House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) today wrote to 35 federal agencies challenging them to comply with the Small Business Act's recently amended statute, requiring that agency Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) remain a dedicated resource to help small businesses compete for federal contracts. Small business procurement's decline of nearly $8 billion from FY2011 to FY2012 highlights the need for agencies to implement reforms intended to empower well-trained and mission-oriented small business procurement advocates.
The Small Business Act, amended by the National Defense Authorize Act of 2013, mandates that the OSDBU Director must concentrate on their advocacy responsibilities for small businesses and prohibits them from holding any other position. During a hearing, last month, the Veterans Affairs Director of OSDBU admitted that he is also performing the job of Director of the Center for Veterans' Enterprise, an office that primarily serves an auditing function rather than promoting small businesses.
Graves wrote in the letter, "As you know, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA), Public Law 112-239, made significant changes to the organization and duties of each of the Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)."
The recent changes to the Small Business Act elevate the Director of OSDBU position to a senior acquisition leader in the agency and prohibit the Director from holding any other position so they can concentrate on their small business advocacy responsibilities. The provision began as the Small Business Advocate Act of 2012 (HR 3851), which was introduced by Chairman Graves. The legislation was a response to a 2011 GAO report that found seven agencies in noncompliance of the Small Business Act. Former Subcommittee Chairman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) sent letters to the noncompliant agencies challenging them to adhere to the law. The agencies took steps to comply with the Small Business Act, however, evidence remains that most agencies haven't made necessary changes in response to the recent NDAA Small Business Act provisions signed into law on January 2.
Graves continued, "As the result of a March 19, 2013 hearing, held by the Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce in conjunction with the Committee on Veterans' Affairs' Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, it has come to my attention that some agencies were either unaware of recent changes to Section 15(k) or had not yet implemented the changes. These critical revisions include changes to the reporting relationship between the OSDBU Director and you; the prioritization of the OSDBUs work; prohibitions on the OSDBU holding other positions; improvements to the reporting relationship between small business specialists and the OSDBU, and a plethora of other changes that the Committee believed would improve the ability of each agency to ensure that small businesses receive the maximum practicable opportunity to compete for contracts."
Graves requested that information documenting how the agencies plan to achieve compliance with the Small Business Act be provided by May 13, 2013.
The full letter is available in PDF format below: