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.



Rep. Allen West Brings Small Businesses Together with Defense Industry Experts

(West Palm Beach)— A total of 19 businesses attended Congressman Allen West’s (R-FL) roundtable discussion today to listen and speak directly to Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Panel on Business Challenges within the Defense Industry Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Chairman of the House Committee on Small Business Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO).  The discussion focused on breaking down the bureaucracy and red tape that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for small and medium-sized companies to successfully navigate the Defense Department’s acquisition system and obtain contracts.

Congressman West is a Member of both the Armed Services Committee and Small Business Committee in the United States House of Representatives.  As a Member of the HASC Panel on Business Challenges within the Defense Industry, he has a unique opportunity to address these concerns.

“Our small businesses are hurting and anxious to get to work where they are needed, and National Security can benefit from the innovative and competitive spirit that only small businesses can bring,” West said. “In order to do this successfully, we need predictability, certainty and stability in the Defense industry ”

Topics discussed today included: contract bundling, removing barriers to the Federal procurement process, and optimizing Department of Defense use of taxpayer dollars to help small businesses compete.

“We need to look at ways to make the Small Business Administration Office within the Department of Defense work more efficiently,” Shuster said.  “It is essential to find ways to make it easier for small businesses to obtain work with the federal government.”

More than 1,000 South Florida businesses are currently seeking opportunities to offer their services to the federal government.  The federal government spends half a trillion dollars on contracted goods and services and owes it to hardworking taxpayers to make sure their money is used wisely and efficiently.  Government contracting offers a unique opportunity to invest in small businesses while also stimulating the economy. Small businesses created the majority of jobs, about 65 percent, over the last 17 years.

“I’ve been struggling for years trying to figure out a way to break in the world of defense contracts, knowing that I have a product the United States military may find useful,” a small business owner who attended the event said.  “After getting the opportunity to talk with both Chairman Shuster and Graves, I am confident I can now get the ball rolling to securing a federal contract, which is essential for my business.  I appreciate Congressman West’s willingness to hold such an event.”

During the event,  Representative Graves and Representative West discussed their cosponsored legislation, the Contractor Opportunity Protection (COP) Act.  The Contractor Opportunity Protection Act provides more transparency in the contracting process, a stronger opportunity to appeal unjustified bundling, and the creation of a third party arbiter.  See more on the legislation here.

For pictures of the event, click here.


Rep Allen West to host small business event: Chairman travels to South Florida

  “Small Business Owners Need Access to Federal Contracts”

WHAT:   Congressman Allen West (R-FL) welcomes House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves
(R-MO) and House Armed Services Committee Member Bill Shuster (R-PA) to South Florida Tuesday to meet with South Florida small businesses seeking federal contracts. The event is hosted by the House Armed Services Special Panel on Business Challenges in the Defense Community, of which Congressman West is a member.

WHEN:  Tuesday, February 21st
9:30 am to 11:00 am

WHERE:  Florida Atlantic University Jupiter Campus
John D. MacArthur Campus
5353 Parkside Drive
Jupiter, FL 33458

WHY:    More than 1,000 South Florida businesses are currently seeking Federal contracts but often have a difficult time navigating through the process.  This roundtable discussion will help address some of the kinks in the Federal procurement process, and allow South Florida small businesses a better opportunity to land contracts with the Federal government.

“National Security needs the kind of innovative and competitive spirit that only small business bring,” West said.  “This discussion will allow small businesses in Florida’s defense industry the opportunity to voice their ideas.”

*Please see attached information on the Contractor Protection Act of 2012.  Rep. West along with Chairman Graves is today introducing legislation to make it easier for small businesses to compete for Federal Contracts.

*Media wishing to cover the event, please contact Communications Director Angela Melvin at 202-731-1778.