Women's Business Center Program: Incomplete Program Records and Financial Data Page: 2 of 6
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of top-scoring centers2 was limited to 5 program years (1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1998),3
because the program staff was unable to provide this information for other years.
Although SBA officials explained that some of this requested information was destroyed
in accordance with federal paperwork reduction standards, they did not explain why data
were not available for 1996.
* Financial system information on the centers was not complete. Financial data from the
Federal Financial System showing amounts of funding available and disbursed to the
women's business centers were incomplete. Consequently, we were unable to fully
respond to the Committees' request for funding status. We could not provide information
on years 1989 through 1995 because the data were incomplete. For example, while some
information for 1995 was available, SBA staff explained that the information was
unreliable because of a change to a new financial system that year. As a result, we were
limited to reporting on financial information for 1996 and 1997, and we found some
problems with these data. For example, the data showed that one center withdrew
$155,000 in 1996, which exceeds the $150,000 maximum available in a given year.
Officials in the Office of Women's Business Ownership could not explain why their
records reflected this overdraft of funds. In addition, as originally submitted to us, the
information was missing on 1997 amounts available and disbursed for one center.
* SBA staff are unclear about their responsibilities regarding the financial reports. The
1998 monitoring guide for the Office of Women's Business Ownership lays out the roles
and responsibilities of the Office of Women's Business Ownership and the Office of
Procurement and Grants Management. The guide states that the Office of Women's
Business Ownership is responsible for receiving and reviewing electronically transmitted
semiannual data, collection/progress reports, financial reports, and other items requiring
a grant officer's approval.
In June, for all currently funded centers, we reviewed program files for the Office of Women's
Business Ownership and grant files for the Office of Procurement and Grants Management.
Eleven of the 35 files we reviewed did not contain the required semiannual financial reports.
We informed the program staff that we were unable to find the necessary financial reports
and requested their assistance in locating the missing documents. After several weeks, staff
from both offices were unable to provide the necessary reports, and we informed the
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Women's Business Ownership and the Deputy
Assistant Administrator for Procurement and Grants Management of our concerns about the
financial reports. The following day, the Grants Management Deputy Assistant provided the
missing financial reports.
The difficulty in locating the financial reports that we requested revealed a lack of
understanding between the Office of Women's Business Ownership and the Office of
Procurement and Grants Management regarding their responsibilities for the financial
reports. For example, staff in Office of Women's Business Ownership told us that they
believed that it was the responsibility of the staff in Office of Procurement and Grants
Management to collect and review the reports. In contrast, staff in the Office of Women's
Business Ownership told us they were unaware of the policy about collecting and reviewing
2 Top-scoring centers are centers whose grant proposals received the highest numerical scores on their applications for grants
from the Office of Women's Business Ownership.
9 The Office of Women's Business Ownership did not issue a request for proposals for new centers in 1994, and officials told us
that in 1996 the Office did not issue any competitive awards.
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/m1/2/: accessed September 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.