Manchin Cosponsors Legislation to Reduce Fraud in Small Business Contracting, Improve Disabled Veterans’ Access to Contracts
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today announced he has cosponsored the Small Business Contracting Fraud Prevention Act of 2011, which was first introduced by his Republican colleague Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). The bipartisan, commonsense bill is designed make sure only qualified small businesses win contracts with the federal government, and the legislation places special emphasis rooting out fraud from businesses claiming they are controlled by disabled veterans.
“West Virginia’s small businesses are the engine of our economy, creating jobs and economic growth throughout our great state,” Senator Manchin said. “With so much waste, fraud and abuse running rampant in the federal government, it’s just common sense that we ensure our small business programs work right for the people they are meant for. The federal government’s contracts with small businesses help save taxpayer dollars and keep Americans working, and I’ll continue to work to keep these partnerships strong. I’m especially pleased that this law would go after people who misrepresent their businesses’ ties to disabled veterans. 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 first in line for these contracts.”
The bill would increase penalties for businesses that misrepresent themselves as small business-owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans. Such claims are now subject to civil penalties under the False Claims Act. It would help ensure that small businesses are registered annually as small businesses owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans with both the Small Business Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The bill would also provide comprehensive oversight for effective certification, surveillance and monitoring, and robust enforcement of its entire contracting portfolio. The bill would also increase criminal penalties for businesses awarded contracts through fraudulent means.
In addition, the bill provides a three-year grace period for businesses that are designated as HUBZone (Heavily Underutilized Business Zone) businesses but that would lose that designation later this month due to recent Census data. Maintaining HUBZone designation allows West Virginia businesses that have already won contracts with the federal government to keep those contracts. In addition, without the grace period, the federal government will have to spend millions of dollars rebidding the previously awarded contracts.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), federal agencies including the SBA made $125 billion in improper payments last year.
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