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Small biz group to get day in court vs. DOD subcontracting program

By Alice Lipowicz
Set-Aside Alert
April 28, 2017

A small-business group will go to trial in December against the Defense Dept. to try to reveal more information about the workings of the DOD’s longstanding Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program. The American Small Business League, headed by Lloyd Chapman, has been criticizing the program for several years because Chapman contends it has not performed well and has reduced opportunities for small businesses. Chapman said he has been unable to review crucial documents from the program because of various Freedom of Information Act exemptions that have been applied by DOD officials. He hopes that the testimony and documents to be revealed in court will provide sufficient evidence to prove that the program is negatively affecting small businesses, and that problems with the program have been ignored or covered up over the years. “I'm confident that we will uncover evidence that would force the Pentagon and Congress to dismantle the Pentagon's Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program,” Chapman told Set-Aside Alert in an emailed statement. Congress set up the DOD subcontracting program in 1989. While the value of the program has been challenged by Chapman and others, Congress last year renewed it for another 10 years. The program allows large DOD contractors to develop small business subcontracting plans on a corporate, division or plant-wide basis, rather than developing a subcontracting plan for each contract. The goal was to determine whether the comprehensive test plan would provide greater opportunity for small businesses. Chapman said the DOD’s use of FOIA exemptions to withhold information on the program has made it very difficult to evaluate if the program is meeting small business goals. Chapman sued Sikorsky Aircraft and the DOD to gain release of Sikorsky’s small business subcontracting plan. He won the case in court in 2014 but Sikorsky and DOD successfully appealed, and the case was sent back to the lower court. In the latest development, a California judge approved an agreement between the league and DOD to go to trial to examine whether or not a specific FOIA exemption applies to information that Sikorsky and DOD withheld on Sikorsky’s small business subcontracting plan. U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California ordered that the trial would include as many as 10 depositions from DOD on the program. A spokesman for Sikorsky told GovExec that at this time Sikorsky is no longer a party to the litigation. A DOD spokesman declined to comment, citing a policy of avoiding commenting on pending litigation.


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