Tester to introduce bill to 'level the playing field' for Montana businesses

Legislation to give Montana companies 'skin in the game' to win contracts, create jobs

Senator Jon Tester will soon introduce legislation to give Montana small businesses a fair shot at winning government contracts and creating more jobs in Montana.

Tester announced plans to introduce the Level Playing Field Contracting Act during his Small Business Opportunity Workshop today in Bozeman.

Speaking to more than 300 participants and more than 20 federal and state agencies at his workshop, Tester said the idea for the bill came from Montana small businesses he has worked with in recent months.

Tester's bill will, in part:

  • Restrict most federal agencies from bundling large contracts to increase competition.
  • Require agencies to indicate exactly what they're looking for when it comes to the subjective components of a project, so that bidders aren't rejected only because they guess the "look and feel" of a particular project.
  • Require the U.S. General Services Administration to enforce agreements to hire local subcontractors and improve outreach to small businesses.

"The Level Playing Field Act will open the door for smaller companies to get some skin in the game," Tester said. "All too often we see the bigger firms at the head of the pack, competing for—and winning—the biggest contracts. This bill will change that."

Today's workshop brought together Montana businesses and federal and state agencies to share information on the contracting process. Morning sessions such as "Federal Contracting 101" were followed by afternoon one-on-one meetings between agencies and small businesses.

Tester plans to post video of today's seminars to the website tester.senate.gov/workshop as early as next week.

Tester organized a similar event in Great Falls last June. That workshop helped several Montana companies win federal contracts for construction projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.