Administration opposes hike in small business contracting goals

The White House opposes a bill that would boost small business contracting and impose stricter standards on the combination of small orders into mega-contracts, an administration official said Tuesday.

The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said that while the administration opposes the Small Business Fairness in Contracting Act (H.R. 1873), it has not threatened a veto should the measure reach President Bush's desk.

The official said provisions in the bill, such as tougher governmentwide goals for agencies' small business spending and new limits and reporting requirements on contract bundling, would be difficult to implement and would have a chilling effect on agencies' use of small businesses.

"I'm a strong advocate for small business, and am constantly on the lookout for constructive things we can do to provide opportunities for small business," the official said, expressing hope that the administration could work with House lawmakers on the measure.

The original version as passed unanimously by the House Small Business Committee, set a governmentwide floor for agency small business purchasing at 30 percent of contract dollars, significantly higher than the current goal of 23 percent. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which also has jurisdiction, passed a 25 percent goal.

The administration official said that setting such a high target without leaving room for agencies to make the case for a lower one would make agency officials resent and lose investment in the goal.

Last year, the Small Business Administration reported that agencies spent 25.4 percent of prime contract dollars with small businesses in fiscal 2005, while House Democrats said the more accurate figure was 21.6 percent.

In a statement released by the Office of Management and Budget, the administration also opposed provisions in both versions of the House bill that would make it harder for agencies to group several small contracts into one larger one. Small business advocates say that practice puts work out of the reach of small, specialized firms.

The administration official said a new analytical requirement that agencies would have to meet to justify bundled contracts was unnecessary given existing procedures. "Every contracting officer always thinks about what can be done for small business -- it's an automatic," the official said. "This is something that we don't need, especially … when people are already alerted to and screening for small business opportunities."

The official said new reporting requirements related to subcontracts also would impose an undue burden because the information is not currently available systemwide.

Asked whether the reporting would be different from that required under a 2006 law that calls for transparency in federal contracts and grants, the official said the law's subcontract reporting requirement would be implemented through a pilot program. "After we assess it and the burden it places, then we'll determine whether it and the subcontracting part will continue," the official said.

The law, called the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, requires full implementation of sub-award reporting starting in January 2009, following the conclusion of the pilot.

The official said the administration supports elements of the proposed small business measure that are intended to reduce the impact of contract bundling on small businesses and expand useful reporting requirements.

Responding to the administration's statement of opposition, a spokeswoman for the House Small Business Committee questioned the White House's commitment to small business goals.

"The Bush Administration has said multiple times that they are opposed to contract bundling and large businesses getting small business contracts, yet they appear to oppose anything that actually helps small businesses fight contract bundling and prevents large companies from being counted as small," the spokeswoman said.

She said the measure is expected to be debated on the House floor Wednesday, with a vote scheduled for Thursday.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.