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Don't believe the (Congressional) hype! Part Two

Posted By Guy Timberlake, The American Small Business Coalition, LLC, Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
First, thanks to Sara Chacko at Federal Times for a good summary of the recent small business bills passed in the House (reference her March 8th article "Bill would penalize execs who miss small-biz contracting goal"). For everyone out there tuned into this soap opera, it helped make sense of information that is normally tediously confusing.

That's the good news, now here's the bad.

In my opinion, Congress, specifically the House in this case, is wasting their time and our money. I've discussed the recent onslaught of the "let's finally do something to help small business" legislation in several pieces recently, not holding much hope that many of these bills will amount to any difference for small companies. Seriously though, has anyone else noticed the only time Congress pays attention to small government contractors is when it is politically appropriate?

Here is the Federal Times breakdown of the six bills recently passed by the House, and my two cents on the one's I think are potentially more harmful than helpful:

  • HR 3850, one of six bills that passed the committee Wednesday, would increase federal small-business contracting goals from 23 percent to 25 percent. Senior executives who fail to achieve the goal for the whole agency would be barred from taking sabbaticals the following year or from receiving any incentive awards, according to the bill.

    • Chief Visionary: The Government cannot meet the current goal, yet they want to increase it and create more angst and a wider margin of failure. Additionally, by penalizing senior executives the "small business issue" now becomes personal and subject to the "down the Hill effect." That is, the "crap rolls down the Hill" effect where small businesses are again left holding the bag and dealing with the additional grief dumped on them by Congress.
  • HR 3893 would require agencies to solicit public comments on their process for deciding whether to insource work done by small businesses before any insourcing decisions are made.

  • HR 4118 would require the president to set annual governmentwide small-business goals for task orders and delivery orders placed against multiple award contracts, blanket purchase agreements and basic ordering agreements.

  • HR 3851 would make the director of each agency's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) a senior acquisition leader in the agency and prohibit the director from holding any other position.

  • HR 3980 would require agencies to submit acquisition plans to their OSDBU and other agency small-business representatives.

  • HR 4121 would create a small-business designation for "early-stage" small businesses that have 15 or fewer employees and average annual revenue of less than $1 million. The bill would give early-stage small businesses access to set-aside and sole-source contracts between $3,000 and $50,000.

    • Chief Visionary: Just as mid-tier companies are trying to carve out a piece of the government contracting action for themselves, creating this niche ultimately creates more confusion in an already overly-sophisticated small business program. Additionally, if you are one of the small businesses that would not be considered "early-stage" under this proposal, here is what it potentially means to you. In FY11, $16 billion dollars was awarded using Simplified Acquisition Procedures, the program defined in the FAR as "reserved exclusively for small business concerns" with just over $8.3 billion awarded to small business. Based on the proposed "early-stage" range,  more then $4 billion dollars would be taken off the table. Congress: If you really want to do something meaningful, award all Simplified Acquisitions to small businesses and raise the threshold to $500,000 (currently $150,000). Awards in the range of $3,000 to $500,000 amounted to a cool $80 billion dollars last fiscal year. Something like that would get the attention of we small businesses, and help us better tolerate the other nonsensical posturing and rantings going on atop the Hill.
Instead of introducing new legislation and getting everyone (Government and Industry) more hamstrung, how about we simply make tweaks to fix what is already there? For example, by simply deleting a few words from the FAR related to simplified acquisitions, these streamlined purchases become set-aside for small business concerns versus 'exclusively reserved' (which apparently no one understands according to SBA's Winslow Sargeant).

By the way, increasing the small business size standards to add more fish to the pond to help meet the goal is not considered a fix.


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

Tags:  graves  house small business committee  HR 3850  HR 4121  owens  six small business bills 

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