SBA: No decisions on High Road policy

Procurement policy would give advantages to companies with above-average employee pay and other benefits

The Obama administration has made no decision in favor of a contracting policy that would give a competitive advantage to companies with above-average employee pay and benefits, according to a senior official.

Karen Mills, administrator of the Small Business Administration, told Senate Republicans on Friday that small-business concerns are considered in all procurement policy decisions. She was responding to a letter sent from the GOP on Sept. 23.


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“We understand that there has been no decision in favor of ‘High Road’ contracting and are confident that small businesses’ concerns will be taken into account in any procurement policy decision in the future,” Mills wrote.

Twenty-nine Republicans warned Mills in a letter about what they said would be the detrimental the effects of the High Road policy on small businesses. If the policy were in place, a company could have the lowest prices and best technical solutions while complying with labor laws and still not win a contract, they wrote.

Rumors about the High Road contracting policy first surfaced last year, and the Obama administration has not announced details. Officials have also said continually they have made no decision about such a policy.

In her letter, Mills mentioned the Interagency Task Force on Federal Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses, which offered 13 recommendations to President Barack Obama in September.

“We are working with our colleagues across the government to implement those recommendations promptly and fully,” Mills wrote. Small contractors would benefit from those changes to the government marketplace, she added.

The recommendations dealt with agencies’ attempts to insource jobs and bundling several procurements into one large contract. The task forces wants to put greater accountability on agencies to reach their annual small-business contracting goals through peer reviews and awards for agencies that meet their goals.

In addition, the president signed into a law this week legislation that includes several provisions related to small-business procurement.

About the Author

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

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