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Small Business Administration: Steps Have Been Taken to Improve Administration of the 8(a) Program, but Key Controls for Continued Eligibility Need Strengthening

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Small Business Administration's (SBA) 8(a) program helps eligible socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses compete in the economy by providing business development activities, such as counseling and technical assistance, and providing opportunities to obtain federal contracts on a set-aside basis. GAO was asked to review SBA's internal control procedures for determining 8(a) eligibility. Specifically, we (1) evaluated the procedures and processes that SBA has implemented to ensure that only eligible firms participate in the 8(a) program, and (2) assessed the extent to which SBA uses external mechanisms such as complaint information in helping to ensure that only eligible firms participate. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed SBA guidance and prior reports, interviewed SBA officials, and conducted site visits and file reviews of 123 randomly sampled 8(a) firms covering the most recent 2 years of annual reviews at five SBA locations."
Date: March 30, 2010
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Opportunities Exist to Build on Leadership's Efforts to Improve Agency Performance and Employee Morale

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Over the past 6 years, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has sought to transform the agency and improve its operations. A major focus of transformation was to centralize the remaining loan functions performed by 68 district offices. SBA's implementation of early transformation efforts did not reflect key practices GAO recommended in a 2003 report as important for successful transformations. Consequently, its centralization of the guaranty purchase process for one of its loan programs resulted in backlogs and other problems reported by SBA's Inspector General. Some of SBA's actions also led to a reduction in staff at district offices and a decline in employee morale. GAO was asked to assess how SBA has (1) responded to GAO's 2003 recommendations, (2) addressed the impacts of transformation on employees, (3) defined the roles and responsibilities of district offices, and (4) assessed the centralization of loan functions. GAO reviewed documents related to SBA's transformation and reform efforts, interviewed SBA officials, and analyzed SBA employee survey data. GAO also visited 10 district offices and two centers and interviewed groups of employees."
Date: September 24, 2008
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Additional Guidance on Documenting Credit Elsewhere Decisions Could Improve 7(a) Program Oversight

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Small Business Administration's (SBA) 7(a) program is intended to provide loan guarantees to small business borrowers who cannot obtain conventional credit at reasonable terms and do not have the personal resources to provide financing themselves. In fiscal year 2008, SBA guaranteed over 69,000 loans valued at about $13 billion. To assist in oversight of the 7(a) program, GAO was asked to (1) describe SBA's criteria and lenders' practices for determining that borrowers cannot obtain credit elsewhere and (2) examine SBA's efforts to ensure that lenders are complying with the credit elsewhere provision. To meet these objectives, GAO reviewed applicable statutes and guidance, visited 18 lenders and reviewed 238 of their loan files, reviewed 97 on-site lender review reports, and interviewed SBA officials. GAO's samples of lenders and loan files were not generalizable."
Date: February 12, 2009
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Undercover Tests Show HUBZone Program Remains Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Small Business Administration's (SBA) Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program provides federal contracting assistance to small firms located in economically distressed areas, with the intent of stimulating economic development. In July 2008 and March 2009, GAO reported on substantial vulnerabilities to fraud and abuse in the HUBZone application and monitoring process. GAO also found 10 HUBZone firms in the Washington, D.C., area and 19 firms in four other metropolitan areas in Alabama, California, and Texas that made fraudulent or inaccurate representations to get into or remain in the HUBZone program. Given the Committee's continued concern over fraud and abuse in the HUBZone program, GAO (1) performed additional proactive testing of SBA's HUBZone certification process, and (2) determined whether SBA has taken any actions against the 29 case study firms GAO identified in its prior work. Using publicly available resources to fabricate documents, GAO proactively tested SBA's application process by applying for HUBZone certification for four bogus businesses with fictitious owners and employees. GAO also interviewed SBA officials and reviewed SBA data about the 29 case study firms. GAO did not attempt to project the extent of fraud and abuse in the program nor systematically assess HUBZone program controls."
Date: June 25, 2010
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Undercover Tests Show HUBZone Program Remains Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "This testimony discusses the results of our investigation of the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program. In fiscal year 2009, federal agencies obligated nearly $3 billion in sole source or set-aside contracts to firms participating in the HUBZone program. Created in 1997, the program provides federal contracting assistance to small businesses located in HUBZones--economically distressed areas with low income levels or high unemployment rates. Qualified businesses in these areas are eligible to bid on federal prime contracts and subcontracts available exclusively to program participants, in addition to benefiting from other contracting preferences. The SBA must certify that a small business meets the following criteria to qualify for the program: the firm must be owned and controlled by one or more U.S. citizens; at least 35 percent of full-time employees must live in a HUBZone; and the principal office, where most qualifying employees work, must be in a HUBZone. According to the SBA's Dynamic Small Business Web site, as of July 2010, 9,300 firms were participating in the program. Over the last 2 years, we have reported on fraud and abuse and other concerns with the HUBZone program. In July 2008, we testified that the SBA's lack of an effective fraud prevention program meant its application process could not provide reasonable assurance that only eligible firms were being certified to participate in the program. Using fictitious employee and owner information and fabricated documentation, we easily obtained HUBZone certification for four bogus firms. We also identified 10 firms from the Washington, D.C., metro area that participated in the program even though they did not meet eligibility criteria. In March 2009, we reported on 19 additional HUBZone firms from Alabama, California, and Texas that were not eligible ...
Date: July 28, 2010
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Current Structure Presents Challenges for Service Delivery

