"Some big companies show up in government small-business databases, inflating the apparent contract totals." Larry Margasak of the Associated Press discovered that some of America's largest companies -- including Verizon Communications, AT&T Wireless, Barnes & Noble and Dole Food -- were mistakenly designated "small business" in the government's contractor database. This means "the government has overstated the contract dollars going to small business at a time when the administration of President George W. Bush has been pressing to give smaller firms as much federal work as possible." Moreover, the problem might not be easy to fix, as "once a company's status is mischaracterized, it stays that way through the life of a contract, which can be 20 years." Therefore, "smaller firms the administration intended to help might be frozen out from fresh business by bigger companies."
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