Federal Eye: Obama dodges question on government contracting

Very few people really understand the complexities of government contracting, so perhaps it’s no surprise that President Obama dodged a very specific question Thursday morning about the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program.

As The Eye has reported before, the program is designed to ensure that minority-owned small businesses — especially Native American-owned shops — secure government contracting work.

Leslie Lohse, with California’s Paskenta Nomlaki, asked Obama about the program at the end of his remarks at Thursday’s Tribal Nations conference:

…I’d like to ask you to do is to take care of our 8(a) program because those of us — those that are landless out there can develop economic development opportunities through the 8(a) contracting program, and that may ease some of the burdens that some of the landless tribes are, because you don’t need to have land to operate that.

Obama responded by urging Lohse and others “to interact directly with the department heads, the secretaries who are in charge of implementation on a whole range of these issues.”

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John C. Heinley, P.E.

So, if I were Obama I also could have responded, “What the heck is an 8(a) program? If you want to know what I think about this, then give me something to use, some idea of what your issue is. Else, contact the people who I’ve selected (or who are still on board since the last admin) and work with them.” I can’t believe this. I’m actually saying something to defend this guy. I’ll gladly whack him up-side the head on most other things, but I don’t see how else he was supposed to answer the question.

Dawn Boyer

We are furious…what’s with this type of decision = GSA schedule holders vs. 8(a) status businesses for the ‘lower-class’ type of service businesses?

My husband spent about a year getting approval for and establishing a GSA schedule for his carpet & upholstery business under the new services Schedule (NAICS codes: 561740, 236220, and 236118), and under SIC codes (7217, 1542, 1522, and 1521), including spending thousands of dollars of him time and money to obtain the GSA schedule. In addition, he’s a veteran, has a service related injury (but not certification as a service disabled veteran).

Recently we received a solicitation for bids for carpet cleaning for ALL the military bases in the Hampton Roads area. It said “8(a) inclusive” on the bid, but when we read the posted solicitation it noted 100% exclusive set-aside for 8(a).

Why is it that janitorial and/or cleaning services are being used to fulfill ALL the military’s quota requirements for 8(a) set-asides instead of the federal government focusing more on the higher echelon services and industry such as IT services, logistics, etc. Why does the military try to fulfill all their quotas within the 8(a) mandate by 100% set-asides?

Because of this, my ‘white male’ husband is being discriminated against because – he is white and male – by the 8(a) program. He is thinking about to get a lawyer to file suit for being discriminated against himself and suing the government for favoring 100% set-sides for AN ENTIRE INDUSTRY within a geographic area.

It seems to me that 8(a) set-asides should match the demographics of the immediate geographic area to prevent the reverse-discrimination that is occurring here. IF there is 25% blacks, and 15% asian, and 5% hispanic – then those ratios should be set-asides for 8(a) businesses for that industry within a geographic area. If there are not enough to fulfill the quota, then further avenues can be pursued.

Don’t get me wrong – I firmly believe 8(a)’s have their purpose, but not to disallow those who through their own hard work and efforts are kicked out because they are not black, asian, hispanic, American Indians, or another minority class. This even prevents disabled veterans from applying unless they have the minority status as the primary!

Does this suck or is there something going on (politically?) behind the scenes we need to be aware of or that we can do to pursue this contract?