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "GAO's recent performance and accountability series report on the Small Business Administration (SBA) described major management challenges and program risks to efficient delivery of services. However, that report did not discuss how well SBA's organization was aligned to achieve its mission. GAO found that SBA's current structure contributes to the challenges SBA faces in delivering services to the small business community. In particular, ineffective lines of communication; confusion over the mission of district offices; complicated, overlapping organizational relationships; and a field structure not consistently matched with mission requirements combine to impede the effective deliver of services. Restructuring efforts by other federal agencies may prove instructive in addressing the problems with SBA's current structure. Efforts at other agencies also demonstrate the need for buy-in from both internal and external stakeholders and the importance of agency efforts to consider the human impact of restructuring activities, including the closure of field offices."
Date: October 26, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: The Commercial Marketing Representative Role Needs to Be Strategically Planned and Assessed

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Subcontracting on federal contracts is a large and growing marketplace for small businesses. The Small Business Administration's (SBA) Commercial Marketing Representatives (CMRs) have long been considered to be key to fostering small businesses' participation in subcontracts. GAO was asked to assess the role that CMRs are playing in administering SBA's subcontracting assistance program."
Date: November 1, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: 7(a) Loan Program Needs Additional Performance Measures

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Small Business Administration's (SBA) 7(a) program, initially established in 1953, provides loan guarantees to small businesses that cannot obtain credit in the conventional lending market. In fiscal year 2006, the program assisted more than 80,000 businesses with loan guarantees of nearly $14 billion. This testimony, based on a 2007 report, discusses (1) the 7(a) program's purpose and the performance measures SBA uses to assess the program's results; (2) evidence of any market constraints that may affect small businesses' access to credit in the conventional lending market; (3) the segments of the small business lending market that were served by 7(a) loans and the segments that were served by conventional loans; and (4) 7(a) program's credit subsidy costs and the factors that may cause uncertainty about these costs."
Date: November 1, 2007
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Preliminary Views on Increasing Collaboration with Department of Agriculture Rural Development Offices

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development offices share a mission of attending to underserved markets, promoting economic development, and improving the quality of life in America through the promotion of entrepreneurship and community development. In the past, these agencies have had cooperative working relationships to help manage their respective rural loan and economic development programs. At this subcommittee's request, GAO has undertaken a review of potential opportunities for SBA to seek increased collaboration and cooperation with USDA Rural Development (Rural Development), particularly given Rural Development's large and recognizable presence in rural communities. In this testimony, GAO provides preliminary views on (1) mechanisms that SBA and USDA have used to facilitate collaboration with other federal agencies and with each other; (2) the organization of SBA and USDA Rural Development field offices; and (3) the planned approach for GAO's recently initiated evaluation on collaboration between SBA and Rural Development. GAO discussed the contents of this testimony with SBA and USDA officials."
Date: November 14, 2007
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Progress Made but Improvements Needed in Lender Oversight

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Small Business Administration (SBA) has increased its reliance on private lenders to provide small businesses with access to credit. The 7(a) program is SBA's largest business loan program, and SBA has established a preferred lender program (PLP) in which eligible lenders make 7(a) loans without prior SBA approval. SBA guaranteed $9.9 billion in 7(a) loans in 2001. Because lenders are exercising greater autonomy in making 7(a) loans, effective lender oversight is essential to SBA's success in achieving its mission. GAO evaluated SBA's 7(a) lender oversight and reviewed its organizational alignment for conducting PLP and Small Business Lending Company (SBLC) oversight."
Date: December 9, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Response to the Gulf Coast Hurricanes Highlights Need for Enhanced Disaster Preparedness

