Fifty firms receiving assistance under a special program for small, socially and economically disadvantaged firms have received as much as $131 million each in noncompetitive government contracts, according to the Small Business Administration.
Thirteen of the top 50 firms under the SBA 8(a) program were from the Washington-Baltimore area and received as much as $79 million in contracts set aside for disadvantaged firms, the SBA said.
Publication of the list is part of the crackdown started by SBA Administrator Michael Cardenas, who vowed to banish from the minority program companies that are too large, too successful, or too hopeless to ever compete in the business mainstream. Cardenas imposed an indefinite moratorium on bringing new companies into the 12-year-old program and said he will review the records of 40 of the largest firms now receiving its benefits.
SBA Deputy Administrator Donald Templeman said, however, that even if a firm is found to be too large, it would not automatically be excluded from the minority program.
Critics have complained that few businesses receiving 8(a) subsidies ever leave to join the business mainstream, which precludes many new firms from entering the program. They contend it was designed to help the firms get started and not to act as a permanent crutch.
Under the new guidelines, companies entering the program will be expected to achieve certain goals. Templeman said the agency now is attempting to set size standards and fixed terms for participation in the program.
The list, which the agency said will be published quarterly, includes these Washington-area firms: Unified Industries Inc., an electronics company based in Alexandria which had $78.6 million in contracts; OAO Corp., an engineering and data-processing firm in Beltsville ($57.4 million); Systems and Applied Science Corp., a computer software firm in Riverdale ($48.9 million); Rehab Group Inc. of Falls Church ($30.6 million); Unified Services Inc., a D.C. janitorial firm ($30.5 million); Misso Services Corp. and Associates of Falls Church ($28.2 million); International Business Services ($24.5 million); Raven Data Processing Inc. ($24.0 million); Tyroc Construction Corp. ($23.7 million), all of D.C.; Inter America Research Associates of Rosslyn ($20.9 million) and Fort Myer Construction Corp. of Arlington ($20.1 million).
The two Baltimore firms listed are Jackson Oil Co. ($61.6 million) and Atlantic Personnel Services Inc. ($27.2 million).