After three years of effort, there remains a severe disconnect about what kinds of policies help small businesses grow and have the confidence to hire employees and create jobs.
For example, the Subcontractor Transparency and Reliability Act (H.R. 3893) is well-intentioned and correctly identifies the pervasive problem of "bait and switch" small business subcontracting practices within the federal government. But, the solution is not more frequent reporting, but rather more accurate reporting. Reporting designed and stream-lined to ensure that the small businesses originally proposed to win the procurement are actually the small businesses currently performing the work is what is needed.
Obama seems unaware that there is only one way to remedy this deficiency. Large businesses must perform the work as promised, with the subcontracting small business team originally proposed, or they must forfeit payment until such time as the large business can fulfill its small business subcontracting promises.
Another piece of small business legislation that is also well-intentioned requires the inclusion of the Office of the Small Business Advocate in the procurement process. The problem with this is that it is already part of the existing small business procurement regulations process--the small business advocate is already required to review all federal agency procurements to determine which, if any, are appropriate for small businesses--but, this procedure is rarely, if ever, enforced.
No new laws are required. The White House (and congress) simply need to enforce the laws already existing on the books.
Another example, H.R. 3850 ( GETS) seeks to increase the small business contracting goals from 23% to 25%. While this may seem like a great way to increase the size of the small business pie ( and I certainly applaud the spirit and the intent of the legislation), government agencies already are adept at the duck-and-dodge when they do not achieve or succeed in meeting the current, legislated standards. These federal agencies are given a pass, year after year, and so the canard continues.
Occasionally, a wily, federal small business, procurement office, for example in DHS, will achieve or even appear to exceed their small business procurement goals by awarding one or two contracts, worth anywhere from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars to one or two Alaskan Indian firms ( that rarely seem to have any Alaskan Indians working in them). Alaskan Native Firms have long operated in an openly corrupt system that allows them to compete for federal business unfairly. Rarely are the Alaskan Native businesses required to have relevant past performance or experience, and are allowed to submit sole source proposals, and have been awarded some $5 billion in government contracts.
To be sure, phony contracting to Alaskan native firms, and the special protected status of these firms, has been a growing problem for years. Yet, when confronted with the facts about how corrupt the system has become, Barack Obama elected to EXPAND the program to include Hawaiian native companies.
In worst case scenarios, whether intentional or not, large corporations often help the government continue the small business assistance shams, In the course of the sham, there'll be great fanfare and publicity about small business initiatives. Perhaps the large business will co-host a trade fare to "partner" with the government agency.
But none of these expenditures of money or effort will result in giving the small business community what they need most, a fair shot at winning government contracts, lower taxes to spur investment and hiring, and access to investment capital.
What will occur is that the entity, whether private sector or government, will take the funds expended on these trifles and claim the cost of these small business conferences as their way of meeting their small business set-aside requirements-- and complicit government allows the sham to succeed.
What Barack Obama needs to understand is that elevating the SBA Administrator to the Cabinet level doesn't magically solve this country's small business problems, especially if he keeps loading regulations and restrictions that increase the burdens on small businesses. The White House’s small business policies are mere election year shenanigans, smoke-and-mirrors designed to get folks re-elected, that do little to address the real and troubling problems facing small business.
By now, Americans should know that Barack Obama is a great fan of smoke and mirrors. As long as no one looks too closely, Barack Obama’s sad and pathetic record on small businesses will never be seen as it truly is, a corrupt and despicable fraud.
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