SBA Seeks Input for Regulation Reform

The Small Business Administration is looking for input from small firms to help it identify federal regulations that should be revised because they are ineffective, duplicative or outdated.

To that end, the SBA's Office of Advocacy launched the Regulatory Review and Reform Initiative, or "r3" on Friday.

Any small business interested in recommending that a current rule or regulation needs tweaks or an overhaul should provide the office with a description of the current rule and why it should be reformed. Stakeholders also need to describe a recommended reform.

The Office of Advocacy intends to host a public roundtable in October to call for nominations of rules needing reform. The SBA said it will release in early 2008 the selected rules in an annual report on the Regulatory Flexibility Act to the president and Congress.

The r3 program is designed to provide tools that will improve federal agencies' compliance with language in the regulatory flexibility law mandating that agencies periodically examine existing regulations to measure changing impacts on small business.

To suggest reviews and reforms, call Keith Holman of the Office of Advocacy at (202) 205-6936, e-mail advocacy@sba.gov or complete an online form by Dec. 31.

By Sharon McLoone |  September 28, 2007; 1:46 PM ET Regulation Legislation
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The Fairness in Procurement Alliance (FPA) which represents the procurement priorities 10 million small businesses has petitioned Advocacy to address, as part of their R3 initiative the following:

1.) the 'FAR exemptions' which SBA in a historic ruling dated Sept 4th confirmed they violate the statutory mandate of The Small Business Act;
2.) the lack of regulations governing 'reverse auctions,' a procurement vehicle which appears to be the future of government procurement and,
3.) the SBA's own size protest system which fails to deliver justice to small businesses when they win their cases.

Both # 1 and # 2 are currently the subject of a GAO mammoth test case protest (B-309911) challenging the legality of the FAR exemptions due to their inconsistency with the 'set-aside statutory provisions of the Small Business Act and applicable law.

Allegation #3 involves claims that the size-protest system has become a bureaucratic process. The allegations on the protests are NOT adequately investigated and the violations are seldom prosecuted. Furthermore, when a small business prevail, it cannot either collect the award nor receive due compensation for their effort. The system - as it is - is discriminatory, abusive and a waste of taxpayers money!

FPA has alleged that the FAR regulation which exempt small businesses from 'GSA Schedule contracts' and from 'foreign' procurements' have no exemption mandate in their authorities (as far as set-asides) and no statutory mandate to exclude federal contracts from the statutory 'set-asides' provisions of the Act and yet, the government has allowed them to exclude $64 Billion in annual contracts - for over a decade - from small businesses. That is $640 Billion in contracts, which - by statute - should have gone to small businesses!

SBA revealed, last month, after public pressure from FPA and the Advocacy community to make the government contract data transparent. The three Federal Agencies (DOD, GSA and State Department) which have specifically benefited directly from these 'exemptions' had failed - for the second straight year - to meet their own 'set-aside goals.'

Almost four year ago, on October 17th, 2003, Sen. Olympia Snowe, then Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, wrote to the SBA Administrator, Hector Barreto, specifically asking SBA to take action on the 'exemptions,' but SBA has not. In that letter, Sen. Snowe said, "I am concerned that small businesses may not have a fair opportunity to compete for these overseas Federal contracting opportunities."

Posted by: Raul Espinosa | September 29, 2007 7:31 AM

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