Women's Business Center Program: Incomplete Program Records and Financial Data Page: 1 of 6
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Accountability * Integrity * Reliability
United States General Accounting Office Resources, Community, and
Washington, DC 20548 Economic Development Division
September 15, 1999
The Honorable Aida Alvarez
Administrator, Small Business Administration
Subject: Women's Business Center Program: Incomplete Program Records
and Financial Data
Dear Ms. Alvarez:
In May 1999, the House and Senate Committees on Small Business requested that we help
them prepare for the reauthorization of the Women's Business Center Program. Specifically,
the Committees asked us to provide information on (1) all currently or previously funded
women's business centers, including their funding status, experience in raising matching
funds, the types of services offered in a center's first and last year of grant funding, and the
differences between "parent" and "satellite" centers; (2) the extent to which the Small
Business Administration's (SBA) award criteria might predict the long-term success or failure
of women's business centers; and (3) the compliance of the Office of Women's Business
Ownership with legislative reporting requirements and the difficulties with obtaining the
required data from the clients of women's business centers.
In conducting our review, we found problems with the records maintained by the Office of
Women's Business Ownership and the Office of Procurement and Grants Management. We
also received conflicting information concerning whether the Office of Women's Business
Ownership or the Office of Procurement and Grants Management is responsible for the
collection and review of financial status reports. As a result, when we briefed the Committee
staffs and issued a report' on the results of our work, we were unable to provide all of the
information requested for data for program years 1989 through 1998 because of limitations in
SBA's records and databases. The information we did provide was subject to a number of
limitations. We are apprising you of these limitations and other related issues because we are
concerned that they could adversely affect your ability to manage the Women's Business
Center Program, especially as it continues to grow.
In particular, we found the following:
* Historical program documentation is not consistently maintained. Although we were
asked to provide information for the 10-year period from 1989 through 1998, our analysis
'Small Business Administration: Information on the Women's Business Center Program (GAO/RCED-99-278R, Sept. 2, 1999).
GAO/RCED-99-277R Women's Business Center Program
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United States. General Accounting Office. Women's Business Center Program: Incomplete Program Records and Financial Data, text, September 15, 1999; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc298805/m1/1/: accessed November 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.