On the heels of a GAO report calling for more leadership attention to be paid to SBA’s “management challenges,” a number of bills have been referred to the House Small Business Committee since the new year started, calling for more SBA reform and oversight. The following is a summary of the more significant bills introduced, signaling what the House has in store for the small business government contracting community in 2016:
H.R. 4340, “Small Business Contracting and Acquisition Programs Efficiency Act of 2016,” Introduced January 7, 2016
This proposed bill requires GAO to review SBA’s Office of Government Contracting and Business Development, the wing of SBA that oversees the small business procurement programs. Among other issues, GAO will report on its examination of who in SBA reports to the Office of Government Contracting and Business Development; whether greater efficiency and consistency in the certification process of small business socioeconomic programs could be achieved through the creation of a “single organizational unit of employees to process all certifications required by procurement and business development programs,” and “the alignment of the field personnel assigned to such programs”; and whether the Office could improve its staffing of regulatory drafting functions and its coordination with the FAR Council to ensure timely rulemaking.
H.R. 4341, “Defending America’s Small Contractors Act of 2016,” Introduced January 7, 2016
This proposed bill is fairly comprehensive. Section 101 proposes a “plain language rewrite” of the definition of “small business procurements” in the Small Business Act. Of particular note, with regard to increasing prime contracting opportunities for small business concerns, at least 30 days before issuing an unrestricted solicitation, the agency must provide notice to the agency’s Procurement Center Representative (PCR), explaining why the procurement cannot be set aside for small businesses through dividing it into smaller lots, for example. The PCR may then recommend to the agency methods by which it can increase small business participation.
Section 102, in part, requires the agency to report, as part of its small business and socioeconomic goaling reports, when contractors awarded small business or other socioeconomic set-aside contracts are purchased by another entity after initial contract award, and as a result of the purchase the contractor would no longer be deemed to be a small business or socioeconomic designation.
Proposed amendments would also strengthen small business opportunities in subcontracting, such as formal PCR and Commercial Market Representative (“CMR”) approval in the subcontracting plan negotiation process.
Section 302 also proposes establishing a pilot program to provide qualified first tier subcontractors the opportunity to obtain past performance ratings directly from contracting agencies and prime contractors. These subcontractors will then be able to use such a past performance rating to establish its past performance for a prime contract opportunity.
H.R. 4322, “Mentor-Protégé Cooperation Reform Act of 2016,” Introduced January 6, 2016
This proposed bill would clarify the prohibition on affiliation under the Mentor-Protégé Program of DOD, and amend the Small Business Act to improve cooperation between the Mentor-Protégé programs of SBA and DOD. Specifically, the bill would require DOD to ensure that applicants under the DOD’s Mentor-Protégé program have not been determined to be affiliates by SBA.
H.R. 4331, “Small Business Easy Contract Compliance Enhancement and List Act of 2016,” Introduced January 6, 2016
Proposed legislation would strengthen the role of PTACs and the assistance they provide to small business contractors, particularly after contract award.