The American Small Business League was formed in 2002. The founders were small businesses increasingly frustrated by abuses and loopholes that allowed large companies to get government contracts that Congress had set aside for America’s small businesses.
The League’s roots are based in an association of computer software and equipment sellers seeking proper administration of Small Business Act implementation guidelines. They and other small businesses were being hurt as contracts ostensibly guaranteed to small businesses instead were awarded to giant companies with 10,000 or 100,000 employees. They formed the Microcomputer Industry Suppliers Association. Throughout the 1990s they took their case to Washington, attracting media attention to the situation, pressuring members of Congress for remedy, and dealing directly with the Small Business Administration under both Democratic and Republican presidencies.
The issue was again brought to light in 2003 by Representative Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY), the ranking Democratic member of the House Committee on Small Business. She issued the fourth annual Scorecard report evaluating 21 federal agencies, accounting for 96 percent of federal procurement, and was highly critical of their mandated small business goal achievement. “Even though the government bought more last year, it still failed to meet a single one of its small business goals for the third straight year, ” the report said.
The government missed its statutory small business goal of awarding 23 percent of its contracts to small businesses and its 5 percent goals for both women- and minority-owned businesses, the report said, costing small businesses an estimated $13.8 billion in federal contracting opportunities. The grades that Congress assigned to the 21 agencies were no A's, four B's, five C's, nine D's and three F's. The overall grade given to the federal government in Scorecard IV was a D. The 2004 report is expected to be released soon.
"Small businesses just need a chance – a foot in the door so they can show federal agencies what they can do,” Representative Velazquez said in July 2003. “After all, small businesses are the lifeline of the American economy. I know that, you know that. Now we just need the federal government to figure it out."
As the Microcomputer Industry Suppliers Association saw that their problems were shared by other companies in other industries, they morphed into the American Small Business League – coexisting and sharing a website for more than a year, then solely becoming ASBL in 2004.
The American Small Business League is founded on the principle that small businesses, the backbone of a vital American economy, should receive the fair treatment promised by the Small Business Act of 1951. The League represents small businesses with less than 100 employees in all fields and industries throughout the United States.
The League seeks to achieve the following goals:
ASBL is fighting to end the fraud, loopholes, and abuse that literally steal tax dollars set aside for small business contracts and let large corporations get away unpunished.
The battle fronts are the SBA, Congress, and at government agencies awarding federal, state, and local contracts.
We need the government to adopt new laws and regulations, but most importantly we need enforcement of all the established rules to encourage small businesses, the backbone of the U.S. economy.
The people behind the ASBL
Mr. Chapman began his career working for legendary Texas political leader Bob Bullock. He spent eight years in the Texas Controller’s office, before moving to Californiain 1986 to enter the computer industry. It was at this time that he first became aware of major problems in federal small business contracting programs, and soon became an advocate for small technology firms. In this role, he closely monitored federal “set-aside” contracts for small businesses. His work triggered a 1991 Congressional investigation into the F-22 Stealth fighter that forced the Air Force and Lockheed Martin to allocate an additional $501 million to small and minority-owned firms.
By law, the federal government is obigated to award a fair portion (currently 23%) of its contracts to small businesses. But a number of federal investigations and private studies have found that the government is reporting billions of dollars in contracts to large companies as federal small business awards.
In his continuing role as a small business advocate, Mr. Chapman spearheaded litigation to acquire information on small business utilization in government contracts. In 1993, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled against the Defense Logistics Agency, forcing it to release vital information documenting small business contracting awards. This has paved the way for greater participation by small businesses in federal contracting by exposing the lack of enforcement of Congressionally mandated small business goals.
In 2003, information provided by Mr. Chapman prompted a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation confirming that, in direct conflict with the Small Business Act of 1953, a significant number of small business contracts were being awarded to some of the world’s largest corporations.
In order to form a coalition to promote fair policy in federal small business contracting, Mr. Chapman founded a trade group, the Micro Industry Suppliers Association, in 2003. When membership began to include businesses outside the computer industry, the name of the organization was changed to the American Small Business League in 2004.
A vocal crusader for the rights of small business, Mr. Chapman is a familiar figure at the Small Business Administration and in the United States Congress, where he has continued to work tirelessly during the last two presidential administrations to prevent federal small business contracts from being diverted to large corporations. He is regularly quoted by the media on small business contracting issues.