Home > News > Database errors let large corporations take money marked for smaller firms
 Return to previous page

NEWS
   
     
 

Database errors let large corporations take money marked for smaller firms

By Larry Margasak
The Daily Texan
July 11, 2003

WASHINGTON - They are among America's larger companies: Verizon Communications, AT&T Wireless, Barnes & Noble booksellers and Dole Food Co. But in the government's contractor database they are listed as small businesses.

The mistaken designations, contained in records obtained by The Associated Press, mean the government has overstated the contract dollars that are going to small businesses at a time when the Bush administration has been pressing to give smaller firms as much federal work as possible.

"The numbers are inflated. We just don't know the extent," said David Drabkin, senior procurement officer for the General Services Administration.

Drabkin, whose agency maintains the records entered by contracting officials across the government, said the GSA is working to ensure accurate entries in the future but past errors are "not something we can clean up overnight."

Once a company's status is mischaracterized, it stays that way through the life of a contract - which can be 20 years. That means smaller firms that the administration intended to help may be frozen out from fresh business by the bigger companies with the incorrect designations.

"This transition has led to the apparent diversion of contract dollars intended for small business," said Sue Hensley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

One small businessman who is pushing to have the listings corrected says workers are paying in lost jobs.

"Most Americans work for small businesses, and most of all the new jobs are created by small businesses. This certainly has a dramatic impact on job creation," said Lloyd Chapman, who formed the California-based Microcomputer Industry Suppliers Association.

The government defines a small business as one that is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field. Size standards change from one industry to another, based on either the number of employees or revenues.

Among the contractors designated as small businesses in the records obtained by the AP were:

  • Verizon, the largest local phone company in the nation, and Verizon Wireless, the company's joint venture that is the largest U.S. wireless provider.


  • Barnes & Noble, the top U.S. bookseller, with superstores in 49 states and the District of Columbia, plus mall stores under different names.


  • AT&T Wireless, the cellular phone spinoff from AT&T.


  • KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary formerly known as Kellogg, Brown & Root. KBR is one of the world's largest providers of oil field services and part of the company Vice President Dick Cheney ran before taking office in 2001.
The Bush administration has set a goal of providing small businesses with 23 percent of all federal contracts, but has fallen about 3 percentage points short after awarding $53 billion to small companies.

 
 

 
 

Press Room Search
Search for Media


Press Contacts

Reid Brownlie
Communications Contact

American Small Business League
3910 Cypress Dr., Suite B
Petaluma, CA 94954

707-789-9575 | fax 707-789-9580
email to rbrownlie@asbl.com

 

 

     

©2019 American Small Business League | Contact Us | Lloyd Chapman | 3910 Cypress Drive, Petaluma, CA 94954 | (707) 789 9575