Continuing Challenges for Small Contractors
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
As part of the Subcommittee’s ongoing effort to improve the competitive viability of small contractors, the hearing will examine two issues affecting small contractors. First, it will look at issues of transparency in federal contracting programs designed to assist small businesses. Second, it will allow small subcontractors to explain the unique problems they face in the federal arena.
The Honorable Mike Bost, (IL-12)
United States House of Representatives
Nicholas D. Paulson, Ph.D.
Agricultural and Consumer Economics
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Mr. Jeff Beasley
Beasley & Sons Livestock
Creal Springs, IL
*Testifying on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Mr. Larry Burgin
*Testifying on behalf of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
Today, the Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce examined continuing challenges for small contractors with a diverse panel of small business stakeholders with first-hand experience navigating federal contracting laws. The inconsistent and often inaccurate way the Small Business Administration (SBA) measures the allocation of federal contracts was a key topic of discussion.
“Given the hundreds of billions in federal contract dollars at stake each year, ensuring that small businesses have the opportunity to compete for federal prime and subcontracts is key,” said Subcommittee Chairman Richard Hanna (R-NY). “The goals are supposed to help us accomplish this, but currently they are being used to paint a rosy picture rather than to capture reality. We also need to make sure that subcontracting opportunities are real, and that subcontractors with the desire and capability are able to transition to being prime contractors."
Hanna noted that while SBA reports that the federal government exceeded the statutory goal of awarding 23 percent of prime contracts to small businesses each year for the last two years, the reality is that the federal government excluded nearly 20 percent of its contract dollars before making that determination.
Key quotes from witnesses at today’s hearing below:
“Subcontracting plans should no longer just be words on paper to address a proposal requirement. It should be an executable management plan that is contractually binding under and which the prime contractor is measured and held accountable,” said Michael D. Janeway, President and CEO of APG Technologies, LLC of Sterling, VA. “The subcontracting plans requirements should be revised to increase small business subcontracting participation and enhance the electronic subcontracting reporting system to improve federal agency monitoring of prime contractor achievements against their subcontracting plans.”
“Two pieces of information should be reported and easily accessible: subcontracting opportunities available for a given contract and the extent to which those opportunities are actually being performed by a small business.” said Anne Crossman, the Head Revolutionary for Completed Systems of Oakton, VA.
Congress needs to ensure that that the executive branch implements “the lower tier small business counting reform in a timely fashion and in a practical and reasonable manner that will generate reliable data without being overly burdensome to contractors . . . [and reviews] the market research efforts, if any, that federal agencies use to set small business subcontractor goals,” said Edward T. DeLisle, Partner and Co-Chair of the Federal Contracting Group of Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC in Philadelphia, PA.You can watch the subcommittee hearing HERE
We all know the current federal financial aid system is broken. National student loan debt is at an all-time high, and a complex patchwork of grant, loan, and repayment programs has become so difficult to navigate that it often discourages individuals from pursuing a higher education. Students, families, and taxpayers deserve better. That’s why simplifying and improving student aid remains a leading priority as Congress continues its work to strengthen higher education.
Addressing the challenges within the federal financial aid system is an important part of that effort – and one we have discussed extensively in our subcommittee – but that’s not why we are here today. Instead, we are here to examine the agency tasked with managing the system: the Office of Federal Student Aid, or FSA. The agency is responsible for administering every federal loan, grant, work-study, and repayment program under Title IV of the Higher Education Act.
In other words, FSA is in charge of delivering billions of taxpayer dollars to millions of eligible students, as well as managing more than a trillion dollars of outstanding student loan debt. Additionally, the agency is expected to provide guidance about financial aid policies to thousands of colleges and universities and has the authority to revoke an institution’s ability to participate in the aid programs should they not comply with that guidance. Needless to say, FSA plays an enormous role in the higher education system and has the ability to help or disrupt the lives of students.
In the 1990s, the Government Accountability Office designated FSA as a “High Risk” agency with “long-standing management problems.” To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of FSA, and to mitigate the mishandling of limited resources moving forward, Congress in 1998 converted the agency to a performance-based organization that would have to meet specific objectives under the Higher Education Act. Nearly two decades and trillions of dollars later, many would argue FSA is not achieving the intended results. It’s our job to find out why and identify opportunities for reform to ensure taxpayer dollars are well spent and students are well served.
Numerous reports reveal FSA is rife with inefficiencies that have led to a lack of communication with students, institutions, and loan servicers; improper payments; inaccurate reporting of data; failure to ensure borrowers are aware of the repayment options available to them; mismanagement of contractors and vendors; and poor customer service.
After the last comprehensive review of the agency in 2008, the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General found FSA has failed to meet its responsibility as a performance-based organization, such as developing a five-year performance plan with external stakeholders and publishing annual performance reviews for the agency’s top executives. Due to these and other failures, the Inspector General noted that FSA “has been unable to realize the expected benefits of the initiatives and has hindered its progress in meeting the requirements of the [Higher Education Act].”
This is about more than checking boxes. When FSA fails to fulfill its responsibilities, it jeopardizes our investment in students. We need to demand better. As Congress works to strengthen higher education, we must ensure the Office of Federal Student Aid is serving the best interests of students, families, and taxpayers. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about how to achieve just that. Thank you for joining us, and thank you, again, Chairman Meadows, for working with us on this important hearing.
