Congressman questions agencies on small-business advocates' authority

Senior executives at several Cabinet-level departments received letters Aug. 5 that asked why their small-business advocacy offices have not been given the authority the law dictates.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), chairman of the Small Business Committee’s Contracting and Workforce Subcommittee, wants to know why departments' office of small and disadvantaged business utilization (OSDBU) officials don’t have access to top officials to deal with small-business problems, such as contract bundling and paying firms promptly.

The Small Business Act requires that heads of a department’s OSDBU should “be responsible only to, or report directly to, the head of such agency or to the deputy of such head.”


Related stories:

Government gets a B in 2010 small-business contracting

Defense to rely on small business more as deep cuts begin


It’s not happening, according to a Government Accountability Office report from June.

Only nine of the 16 federal agencies that GAO reviewed were in compliance with that part of the Small Business Act. The remaining seven agencies failed to comply with the law. Those agencies’ OSDBU directors reported to lower-level officials or had delegated OSDBU responsibilities to officials who did not meet the reporting requirement, GAO wrote.

Further, these agencies were not in compliance when GAO last examined them in 2003.

In GAO’s latest review, Social Security Administration officials said they fixed the problem. Officials at the Interior Department agreed to re-evaluate their reporting structure.

On the other hand, the Commerce, Justice, State and Treasury departments disagreed with GAO, saying they were in compliance. The Agriculture Department also got a letter because officials delegated the OSDBU director's authority in a way that was contrary to the law.

Mulvaney wants to know more details about each agencies’ OSDBU, including the assigned functions and budget. He also asked when the OSDBU will actually have access to top officials, in addition to a copy of the new organizational chart. He expects responses by Aug. 31.

The subcommittee is planning a hearing in September to look further into this situation.

About the Author

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

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • Social network, census

    5 predictions for federal IT in 2017

    As the Trump team takes control, here's what the tech community can expect.

  • Rep. Gerald Connolly

    Connolly warns on workforce changes

    The ranking member of the House Oversight Committee's Government Operations panel warns that Congress will look to legislate changes to the federal workforce.

  • President Donald J. Trump delivers his inaugural address

    How will Trump lead on tech?

    The businessman turned reality star turned U.S. president clearly has mastered Twitter, but what will his administration mean for broader technology issues?

  • Login.gov moving ahead

    The bid to establish a single login for accessing government services is moving again on the last full day of the Obama presidency.

  • Shutterstock image (by Jirsak): customer care, relationship management, and leadership concept.

    Obama wraps up security clearance reforms

    In a last-minute executive order, President Obama institutes structural reforms to the security clearance process designed to create a more unified system across government agencies.

  • Shutterstock image: breached lock.

    What cyber can learn from counterterrorism

    The U.S. has to look at its experience in developing post-9/11 counterterrorism policies to inform efforts to formalize cybersecurity policies, says a senior official.

Reader comments

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 Small Business VP

What better way to keep those pesky small businesses under tight control by muzzling their agency advocates by placing them in less-than-influential places in an agency's bureacracy. It's pretty evident to even the most casual observer which agencies have vibrant and (taxpayer) beneficial small business programs versus which agencies do not.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group