July 9, 2007
PETALUMA, CA -- On June 30th, a Small Business Administration policy went into effect that will allow the federal government to count hundreds of contracts to many of the nation's largest defense and aerospace contractors as federal small business contracts through 2012.
The SBA's new five-year grandfathering/five-year re-certification policy will allow the federal government to include billions of dollars in contracts to firms like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon, SAIC, L3 Communications and General Dynamics towards the government's 23 percent small business contracting goal.
In 2005, the SBA included over $650 million in government contracts to defense giant L3 Communications towards the government's small business contracting goal. For 2006, the SBA reported over $500 million to SAIC as small business contracts.
Small business owners around the country are outraged at the new policy and are pledging to take their complaints to Congress and federal court.
When the SBA originally proposed their grandfathering plan in 2005, it would have allowed the SBA to continue to report awards to any firm that had small business contracts towards the federal government's 23 percent small business procurement goal for five more years. This would have included: small business contracts found by the SBA Inspector General as being fraudulently obtained, contracts to large businesses the SBA acknowledged were miscoded as small business contracts, contracts to large businesses that had accidentally claimed small business status, contracts to firms that had outgrown their small business status and contracts to firms that had been acquired by a large business.
When the SBA asked for public comment on the proposed policy in 2005, they were bombarded with over 6000 angry comments opposing the grandfathering policy. Small business owners and small business groups, including the NFIB and Chambers of Commerce across the country, were strongly opposed to the proposed plan.
Even after the SBA received an overwhelmingly negative response to the proposed policy, SBA spokespersons told reporters for the Miami Herald and the Chicago Tribune in June of 2005 that the SBA still intended to implement the five-year grandfathering plan.
Shortly after new SBA Administrator Steven Preston was confirmed, he directed that the unpopular five-year grandfathering policy be renamed five-year re-certification and implemented. The net effect of the five-year re-certification and the five-year grandfathering policy are identical. Under the five-year re-certification policy, the same large businesses that would have benefited from the five-year grandfathering policy will be allowed to maintain their small business status until the year 2012. This will allow the SBA to continue to report contracts to hundreds of Fortune 1000 firms and other large businesses as small business awards for at least five more years.
SBA critics like the American Small Business League believe the real purpose of the SBA's five-year grandfathering/five-year re-certification policy is to artificially inflate the federal government's small business contracting statistics to create the false impression that the government has reached the Congressionally mandated 23 percent small business contracting goal.
ASBL estimates if the policy is allowed to take full effect, legitimate small businesses across America could lose over $300 billion in federal small business contracts over the next five years.