The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, National Entrepreneurs’ Day. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on November 17, 2015, in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
In conjunction with H.Res. 511, which expresses support for designation of the Third Tuesday of November as “National Entrepreneurs’ Day,” the Committee will meet for the purpose of receiving testimony on the benefits of entrepreneurship to the American economy. The hearing will examine methods utilized and cultivated by entrepreneurs to achieve prosperity, such as capitalizing on emerging industries and fostering innovation. The hearing also will examine the challenges present in today’s economy which may affect an entrepreneur’s ability to succeed.
Mr. Chris Ostoich
Co-Founder & VP Marketing
Mr. Sam Zietz
CEO and Founder
Boca Raton, FL
Mr. Drew Bartkiewicz
CEO and Founder
Ms. Jen Pepper
West Newbury, MA
*Testifying on behalf of Etsy, Inc.
Washington - The Small Business Committee today spotlighted the contribution of entrepreneurs to America’s economy during a full committee hearing on National Entrepreneurs’ Day. The Committee heard from a diverse panel of entrepreneurs on how they were able to achieve the American Dream, creating jobs and spurring economic growth in the process. The panel also testified about the challenges of entrepreneurship.
“At a time when business deaths are outnumbering business births, it is vitally important that we do all we can to promote American entrepreneurship,” Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) said. “Whether it is making the SBA more efficient, rolling back burdensome regulations or reforming an outdated tax code, America’s entrepreneurs need to know we have their back in these difficult times. National Entrepreneurs’ Day is an opportunity for policymakers from both sides of the aisle to recognize the contributions of our job creators and reaffirm our commitment to help them however we can.”
Chabot introduced a House resolution earlier this month with Committee Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) recognizing the third Tuesday in November as National Entrepreneurs’ Day. The resolution has strong bipartisan support from both Republicans and Democrats.
Key quotes from the hearing:
“We've come a long way in less than a decade and one thing’s for sure, Ohio is flyover country no more,” said Chris Ostoich, Co-Founder & VP of Marketing, LISNR, Inc. of Cincinnati, OH. “What I found very quickly was this: in any successful entrepreneurial ecosystem, you will always have these three things: entrepreneurs with scalable ideas, investors willing to back those ideas and customers willing to engage and buy products.”
“The cost of compliance is very high,” said Sam Zeitz, CEO and Founder of Touchsuite of Boca Raton, FL. There are many valid instances where regulation is necessary; however, we need to be able to remove as many obstacles as we can for businesses to be successful…. Additionally, the different levels and requirements of regulations by each state make it impractical for small business to compete with larger companies that can absorb those unnecessary costs.”
“I am convinced that military education and service can be a magnificent way to learn how to be an entrepreneur,” said Drew Bartkiewicz, CEO and Founder of lettrs LLC of Collinsville, CT. “It certainly helped me graduate with an MBA the Yale Management School in 1994 and served as the foundation upon which I’ve built my private sector business experience – a pathway that has taken me all across the globe.”“Like 90% of Etsy sellers, I wish to continue to grow my creative business. I hope this coming year brings more success, and more customers so that I can hire an employee, and perhaps even move into a studio space, rather than continuing to work out of my wonderfully decorated spare bedroom, said Jen Pepper, Owner of PepperSprouts West Newbury, MA. “My dream is not only sell my work, but also create a lasting business that is bigger than myself. I welcome the opportunity to work with you to help make that dream a reality.”
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules: Produce rule and Foreign Supplier Verification Procedures
On November 13, 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released two final rules required by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. FSMA aims to ensure the U.S.
On November 6, 2015 the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposed to amend its regulations governing the VA Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) Verification Program. This proposed rule would clarify the eligibility requirements for businesses to obtain "verified'' status, add and revise definitions, reorder requirements, redefine the definition of “control'', and explain examination procedures and review processes. This proposed rule would also implement new changes: references to community property restrictions, ``unconditional'' ownership, and day-to-day requirements.
WLF Overcriminalization Timeline: Mens Rea, Public Welfare Offenses, and Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine
WASHINGTON – Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) made the following statement after the U.S. House approved the Recovery Improvements for Small Entities After Disaster Act of 2015 (RISE After Disaster Act), sending the measure to President Obama’s desk for his signature:
“When disasters strike, the last thing a small business needs is to have their recovery assistance delayed by unnecessary red tape and bureaucratic incompetence. This bipartisan legislation represents an important victory for good government and accountability, ensuring that our small businesses and the jobs they create are not lost in the wake of a disaster.”
Chabot noted that after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, many Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster relief funds were needlessly delayed, arriving so late that families and businesses suffered additional, unnecessary financial losses.The Ohio lawmaker also pointed to two recent investigations by the Government Accountability Office and the Office of Inspector General which uncovered significant delays in SBA’s processing times for disaster recovery assistance loans and serious operational problems within the program.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a proposal to extend the diversity protections for apprenticeship programs to include equal employment opportunity (EEO) standards for genetic information, sexual orientation, individuals with disabilities, and individuals over 40. Under this rule, sponsors or employers must designate an EEO officer, disseminate information and provide training regarding these changes, and conduct outreach with organizations that serve women, minorities and individuals with disabilities.