PETALUMA, Calif., Feb. 14, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- In a case filed by the American Small Business League against the Pentagon, Federal District Court Judge William Alsup stated, "The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act is so the public can see how our government works. Congress passed this law to make sure the small businesses have access to some of these projects, and here is the United States covering it up."
In a second hearing in the five-year legal battle for data submitted by Sikorsky Aircraft to the Pentagons 30-year old Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program (CSPTP), Judge Alsup described the ASBL legal battles with the Pentagon with the statement, "So it would be more like a David and Goliath. You get to come in there and be the underdog again against the big company and against big government".
In referring to the Pentagon's opposition to releasing the small business subcontracting data Judge Alsup stated, "They are trying to suppress the evidence and all that."
Judge Alsup is expected to rule this month whether the Pentagon can continue to withhold any data on its largest prime contractors' compliance with federal law mandating small business subcontracting goals and if communications between the Justice Department, the Pentagon and Sikorsky will be released to the ASBL.
The Pentagon established the Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test program in 1989. The stated goal of the CSPTP was to "increase subcontracting opportunities for small businesses." The CSPTP had two provisions, prime contractors were exempt from any penalties such as "liquidated damages" for non-compliance with their small business subcontracting goal and prime contractors would no longer be required to submit any reports on their compliance with their small business subcontracting goals that had been available to the public.
American Small Business League President Lloyd Chapman stated, "Think of the absurdity of operating a test for over 30 years to determine if removing any and all penalties for non-compliance with federal small business subcontracting goals and eliminating all transparency will actually increase subcontracting opportunities for small business. I think Judge Alsup was correct when he accused the federal government of trying to "suppress the evidence" and "covering it up".
In 2014 the Pentagon acknowledged the CSPTP had actually reduced small business subcontracting opportunities and asked Congress to end the program. Nationally recognized legal expert Professor Charles Tiefer described the Pentagon's CSPTP as a "sham" that had significantly reduced subcontracting opportunities for legitimate small businesses. Despite evidence that the CSPTP had reduced the dollar volume of federal subcontract to small businesses by as much as 50%, Congress has renewed the CSPTP until 2027.
"This is information the public has the right to know," said ASBL attorney Karl Olson, who specializes in freedom of information law. "The government shouldn't be spending taxpayer dollars trying to keep evidence from the public."
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SOURCE American Small Business League