March 2, 2007 -- Federal agency contracting data for Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts need to be more transparent when it comes to subcontracting opportunities for small businesses, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Friday.

The report, which evaluated the access small businesses have had to federal rebuilding contracts in the Gulf Coast, found that "key information about small business subcontracting plans was not consistently available in official procurement data systems event though federal contracting rules state that the information should be documented there."

Among other problems, the systems had no data on subcontracting plans for more than 70 percent of contracting funds overseen by the Department of Homeland Security or the General Services Administration, the report said.

The report recommends issuing subcontracting guidelines to key contracting personal at these and other agencies.

Small businesses received 28 percent, or $3 billion, of the total $11 billion in Gulf Coast recovery contracts awarded by the Department of Homeland Security, the General Services Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Army Corps of Engineers, the report said. About 24 percent of was awarded to disadvantaged businesses, while small local businesses received about 66 percent of a total $1.9 billion in contracts awarded to local businesses, the report said.

The report "reveals a severe gap in the information we need to ensure small businesses are afforded every opportunity to win contracts and help recover after a disaster," Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, said in a statement.

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Published on: Mar 2, 2007