By Patrick Henry
What They Think?
November 6, 2009
The Obama administration’s first year gets an “F” from a group dedicated to helping small businesses get what it says is their legally mandated share of government contracts.
The American Small Business League (ASBL) has lambasted the president for failing to deliver on a series of promises that the group says he made to small businesses during his run for office. In a press release issued yesterday, ASBL cites his campaign pledges to:
“Restore the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) budget and staffing. To date, the SBA’s budget is less than what it was at the end of the Clinton Administration. During the Bush Administration the SBA’s budget and staffing was cut by more than half. Despite promising to bolster the agency, the Obama Administration has failed to refill key positions, or restore the agency’s budget. Today, the SBA’s staff is at a 30 year low.
“Restore the SBA Administrator to a cabinet level position. Despite encouragement from both Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, President Obama has refused to restore the SBA’s Administrator to cabinet level status.
“Implement the congressionally mandated 5% set-aside goal for women owned firms. To date, the Obama Administration has failed to honor that promise.
“End the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants. Since 2003, more than 15 federal investigations have found that billions in federal small business contracts have been diverted to Fortune 500 firms in the U.S. and some of the biggest firms in Europe and Asia. In February of 2008, President Obama acknowledged the magnitude of the problem by releasing the statement, “‘It is time to end the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants.’”
According to ASBL President Lloyd Chapman, government small business contracts have been diverted to Fortune 500 firms every day since the president took office. “He’s given small businesses less than one percent of the stimulus funds,” Chapman added.
Founded by Chapman, a high-profile advocate for small business, in 2004, ASBL exists to assure that small businesses receive a fair portion of the total value of all prime federal contracts—currently 23%—as mandated by the Small Business Act of 1953. The group assails what it calls “abuses and loopholes” that allow large corporations in the U.S. and Europe to receive federal contracts that should be going to small businesses.
ASBL keeps tabs on large corporations that are included in the federal government’s data on small-business contracting. It asserts that changes in the rules governing this database have made it easier for big players to avoid disclosing their sizes when applying for contracts that ought to be set-asides for small businesses.
On ASBL’s list of “2008 Top Small Business Contractors” are HP, Office Depot, and Xerox.