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Fast 50 Info Tech Firms?  Or Race-Based Fast One?

Racial Preferences = Racial Discrimination
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1. Overview
Fast 50: Scam or Real?
Washington Post Business Section, 10-16-06, Page D4 (LINK)
          The "Fast 50" is supposed to be a list of the fastest growing small IT government contractors compiled by Washington Technology, a sister publication of the Washington Post.

          Being named to the "Fast 50" is considered an honor in the IT community.  Many of the firms trumpet this honor in their literature and on their web sites.

          The dirty little secret is that the majority of the "Fast 50" have benefited from huge racial preferences and contract set asides.  Neither the Washington Post nor Washington Technology disclosed this important fact.

          That's right.  According to Adversity.Net's examination of government contract documents and the listed company's web sites, we have discovered that 31 of these 50 fastest growing IT firms hold the coveted SBA 8(a) certification.  This certification is reserved exclusively for selected minorities.1  Non-minorities need not apply to this race-based welfare program.

          Firms certified as 8(a) benefit from bidding requirements that are so relaxed as to be almost nonexistent.  8(a) firms are given multi-million dollar government contracts without any competitive bidding.  Occasionally they have to compete against one or two other minority owned, 8(a) firms.

          But the point is that these 31 firms in the Fast 50 do not have to compete in the open market place against hundreds or thousands of other well-qualified firms.  This is a whole lot different from competing in the open market place.

1. Overview
2. Fast 50 list (annotated)
3. Set asides for 8(a) firms
4. Set asides for SDB firms
5. Set asides for HUB Zone firms
6. Set asides for Woman Owned Businesses

          Additionally, many of the "Fast 50" firms also enjoy multiple preferences, including not only the 8(a) set aside program, but also the Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) program, the Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) zone program, and the Woman Owned Business (WOB) program.  In FY 2005 all of these programs taken together represented $60,027,649,900 (that's $60 billion) in federal business upon which Caucasian American males were not allowed to bid.2

          Below is Adversity.Net's annotated version of Washington Technology's "Fast 50" list with the racial set aside status of the businesses listed.

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2. The List

"Fast 50" list as published by Washington Technology and the Washington Post. The racial preference status of each firm has been provided by Adversity.Net.

