Small businesses have a great need for increased contracting opportunities from the government. Members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, are pushing for these business owners to be granted those opportunities. Currently, there are nine significant active bills pertaining to small businesses. A few of them are detailed below.
The House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) introduced the Government Efficiency through Small Business Contracting (GET Small Businesses Contracting) Act of 2012 at the end of January. This bill is aimed at raising the federal government’s goal for small business contracts from 23 percent to 25 percent.
Every year, our government spends an estimated $540 billion on contracts. Currently, the goal is to award 23% of that money to small businesses. In the last two fiscal years, the federal government has missed that mark by three percent or more. Analysts estimate the shortfall to be a $20 billion loss to small businesses. How many more jobs could have been created by small business owners in those last two years with that additional money?
Why raise the amount, then, from 23% to 25% if our government hasn’t fulfilled even the lower end of that scale for two years? One of Chairman Graves’ provisions in this bill will ensure that top agencies are being held accountable for meeting these goals by withholding bonuses if they are not met. That will ensure that those government agencies are fighting every bit as hard for our small business entrepreneurs as our legislators.
Another part of this legislation will also work towards granting 40 percent of any subcontracted work to small business owners as well. This is an increase over the current 35.9 percent.
A second bill introduced by Chairman Graves is the Small Business Advocate Act of 2012. This legislation is going to do so much to help the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. The purpose of the OSDBU is to help promote small businesses seeking government contracts in various agencies as both prime and subcontractors. If passed into law, the Small Business Advocate Act of 2012 will make it easier for the OSDBU to help advocate for contracts on behalf of small business owners, work for acquisition assistance and stop insourcing and unnecessary contract bundling, which leaves many small businesses out of the loop.
An important aspect of this bill is that it will elevate the position of the OSDBU Director to that of a senior acquisition leader in his or her agency and prohibit them from holding any other offices during their time in that position. The Director will be able to focus all of their attention on their responsibilities as a small business advocate.
Chairman Graves is to be commended for his introduction of these bills. He is making a clear stand in support of the small business owner in America, which has been somewhat lacking in our government for many terms.
Senators Snowe, Landrieu, and Brown also introduced a new bill in support of small business owners last month called the Small Business Tax Extenders Bill. Senator Snowe is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which makes this bill even more significant since she is in a position to help push it through.
This legislation is intended to provide targeted tax relief to small businesses and also extend the necessary tax relief provisions that have already been put in place since 2010.
In her address to the President, Ms. Snowe pointed to the stagnant numbers of this country’s unemployment rate, which has not been lower than 8.3 percent in the last three years. She referred to small businesses as the “engine of job creation” in our country over the last few years, creating nearly 2/3 of jobs. For this reason, the government is focusing more on helping these businesses to flourish.
The bill includes several incentives that have received bipartisan support in the past in both the Senate and the House. The provisions are hoped to bring relief to small businesses in their investments as well as to individuals who take the risk of investing in small business start-ups.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama stated it clearly: “It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms and I’ll sign them right away.”
He also pointed to small businesses, saying that “Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses. So let’s pass an agenda that helps them succeed….So put them in a bill, and get it on my desk this year.”
While it appears that both sides of the aisle are ready to take a stand for small business, we can only hope that partisanship and political grandstanding doesn’t prevent an enhanced government contracting environment.
It is time for all those involved in the legislative process to work together, continue to amend this and other similar bills to ensure that government contracts are attainable and mandated goals are met. The success of our economy lies on the shoulders of small business owners and it is up to us to help them hold that weight. The President is waiting…Let’s get it on his desk.