Small businesses may soon have better opportunities to bid for federal contracts. The U.S. House Committee on Small Business has approved bipartisan legislation to expand and boost the prospects for smaller firms in the federal bidding process.
The measure, H.R. 4341, the Defending America’s Small Contractors Act of 2016, received unanimous committee support and has now advanced to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
Commenting on the legislation, Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) said, “This bipartisan, common-sense legislation will allow America’s small businesses new and improved opportunities to provide value and quality to the taxpayer.”
Contract Opportunities for Small Businesses Get a Boost
Key highlights of the H.R. 4341 bill include:
- Modernizing the Small Business Act, and the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) reporting requirements, to ensure the language used is clear and consistent across federal procurement programs.
- Boosting small business advocacy within the SBA and other federal agencies to promote competition and compliance.
- Improving opportunities to compete for subcontracts, and then to capitalize on that experience to compete as prime contractors, thereby boosting the industrial base.
- Strengthening coordination and data sharing between the SBA’s government-wide mentor-protégé program, civilian agency mentor-protégé programs, and the mentor-protégé program at the Department of Defense.
- Implementing “common sense” reforms to ensure integrity in small business programs, such as the agricultural size standards, veterans contracting programs, SBA operations and contracting officer training programs.
The Defending America’s Small Contractors Act of 2016 seeks to create a reporting requirement for when a small firm engaged in one of the government’s business programs is purchased by another entity and is therefore no longer eligible.
The H.R. 4341 bill would also ensure contracts awarded using a procurement method that limited competition to small businesses owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans, qualified HUBZone small business concerns, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, women, or a subset of any such concerns are properly reported.
Government Support for Small Businesses
The U.S. federal government has a rather dismal record when it comes to awarding federal contracts to small businesses, although the situation has improved in the last couple of years. In 2014, the government met its annual contracting goal for small businesses — for the first time in eight years.
In 2015, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2016, a law that increases the maximum Small Business Administration surety bond guarantee percentage by 20 percent. Surety bonds help contractors bid on both private and public projects.
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