Fast 50 Company Name: SBA Race / Gender Preference: 2005 Rank: 5 Year Compound Growth Rate: 2005 Revenue:
Merlin International Inc. 8(a), Veteran Owned 1 232.50% $133,501,322
DKW Communications Inc. 8(a) 2 213.28% $4,304,196
Guident Technologies Inc. 8(a), SDB 3 148.02% $4,987,657
Gestalt LLC none 4 147.98% $24,236, 931
Telesis Corporation 8(a), SDB, Woman Owned, HUB Zone 5 143.52% $25,891,680
G&B Solutions 8(a), SDB, Woman Owned 6 137.81% $21,094,412
SBI Technologies Corp. 8(a), SDB, Woman Owned 7 128.52% $10,401,341
Binary Consulting Inc. 8(a), SDB, Woman Owned 8 123.99% $13,179,055
Intelligent Software Solutions Inc. none 9 116.00% $26,133,617
Platinum Solutions Inc. 8(a) 10 116.00% $7,532,987
OMNITEC Solutions Inc. 8(a), SDB, Veteran Owned 11 113.41% $11,224,355
Competitive Innovations LLC HUB Zone 12 112.74% $3,020,063
STG International Inc. 8(a), SDB, Woman Owned 13 112.14% $61,421,825
Windward Consulting Group none 14 108.94% $4,283,032
1 Source Consulting 8(a), SDB 15 108.60% $9,211,230
Blue Collar Objects 8(a) 16 107.37% $4,287,535
Transquest Federal Systems none 17 106.06% $3,671,935
Cambridge Communication Systems Inc. 8(a), Woman Owned, Veteran Owned 18 100.63% $10,949,159
Strategic Business Systems none 19 94.77% $11,153,400
Global Network Systems of Maryland Inc. 8(a), Woman Owned, Veteran Owned 20 93.82% $1,853,327
Astor & Sanders Corp. 8(a), SDB, Woman Owned 21 92.43% $1,655,201
Primescape Solutions Inc. 8(a), SDB 22 91.13% $7,846,400
Mythics Inc. none 23 90.92% $173,240,336
Amer Technology 8(a) 24 88.05% $24,097,607
MicroPact Engineering Inc. 8(a), SDB 25 84.07% $11,621,135
InfoReliance Corp. none 26 82.68% $27,177,047
Corporate Professional Services Inc. none 27 82.09% $15,314,945
e-Management Inc. 8(a), SDB, Woman Owned 28 81.78% $5,425,305
Flatirons Solutions Corp. Woman Owned 29 79.36% $6,626,178
Technology Associates Inc. none 30 76.74% $9,680,312
Morgan Franklin none 31 76.71% $27,428,119
Buan Consulting Inc. 8(a) 32 73.75% $933,836
Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies Inc. none 33 71.48% $80,524,124
Electronic Consulting Services Inc. 8(a), SDB 34 70.13% $17,028,610
InfoZen Inc. 8(a), SDB 35 69.91% $8,068,031
Cascades Technologies Inc. SDB 36 68.60% $5,744,201
Oak Tree Enterprise Solutions Inc. 8(a), SDB 37 67.76% $1,684,877
Pro-telligent LLC none 38 67.72% $25,601,309
Creative Information Technology Inc. 8(a), SDB 39 66.31% $27,123,939
Networking & Engineering Technologies Inc. 8(a) 40 65.32% $2,527,273
Integrity Applications Inc. SDB, Veteran Owned 41 63.04% $36,019,148
The Tauri Group LLC none 42 62.39% $7,198,000
SP Systems Inc. 8(a), SDB 43 60.39% $7,797,112
Artel Inc. 8(a), SDB 44 60.34% $149,787,830
Delta Solutions & Technologies Inc. none 45 60.28% $19,764,683
Automation Technologies Inc. 8(a), SDB, Woman Owned 46 59.88% $7,099,337
Access Systems Inc. 8(a), SDB, Woman Owned 47 58.47% $29,145,304
Thomas & Herbert Consulting LLC 8(a), SDB, HUB Zone, Veteran Owned 48 57.88% $18,621,101
Electrosoft Services Inc. Woman Owned 49 57.78% $997,710
Catapult Technology Ltd. 8(a), SDB, Service Disabled Veteran Owned 50 57.04% $28,004,074
Fast 50 Company Name SBA Race / Gender Preference 2005 Rank Five Year Compounded Growth Rate 2005 Revenue

"Fast 50" list compiled by Washington Technology and published on their web site at this LINK.  Minority set aside data provided by Adversity.Net
NOTE: Several of these businesses also are certified as Veteran Owned or Service Disabled Veteran Owned businesses which theoretically entitle them to small set asides.  But veteran preferences are not predicated upon race or gender and are therefore not addressed in our analysis.


3. 8(a) Set Asides

Primer:   What it means to be an 8(a) firm SBA-8a-Banner.jpg (10568 bytes)
8(a) SYNOPSIS:

          8(a) is the Small Business Administration's designation for minority-owned firms which receive the highest proportion of government set aside contracts based upon the race of the business owner.  The name "8(a)" refers to the section of the Code of Federal Regulations which defines this program.

          51% of the ownership and control of day to day operations of an 8(a) firm must reside with a designated, protected minority.   And 51% of the contract work performed by an 8(a) firm must be performed by the 8(a) firm itself rather than by subcontractors.  These restrictions are designed to protect against white guys who have been excluded from government contracting opportunities from using "front men" of the correct race in order to obtain government contracts.

