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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, August 2, 2006

The giants still being counted as little guys

By Frank Bass
Associated Press

WASHINGTON Some of the nation's largest news media companies, including The Associated Press, were counted last year by the government as small businesses for contracting purposes, inflating the Bush administration's record of help to small companies.

Other media companies cited as small businesses included The New York Times Co., USA Today International Corp., Bloom-berg L.P. and the Public Broadcasting Service, according to data the administration gave congressional investigators.

The media companies join other corporate giants like ExxonMobil and Microsoft Corp. that congressional investigators identified last week as companies listed as small businesses by the White House. The companies say the government erroneously gave them that designation and they did not portray themselves as small businesses to win the contracts.

The government is required to spend 23 percent of roughly $314 billion in contracts with small businesses. Last month, the Small Business Administration claimed the government more than met that goal in 2005.

An investigation by House Democrats found the number was closer to 22 percent because about $12 billion in contracts to big companies were mistakenly cited as going to small businesses.

"Since we do not categorize The New York Times as a small business, clearly this was an error," Times spokeswoman Abbe Serphos said of two General Services Administration contracts totaling $10,875 that the government reported as small-business contracts.