Bill would require small-business training for contracting officers

Senate proposal would require a certification program to teach the acquisition workforce about small business set-aside programs and more.

Three senators have introduced a bill to establish a training program to help contracting officers understand federal contract set-aside programs.

The Small Business Training in Federal Contracting Certification Act (S. 3444) introduced May 27 would require the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) to establish a certification program for the acquisition workforce.

The program would teach those employees about small business set-aside programs that offer special competitions among specific types of small companies, such as service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses or companies owned by women.


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The program also would train contracting officers on how to determine the company size standards for a procurement and choose the appropriate the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. Those codes are the government’s standard that agencies use to catalog businesses in various industries. There have been allegations in recent years of “code shopping,” which refers to choosing NAICS codes that allow favored or larger companies to bid as small businesses, rather than those that most fairly apply to the contract’s scope of work.

The legislation would have the Federal Acquisition Institute carry out the program.

Senators sponsoring the bill say it would improve the federal government’s small-business contracting efforts.

“Our legislation would help the government to meet or exceed its 23 percent statutory contracting goal for small businesses, which it has yet to achieve,” Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), ranking member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, said in a statement. Sens. Mary Landrieu, (D-La.), the committee’s chairwoman, and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a committee member, co-sponsored the bill.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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