You think stories about the Small Business Administration (SBA) are beneath you and trivial. Would a story about over a trillion dollars in federal contracting fraud that involves every federal agency and the Pentagon’s largest prime contractors interest you? I suggest you take five minutes and make one phone call and see what happens.
Call Terry Sutherland at the Small Business Administration Press Office and ask him if the SBA is including any Fortune 500 firms or their subsidiaries in the SBA’s latest small business contracting statistics. See what happens.
See if you can just call Terry Sutherland up and get him to answer questions on why the SBA has included billions of dollars in federal contracts to Fortune 500 firms in their small business contracting data every year since 2000.
See if you can just give him a call and talk with him without having to make an appointment with him and several people all at once on a conference call. (They love those conference calls) Tell him you just want to talk to him one on one. See what happens.
If I’m just a conspiracy nut like the SBA has been telling journalist for over a decade there shouldn’t be any problem getting Terry Sutherland to answer extemporaneous questions on why Fortune 500 firms have been receiving billions of dollars in federal small business contracts for 15 years.
Listen to him tell you it’s the result of miscoding, anomalies, computer glitches and simple human error. Then ask him why these random errors always divert federal business contracts to Fortune 500 firms and other large businesses and never the other way around.
Random, unintentional errors would have a random pattern of distribution like flipping a coin. Heads or tails or in the case of federal contracting, big or small. Ask him to explain why for every billion dollars in federal contracts to a large business that was miscoded as a small business contract there isn’t a billion dollars in contracts to small businesses that have been miscoded as large business contracts.
Ask him why according to the latest data from the Federal Procurement Data System, 175 Fortune 500 firms received small businesses contracts in FY 2013.
When he tells you it’s the result of big companies purchasing small ones, remind him under federal law that as soon as a big business buys a small one that firms is legally no longer a small business.
Ask Terry Sutherland if he will release all his phone records and emails. See what happens. Ask Terry Sutherland why the SBA Office of Inspector General has named the diversion of federal small business contracts to large businesses as the number one problem at the SBA every year since 2005 and yet the SBA has never even proposed any policies to stop it.
Ask Terry Sutherland why the SBA is now taking public comment on a new SBA policy that will create a “safe harbor from fraud penalties” for large businesses that have misrepresented themselves as small businesses and illegally landed federal small business contracts.
When he gives you some baloney about protecting firms that have “acted in good faith” ask him if the SBA Office of Inspector General has ever issued a report that found too many firms that “acted in good faith” were being prosecuted for contracting fraud.
The SBA has vehemently denied there is any fraud in federal small business contracting since 2002. Ask Terry Sutherland why the SBA is taking public comment on a policy to create a “safe harbor” for fraud when they have consistently denied any evidence of fraud in federal small business contracting.
When you see the reaction to some of these questions you might begin to wonder what is really going on here. You might even ask yourself why one of the Pentagon’s most senior spokesmen suddenly showed up at the teeny tiny Small Business Administration. Ask him how he went from handling issues like the possibility of a nuclear missile strike on the U.S. by China to miscoding and anomalies at the SBA.
When Terry wants to talk to you off the record, say no. When he starts trash talking me tell him you are not interested in talking about Lloyd Chapman. Tell him you just want to stick to the facts and leave me out of it. Do me a favor, when he starts trash talking me, ask him how he feels as a veteran about the Government Accountability Office essentially accusing the SBA of encouraging fraud in the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program in GAO Reports 10-108 and DOD OIG Report DODIG-2012-059. Imagine the color draining from his face as he nervously begins looking at his watch.