Congress to Investigate Pentagon Comprehensive Test Program

On Thursday, October 21, five members of the House of Representatives, lead by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office (U.S. GAO) to investigate a Department of Defense (DoD) subcontracting program that appears to have slashed subcontracting opportunities for small businesses. In addition to Congresswoman Clarke, the request was backed by Representatives Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Chellie Pingree (D - ME).

While the stated mission of the Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program (CSPTP) is to increase contracts to small businesses, the American Small Business League (ASBL) has long maintained that the program actually allows large government prime contractors to circumvent small business subcontracting goals. As established, the program eliminated subcontracting reports available to the public, and penalties for non-compliance with subcontracting goals.

"Federal contracting data calls into question whether the 14 large prime contractors who are participants in the CSPTP are actually meeting their small business subcontracting goals," the letter states.

The CSPTP was established in 1990. To date the Program has never been evaluated.

Clearly this program wasn't designed to help small businesses, it was designed to help prime contractors avoid paying liquidated damages for non-compliance with their small business subcontracting goals. The elimination of this program would force prime contractors to award billions more in subcontracts to small businesses and create jobs across the country.

Participants of the program include BAE Systems, GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Harris Corporation and seven other prime contractors. According to federal data, participants of the CSPTP received $55.24 billion in contracts from DoD during fiscal year (FY) 2009. 1 out of every 6 dollars spent by DoD during FY 2009 were awarded to participants of the program.

"As a Member of the House Small Business Committee, I know the importance of the federal government meeting goals that it has put in place to create business opportunities for small businesses. Evaluating the Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program (CSPTP) is imperative so that we fully understand if this program has created the subcontracting opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses that it was designed to do. For 20 years this program has been in place, and now is the time we fully examine its progress," stated Rep. Clarke. "Small businesses are the economic engine for our country. Know that I will continue to hold a high level of accountability for our federal government on behalf of our small businesses nationwide."