A small-business advocate is fighting two behemoths
in an effort to force the Pentagon to disclose a plan showing whether small
businesses have access as suppliers of parts and services to Sikorsky Aircraft
Lloyd Chapman, president of the American Small
Business League, an advocacy group he founded in 2002, has been fighting a
legal battle against the Department of Defense,
demanding details about a contracting program he says benefits large military
Chapman won a Freedom of Information Act
lawsuit in federal court, but will be back in court later this year following a
successful appeal by Sikorsky, the Stratford-based helicopter maker, and the
Chapman, of Petaluma, Calif., said the government's
Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program has failed to increase
subcontracting opportunities for small businesses as intended.
"A program that eliminates transparency isn't
going to help," he said.
The program eliminated transparency on small
business subcontracting programs for the Pentagon's largest prime contractors
and the Defense Department refuses to release information about the program,
A spokesman for the Defense Department did not
immediately respond to an email and phone call seeking comment.
Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., said in
a statement that it has complied with all small business requirements under
Department of Defense guidelines. Information provided in Sikorsky's small
business plan is sensitive and could be used by competitors and "was
recognized as such" by federal judges who ordered the case back to a lower
court, Sikorsky said.
trial is set for December, Chapman said.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the
Senate Armed Services Committee, said Friday he has not encountered widespread
complaints by small businesses that contracting opportunities have been denied.
But he will speak with companies to determine if suppliers are treated fairly,
"There should be more transparency," said
Promoting the many businesses in Sikorsky's supply
chain is particularly important since the Malloy administration and legislature
struck a deal with Lockheed Martin last year guaranteeing production of 200
U.S. Navy helicopters in Connecticut until at least 2032 in exchange for up to
$220 million in loans and grants.
In addition to increasing manufacturing jobs over
14 years, Lockheed Martin agreed to nearly double its spending of $350 million
a year with Connecticut suppliers. The intent is to spur more employment and
spending among small subcontractors.
Chapman said he picked Sikorsky for his legal
challenge "quite randomly."
"I'm hoping to prove this program is a fraud
and a sham," he said.
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