Defense Dept. Poised to Dump Program One Expert Calls a 'Sham' and 'Seriously Hurtful' to Small Business
By Fred Lucas
September 27, 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 the
Senate Armed Services Committee.
Committee staff will meet with Defense Department officials Thursday to
discuss whether to renew the Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program,
which has been around since 1990 but has yet to show that it meets its stated
goal of improving access to federal subcontracting for small American firms.
Operating with almost no oversight, the program creates a loophole that
allows big companies doing work for the Defense Department to skip out on
obligations to provide subcontracts to small firms, while making
taxpayer-funded contracts less transparent, said University of Baltimore law
professor Charles Tiefer, who specializes in federal contract law and was a
member of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan from
2008 through 2011.
"Calling a 25-year-old program a 'test program' is like a test program of a
two-year temporary amnesty program for tax evaders, or a two-year temporary
program for illegal aliens, still being called a temporary 'test program' after
25 years," Tiefer wrote. "If this initially 2-year-old 'test program' were a
baby when it started then referring to it as just temporary is like still
calling it a toddler when it reached its commencement ceremony for college
graduation except that it had never had to take a test to continue its
Nevertheless, the Defense Department acquisition site states: "The purpose of the test is to determine
whether comprehensive subcontracting plans will result in increased
subcontracting opportunities for small business while reducing the
administrative burden on contractors."
While the test program operates under the Defense Department's Office of the
Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, the department says
it is not a Pentagon program and wants it scrapped.
"This was a congressional program enacted in law in 1990 with the intention
of saving large prime contractors money by allowing them to negotiate corporate
wide goals, increase small business participation, strengthen the industrial
base, and apply those saving into small business programs," Pentagon spokeswoman
Maureen Schumann told TheBlaze in a statement. "Although well-intended, the
program has not produced quantifiable results. The Department of Defense
position is to not have congress extend the CSP."
Congress will be voting on the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense
Authorization Act in October.
The Democratic-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee has leaned toward
following the Pentagon's suggestion, while the Republican-controlled House
Armed Services Committee wants to reform the program to make it more
transparent, but not end it altogether.
Tiefer's opinion states that the test program "frees the big defense
contractors from doing individual small business subcontracting plans."
"The program is a sham and its extension will be seriously harmful to vital
opportunities for small business to get government contracting work," Tiefer
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