The Small Business Administration has appointed a new director of government contracting at its Office of Government Contracting and Business Development, the agency announced Tuesday.

Art Collins, an agency veteran and the former deputy associate administrator for government contracting, takes over the position just weeks before stricter federal contracting measures for small businesses are set to kick in.

SBA Administrator Steven Preston called Collins a dedicated public servant who is committed to expanding opportunities for small businesses. "It is a priority for the agency to ensure that small businesses are getting their fair share of government contracts and I am confident in Art's ability to oversee our contracting reforms," Preston said.

Under new oversight measures that come into force next month, federal small-business contractors will have to recertify their size every five years to remain eligible for contracts set aside for smaller employers. The agency also expects to hire more contracting staff to help government procurement officers identify opportunities for small business, while implementing a scorecard to better monitor small-business contracting across all federal agencies.

The current federal target for small-business contracting is 23 percent. In 2005, the SBA reported that the government awarded 25.4 percent, or $80 billion, of total federal contracting dollars to small businesses. Critics say the figure is closer to 21 percent, claiming many small-business contracts are being misallocated to large corporations.

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