          Membership in the 8(a) program is time-limited:  Firms can only enjoy the non-competitive advantages of the 8(a) program for a maximum of nine years.  8(a) firms can be either voluntarily or forcibly "graduated" from the program earlier than that for a host of reasons.

          As shown in the above "Fast 50" list, 8(a) firms may also enjoy additional, multiple preferences and contract set asides by obtaining other SBA certifications such as:   Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB); HUB Zone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone); and/or Woman Owned.

1. Overview
2. Fast 50 list (annotated)
3. Set asides for 8(a) firms
4. Set asides for SDB firms
5. Set asides for HUB Zone firms
6. Set asides for Woman Owned Businesses

          In FY 2005 the federal government set aside $10.5 billion for 8(a) firms.3


GOV'T REGULATIONS ABOUT 8(a):

RACE of the 8(a) business owner:  The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), at 13 CFR 124.103, clearly states the racial requirements of being granted 8(a) certification:

" 124.103 Who is socially disadvantaged?

"(a) General. Socially disadvantaged individuals are those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias within American society because of their identities as members of groups and without regard to their individual qualities. The social disadvantage must stem from circumstances beyond their control.

Happy 8(a) Business Owners
SBA graphic of happy minority business owners who have scaled the 8(a) tower.

"(b) Members of designated groups.

"(1) There is a rebuttable presumption that the following individuals are socially disadvantaged:

"Black Americans; Hispanic Americans; Native Americans (American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, or Native Hawaiians); Asian Pacific Americans (persons with origins from Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Japan, China (including Hong Kong), Taiwan, Laos, Cambodia (Kampuchea), Vietnam, Korea, The Philippines, U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (Republic of Palau), Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Samoa, Macao, Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, or Nauru); Subcontinent Asian Americans (persons with origins from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, the Maldives Islands or Nepal); and members of other groups designated from time to time by SBA according to procedures set forth at paragraph (d) of this section. Being born in a country does not, by itself, suffice to make the birth country an individual’s country of origin for purposes of being included within a designated group."


WEALTH OF THE 8(a) BUSINESS OWNER:  According to the Code of Federal Regulations at 13 CFR 124.105, to qualify as an 8(a) firm the owner must not have a net worth of more than $250,000 excluding the equity in their personal residence and excluding the equity in their business!

          Furthermore, to remain in the 8(a) program for the full nine year term, the owner's net worth must not exceed $750,000 (again, excluding equity in his/her home and business).

Setasides profit the right races
SBA graphic of specific races taking profitable advantage of set asides.

124.105 -- "(2) Net worth.

          "For initial 8(a) BD eligibility, the net worth of an individual claiming disadvantage must be less than $250,000. For continued 8(a) BD eligibility after admission to the program, net worth must be less than $750,000. In determining such net worth, SBA will exclude the ownership interest in the applicant or Participant and the equity in the primary personal residence (except any portion of such equity which is attributable to excessive withdrawals from the applicant or Participant). Exclusions for net worth purposes are not exclusions for asset valuation or access to capital and credit purposes."


4. SDB Set Asides

Primer:   What it means to be an SDB firm Small Disadvantaged Business
SDB SYNOPSIS:

          SDB stands for "Small Disadvantaged Business".  As with the 8(a) program, businesses must be owned by certain preferred races or ethnicities in order to be eligible for the SDB designation.

          An 8(a) firm is automatically considered to be an SDB, but an SDB is not automatically considered to be an 8(a).

          For the most part, the SBA's requirements for granting SDB certification are the same as for the 8(a) program:  51% of the ownership and control of day to day operations of an SDB firm must reside with a designated, protected minority.   And 51% of the contract work performed by an SDB firm must be performed by the SDB firm itself rather than by subcontractors.

          However, a key difference between the 8(a) program and the SDB program is there is no "end date" or "graduation date" for participants in the SDB program.  SDB's may enjoy the benefits of racial set asides in perpetuity provided they continue to meet the following criteria:  (1) the firm must remain "small" (generally, annual revenues must be less than $15 million to $25 million); (2) the firm must remain owned and controlled by a protected minority; and (3) the firm must obey the law, pay its subcontractors, etc.

