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Agencies Counted Big Firms As Small

"These big companies have been allowed to get away with this for so long, they don't even bother to change or hide their name," said Bill Miera, chief executive of Fiore Industries, a military contractor in New Mexico. "The motivation is purely profit."

Corporate officials who reviewed The Post's findings said the government sometimes is mistakenly categorizing behemoth contractors as small, but more often is failing to notice when small companies are absorbed by larger corporations.

Leaders at Lockheed Martin, Dell and many other large corporations acknowledge the errors but say they are not to blame.

"We have not found any instances that Dell Marketing L.P. or Dell Federal Systems L.P. was inaccurately described (by Dell) as a small business," Dell said in a statement.

Lockheed Martin said in a statement that the government appears to have miscounted as small businesses some of the firms it purchased, and added: "We do not bid on or compete for federal contracts as a small business."

Last year, the Pentagon counted as small-business contracts the $62 million it gave to SYColeman, a video production company in Arlington.

The millions of dollars paid to produce pro-American articles and broadcasts for Iraqi television and radio, however, went to a subsidiary owned by L-3 Communications. The L-3 conglomerate headquartered in New York is the one of the world's largest defense contractors and boasted $12 billion in revenue last year.

A spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command said that labeling SYColeman a small firm was human error.

"On June 10, 2008, the SYColeman contract was listed in the federal database as a 'small business' in error after a USSOCOM contracting officer entered the wrong code," Lt. Cmdr. Marc Boyd wrote.

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate committee on small business, said it is another example of the government's "phony numbers" and broken promise to the small businesses that make up 99 percent of U.S. companies.

"They aren't checking. They don't care," he said. "They simply aren't doing their job of looking out for small business."

Database editors Sarah Cohen and Dan Keating and staff researchers Madonna Lebling and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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