SBA approves Qwest subcontractor program

The Small Business Administration and the Defense Contract Management Agency have given their seal of approval to Qwest Communications International Inc.'s Small Business Program, company officials announced today.

The award, though not mandatory for companies that want to subcontract or otherwise work with small businesses, gives Qwest a competitive edge, said Audrey Hallett, senior director for federal contracting at Qwest.

"It gives us a pool of companies that want to do business with Qwest," she said. "What we can do is not just subcontract, but we're developing programs where we're a subcontractor to small businesses doing business with the government. We're seeing a lot of interest from the small-business community."

The "approved" rating also shows agencies that the company can be counted on to treat small-business partners appropriately, said Larry Andersen, the company's small-business liaison.

SBA examined the program as if it were a quality-improvement program, he said. Qwest officials began working on improving its program about two years after merging with U.S. West in 2000, he said. Support from Qwest executives and community outreach show that the company is an advocate for small business and contracts with targeted small-business categories, Anderson said.

SBA "expected us to spend about three more years doing this," he said. "They were very complimentary that we've taken the program so far so quickly."

"We're proud to receive this vote of confidence regarding Qwest's work with small businesses," said James Payne, senior vice president of the company's government services division, in a statement. "The approved rating is a powerful endorsement when competing for entry into federal government contracts."

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