WASHINGTON – Rep. Albert Wynn has introduced a bill designed to aid small businesses in obtaining government contracts.
“Small business is the engine of job growth in America,” said Wynn, D-Largo. “We must make sure they get a fair slice of the government procurement pie.”
Wynn’s measure is designed to help small businesses as they try to compete with larger firms by restricting federal agencies from “bundling” contracts for jobs.
Bundling refers to the consolidating of the contracts, requiring one company to fulfill multi-year or multiple jobs.
For instance, an agency may seek a contractor that could fill a $10 million job for computer services over five years. The scope of the job could exclude a smaller computer services firm, which could have filled a $1 million contract for one year of work.
Supporters of the current method of choosing federal contracts have said it improves cost efficiency and productivity.
But several spokesmen for large government contracting companies, including Northrop Grumman and McDonnell Douglas, declined Friday to comment on it. They said they required more time to research the issue.
Wynn’s bill is being considered by the House Small Business Committee and the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.
No co-sponsors have signed on to it yet, but Wynn says there is interest from several representatives from both parties.
“Nothing will happen for a couple of months, mostly because we are not in session and the committees are organizing,” Wynn said.
An almost identical bill was co-sponsored late last year by former Rep. Jan Meyers, then chairwoman of the Small Business Committee, and Rep. John LaFalce, D-N.Y., the committee’s ranking member. It did not receive a House vote.
Both measures followed a 1995 recommendation from the White House Conference on Small Businesses that small businesses be afforded increased access to procurement opportunities.
Small Business Administration official Jere Glover wrote in a letter to Wynn that the SBA supports the legislation, calling it a “major step toward addressing some small business concerns.”
Glover said the SBA “shares your commitment to restrict contract bundling and increase opportunities for small businesses.”
The SBA estimates that small businesses in America employ more than half of the private work force, generate more than half the nation’s Gross Domestic Product and are the principal source of new jobs.
The SBA reported that in 1995, the federal government spent more than $200 billion for the acquisition of supplies and equipment, construction services and other goods and services. Small firms received $43 billion of all government prime contracts.
In contrast, eight of the larger contract firms, including Lockheed Martin and Westinghouse, received $45 billion, more than all small businesses combined.
Wynn’s 4th District contains one-fourth of all the SBA’s socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses in Maryland, said Wynn’s chief of staff, James Ballentine.
Because of the number of disadvantaged small businesses in his district, small business growth and economic development are Wynn’s top priorities, said his press secretary, Elena Temple.
“People see [bundling] as more efficient, but it is hurting small businesses and actually putting some of them out of business,” Ballentine said.