Rep. Graves says Interior's OSDBU job announcement breaks the law

Tuesday - 5/13/2014, 4:09am EDT

A senior House lawmaker alleges the Interior Department is violating the Small Business Act in how it is recruiting a new director for the Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the Small Business Committee, wrote a letter to Secretary Sally Jewell Monday, expressing serious concerns over Interior's April 15 advertisement for the director of the OSDBU job.

Graves said the OSDBU announcement on USAJobs.gov violates the 2013 update to the Small Business Jobs Act in three ways:

  • It doesn't explicitly call for the core competencies outlined in the 2013 Defense authorization bill, such as program manager, chief systems engineer, contracting officer or small business technical adviser. Graves said Interior's announcement mentions none of these requirements, "thus an individual lacking the statutorily mandated experiential requirements could be hired under this announcement."

  • The OSDBU director must report directly to the secretary, but DoI's announcement says this role reports to the assistant secretary for policy, management and budget and receives guidance from the deputy assistant secretary for business, finance, performance and acquisition.

  • The job description doesn't reflect a full understanding of the statutory requirements of the OSDBU director, because it focuses mainly on negotiating small business goals with the Small Business Administration. Graves said the Interior listing doesn't mention any of the other duties, including reviewing solicitations involving contract bundling or contract consolidation, assisting small businesses with payment issues, reviewing agency insourcing decisions that affect small businesses, advising on acquisition strategies and market research and providing training.

An Interior spokeswoman said by email that the agency is aware of the letter and reviewing it.

Graves said he's even more disappointed in Interior's actions because Rhea Suh, the department's assistant secretary for policy, management and budget, assured the committee last June that it would comply with the changes to the Small Business Jobs Act.

"Given that no agency or department is above the law, I am hereby requesting that you personally notify me within 30 days of the changes you are making to bring the DoI into compliance with the law," Graves wrote. "I anticipate that this will require ensuring that the OSDBU is independent of the Office of Policy, Management and Budget and the Office of Budget, Finance, Performance and Acquisition. Furthermore, I expect that this will require that you cancel the current job announcement and repost a job listing responsive to the aforementioned concerns. Should the department fail to take the necessary corrective actions, the Committee on Small Business may hold a hearing to further examine this issue."

Interior's due date for applications is May 15.

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