By Melissa Frederick
March 6, 2007
WASHINGTON - New statistics indicate the federal government is not meeting legal requirements to award 23 percent of federal contract work to small businesses.
Eagle Eye Inc., a Fairfax-based research firm that focuses on the federal government, compiled statistics this week showing the government has awarded only an average of 19 percent of its contracts to small firms.
“It generally confirms the general trend we’ve seen in the last several years, that it is just getting more and more difficult for small businesses to compete and for agencies to meet their ... overall goal,” Paul Murphy, president of Eagle Eye Inc., said Monday.
The figures were met with outrage by Lloyd Chapman, president of the American Small Business League advocacy group.
“There’s a culture in government that is, ‘How can we get around hiring small businesses?’” Chapman said Monday. “They’ll pass policies, legislation, anything they can, because small businesses have little or no clout with the government, and defense contractors have more than anybody in the world.”
Christine Mangi, press secretary of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the agency charged with promoting small businesses to the government, said Monday she could not respond to questions about the statistics by deadline.
Chapman said the numbers may be even lower than what Eagle Eye Inc. found.
His group has accused the SBA of not doing enough to make sure that companies registered as small businesses actually meet the criteria, a concern echoed by the inspector general governing the SBA.
Chapman is also concerned about the issue of federal contractors purchasing small businesses as soon as they receive a significant award, he said.
The SBA, though, is implementing a new rule that would require companies to recertify that they meet small-business criteria every five years, though the rule does not take effect until 2012.
The agency also is planning to review existing small-business contracting information and make it public, as well as implementing a small-business report card that scores federal agencies on their progress in meeting small business goals, SBA administrator Steven Preston said in a February speech at the National Press Club.
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