Deep in the bowels of the Pentagon is a 25-year-old research project designed to test a new way of encouraging large contractors to pass along some of their work to small businesses.
Known as the Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program, it was set up in 1990 to “determine if comprehensive subcontracting plans on a corporate, division or plant-wide basis [instead of for individual contracts] would lead to increased opportunities for small businesses,” according to its website.
Participants in this elongated research project include a dozen major contractors, from Lockheed Martin Corp. to Northrop Grumman Corp.
Yet the program — created when George H. W. Bush was president and housed within the Office of Small Business that reports to the undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics — has yet to release a single report or data set. And an array of small business groups have long viewed the project as a wasteful distraction that is actually costing them opportunities by allowing the major firms leeway to get around the governmentwide goal of awarding 23 percent of contract dollars to small business.
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