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Small Business Administration (SBA) helps individuals and businesses recover from disasters such as hurricanes through its Disaster Loan Program. SBA faced an unprecedented demand for disaster loan assistance following the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes (Katrina, Rita, and Wilma), which resulted in extensive property damage and loss of life. In the aftermath of these disasters, concerns were expressed regarding the timeliness of SBA's disaster assistance. GAO initiated work and completed two reports under the Comptroller General's authority to conduct evaluations and determine how well SBA provided victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes with timely assistance. This testimony, which is based on these two reports, discusses (1) challenges SBA experienced in providing victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes with timely assistance, (2) factors that contributed to these challenges, and (3) steps SBA has taken since the Gulf Coast hurricanes to enhance its disaster preparedness. GAO visited the Gulf Coast region, reviewed SBA planning documents, and interviewed SBA officials."
Date: February 14, 2007
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Review of Selected Personnel Practices

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed events related to personnel reassignments, appointments, and activities at the Small Business Administration (SBA)."
Date: April 23, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Preliminary Views on Issues Related to the Women's Business Center Program

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides training and counseling services to women entrepreneurs through the Women's Business Center (WBC) program. With approximately $12 million in fiscal year 2007, SBA funded awards to 99 WBCs. However, Congress and WBCs have expressed concerns about the uncertain nature of the program's funding structure. Concerns have also been raised about the possibility that the WBC and two other SBA programs, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and SCORE programs, are duplicating each other's efforts. This testimony discusses preliminary views on (1) uncertainties associated with the funding process for WBCs; (2) SBA's oversight of the WBC program; and (3) actions that SBA and WBCs have taken to avoid duplication among the WBC, SBDC, and SCORE programs. GAO reviewed policies, procedures, examinations, and studies related to the funding, oversight, and services of WBCs and interviewed SBA, WBC, SBDC, and SCORE officials."
Date: September 20, 2007
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Status of Achieving Key Outcomes and Addressing Major Management Challenges

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "This report reviews the Small Business Administration's (SBA) fiscal year 2000 performance report and fiscal year 2002 performance plan required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 to assess SBA's progress in achieving selected key outcomes that are important to its mission. SBA's reported progress in achieving its outcomes is mixed. However, GAO had difficulty assessing SBA's progress due to weaknesses in its performance measures and data. GAO was unable to assess SBA's lack of an explanation about how the strategies relate to the outcomes or a discussion regarding strategies for the outcome. GAO identified some improvements from SBA's prior year report and plan, but several weaknesses persist in SBA's fiscal year 2000 performance report and performance plan. The performance report includes a section that summarizes SBA's programs, a matrix that identifies ongoing and closed audit reviews, and several recommendations associated with each. However, SBA omitted time frames or schedules for achieving unmet goals, lacked strategies for meeting unmet goals, and failed to adequately link strategies to indicators and measures."
Date: June 22, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Status of Efforts to Address Previous Recommendations on the HUBZone Program

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "This testimony discusses the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program. Created in 1997, the HUBZone program provides federal contracting assistance to small businesses located in economically distressed communities, or HUBZone areas, with the intent of stimulating economic development in those areas. In fiscal year 2007, federal agencies awarded contracts valued at about $8 billion to HUBZone firms. Firms that participate in the program must be located in a HUBZone and employ residents of HUBZones to facilitate the goal of bringing capital and employment opportunities to distressed areas. My statement today is based on work we performed to update the status of recommendations we made in our June 2008 report on the HUBZone program and reiterated in a July 2008 testimony. These recommendations called for SBA to improve its controls over the HUBZone program and assess the program's effectiveness. Specifically, this testimony discusses SBA's progress in (1) ensuring that the HUBZone map is accurate; (2) developing and implementing guidance to ensure that participating firms are eligible; (3) eliminating the backlog of recertifications; (4) formalizing and adhering to time frames for decertifying ineligible firms; and (5) developing measures and implementing plans to assess the effectiveness of the program."
Date: March 25, 2009
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Additional Actions Are Needed to Certify and Monitor HUBZone Businesses and Assess Program Results

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Small Business Administration's (SBA) Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program provides federal contracting assistance to small firms located in economically distressed areas, with the intent of stimulating economic development. Questions have been raised about whether the program is targeting the locations and businesses that Congress intended to assist. This testimony focuses on (1) the criteria and process that SBA uses to identify and map HUBZone areas; (2) the mechanisms SBA uses to ensure that only eligible small businesses participate in the program; and (3) the actions SBA has taken to assess the results of the program and the extent to which federal agencies have met HUBZone contracting goals. To address these objectives, GAO analyzed statutory provisions as well as SBA, Census, and contracting data and interviewed SBA and other federal and local officials."
Date: July 17, 2008
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Progress Made, but Transformation Could Benefit from Practices Emphasizing Transparency and Communication

