Missoulian: Tester unveils bill to help small businesses land federal contracts

BOZEMAN – U.S. Sen. Jon Tester unveiled legislation Friday that he says will help small businesses in Montana land federal work contracts.

The Democrat, speaking during a small business workshop in Bozeman, became involved in federal contracting last year after news that stimulus money targeted for the state was being given to large, multinational, preselected companies to build five border ports along the Montana-Canada border.

Tester’s bill, which he said would be introduced in the next week or so, is meant to restrict most federal agencies from “bundling” large contracts and will require agencies to specify the aesthetic elements they want in a project so bidders aren’t rejected for not including those specifications in their proposals. It also will require the General Services Administration to enforce agreements to hire local subcontractors and improve outreach to small businesses.

“In many cases, the bidding process is set up so it weeds out the little guy,” Tester said. “This will help small business owners cut through the red tape.”

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