According to a new audit by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the federal government is racially discriminating, or "seeing in color," by equipping small minority-owned businesses with an edge for federal contacting jobs regardless of their capabilities to fulfill government demands.
The lengthy report examines federal affirmative action. Of the $537 billion in government contracts federal agencies offered to businesses, about $104 million was dedicated to small firms, of which over one-third ($36 billion) was awarded to minority-owned businesses. The GAO acknowledged that Congress has, for more than three decades, dedicated its legislative resources to steer federal taxpayer dollars to businesses owned by minorities.
"The federal government has a long-standing policy of maximizing procurement opportunities for small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (small disadvantaged businesses)," GAO noted, affirming that federal officials have selectively apportioned contracting dollars based on racial variables. "In 1978, Congress amended the Small Business Act to require federal agencies to, among other things, negotiate annually in good faith with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to establish prime and subcontracting goals for these businesses, which include businesses owned and controlled by various minority groups."
The GAO contacted two agencies to collect and review federal contracting practices and found that the Minority Business Development Agency in the Department of Commerce affirmed that its business centers assisted minority-owned businesses in securing 1,108 financings and contracts worth more than $3.9 billion in fiscal year 2011. The Small Business Administration reported that in the same year over 90 percent of its business development program participants were businesses owned by minorities.
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