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Court Hurts Small Biz Transparency: Watchdog

By Alice Lipowicz
Set-Aside Alert
March 3, 2017

A recent federal appeals court ruling does not serve the interests of transparency in small business federal contracting, according to a public interest watchdog group. The ruling “dealt a blow to the causes of open government and contracting transparency,” Neil Gordon, investigator for the Project on Government Oversight, wrote about the decision. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit judged that the Defense Dept. does not have to disclose Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.’s small business subcontracting plan for its DOD contracts under the Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program. Under the test program, Sikorsky and others may file a single plan outlining subcontracting payments to small firms for all their DOD contracts, rather than filing such plans for each contract. The case started in 2013 with a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Small Business League, run by Lloyd Chapman. While a lower court supported ASBL’s request, the case was appealed.

The lawsuit shines a light into the test program, a pilot program since 1990. ASBL and other critics say it has not shown results. Nonetheless, Congress recently renewed it until 2027. The 9th circuit ruled that some of Sikorsky’s information--including “the names of Sikorsky’s subcontractors, the type and dollar amount of the goods and services subcontracted by Sikorsky, details about the company’s subcontracting process and organizational structure” falls under a FOIA exemption for trade secrets and commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential.


For the full story, click here: http://www.asbl.com/media/03-03-17%20Set-Aside%20Alert%20Highlighted.pdf




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