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Baucus Introduces Disabled Veterans Act

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Uploaded on Jun 8, 2011

Senator's Legislation Increases Transparency to Pressure Federal Agencies to Follow through on Awarding Contracts to Small Businesses Owned by Disabled Veterans

(Washington, D.C.) -- Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus continued his work to create jobs for Montana veterans today with new legislation to boost businesses for companies owned by disabled veterans. Baucus' bill will hold federal agencies accountable for meeting a goal to award at least three percent of federal contracts to small businesses owned by disabled veterans by making contract awards public on the internet. The bill will provide a particular boost to businesses in Montana, which is home to more veterans and more veteran-owned businesses per capita than almost anywhere else in the country.

"It's a no brainer: we need jobs, and we need to support our veterans. That's why Congress set the goal that when government agencies contract with private companies they ought to award at least a portion of those contracts to small businesses owned by veterans wounded in service. Now it's time to hold federal agencies' feet to the fire and make sure they meet this goal. My bill will hold agencies accountable by letting taxpayers know which offices are doing right by our veterans and which aren't, and there's nothing like the disinfectant of sunshine to force folks to hold up their end of the bargain," Baucus said.

"This is great news. This is about keeping our promises to veterans not only in Montana but across the United States. Legislation like this will help disabled veterans work with the Department of Defense and other federal agencies to deliver high quality work at the best price. I applaud Senator Baucus for his hard work on due diligence on this," said Dick Sonju, a disabled veteran from Kalispell.

Sonju owns Sonju Industrial Defense, a family-owned business in the Flathead Valley that contracts with the department of defense to produce aerospace parts and manufactures guns. Baucus spent one of his work days building guns at Sonju Industrial in 2010.

In 1999, Congress established a government-wide goal that at least three percent of all prime contracts and subcontracts be awarded to small businesses owned by veterans who were disabled during their service. However, federal agencies have consistently fallen short in meeting that goal. For example, the Department of Defense, the Department with the largest amount of contracting dollars by far, has never met the three percent goal, and only awarded less than half that to disabled veteran-owned businesses in fiscal year 2009. Of all government agencies, only the Department of Veterans Affairs has consistently met the goal in recent years.

Baucus' bill, the Honoring Promises to Service-Disabled Veterans Act, pressures agencies to meet the goal by requiring public disclosure of the goal and the performance toward meeting that goal of every federal department and prime contractor. The bill requires the Small Businesses Administration to maintain the information on a website to be updated at least every three months and report the progress of each department to Congress annually. The Small Business Administration will then nominate contractors with outstanding progress for Congressional recognition.

Montana currently has nearly 100 companies classified as service-disabled veteran owned small businesses -- 162 percent of the national rate.

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