House Reform review of bundling language stalls SBA reauthorization

House Reform review of bundling language stalls SBA reauthorization

Concerns about contract bundling language have delayed passage of the fiscal 2004 Small Business Administration reauthorization bill, lawmakers on the House Small Business Committee say.

The House Government Reform Committee is reviewing the Small Business Committee's bill 'because they don't like that we included procurement practices in the legislation,' said Rep. Nydia Velazquez, (D-N.Y.), ranking minority member of Small Business.

The language in question seeks to assure that small businesses are not adversely affected by bundling, which groups multiple requirements under one contract, when those requirements have previously been provided under separate contracts. The size or scope of bundled contracts is often too large for small businesses to bid on as prime contractors, the SBA has argued.

Government Reform asked the House parliamentarian to grant it the review. The committee has since received three extensions on the time to conduct the review and now has until Jan. 31.

The bill, H.R. 2802, states: 'It is the declared policy of the Congress that each federal agency should comply with congressional intent to foster the participation of small-business concerns as prime contractors, subcontractors and suppliers; structure its contracting requirements to facilitate competition by and among small-business concerns, taking all reasonable steps to eliminate obstacles to their participation; and avoid unnecessary and unjustified bundling of contract requirements that precludes small-business participation in procurements as prime contractors.'

The bill also amends the Small Business Act to allow small businesses at least 60 days to bid after a solicitation of offers for a bundled contract is issued by an agency.

'We are asking for more teeth on bundling,' Velazquez said. 'We are providing a tool through the SBA reauthorization. We need action.'

Congress has temporarily reauthorized SBA until March 15 while lawmakers resolve their concerns over the permanent reauthorization bill.

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