The Department of Energys recently announced goal to directly contract out 10 percent of its budget to small businesses is well intended but too simplistic. As pointed out by TRIDEC, and echoed in the Heralds July 29 editorial, it could backfire and actually hurt local small businesses. DOE and the Small Business Administration need to think harder about their objectives and reconsider how they can achieve them. The National Economic Council got it right in its May 2012 report, Moving Americas Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs Forward. It links an economy built to last to sustainable small businesses. It encourages efforts to help small business expand and compete so they can do what they do best take risks, develop new ideas, grow businesses and create new jobs. If the goal is to build and strengthen a sustainable economy, then contracting more meaningful projects or managed tasks to small businesses is a smart strategy. The Tri-Cities Local Business Association supports that strategy and believes the emphasis should be on the kind of work contracted, rather than merely measuring the percentage of dollars contracted to small business by DOE or its prime contractors. Just contracting for more supplies, staff augmentation or menial jobs isnt sufficient for achieving the goal. Substantive and larger-scope projects are needed to help small businesses expand their capabilities and experience. The businesses can then grow and diversify into new markets and create future jobs. At the same time, we encourage a preference for contracting with local, small businesses, alone or in partnership with other companies that can help the small business learn, grow and expand their markets. Local businesses can bring innovation, focus and efficiency to tough challenges, and being local, they have considerable incentive to succeed. Giving preference to local firms also supports the DOE Office of Environmental Managements proposed new vision for the future, which seeks to leverage the results of its cleanup and remediation efforts to benefit the nation and surrounding communities. Increased direct contracting with DOE can be good for giving companies experience in doing business with the federal government. However, it should be taken in thoughtful steps as part of an overall site transition strategy that separates out the work and ensures it does not impact the careful planning, coordination and performance of current nuclear cleanup activities. In any event, DOE simply does not currently have the resources locally to efficiently, effectively or expeditiously manage multiple new procurements for significant work. Hanfords prime contractors have served our community well. Their excellent track records in subcontracting and mentor-protégé programs have helped small businesses expand and take off. We have seen several local companies grow up on Hanford business and then use their capabilities to expand and diversify into other markets. We want more of those opportunities for our local small businesses. Thus, we believe DOEs contracting strategy should concentrate more on the nature and quality of the contracts for local small businesses rather than simply the amount of dollars being contracted out be it direct from DOE or subcontracted by the prime contractors. Keith Klein is the executive director of the Tri-Cities Local Business Association and the former manager of the US DOE Richland Operations Office.