2. OBAMA MUST PAY ATTENTION TO THE ADVICE OF MINORITY ADVOCATES AND IMPLEMENT THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS. HE MUST GET RID OF ABUSIVE REGULATIONS AND PENALIZE AGENCY OFFICIALS WHEN THEY ALLOW THEIR AGENCIES TO CONTINUE TO AWARD BIG FIRMS BILLIONS IN SET-ASIDE CONTRACTS AND TAKE CREDIT FOR IT. THE PRESIDENT MUST SUPPORT PRIVATE SECTOR EFFORTS, LIKE THE UMBRELLA INITIATIVE PORTAL, TO TRACK PARTICIPATION AND DIVERSITY NOT ONLY ON THE $600 BILLION FEDERAL MARKETPLACE, BUT ON THE $3 TRILLION PUBLIC PROCUREMENT MARKETPLACE WHICH INVOLVE STATES AND MUNICIPALITIES, BESIDES THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IS THE VEHICLE THAT WILL BRING EQUALITY.
3. OBAMA MUST RELY ON PRIVATE INDUSTRY TO INTERPRET THE GOVERNMENT RESULTS IN CONTRACTING WITH SMALL AND MINORITY BUSINESSES. THE SBA REPORT CARD HAS BEEN OFF EACH YEAR BY 10-15% AND THE SBA CURRENT ACCOUNTABILITY PROCESS IS NOT TRUSTED ANY LONGER. THE DATA QUALITY ACT (DQA) REQUIREMENTS MUST BE IMPLEMENTED; AGENCIES MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE AND THOSE OFFICIALS RESPONSIBLE MUST BE PENALIZED – LIKE IN PRIVATE INDUSTRY - IF THEY DON’T DO THEIR JOB.
4. OBAMA MUST INSTRUCT HIS OFFICE OF FEDERAL PROCUREMENT POLICY (OFPP) TO REMOVE THE ILLEGAL EXEMPTIONS FROM THE FEDERAL ACQUISITION REGULATIONS (FAR.) THIS MOVE WOULD IMMEDIATELY MAKE ELEGIBLE $64 BILLION IN ANNUAL CONTRACTS FOR SET ASIDE CONSIDERATION. THIS IS ALSO TRUE FOR SIMPLIFIED ACQUISITIONS. THE STATUTES REQUIRE THAT ALL CONTRACTS, WITHOUT EXEPTIONS, BE SUBJECT TO THE SET-ASIDE PROVISIONS OF THE SMALL BUSIENSS ACT.
5. OBAMA MUST DIRECT SBA AND ALL INSPECTOR GENERALS TO IDENTIFY AVENUES WITH WHICH TO ENFORCE P.L. 95-507 – INCLUDING OVERHAULING SIZE PROTESTS - SO IT WOULD DELIVER REAL JUSTICE. HISPANIC AND DISADVANTAGED BUSINESSES MUST RECEIVE ‘MAXIMUM PRACTICABLE UTILIZATION” (MPU) IN GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING NOT ONLY AT THE FEDERAL, BUT AT THE STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AS WELL. FOR EQUALITY TO EXIST, DIVERSITY MUST BE UNDERSTOOD AND PRACTICED.
6. OBAMA MUST ASK THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (DoJ) TO INVESTIGATE THE GOVERNMENT ALLEDGED ABUSE OF GOVERNMENT REVERSE AUCTIONS AND ITS PRICE FIXING PRACTICES WHICH VIOLATE THE SHERMAN ACT; THE COMPETITION IN CONTRACTING ACT (CICA) AND SECTION 44 OF THE SMALL BUSINESS JOBS ACT OF 2010. REVERSE ACTIONS IS A VALUABLE PROCUREMENT VEHICLE AND IT IS BEING MISUSED TO CIRCUMVENT REGULATIONS, TO OFFER PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT AND TO CONTROL TRADE, SOMETIME IN THE NAME OF THE FEDERAL STRATEGIC SOURCING INITIATIVE (FSSI), WHICH SMALL BUSINESSES OPPOSE IN ITS CURRENT FORM. TRANSPARENCY AND OVERSIGHT OF REVERSE AUCTIONS IS BADLY NEEDED TO PREVENT WASTE, FRAUD AND ABUSE TO CONTINE TO EXIST WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT. THESE ABUSES WERE FIRST ACKNOWLEDGED IN 2008 BUT NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE.
7. OBAMA MUST RECONSIDER HIS OPPOSITION TO THE SET ASIDE PROVISIONS ON LEGISLATION – ALREADY PASSED BY THE HOUSE – WHICH WOULD INCREASE SET-ASIDES FROM 23% TO A MINIMUM OF 25% AND SUBCONTRACTING GOALS FROM 36% TO 40% WILL HOLD AGENCY OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE WITH PENALITIES WHEN THEY FAIL TO DO THEIR JOB. THERE ARE PLENTY OF CONTRACTS, INCLUDING SIMPLIFIED ACQUISITIONS, WITH WHICH TO REACH 30-35%. GOVERNMENT ABUSE IN AWARDING BIG BUSINESSES BILLIONS OF SET ASIDE CONTRACTS MUST STOP AND SO ARE THE UNFAIR JUSTIFICATIONS WHICH ARE BEING USED IN THE PROCUREMENT PROCESS. IT IS UP TO THE SENATE NOW TO INCORPORATE THE HOUSE SET-ASIDE PROVISIONS INTO THE SENATE VERSION OF THE 2013 NATIONAL DEFENSE ACT LEGISLATION AND TO TELL THE PRESIDENT TO SUPPORT THE HOUSE SET-ASIDE PROVISIONS.
8. OBAMA MUST APPOINT MORE HISPANICS TO KEY POSITIONS IN HIS ADMINISTRATION. THERE HAVE NOT BEEN ENOUGH HISPANIC APPOINTMENTS TO HIGH LEVEL POSITIONS AS IN PREVIOUS REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC ADMINISTRATIONS. THE PRESIDENT COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION WAS ARTICULATED ON AN EXECUTIVE ORDER, HOWEVER, HIS ADMINISTRATION HAS NOT FOLLOWED THROUGH.
Fernando Galaviz, Chairman of the National Federal Contractors Association (NaFCA), in a recorded interview had said, “there is not a single piece of evidence on the ability of the regulations to be able to make any changes.” George Muñoz, former CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) added, “Most people will be shocked to learn the fact that the government does not make full use of small businesses and do not really favor small businesses the way policies seemed to say they should.” Ruben Smith, Managing Shareholder of Alvarado Smith put it all on perspective when he said, “We can either choose to continue to complain or we can join together and change our destiny.” The time has come ford minorities to rely on OCHO to bring transparency and oversight to government programs so that they can offer diversity and inclusion and with it, EQUALITY.
The Obama challenge on his second term is to level the playing field for small and minority businesses. Yes, it can be done and, as Hank Wilfong has said, “Our ability to advocate is directly tied to our ability to agitate.” Get involved and make a difference!
Raul Espinosa has been recognized as ‘One of the Nation Top Diversity Champions.’ He is the Founder and CEO of the Fairness in Procurement Alliance (FPA), a non-profit and non-partisan coalition of small business groups and the Managing Partner of the Umbrella Initiative whose mission is “to double the number of small and minority businesses contracting with the Federal, State and local governments by the year 2020.” Raul can be reached through Twitter @umbrellaiorg or at firstname.lastname@example.org.