Dems criticize small-biz record

Agencies did not do well at sending contracting dollars to small businesses in fiscal 2003, despite what Bush administration officials say, Democrats charged today.

Agencies awarded 22.7 percent of their contracting dollars to small businesses, short of the goal of 23 percent. Although the difference seems small in percentage terms, it amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars in lost opportunities for small businesses, according to a 352-page report released today by Democratic members of the House's Small Business Committee.

The findings conflict with the Small Business Administration's assessment. Officials said agencies met the targets, but Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) said SBA officials are using inaccurate data from the Federal Procurement Data System.

Velazquez, ranking minority member of the Small Business Committee, gave agencies an average grade of D on the fifth annual small-business score card, developed by House Democratic staff.

"Federal agencies have been purchasing at record volumes, increasing from $235 billion to $285 billion in this last year alone," she said in releasing the score card report. "It would only make sense to expect that our nation's small businesses would receive more contracts

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