Tester introduces measure to require feds to explore contracting preferences

Senator says amendment will improve opportunities for Montana businesses

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – In an effort to improve opportunities for Montana’s small businesses, Senator Jon Tester today introduced a measure to require the federal government to explain why the same large corporations often seem to receive preference when government contracts are awarded.

The federal government frequently awards contracts to firms with previous federal contracting experience.  Small companies with less experience often do not qualify, even though they may be capable of the same work, at the same—or lower—cost to taxpayers.

Tester’s amendment would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study on why the federal government appears to give preference to the same large firms when awarding contracts.  The study would focus on three government agencies often involved in contracting projects: the General Services Administration (GSA), Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Today’s amendment was originally a provision of the Level Playing Field Contracting Act, legislation Tester introduced in March to give equal footing to small businesses seeking government contracts. 

“Montana is home to some of this country’s most innovative and hardworking business owners,” Tester said.  “If we can break down the barriers that keep these folks out of the contracting business, we can go a long way toward boosting jobs and growing business all across the state.”

Tester introduced the Level Playing Field Contracting Act in response to his recent small business workshops in Great Falls and Bozeman, which both focused on new opportunities for Montanans to compete for and win government contract. 

Tester’s latest Small Business Opportunity Workshop is scheduled for July 9 at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.  The event will focus on entrepreneurship, access to capital (such as loans, grants, and tax credits), and online marketing opportunities.

More than 100 Montana companies have signed up so far to attend Tester’s workshop, which is free and open to the public.  Montanans interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP at tester.senate.gov/workshop.

Tester’s amendment, offered as part of larger legislation being debated in the Senate, is available online HERE.