements between the agencies, guarantee that the programs benefit the small businesses, and ensure that the mentor-protégé agreement doesn't inadvertently harm the protégé's small business status.
Encourages equal treatment among small businesses by authorizing SBA to have mentor-protégé programs for all small businesses.