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Skeptical Senate chairman asks SBA for list of every contractor it counted as a small business

By Kent Hoover
Washington Business Journals
May 19, 2015

A Senate chairman has asked the Small Business Administration to provide him with a list of every company that was counted toward the federal government’s small business contracting goal in 2014.

Last year, the SBA reported the government had met its goal of awarding small businesses 23 percent of all federal contracting dollars for the first time in eight years.

“We’re expecting even better results when we release the 2014 scorecard in the coming weeks,” SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said May 8, during a White House event honoring National Small Business Week award winners.

But a report by Public Citizen questioned the accuracy of the SBA’s procurement report for 2013. It found that contracts awarded to giant federal contractors such as Lockheed Martin were counted as small businesses in the SBA’s numbers. This is just the latest example of flaws in the SBA’s contracting data though the years.

When it became clear that the SBA was planning to announce that the government exceeded its goal in 2014, I asked the SBA to provide a list of all the federal contractors that it counted as small businesses, so people could judge for themselves whether its report is accurate.

Now Sen. David Vitter, the Louisiana Republican who chairs the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, has asked for that information as well.

“The SBA has not done enough to show how it reaches its procurement figures,” Vitter asked Tuesday in a letter to Contreras-Sweet. “Accordingly, I ask that you produce a clear list of the names of every contractor that counted towards the small business procurement goal for FY 2014, the size of the contractor, and the amount of the contract(s) awarded to that contractor.”

Vitter, like many other small business advocates, is skeptical about the accuracy of SBA’s contracting goal reports.

Serious flaws undoubtedly exist in calculating and accurately reporting the number of government contracts annually awarded to small business,” he wrote Contreras-Sweet. “Simply ignoring the problem does nothing to help small business. Without transparency and accountability in the process, the numbers are meaningless. Drawing attention to them only hides the significant problems small businesses face in obtaining government contracts, and stifles efforts to reform the system.”

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