Defense Dept. Poised to Dump Program One Expert Calls a ‘Sham’ and ‘Seriously Hurtful’ to Small Business


Defense Dept. Poised to Dump Program One Expert Calls a ‘Sham’ and ‘Seriously Hurtful’ to Small Business

By Fred Lucas
The Blaze
October 9, 8800

The Pentagon is prepared to ditch a program that’s been called a “sham” and“seriously harmful” to small businesses in a legal opinion under review by theSenate Armed Services Committee.

Committee staff will meet with Defense Department officials Thursday todiscuss whether to renew the Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program,which has been around since 1990 but has yet to show that it meets its statedgoal of improving access to federal subcontracting for small American firms.

Operating with almost no oversight, the program creates a loophole thatallows big companies doing work for the Defense Department to skip out onobligations to provide subcontracts to small firms, while makingtaxpayer-funded contracts less transparent, said University of Baltimore lawprofessor Charles Tiefer, who specializes in federal contract law and was amember of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan from2008 through 2011.

“Calling a 25-year-old program a ‘test program’ is like a test program of atwo-year temporary amnesty program for tax evaders, or a two-year temporaryprogram for illegal aliens, still being called a temporary ‘test program’ after25 years,” Tiefer wrote. “If this initially 2-year-old ‘test program’ were ababy when it started then referring to it as just temporary is like stillcalling it a toddler when it reached its commencement ceremony for collegegraduation – except that it had never had to take a test to continue itseducation.”

Nevertheless, the Defense Department acquisition site states: “The purpose of the test is to determinewhether comprehensive subcontracting plans will result in increasedsubcontracting opportunities for small business while reducing theadministrative burden on contractors.”

While the test program operates under the Defense Department’s Office of theUnder Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, the department saysit is not a Pentagon program and wants it scrapped.

“This was a congressional program enacted in law in 1990 with the intentionof saving large prime contractors money by allowing them to negotiate corporatewide goals, increase small business participation, strengthen the industrialbase, and apply those saving into small business programs,” Pentagon spokeswomanMaureen Schumann told TheBlaze in a statement. “Although well-intended, theprogram has not produced quantifiable results. The Department of Defenseposition is to not have congress extend the CSP.”

Congress will be voting on the Fiscal Year 2015 National DefenseAuthorization Act in October.

The Democratic-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee has leaned towardfollowing the Pentagon’s suggestion, while the Republican-controlled HouseArmed Services Committee wants to reform the program to make it moretransparent, but not end it altogether.

Tiefer’s opinion states that the test program “frees the big defensecontractors from doing individual small business subcontracting plans.”

“The program is a sham and its extension will be seriously harmful to vitalopportunities for small business to get government contracting work,” Tieferwrote.

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