1. Overview
2. Fast 50 list (annotated)
3. Set asides for 8(a) firms
4. Set asides for SDB firms
5. Set asides for HUB Zone firms
6. Set asides for Woman Owned Businesses

          In FY 2005 the federal government set aside $33 billion in contracts for SDB firms.4


GOV'T REGULATIONS ABOUT SDB:

[13 CFR] Sec. 124.1001 General applicability.

(a) This subpart defines a Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB). It also sets forth procedures by which a firm can apply to be recognized as an SDB, including procedures to be used by private sector entities approved by SBA for determining whether a particular concern is owned and controlled by one or more disadvantaged individuals or Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs), Community Development Corporations (CDCs), Indian tribes (tribes) or Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHOs). Finally, this subpart establishes procedures by which SBA determines whether a particular concern qualifies as an SDB in response to a protest challenging the concern's status as disadvantaged. Unless specifically stated otherwise, the phrase "socially and economically disadvantaged individuals'' in this subpart includes tribes, ANCs, CDCs, and NHOs.

[Editor's Note:  ANC stands for Alaskan Native Corporation.  NHO stands for Native Hawaiian Organization.  CDC stands for Community Developed Corporation.  These categories represent even more generous set asides for specific groups but are beyond the scope of this report.]

(b) Only small firms that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals are eligible to participate in Federal SDB price evaluation adjustment, evaluation factor or subfactor, monetary subcontracting incentive, or set-aside programs, or SBA's section 8(d) subcontracting program.

(c) In order for a concern to represent that it is an SDB as a prime contractor for purposes of a Federal Government procurement, it must have:

(1) Received a certification from SBA that it qualifies as an SDB; or

(2) Submitted an application for SDB certification to SBA or a Private Certifier, and must not have received a negative determination regarding that application from SBA or the Private Certifier.

(d) A firm cannot represent itself to be an SDB concern in order to receive a preference as an SDB for any Federal subcontracting program if it is not on the SBA-maintained list of qualified SDBs.

Sec. 124.1002 What is a Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB)?

(a) Reliance on 8(a) criteria.

          In determining whether a firm qualifies as an SDB, the criteria of social and economic disadvantage and other eligibility requirements established in subpart A of this part apply, including the requirements of ownership and control and disadvantaged status, unless otherwise provided in this subpart.

          Qualified Private Certifiers must use the 8(a) criteria applicable to ownership and control in determining whether a particular firm is actually owned and controlled by one or more individuals claiming disadvantaged status.

(b) SDB eligibility criteria. A small disadvantaged business (SDB) is a concern:

(1) Which qualifies as small under part 121 of this title for the size standard corresponding to the applicable four digit Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code.

(i) For purposes of SDB certification, the applicable SIC code is that which relates to the primary business activity of the concern;

(ii) For purposes related to a specific Federal Government contract, the applicable SIC code is that assigned by the contracting officer to the procurement at issue;

(2) Which is at least 51 percent unconditionally owned by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals as set forth in Sec. 124.105. For the requirements relating to tribes and ANCs, NHOs, or CDCs, see Secs. 124.109, 124.110, and 124.111, respectively.

1. Overview
2. Fast 50 list (annotated)
3. Set asides for 8(a) firms
4. Set asides for SDB firms
5. Set asides for HUB Zone firms
6. Set asides for Woman Owned Businesses

(3) Except for tribes, ANCs, NHOs, and CDCs, whose management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. For the requirements relating to tribes and ANCs, NHOs, or CDCs, see Secs. 124.109, 124.110, and 124.111, respectively.

(4) Which, for purposes of SDB procurement mechanisms authorized by 10 U.S.C. 2323 (such as price evaluation adjustments, evaluation factors or subfactors, monetary subcontracting incentives, or SDB set-asides) relating to the Department of Defense, NASA and the Coast Guard only, has the majority of its earnings accruing directly to the socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

(c) Disadvantaged status. In assessing the personal financial condition of an individual claiming economic disadvantage, his or her net worth must be less than $750,000 after taking into account the exclusions set forth in Sec. 124.104(c)(2).

