THE BLOG
10/18/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Officials Avoided Questions from Press on Misleading Contracting Data

As far as I know, not a single journalist in America asked even one question of any Obama Administration official as to why they included billions of dollars in contracts to some of the largest companies in the world as small business contracts in its fiscal year 2008 data.

Stories in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal did not even mention the fact that according to information in the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) eight of the top ten recipients of federal small business contracts were actually large businesses or divisions of large businesses. Of the top 100 recipients, 64 percent of the contracts went to large businesses. Seems like a pretty important point to miss when covering the government's latest small business contracting data.

Neither story mentioned the fact that Obama Administration officials included contracts to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, British Aerospace (BAE), General Dynamics, 3M, Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, Dell Computer, Office Depot, Xerox, General Electric and Rolls-Royce as small business contracts.

A story on the front page of the Washington Post in October of 2008 reported that in a sampling of $13 billion in federal contracts reported as going to small businesses, more than 38 percent actually went to Fortune 500 firms alone. Why didn't they mention it this year? In the 2008 story, the Small Business Administration (SBA) claimed that it had cleaned up the data, and Fortune 500 firms wouldn't be counted as small businesses anymore. What happened?

I never studied journalism, but wouldn't it seem reasonable to ask SBA Administrator Karen Mills a question like, "President Obama campaigned on 'an end to business as usual in Washington.' That said, why is the Administration allowing Fortune 500 firms to receive federal small business contracts for the tenth consecutive year?"

Maybe it would have made the story more interesting if some journalist had asked Administrator Mills why the Obama Administration has refused to address the issue the SBA Office of Inspector General referred to as, "One of the most important challenges facing the Small Business Administration and the entire Federal government today ..." (http://www.asbl.com/documents/05-15.pdf)

If I were writing a story on this issue, I would ask Karen Mills to explain why in February of 2008 President Obama released the statement, "It is time to end the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants," but the latest data clearly shows that campaign promise has not been honored. (http://www.barackobama.com/2008/02/26/the_american_small_business_le.php)

If I were a professional journalist I would ask someone from the Obama Administration why they were sponsoring 200 seminars around the country to help small businesses land federal contracts, while they were simultaneously diverting millions of dollars a day in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms and corporate giants in Italy, England, France and South Korea.

Maybe I'm just being nit-picky, but I might have asked SBA Administrator Mills why the agency told a federal Judge that it did not have any information on the actual recipients of federal small business contracts.

The story would have been much more interesting if some journalist had asked the SBA if $775,773,505 in contracts to Textron Inc., a Fortune 500 firm, were reported as small business contracts as a result of "miscoding" or "computer glitches."

I would just love to see a journalist ask the SBA's Mike Stamler, why every day since fiscal year 2000 "miscoding," "computer glitches" and "out of date information" always just happen to wind up reporting billions of dollars in federal small business contracts to big businesses as small business awards and never the other way around.

Another good question for SBA spokesman Mike Stamler would be why the SBA claimed that it was a "myth" that large businesses were receiving federal small business contracts when in Report 5-14, the SBA Inspector general found that the SBA itself was reporting awards to large businesses as, "small business awards at the time of the procurement." http://www.asbl.com/documents/05-14.pdf

Since the Obama Administration is so concerned with helping small businesses, maybe some hot shot journalist might ask an Obama Administration spokesman if President Obama was going to endorse the Fairness and Transparency in Contracting Act, H.R. 2568, which would completely halt the flow of federal small business contracts to corporate giants.

I guess my last question for an Obama Administration spokesman would have to be, since small businesses create over 97 percent of all net new jobs, employ over 50 percent of the private sector workforce and create over 50 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), why would the Obama Administration allow Fortune 500 firms to take government small business contracts during our nation's worst economic downturn in 80 years?