Eleven and a half months after the end of the federal government's fiscal year (FY) 2007, new Acting Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), Santanu "Sandy" Baruah has still not released the Bush Administration's small business contracting statistics for last year.
The federal government's FY 2007 ended on September 30th of last year. 2008 marks the first time in history that the SBA has not released its annual small business contracting statistics by the end of August.
SBA critics question why the SBA routinely takes so long to release the statistics, when it is widely known that the data is compiled on a real time basis. The information should have been available as soon as October 1, 2007.
The American Small Business League (ASBL) believes Bush officials at the SBA may have backed themselves into a corner when during an August 28, 2008 legal preceding, representatives from the SBA told United States District Court Judge Marilyn H. Patel that they did not have any small business contracting data. (http://www.asbl.com/documents/motiontodismiss.pdf)
Another reason the Bush Administration may be anxious about release of the data is every year since 2003, a firestorm of controversy erupts as soon as the small business contracting data is released. In that time, 15 federal investigations have found that the Bush Administration consistently diverts billions of dollars in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms.
In past years, the story on the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants has erupted within hours of the release of the fabricated data. CBS, ABC, CNN and virtually every major newspaper in the country have covered the story.
The Bush Administration would obviously like to avoid another controversy in such close proximity to the elections.
Another possibility is that the SBA may have spent the last eleven and a half months scrubbing the 2007 data of any obvious large businesses names. They would then significantly inflate the volume of contract dollars allotted to legitimate small businesses to make up the difference.
If and when the Bush Administration does release its small business contracting statistics for 2007, billions of dollars in contracts to many of the largest firms in the United States and even Europe will most likely be included. This year marks the seventh consecutive year that large companies have been included in the government's small business contracting statistics.
In the past, Bush officials have reported contracts to firms such as Bechtel, John Deere, Dell, Xerox, Rolls Royce, Battelle, Home Depot, Boeing, Raytheon, Halliburton, General Dynamics, Thales (French), Buhrmann NV (Dutch) and British Aerospace and Engineering (BAE) as small business contracts.
The SBA is facing mounting pressure to release the 2007 small business contracting statistics. Every day that they stall the release of the data creates more and more interest in their justifications for withholding the information. If the SBA does release the data, they could find themselves in trouble with the federal courts in San Francisco as a result of SBA officials stating that they did not have the data detailing the recipients of federal small business contracts.