Politicians routinely claim they support small business, but legislation—or lack thereof—may show otherwise. Recently, the House Small Business Committee approved with bi-partisan support a number of measures aimed at helping small businesses so they can proceed to the full House for consideration. Whether any will be enacted and, if so, in what form, remains to be seen. Here’s a rundown of just some of the proposals. Do you think they are a benefit to small businesses? My response is at the end of this blog.
Enhancing Competition in Contracting Orders Act (H.R. 5450)
This bill would clarify that federal agencies are required to apply the HUBZone price evaluation preference to task orders on multiple award vehicles. Price evaluation means that in any case in which a contract is to be awarded on the basis of full and open competition, the price offered by a qualified SBA HUBZone small business will be deemed as being lower than the price offered by another business (other than a HUBZone small business), if the price is not more than 10% higher than that other business. In other words, this is a way to see that such a specially-designated business gets an edge for competitive bidding on federal contracts. If enacted, the SBA would have 90 days to issue implementing regulations.
Encouraging Success Act (H.R. 6591)
This bill would require the SBA to assess at least every 4 years the thresholds that are used to determine who is economically disadvantaged for purposes of the 8(a) program. The 8(a) program provides federal contracting and training for small business owners who are socially and economically disadvantaged and certification for this program lasts for 8 years. Individuals who are economically disadvantaged are socially disadvantaged. Social disadvantage means that an individual has been subjected to racial, ethnic, or cultural bias within American society because of their identities as members of groups and without regard to their individual qualities.
Native American Entrepreneurial Opportunity Act (H.R. 7102)
This measure would statutorily authorize the creation of the Office of Native American Affairs at SBA. According to the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, there are currently 341,065 Native-American-owned small businesses.
Child Care Small Business Insight and Improvement Act (H.R. 6156)
This bill would require the SBA to (1) conduct a study on the needs and challenges of for-profit childcare providers and (2) designate a full-time employee as the point of contact for for-profit child care providers.
National SBDC Advisory Board Improvement Act (H.R. 7104)
The bill would require the Board to submit an annual report to SBA and Congress on their activities and make recommendations to improve the SBDC program.
Put America on Commission Act (H.R. 7129)
The legislation would establish a whistleblower office at SBA in the Office of Performance, Planning, and Chief Financial Officer. The Office would manage whistleblower tips, which include collecting information, referring the information to the Office of Inspector General, tracking the status of the cases, and paying awards to the whistleblower.
What these proposals would do
While arguments could be made in favor of each and every measure, the total of these proposals seems to me to add up to increased bureaucracy. The SBA would likely request a larger budget to support their statutorily-mandated expansion. Would small businesses be helped? Perhaps. In the private sector, business owners weigh the return on investment—what’s to be gained compared with the investment being made. I’m not sure that these new measures, if enacted, would have significant, or even any, ROI. Just my opinion.
The 20th edition of Ten Thousand Commandments report, which tracks the growth of federal regulations, showed that the cost in 2022 of federal regulations exceeded $1.939 trillion. Breaking this down, it amounted to more than $14,500 annually per household. How does this square with the proposed legislation for small businesses? Well, new measures won’t reduce the number of federal regulations, or the cost to taxpayers. Again, will the ROI be worth it?
Find more blogs written about federal legislation and small business here.