Reps Allen West and Sam Graves – Arming Small Business Contractor “David’s” with real stones

by Jeff Belkin on Huffington Post Blog

If David had thrown a clump of dirt at Goliath, there wouldn’t have been much of a competition. If small businesses are David and large businesses are Goliath, then the Davids in the government contracting world have been limited to hurling dirt clumps at the Goliaths.

Smaller outfits have had a tougher time winning contracts. Annually, billions of dollars are awarded to businesses in the form of government contracts. Many government requirements are bundled together to form larger contracts containing multiple government needs (and are often largely unrelated items), thereby limiting the Davids’ ability to compete with Goliaths for these contracts.

But a new bill recently introduced by Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) gives small businesses hard stones to throw as they battle larger companies for government contracts. In addition to providing more opportunities to small businesses, the bill provides a more formal process for small businesses to challenge agency decisions, whether on their own or through a proxy.

Someone, though, has to be put in charge of making sure the law is followed, and someone else has to have the resources to keep tabs. Because small businesses rarely have the money to hire lawyers to challenge government decisions that don’t follow the law, they need a proxy.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) and trade associations are deputized to become that proxy. Congress is on the verge of providing the SBA and small business trade associations with an important, albeit untested, tool designed to help keep government agencies, often at the urging of bigger contractors, from avoiding the rules designed to foster small business prime contractor growth.

The new Contractor Opportunity Protection Act, or “COP” Act, currently in the U.S. House has been crafted to bridge the gap between the lofty goals in the small business laws and the nitty-gritty details of ensuring enforcement. There is already a law that small businesses must be awarded federal government contracts that are less than $150,000.


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