Obama signs small biz contracting bills into law

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NEW YORK (AP) — Legislation to help small business owners win more contracts with the federal government became law Thursday when President Barack Obama signed a $633 billion defense bill.

Among other things, the new contracting laws aim to help the government meet its goal of granting 23 percent of all federal contracts to small businesses. Senior employees of agencies will be held more accountable for meeting that goal, and their bonuses can now be withheld if the target isn't met.

The contracting laws were included in the bill that authorized spending by the Pentagon. They also aim to eliminate contracting fraud, which can occur when large companies win contracts that should have gone to small businesses. One provision requires the Government Accountability Office, the auditing arm of Congress, to review what agencies are doing to prevent illegal contract bundling. With bundling, smaller contracts are combined into a larger one that is then awarded to a large company — which may not necessarily subcontract with small businesses.

Yet another provision changes some of the rules for subcontracting to make it easier for small businesses to team up on contracts.