The push for paperless government may do more than eliminate mountains of paper it may exclude small businesses from the procurement process.
The push for paperless government may do more than eliminate mountains of
paper — it may exclude small businesses from the procurement process.
E-procurement initiatives suggested by the Office of Federal Procurement
Policy may preclude small businesses from competing for government contracts,
according to industry experts, members of Congress and agency representatives
testifying last week at a hearing of the House Small Business Committee's
Government Programs Subcommittee.
"Most small businesses are started because someone who oversaw the production
at a company decided to go off on their own," said Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas).
"They have a lot of experience in the production of widgets but are weak
when it comes to administration experience and computer science."
OFPP has suggested that procurement announcements and proposals be made
electronically via a governmentwide single point of entry on the Internet.
The new system would eliminate the 15-day waiting period between the announcement
of a contract and the acceptance of bid proposals, said Deidre Lee, administrator
But many small business do not have access to technology or are not
equipped to handle electronic transactions, according to Jere Glover, chief
counsel for advocacy at the Small Business Administration.
"Only 1.4 percent of Internet use among small businesses is directed to
e-commerce sales," Glover said in a written statement to the subcommittee.
"Costs, security concerns, technical expertise and customer service are
the major roadblocks to greater small-business participation in e-commerce."