House passes bill giving some small-biz owners precedence

Service-disabled veterans who own small businesses should get top priority in government contracting, according to a bill the House passed yesterday.

"For those men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, many with life-altering injuries, this bill will provide the tools to start a new endeavor and begin a new life," said Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the Small Business Committee, in a statement.

In addition, the bill would punish business owners who lie about being disabled veterans.

If the bill becomes law, it would also require the Small Business Administration to launch the Women's Procurement Program, which would focus on government contracting with woman-owned small businesses. It would direct agencies to immediately begin putting contracts out for bid among women business owners.

Velázquez and others say SBA officials have delayed the Women's Procurement Program for too long. Congress created the program in 2000 to increase the presence of woman-owned businesses in the federal marketplace, but SBA has not initiated it.

Bush administration officials said they disagreed with some provisions of the House bill but did not threaten a presidential veto.

SBA said it is taking steps to include more woman-owned businesses. This month, officials announced that they had drafted a new rule to increase contracting opportunities for such businesses. Other agencies are reviewing the rule, and SBA expects to publish it soon.

The House passed the bill 334-80. It now goes to the Senate for further action.

Matthew Weigelt writes for Federal Computer Week, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

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

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