Chabot Helps Lead Contracting Reform
The House of Representatives today passed bipartisan legislation to reform the federal procurement process through expanded competition and transparency. Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati), the Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee, was the lead Republican sponsor of the Small Business Fairness in Contracting Act (H.R. 1873), which passed by a vote of 409 to 13.
"This legislation will expand competition and save tax dollars by providing greater opportunities to small businesses," said Chabot. "Without the active participation of small business, the government is forced to rely on fewer and fewer businesses to satisfy its need for goods and services. This concentration in a limited number of federal contractors is bad for the government and worse for the taxpaying public."
The Small Business Fairness in Contracting Act makes reforms that will raise the government-wide goals for prime federal contracts to small businesses, extend small business contracting goals to overseas contracts, and require a greater number of bundled contracts to be scrutinized to review whether the government is receiving real benefits through the process. The legislation also includes provisions to eradicate errors in federal procurement databases to ensure that contracts intended for small businesses are actually awarded to small businesses.
Chabot said that while the bill achieved goals of increasing opportunities for small businesses and was "an improvement over existing law," it was watered-down from the original version introduced by the Committee on Small Business. Stressing the importance of fair and open competition, Chabot indicated he would push for stronger reforms that build on the successes of H.R. 1873, especially with regard to contract bundling.
Contract bundling is the consolidation of two or more federal government contracts into a larger contract. The process may reduce competition by combining multiple contracts for unrelated supplies, services, or construction that could be provided separately, into a single prime contract. Bundling denies small businesses the opportunity to compete because the cost, quantity, or magnitude of the contract makes it impossible for them to file adequate bids -- even when small businesses could have provided the goods and services prior to the contracts being bundled together. Under current regulations, the Small Business Administration has never won an appeal to an agency head on a disputed bundled contract.