(d) Additional eligibility criteria. Except for tribes, ANCs, CDCs and NHOs, each individual claiming disadvantaged status must be a citizen of the United States.

(e) Potential for success not required. The potential for success requirement set forth in Sec. 124.107 does not apply as an eligibility requirement for an SDB.

(f) Joint ventures. Joint ventures are permitted for SDB procurement mechanisms (such as price evaluation adjustments, evaluation factors or subfactors, monetary subcontracting incentives, or SDB set-asides), provided that the requirements set forth in this paragraph are met.

(1) The disadvantaged participant(s) to the joint venture must have:

(i) Received an SDB certification from SBA; or

(ii) Submitted an application for SDB certification to SBA or a Private Certifier, and must not have received a negative determination regarding that application.

(2) For purposes of this paragraph, the term joint venture means two or more concerns forming an association to engage in and carry out a single, specific business venture for joint profit. Two or more concerns that form an ongoing relationship to conduct business would not be considered ``joint venturers'' within the meaning of this paragraph, and would also not be eligible to be certified as an SDB. The entity created by such a relationship would not be owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Each contract for which a joint venture submits an offer will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

(3) Except as set forth in 13 CFR 121.103(f)(3), a concern that is owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals entering into a joint venture agreement with one or more other business concerns is considered to be affiliated with such other concern(s) for size purposes. If the exception does not  apply, the combined annual receipts or employees of the concerns entering into the joint venture must meet the applicable size standard corresponding to the SIC code designated for the contract.

(4) An SDB must be the managing venturer of the joint venture, and an employee of the managing venturer must be the project manager responsible for performance of the contract.

(5) The joint venture must perform any applicable percentage of work required of SDB offerors, and the SDB joint venturer(s) must perform a significant portion of the contract.

(g) Ownership restrictions for non-disadvantaged individuals. The ownership restrictions set forth in Sec. 124.105 (g) and (h) for non-disadvantaged individuals and concerns do not apply for purposes of determining SDB eligibility.


5. HUB Zone Set Asides

Primer:   What it means to be a HUB Zone Firm HUB Zone
HUB ZONE SYNOPSIS:

          HUB Zone refers to the SBA's "Historically Underutilized Business Zone" program.  The HUB Zone designation is essentially a proxy for race and ethnicity since virtually all designated HUB Zones are located in areas populated by lower income racial minorities.

          A firm which is located in a designated HUB Zone enjoys the benefit of contract set asides and preferences, albeit smaller ones than for either the 8(a) or the SDB program. 

          Like the SDB program, and unlike the 8(a) program, membership in the HUB Zone club is not time limited.  As long as the business' address remains in a designated HUB Zone it can continue to enjoy contracting preferences.

          Unlike the 8(a) and SDB programs, membership in the HUB Zone club does not require the business owner to be a specific race.

          In FY 2005 the federal government set aside $6.1 billion for firms located in HUB Zones.5

1. Overview
2. Fast 50 list (annotated)
3. Set asides for 8(a) firms
4. Set asides for SDB firms
5. Set asides for HUB Zone firms
6. Set asides for Woman Owned Businesses

6. WOB Set Asides

Primer:   What it means to be a Woman Owned Business (WOB)
WOB SYNOPSIS:

          A certified "woman owned" business (WOB) must be 51% owned and controlled by a woman without regard to her race or ethnicity.

          Unlike the 8(a) and SDB certifications, a WOB is allowed to "self certify" which means they merely have to check off a box on an SBA form to "prove" that they are a woman owned and controlled business.

          Also unlike the other set aside programs, SBA currently has no statutory authority to force government contracting agencies to set aside 5% of their contracts for WOBs.

