March 2, 2011
Petaluma, Calif. –The U.S. Department of the Army is being sued by the American Small Business League (ASBL) for refusing to release subcontracting reports on contracts awarded to multinational defense giant Bechtel. (http://www.asbl.com/documents/Complaint_SBA_FOIA_ArmyBechtel.pdf)
The ASBL filed suit in United States District Court, Northern District of California on Tuesday, March 1. The case was filed after the Army repeatedly refused to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for Individual Subcontracting Reports (ISR) and Summary Subcontracting Reports (SSR) on a prime contract awarded to Bechtel.
The ASBL believes the information contained in the reports may show that Bechtel and the Army cooperated in an effort to circumvent federal law, which requires 23 percent of all federal contracts to be awarded to small businesses. The ASBL is gathering information on several major government prime contractors in preparation for litigation that may include cases filed under the False Claims Act, and Section 16(d) of the Small Business Act.
In 1992, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that subcontracting reports are releasable to the public, and do not contain trade secret or proprietary information.
The ASBL has won a series of lawsuits against the federal government under FOIA. Some of the information obtained by the ASBL indicates the federal government may have diverted small business contracts to Bechtel and some of the largest corporations on earth. The Obama Administration is currently awarding small business contracts to firms such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, L-3 Communications, British Aerospace (BAE), Northrop Grumman, and Dell Computer. (www.asbl.com/documents/ASBL_2009_dataanalysis.pdf)
To date, the ASBL has five outstanding lawsuits in the federal court system. (http://www.asbl.com/documentlibrary.html)
“President Obama promised to have the most transparent administration in history, yet his administration continues to withhold even the simplest information on federal small business contracting programs. As I have said many times before, there is a big difference between what President Obama says and what President Obama does,” ASBL President Lloyd Chapman said. “Any time the Obama Administration withholds information that has always been released to the public, it shows us that we have found evidence of contracting fraud and abuse. I am confident that’s what we will find with this information.”