Do federal contracting officers have the time and wherewithal to check the validity and worth of assets pledged by an individual surety to back a contractor? The National Association of Surety Bond Producers doesn't think so, and it has in the last year succeeded in winning passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of a bill that tightens up requirements so that individual sureties must back their guarantees with
a Treasury bill or some other easily liquidated asset. Winning passage in the Senate will require more hard work and could make it harder for small and minority-owned firms who may never otherwise qualify for surety guarantees to work on federal projects. So now is a good time to assess what H.R. 3534 means, why its passage in the Senate is important and who wins and loses.