SBA sued over protest documents

The American Small Business League has filed suit against the Small Business Administration for the agency's alleged failure to provide documents pertaining to contracting protests.

According to the ASBL, the documents concern hundreds of protests filed against large firms that falsely claim to be small businesses. ASBL attorneys have struggled to obtain the documents during the past 18 months.

Lloyd Chapman, ASBL's president, said the SBA has not formally refused to provide the documents under the Freedom of Information Act. Instead, he said, the agency has delayed and stonewalled the requests, not denying them but not fulfilling them either.

SBA officials could not be reached for immediate comment.

“I don’t think there is any question that the SBA is trying to withhold information that will show they have known about widespread fraud and blatant abuses in federal small-business contracting programs for several years," Chapman said. "Thousands of small businesses have needlessly suffered, some have even been forced to close, because of these staggering abuses."

Chapman's organization favors a limited definition of small business, restricting the category and any benefits that derive from it to companies with fewer than 100 employees.

Chapman scored a court victory over SBA earlier this year when a judge ordered the agency to release draft documents of a report documenting small-business set-aside funds that ended up in the coffers of large companies and other organizations. However, the draft did not show evidence of deliberate fraud, as Chapman had expected it to, leading him to charge that SBA was still withholding information. SBA officials denied the allegation.

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