Senators unhappy with SBA

Kerry’s committee decries lack of progress on meeting the needs of small businesses

Senate committee members expressed frustration with the Small Business Administration for showing little proof of progress toward improving its programs for minority-owned small businesses. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, said no one at SBA seemed to be moving to help minority- owned small businesses, a burgeoning segment of the small-business market. 

Three recent reports from SBA’s inspector general found that the agency does not track compliance with 8(a) regulations, improperly maintains an 8(a) database, poorly supervises mentor-protégé arrangements between 8(a) firms and larger businesses, and fails to ensure that 8(a) contracts go to more than a handful of participating firms.

“Frankly, it seems like it’s almost asleep,” Kerry said about SBA.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), ranking member on the committee, said the effectiveness of SBA programs has been repeatedly called into question.

At a committee meeting May 22 to review whether SBA’s contracting programs were meeting small-business needs, several senators said they were not convinced SBA was being as aggressive as it should.

SBA responded by saying it would implement a new recertification rule next month to ensure that small businesses receiving government contracts are small. The agency also said it intends to hire more contracting employees to help procurement officers identify small-business contracting opportunities.

In addition, SBA said it would start a Small Business Procurement Scorecard to monitor and grade agencies’ success at meeting their small-business contracting goals, and it would require federal agencies to review discrepancies in their contracting statistics.

SBA also announced new leaders in two of its largest program offices. Art Collins is now the director of government contracting in the Office of Government Contracting and Business Development. Grady Hedgespeth is now the director of financial assistance in the Office of Capital Access.

Calvin Jenkins, SBA’s deputy associate administrator of government contracting and business development, defended the agency during the hearing by saying SBA is working on new regulations to increase oversight and improve its programs. But he declined to give committee members further details about the regulations. Jenkins said SBA expected to send the proposed regulations to the Office of Management and Budget for review well before the end of fiscal 2007.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said it would be helpful if Jenkins could provide more details about the regulations that SBA is proposing. Kerry said he would write a letter in which he would press the SBA administrator for more details.

Kerry and Snowe promised to introduce legislation this summer to improve federal contracting procedures for small businesses and increase oversight of federal agencies. Snowe said the bill would propose ways to promote SBA’s entrepreneurship programs, including the 8(a) program.
SBA promises $85B for small businessesSenators recently instructed Small Business Administration officials to be aggressive in helping small businesses. Calvin Jenkins, SBA’s deputy associate administrator of government contracting and business development, responded by saying the agency is working hard to give small businesses access to the federal marketplace. Jenkins also said:
  • SBA expects to direct $85 billion in prime federal contracting dollars to small businesses in fiscal 2008.
  • SBA proposed an additional $500,000 in its fiscal 2008 budget request to examine the best way to serve disadvantaged businesses through its existing programs, such as the 8(a) program that sets aside government contracts for small businesses.
  • In fiscal 2005, companies in SBA’s 8(a) program received federal contracts totaling $10.5 billion. That same year, businesses in the agency’s Historically Underutilized Business Zone program received Congress set a governmentwide goal of spending 5 percent of agencies’ contracting dollars with small, disadvantaged businesses. Those businesses received 6.9 percent, or $21.7 billion, in fiscal 2005.
— Matthew Weigelt

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above