Government Matters: Week in review, April 10-14

Peters announces bill to help small businesses applying for federal contracts

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) is introducing bipartisan legislation with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to help protect small businesses from falling victim to fraud when they register to procure federal contracts. The Procurement Fraud Prevention Act would require small businesses to be notified that free assistance is available for help in procuring government contracts through federal programs, including Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). Many business owners are unaware these resources exist and fall victim to scams that mislead them into paying high sums of money for contract procurement assistance.


All small businesses applying for federal contracting opportunities must register in the General Services Administration’s (GSA) System for Award Management (SAM). Unfortunately, bad actors disguised as vendors or government officials obtain businesses’ contacts from this public database and email business owners directly after they have registered asking for high sums of money in return for registration and contracting assistance. As a result, many small businesses unwittingly sign up for services they were not seeking at the cost of hundreds or thousands of dollars.


The Procurement Fraud Prevention Act requires GSA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to ensure that any direct communication to a small business about its registration in a procurement system, including SAM, contains information about cost-free federal procurement technical assistance services available through PTACs, SBA, MBDA and other programs.


Michigan is home to ten PTACs and over 850,000 small businesses that account for half of the state’s private workforce.


Peters, Stabenow urge Trump Administration to release Army Corps Brandon Road Study to stop spread of Asian carp

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) together with 10 other Great Lakes Senators have called on the Trump Administration to release a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study that recommends specific measures to prevent Asian Carp from getting beyond the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, a crucial chokepoint in the Chicago waterway system. The study, which is critical to stopping the flow of Asian Carp and other invasive species, was supposed to be released at the end of February but was delayed by the Trump Administration.


“We request the Administration release the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ draft proposal to prevent Asian carp from reaching and severely harming the Great Lakes,” wrote the lawmakers. “We are concerned by what we understand to be a White House decision to delay and potentially modify this report that has been under development for years. When taken together with the proposal to eliminate all funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in the fiscal year 2018 budget, delaying the release of this plan to address Asian carp only raises further questions about the Administration’s commitment to protecting our Great Lakes.”


Peters, Gardner call for increase in U.S. science funding

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging the Committee to support a substantial increase in federal funding for science, research, and development at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


“Ongoing federal initiatives in research and development are already responsible for billions of dollars in economic output and tens of thousands of jobs in our home states of Colorado and Michigan,” wrote the Senators.


“The United States is facing fierce international competition: China invests more than $335 billion annually on research and development initiatives, making them the second largest investor in the world and putting them on track to eclipse U.S. investments soon,” continued the Senators. “Without a substantial increase in research and development appropriations, the United States risks losing its role as the global leader in innovation.”


Peters, Gardner introduce resolution to eliminate duplicative government programs

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) have introduced the Congressional Oversight to Start Taxpayer Savings Resolution (COST Savings Resolution), bipartisan legislation that would require Congressional committees to hold oversight hearings on the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) Annual Report of Opportunities to Reduce Fragmentation, Overlap and Duplication and the GAO High Risk List.


“Congress is responsible for ensuring taxpayer dollars are being used effectively and efficiently, and this annual report provides a roadmap to help Congress streamline government and cut wasteful spending,” said Senator Peters, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management. “By reducing programs that overlap or duplicate efforts, we can cut costs for taxpayers and help ensure that government is serving the American people more productively.”


The COST Savings Resolution directs Congressional committees to take into account recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness of government programs and eliminate unnecessary costs caused by duplicative federal programs, as well as vulnerabilities for waste, fraud, and abuse and the need for transformation of government programs.


The 2016 GAO annual report identified 37 areas across the federal government where Congress could eliminate duplicative programs and improve efficiency and effectiveness, as well as 25 areas where Congress could reduce the cost of government operations.