          Nonetheless, all federal agencies have an Office of Small, Disadvantaged and Underutilized Business Utilization (OSDBU) which strives to set aside 5% of each agency's contracts to WOBs.  A WOB enjoys greatly relaxed contracting requirements and limited or no competition in the contract award.  White, male owned businesses cannot bid on these contracts unless there is no qualified WOB available.

          In FY 2005 the SBA reported that $10.5 billion had been awarded to women-owned businesses.6

1. Overview
2. Fast 50 list (annotated)
3. Set asides for 8(a) firms
4. Set asides for SDB firms
5. Set asides for HUB Zone firms
6. Set asides for Woman Owned Businesses

Footnotes

Note 1. Technically, the SBA does grudgingly allow some Caucasian American males to be part of the 8(a) program.  Such firms must submit copious documentation and "proof" of historic discrimination which is not required of, for example, black-owned firms.   Furthermore, SBA's own official statistics show that less than 1/2 of 1 percent of all 8(a) firms are owned by Caucasian American Males.  See SBA's FY 2005 Report to Congress (MS Word document). 

          If this low percentage of participation by Caucasian American males were viewed through the lens of applicable civil rights case law it would constitute prima facie evidence that this group has been illegally and systematically excluded from this program because of their race, ethnicity and/or gender.

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Note 2. The $60,027,649,900 figure is based upon SBA's FY2005 report titled "Small Business Goaling Report:  Actions Reported Between Fiscal Year 2005 (Q1) and Fiscal Year 2005 (Q4)".  The $60 billion figure is the total of the set asides listed for 8(a), SDB, HUB Zone, and Woman Owned businesses in that report.
--See SBA's FY2005 Goaling Report (Adobe Acrobat Reader required).
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Note 3. According to the SBA's FY2005 report "Small Business Goaling Report:  Actions Reported Between Fiscal Year 2005 (Q1) and Fiscal Year 2005 (Q4)" the federal government set aside $10.5 billion in conracts for 8(a) firms.
--See SBA's FY2005 Goaling Report (Adobe Acrobat Reader required).
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Note 4. According to the SBA's FY2005 report "Small Business Goaling Report:  Actions Reported Between Fiscal Year 2005 (Q1) and Fiscal Year 2005 (Q4)" the federal government set aside total of $33 billion in contracts for all SDB firms.
--See SBA's FY2005 Goaling Report (Adobe Acrobat Reader required).
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Note 5. According to the SBA's FY2005 report "Small Business Goaling Report:  Actions Reported Between Fiscal Year 2005 (Q1) and Fiscal Year 2005 (Q4)" the federal government set aside a total of $6.1 billion in contracts for all firms located in Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUB Zones).
--See SBA's FY2005 Goaling Report (Adobe Acrobat Reader required).
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Note 6. According to the SBA's FY2005 report "Small Business Goaling Report:  Actions Reported Between Fiscal Year 2005 (Q1) and Fiscal Year 2005 (Q4)" the federal government awarded a total of $10.5 billion in contracts for all firms certified as Woman Owned Businesses (WOB).
--See SBA's FY2005 Goaling Report (Adobe Acrobat Reader required).
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Top of Fast 50 Report

... closing thoughts

Excellent Quotation:  "Steven J. Kelman, former head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in the Clinton administration, said the debate over veteran set-asides is familiar.  Set-aside programs date to the 1950s, and have been 'fairly controversial because by limiting competition to a certain kind of business it may have negative impact on the price and quality of what the government buys,' said Kelman, now a public management professor at Harvard University. 'You may be excluding a firm from bidding that may be cheaper or better suited to do the jobs.' "   [Emphasis added]
(Source:  Washington Post "Set-Aside Programs Fall Short of Goals" Feb. 28, 2005 page E01.)

END Fast 50
Or Race-based fast one?

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*  We use the term reverse discrimination reluctantly and only because it is so widely understood.  In our opinion there really is only one kind of discrimination.