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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 01/31/2012

Rep. Graves introduces bills to boost small business contracting

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) on Tuesday introduced legislation that would give small firms a larger slice of the federal contracting pie and hold government officials accountable for delivering their fair share of business to the nation’s smallest employers.

The GET (Government Efficiency Through) Small Business Contracting Act would increase the small business contracting goal for government agencies from 23 percent to 25 percent for primary contracts, which, if met, would amount to roughly $11 billion in additional federal spending allocated to small businesses each year. The bill also lifts the minimum subcontracting goal from 35.9 percent to 40 percent.

“Small businesses have proven time and time again that they can perform a service or produce goods for the government cheaper and often quicker than their larger counterparts, however, various bureaucratic impediments remain for small contractors,” Graves, who chairs the House Small Business Committee, said in a statement. “Any avenue to save taxpayer dollars, increase competition and spark growth is the route we should be taking.”

In fiscal 2010, for which the most recent data is available, the federal government collectively missed the mark — albeit barely — by awarding 22.7 percent of contracts to small companies. Should the bill pass into law, that performance would in the future leave some government officials taking home smaller paychecks, as senior officials would no longer be allowed to collect bonuses following years in which their respective agencies fall short of their small business contracting goals.

Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) two weeks ago introduced similar legislation that would penalize government departments that miss those contracting goals by cutting 10 percent of their overall budget the following year, suggesting that measures to increase accountability for meeting small business contracting standards have support on both sides of the aisle in the House.

Graves also introduced a bill Tuesday morning designed to give more sway to small business advocates embedded in each federal agency. Under the proposal, the director for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization in each respective agency would be elevated to senior level status and prohibited from holding another position simultaneously.

The measure, according to a statement by the House Small Business Committee, is meant to ensure that the small business advocacy role is not merely shouldered ceremoniously along with many others by a top official but rather the lone responsibility of one empowered individual in each agency.

“Because the federal government spends half a trillion dollars on contracted goods and services, we owe it to the taxpayer to make sure their money is used wisely and efficiently,” Graves said.

Follow On Small Business and J.D. Harrison .

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 01/31/2012

 
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