Two years after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, federal agencies continue to award rebuilding contracts meant for local small businesses to large corporations, according to the House Small Business Committee.

To date, the Department of Homeland Security, the General Services Administration, the Small Business Administration, Veterans Administration, and the Army Corps of Engineers have awarded large firms with some $100 million in small-business rebuilding contracts, a committee investigation found.

In addition, more than a third of all Homeland Security contracts awarded to small businesses in the region were later changed to reduce the size of the contracts.

"These agencies need to understand that this is not about making it look like they are working with the local small businesses -- it is about making the Gulf Coast small firms the centerpiece of this recovery," Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), the committee chairwoman, said in a statement.

Committee members, who questioned representatives of the five agencies at a congressional hearing last week, said they would continue to apply pressure to ensure local small businesses are receiving their share of federal rebuilding contracts.

Published on: Aug 6, 2007