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Velázquez: Small Businesses Denied Contracts

Here's How Nydia Velazquez Is Doin'

Velázquez: Small Businesses Denied Contracts

May 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002
EFE. All Rights Reserved.

WASHINGTON -- New York Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, of the House Small Business Committee, released a report on the problems faced by small businesses trying to secure federal contracts.

The Federal Contract Watch List said that government agencies, particularly the Defense Department, use a "mega-contract" system effectively excluding small business and denying them access "to their share of federal dollars."

Federal agencies lump several contracts -- previously executed by small companies -- into one mega-contract, on which only large corporations can bid, Velázquez said. She said that the number of federal contracts awarded to small businesses had dropped 23 percent -- equivalent to $9 billion in losses for these companies -- over the past four years.

Velázquez said that the practice not only hurt small businessmen, but also taxpayers, whose dollars could be put to better use because small companies could do the work "better, faster and cheaper."

The federal government awards millions of dollars a year in contracts to private business to provide necessary services.

The report pointed to the Postal Service, Veterans Department and Agriculture Department as notorious offenders.

But the worst recurrent offender, the report said, is the Pentagon, which is the biggest spender.

Velázquez said that all these agencies barred small companies perfectly capable of executing the contracts. She added that at least in one case, a small business had presented the lowest bid yet still was excluded.

She asked President George W. Bush to coordinate action to force federal agencies to rectify contract award practices to give small business a share in them.

Bush, who is openly critical of mega-contracts excluding small business, promised to do something about it.

To reverse the situation, Velázquez introduced two initiatives, the Small Business Opportunity Enhancement Act, or H.R. 2867, and the Small Business Contract Equity Act, or H.R. 1324, that would force federal agencies to award a given number of contracts to small business.

Velázquez said that small business deserved to execute government contracts and the taxpayers deserved the best quality product at the lowest possible price.

Here's How Nydia Velazquez Is Doin'

May 5, 2002
Copyright © 2002
Newsday. All Rights Reserved.

Nydia Velazquez (2 Domes)

Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn/Manhattan/Queens) made history in 1992 when she became the first Puerto Rican woman elected to Congress. She wears that mantle proudly, and is perhaps best known for work on issues such as the fight to end the U.S. Navy's use of an island off the coast of Puerto Rico as a bombing range. Now, as ranking Democrat on the House Small Business Committee, Velazquez has begun to assert herself a bit on issues important for job development in the city. She has pushed to provide more money while cutting the red tape associated with federal aid to small business and has driven federal money into the search for viable uses for brownfields, polluted sites that have been cleaned up.

Velazquez has unfortunately been an opponent of the fast-track authority the president needs to negotiate new trade agreements. And in a misguided attempt to protect small businesses, she sponsored legislation to repeal the estate tax. In 10 years in Washington, Velazquez has been consistent in pursuing her interests but has not become a leader. But not every member can be a leader.


House members were assigned up to Four Capitol domes based on their overall effectiveness. Qualities considered were key votes, knowledge of the issues, willingness to act in a bipartisan fashion, independence of thought and how hard they worked and delivered for the region.

4 Domes = Outstanding

3 Domes = Good

2 Domes = Average

1 Dome = Poor

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