Over the past year, there has been a substantial increase in federal legislative and regulatory activity impacting small business contracting opportunities. For example, the SBA is engaged in long-awaited efforts to update the small business size standards. Additionally, recently introduced legislation contemplates the establishment of a Small Business Growth Pilot Program that, if enacted, will significantly increase opportunities for government contractors to qualify for small business set-asides.

The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 requires the SBA to update one-third of the small business size standards every 18 months. SBA's size standards, which vary by industry, establish a size ceiling that contractors must qualify under to compete for individual small business set-aside procurements. Earlier this year, the SBA published a Proposed Rule to update many of the small business size standards in industry Sector 54, Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services. SBA has received hundreds of comments from individuals and organizations that anticipate being impacted by these proposed changes, including providers of IT and consulting services to Federal Government customers. Though the period for public comment on this Proposed Rule recently closed on June 15, 2011, SBA will continue updating size standards in other sectors on an ongoing basis as required by the Small Business Jobs Act.

In addition to SBA's efforts to update the small business size standards, on May 10, 2011, Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia introduced a bill entitled the "Small Business Growth Act" which, if enacted, would direct GSA to establish a Small Business Growth Pilot Program. This legislation would substantially increase GSA small business contracting opportunities for many companies that participate in the federal Mentor-Protégé Program. The legislation specifically contemplates new GSA set-aside opportunities for contractors that have fewer than 1500 employees and are participating as mentors to small businesses under the Mentor Protégé Program. Notably, the Small Business Growth Act would require GSA contracting officers to consider awarding a contract restricted to participants in the Small Business Growth Pilot Program before awarding on the basis of full and open competition.

These proposals present opportunities for government contractors to become involved in the legislative and rulemaking processes that directly impact their business.