WASHINGTON – The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee today unanimously approved bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by
U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) that will address many of the barriers that make it difficult for small businesses to participate in the federal contracting process.
The Small Business Contracting Revitalization Act
, S. 2300, which was approved by the Committee in a vote of 19-0, would improve oversight of the contract process for small firms, increase enforcement of protection for subcontractors and expand opportunities for minority, women and service-disabled entrepreneurs.
On Oct. 29, Senator Cardin chaired a field hearing of the Senate Small Business Committee at Bowie State University.
“Many small, minority and women-business owners in Maryland testified about barriers preventing them from accessing federal contracts.
I have co-sponsored this measure because I want to ensure a level playing field in the federal contracting process.”
At today’s Committee markup of the bill, Senator Cardin offered two amendments to ensure greater access to contracts for small businesses.
His amendments would:
Require that the Government Accounting Office (GAO) submit a report on the difficulties small businesses have in obtaining surety bonds, which are necessary for obtaining federal contracts.
Bonds are a type of insurance guaranteeing satisfactory completion of the job by a contractor.
Require that all federal agencies submit an annual report to the Small Business Administration (SBA) on the number and value of bundled contracts awarded to small businesses as prime contractor.
“Too many barriers exist for small, minority and women-owned businesses hampering them from growing and moving into the ranks of prime contractors,” said Senator Cardin. “Small businesses are the economic engines that drive our economy and I want to reenergize the SBA to ensure it aggressively promotes the interests of small businesses.”
S. 2300 addresses challenges faced by small businesses by:
Reducing contract bundling by improving oversight of bundling regulation compliance by the SBA;
Preventing misrepresentations in subcontracting by prime contractors by increasing oversight and establishing enforcement mechanisms;
Helping service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses gain government contract and subcontract opportunities by expanding the authority for sole-source awards;
Directing the SBA to implement the women-owned small business program – enacted into law in 2000 but which the Administration has failed to implement – within 90 days;
Extending the 8(a) contracting program through 2012 and improving it by:
Allowing the small disadvantaged business certifications issued by other agencies to be accepted by the SBA;
Adjusting for inflation the personal income and net worth requirements for 8(a) program participants; and
Prohibiting qualified retirement plans from being used by the SBA to determine an individual’s net worth.
Strengthening the government’s ability to enforce the size and status standards for small business certification.