Women, mentor-proteges, NAICS codes get attention

The House Small Business Committee approved five bills aimed at reforming aspects of the small business contracting.

The Building Better Business Partnerships Act (H.R. 3985). The bill would allow the Small Business Administration to oversee civilian agency mentor-protégé programs to promote flexibility of agreements between the agencies, guarantee that the programs benefit the small businesses, and ensure that the mentor-protégé agreement doesn’t inadvertently harm the protégé’s small business status.

The Small Business Protection Act (H.R. 3987). The bill would allow SBA to establish a single standard for a grouping of four-digit North American Industrial Classification System codes. Officials would have to justify that such standard is appropriate for each individual industry classification in the grouping

The Contractor Opportunity Protection Act (H.R. 4081). The COP Act would provide a stronger process to appeal unjustified contract bundling through clarification of the statutory limits on bundling, the creation of a third party arbiter, and more transparency in the contracting process.

The Contracting Oversight for Small Business Jobs Act (H.R. 4206). The bill would address contracting fraud by helping small businesses comply with complicated contracting and size rules, and it would provide a safe harbor for small businesses making a good faith effort to comply with those rules.

In addition, the bill would ensure that potential cases of fraud are properly and transparently dealt with through the suspension and debarment process, and would provide a statutory framework for the Office of Hearings and Appeals—the office that decides who is truly a small business.

The Women’s Procurement Program Improvement Act (H.R. 4203). The bill would allow contracting officers to award sole source contracts to women-owned companies that are economically disadvantaged or in substantially underrepresented industries. However, an agency couldn't award a sole source contract if more than two small companies are able to do the work. Also, the price would have to be fair and the contract worth no more than $4 million.

“The bills marked up today will ensure that first and foremost, taxpayer dollars are used wisely and are protected from fraud. They will also make sure programs intended to help small businesses deliver results and don’t inadvertently harm the very business they are supposed to help,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), House Small Business Committee chairman, said in a statement March 22.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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