Senator Calls for Equal Playing Field for Small Businesses

Mary Landrieu

U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., sent a letter to all federal agencies calling on them to begin implementing the contracting parity provisions included in the Small Business Jobs Act that President Obama signed into law last month.  These provisions put the small business government contracting programs – Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone), 8(a), Women-Owned small business (WOSB) and Service Disabled Veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB)– on an equal playing field when competing for government work. “Existing statute allows contracting officers’ discretion when choosing to award a federal contract to a small business participating in these programs,” Senator Landrieu said in the letter.  “However, misinterpretation of Congressional intent by the courts as well as recent decisions by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have forced contracting officers to give priority to small businesses participating in the HUBZone program when awarding Federal contracts. These decisions have had a negative and detrimental effect on the ability of small businesses participating in other contracting programs to effectively compete for and win federal contracts. “To ensure that all small businesses—regardless of the particular category they are participating in—receive a fair shot at winning federal contracts, it is important that Federal agencies closely follow and enforce SBA’s parity policy and regulations.” Oakland Post publisher Paul Cobb said,  “Maybe Senator Landrieu’s leadership will also remove the timidity that the Congressional Black Caucus, President Obama, governors and mayors sometimes exhibit around advocacy for Black-owned and minority businesses. This is a good way to increase Black employment, especially jobs for the formerly incarcerated.” Senators Landrieu and Richard Durbin, D-Ill., introduced S. 3190, the Small Business Programs Parity Act of 2010 in March after a court decision stated that small businesses that belong to the HUBZone program had preference over firms participating in other small business contracting programs.  The Act was included in the Small Business Jobs Creation Act in July.
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