Congress Renews Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program

The House of Representatives voted last week to renew the Pentagon’s 25-year old Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test program for three more years of testing despite claims from Pentagon spokeswoman Maureen Schumann stating that the Pentagon would like to see the program terminated due to a lack of any quantifiable results proving the programs efficacy. The Senate is expected to renew the Test Program by the end of the week as part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDCA).

The Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program was set up in 1990 to “determine if comprehensive subcontracting plans on a corporate, division or plant-wide basis would lead to increased opportunities for small businesses”. Currently the program has failed to publish a report or yield any relevant data, and small business advocates charge that the Test Program’s existence is actually costing smaller companies opportunities by allowing larger firms a loophole exempting them from submitting subcontracting reports used to monitor compliance with small business goals allowing a work to get around the government wide goal of awarding 23 percent of all federal contract dollars to small business. In 2010, the American Small Business League (ASBL) launched a national campaign to potentially block the Test Program’s extension and last September Professor Charles Tiefer, one of the nation’s leading experts in federal contracting law called the program a “sham” due to the egregious lack of transparency and oversight, stating that “The program and its extension will be seriously harmful to vital opportunities for small businesses to get government contracting work.”

Last summer, chairman of the Small Business Committee, Rep. Same Graves, R-Mo, pressed for revision in the NDCA to increase transparency and accountability in the program, however Senators on the Armed Services Committee called for an end to the program entirely. The final bill, which the President is expected to sign will extend the program for another three years but will require thorough reporting in greater detail more frequently.