September 26, 2011

Manchin-Sponsored Legislation Passes Senate | WTRF

The U.S Senate on Sept. 26 passed the Small Business Contracting Fraud Prevention Act of 2011, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va

The act, introduced by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, is a bipartisan bill designed to make sure qualified businesses win contracts with the federal government. This legislation places emphasis on rooting out fraud from businesses claiming they are controlled by disabled veterans. The passage of the bill comes after an FBI-probe into Solyndra, a company that received a $535 billion loan from the U.S government and then filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“With so much waste, fraud and abuse running rampant in the federal government, it just makes common sense to put mechanisms in place that ensure our small business programs work correctly for the people they are meant to benefit,” Manchin said.

The bill would increase penalties for businesses that misrepresent themselves as small business-owned and controlled by disabled veterans. These claims are now subject to civil penalties under the False Claims Act, and this legislation would help ensure small businesses are registered annually as small businesses owned and controlled by disabled veterans with both the Small Business Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In addition, the act will also increase criminal penalties for businesses awarded contracts through fraudulent means.

Manchin said he is happy the bill would penalize those who misrepresent their businesses.

“I’m especially pleased that this law would go after people who misrepresent their businesses’ ties to disabled veterans,” he said. “Our brave men and women have sacrificed so much for this country, and we should make sure that those who were disabled while serving the cause of freedom are the first in line for these contracts.”

The bill provides a three-year grace period for businesses designated as Heavily Underutilized Business Zone businesses that would lose that distinction in late September because of U.S. Census data. Maintaining the HUBZone designation allows West Virginia businesses to keep previously awarded federal contracts. Without that grace period, the federal government would have to spend millions of dollars rebidding the previously awarded contracts.

The Small Business Contracting Fraud Prevention Act is now awaiting action in the U.S. House of Representatives.

By:  Whitney Burdette
Source: U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin Small Business Contracting Fraud Prevention Act would increase penalties for businesses awarded contracts through fraudulent means. It now awaits action in the U.S House.