Agencies miss small-business goals

House Democrats today released an annual report card showing federal agencies missed goals for small-business contracts. This year's report shows the entire federal marketplace grew about 3 percent in fiscal 2004, to almost $295 billion, contracts to small businesses dropped by 31 percent compared with fiscal 2003.

"It makes absolutely no sense that small business opportunity is declining while this nation's federal marketplace is simply flourishing," said Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), ranking Democrat on the Small Business Committee.

Small firms along the Gulf Coast are especially in need of contracting dollars as they try to recover from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, she said.

The failure to reach small-business goals cost small companies $1.6 billion, Velazquez added.

The report targets U.S. Agency for International Development, Energy Department, Education Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and Defense Department as agencies that have received consistently poor grades inthe six years that House Democrats have issued the score card.

This year, DOD, the EPA and the Treasury Department got Ds, the Justice and State departments got D-minuses, and the Education Department, NASA, the Office of Personnel Management Energy and USAID earned Fs. Overall, the government earned a D.

The highest grades — two Bs and three B-minuses — went to the Homeland Security, Interior, Transportation, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs departments.

To address the needs of Gulf Coast small businesses specifically, Velazquez has introduced the Requiring and Ensuring (Small) Business in Leading Development Act, or REBUILD. The bill would require agencies to respond to small businesses that register with the program, and provide help to match small businesses with suitable contract opportunities.

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