In late July, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced it would release its official federal small business contracting statistics for Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 by the end of August. On August 25, 2008, attorneys representing the SBA told Federal District Court Judge Marilyn H. Patel that the SBA did not have any information on the volume of contracts awarded to small business or the specific names of the firms that received those contracts.
In court documents Patel stated, "The court finds curious the SBA's argument that it does not 'control' the very information it needs to carry out its duties and functions." (http://www.asbl.com/documents/20080925courtordermod.pdf)
Now, in his second week on the job, new Acting Administrator of the SBA Santanu "Sandy" Baruah appears to be refusing to release the Bush Administration's latest small business contracting statistics. This is the first time in the SBA's 55-year history the agency has delayed the release of the federal government's small business contracting statistics until this late in the year.
The federal government's fiscal year for 2007 ended on September 31, 2007. The SBA has now had more than eleven months to review the data and release it. Since the government's contracting information is in a real-time database, the information could have been released on October 1, 2007.
The American Small Business League (ASBL) believes that Acting Administrator Baruah is withholding the Bush Administration's small business contracting statistics to avoid an inevitable challenge to the accuracy of the information in the press during the Republican National Convention. The ASBL believes the latest Bush Administration small business data will include hundreds of Fortune 1000 firms as it has every year during Bush's tenure.
Since 2003, 15 federal investigations have all found wide spread abuses in federal small business contracting programs, such as the diversion of billions of dollars in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms. Some of the firms that have received small business contracts during the Bush Administration include: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Battelle, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, Titan Industries, Xerox, John Deere and British Aerospace and Engineering (BAE). (http://www.asbl.com/documentlibrary.html)
In response to the series of investigations and over 400 stories on the issue in mainstream-media outlets across the United States, the Bush Administration has responded by making it more and more difficult for the public and the media to determine the actual recipients of federal small business contracts. Bush officials have repeatedly refused Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the specific names of firms that received government small business contracts. In June of 2007, the SBA adopted a policy, which will allow Fortune 500 firms to continue to receive federal small business contracts until 2012.
On July 30, 2008, Bush officials adopted a policy, which no longer requires government contractors to state their annual revenue or their number of employees. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the public to determine if large businesses are misrepresenting themselves as a small businesses. (http://www.asbl.com/documents/20080903ccrchange.pdf)
The ASBL plans to request the 2007 small business contracting statistics under FOIA if the information is not released by the end of the week.