Advocacy
Issue Brief: Small Business Protection Act

The Issue:

The American Society of Landscape Architects supports legislation that helps small landscape architecture firms thrive and compete fairly in the marketplace.

Background and Analysis:

During a recent rulemaking process, the Small Business Administration (SBA) proposed grouping landscape architecture, architecture, engineering and planning firms together for the purposes of establishing size standards to be considered a small business.  Under SBA’s proposed grouping these design professions’ firms with revenues of $19 million and under would be considered a small business.  This $19 million threshold did not accurately reflect the actual revenues of small landscape architecture firms and some other professions in this new “grouping.”  After an intense advocacy campaign, ASLA successfully urged SBA not to increase the cap on landscape architecture firms to $19 million and instead to maintain the current $7 million threshold.

In response to SBA’s erroneous groupings, in 2012, Congressman Joe Walsh (IL) introduced the Small Business Protection Act (H.R. 3987), legislation to prevent the Small Business Administration (SBA) from arbitrarily creating common size standards or condensing the roughly 1100 industries into 16 size standards for the sake of convenience. Instead, this legislation is designed to ensure that SBA’s size standards accurately and legitimately represent small businesses.  Additionally, this legislation enhances small businesses’ awareness of the size standard process and ensures transparency by requiring that all information regarding size standards analysis and rational be made publicly available.   The House Committee on Small Business passed the Small Business Protection Act by voice vote on April 22, 2012. The measure was then included in H.R. 4310, the Defense Authorization Bill, which passed both the full House of Representatives and Senate and was signed into law on January 2, 2013

With the passage of the Small Business Protection Act, SBA will no longer be able apply the same size standards to landscape architecture, architecture, planning, and engineering firms simply because they provide closely related services.  Instead, SBA will now be required to analyze each profession independently and assign an appropriate size standard based on actual revenues for each profession as reported by the United States Census Bureau’ Economic Census and County Business Patterns.

History:

On September 27, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, which, among other things, directs the Small Business Administration (SBA) to conduct a review of all size standards and to make appropriate adjustments to reflect market conditions. As part of this comprehensive review, SBA proposed a change to its size standards for all professions in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Sector 54, the professional, scientific and technical services industries, including architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, planning, and a host of other professions. Under the proposed rule, SBA recommended that small landscape architecture firms be capped at $19 million instead of the current $7 million threshold.  For purposes of the new size standards calculations, SBA grouped architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, and planning together because they believe there is a tremendous overlap in the type of work that the professions perform for federal procurement projects. With this analysis in mind, SBA recommended that all three professions be grouped together with a common size standard of $19 million.

After an intense advocacy campaign, ASLA successfully urged SBA not to increase the cap on landscape architecture firms to $19 million and instead to maintain the current $7 million threshold. ASLA also recommended that SBA not to group the landscape architecture profession with other design professions who may perform similar work, including the professions of architecture and engineering and instead to perform size standards analysis based on the specific data from each profession.


Current Status:

The House Committee on Small Business passed the Small Business Protection Act by voice vote on April 22, 2012.  The measure was then included in H.R. 4310, the Defense Authorization Bill, which passed both the full House of Representatives and Senate and was signed into law on January 2, 2013. This measure is now Public Law 112-239.

Sponsor(s):

Congressman Joe Walsh (IL), and 11 cosponsors.

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