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Small Business Administration (SBA) has recognized that it needs to realign its current organizational structure and processes to improve its ability to fulfill its primary mission--supporting the nation's small businesses. In July 2002, SBA announced that it was initiating a transformation effort to increase the public's awareness of SBA's services and products and make its processes more efficient. GAO evaluated SBA's progress in implementing its transformation initiatives and challenges that have impeded or could impede implementation and whether SBA's transformation incorporates practices GAO has identified in previous work that are important to successful organizational change."
Date: October 31, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Enhancements Needed for Loan Monitoring System Benchmark Study

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed a benchmark study conducted by a contractor comparing the Small Business Administration's (SBA) loan monitoring business processes to those of selected public and private sector organizations."
Date: May 14, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Accounting Anomalies and Limited Operational Data Make Results of Loan Sales Uncertain

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Small Business Administration's (SBA) loan asset sales are being closely watched because similar sales are projected for other government agencies as a means of reducing loan assets and servicing costs. To assess the progress and effects of SBA's loan sales, GAO undertook this study to (1) describe the process for selling loans, (2) identify how lenders and borrowers have reacted to loan sales, (3) determine whether SBA is properly accounting for its loan sales and their subsequent impact on credit subsidy estimates, and (4) assess whether loan sales generated operational benefits for the agency. GAO did not determine whether SBA maximized proceeds from the loan sales."
Date: January 3, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Steps Taken to Better Manage Its Human Capital, but More Needs to Be Done

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Small Business Administration's (SBA) efforts to identify its current and future workforce needs, budget for them and manage them strategically."
Date: July 20, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Response to the Gulf Coast Hurricanes Highlights Need for Enhanced Disaster Preparedness

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Small Business Administration (SBA) helps individuals and businesses recover from disasters such as hurricanes through its Disaster Loan Program. SBA faced an unprecedented demand for disaster loan assistance following the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes (Katrina, Rita, and Wilma), which resulted in extensive property damage and loss of life. In the aftermath of these disasters, concerns were expressed regarding the timeliness of SBA's disaster assistance. GAO initiated work and completed two reports under the Comptroller General's authority to conduct evaluations and determine how well SBA provided victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes with timely assistance. This testimony, which is based on these two reports, discusses (1) challenges SBA experienced in providing victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes with timely assistance, (2) factors that contributed to these challenges, and (3) steps SBA has taken since the Gulf Coast hurricanes to enhance its disaster preparedness. GAO visited the Gulf Coast region, reviewed SBA planning documents, and interviewed SBA officials."
Date: July 25, 2007
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Actions Needed to Strengthen Small Business Lending Company Oversight

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Farm Credit Administration (FCA) reviewed the Small Business Administration's (SBA) oversight of the Small Business Lending Companies (SBLC) program and determined that several areas could be strengthened. SBA officials said that the agency plans to take appropriate action on most of FCA's recommendations to improve the program. However, FCA expressed concern about the financial risk to SBA's loan portfolio associated with less favorable economic conditions. Such conditions could place upward pressure on SBA's 7(a) loan default rates. SBA needs to have access to information that accurately identifies risk in both individual loan and the total portfolio. The initial SBLC examination results have provided some information to aid in such risk identification, but a continued effort is needed."
Date: November 17, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Size of the SBA 7(a) Secondary Markets is Driven by Benefits Provided

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the secondary markets for 7(a) small business loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA), focusing on: (1) the benefits and risks of secondary loan markets to participants; (2) primary benefits and risks to participants in the guaranteed 7(a) secondary market and the unguaranteed 7(a) secondary market; and (3) a comparison of the guaranteed 7(a) secondary market with the secondary market for federally guaranteed residential mortgages, and the unguaranteed 7(a) secondary market with the secondary market for residential mortgages without a federal guarantee."
Date: May 26, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Continued Attention Needed to Address Reforms to the Disaster Loan Program

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "After the Small Business Administration (SBA) was widely criticized for its performance following the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes, the agency took steps to reform its Disaster Loan Program. Congress also enacted the Small Business Disaster Response and Loan Improvements Act of 2008 (Act), which places new requirements on SBA to ensure it is prepared for catastrophic disasters. This testimony discusses (1) the extent to which SBA has addressed the Act's requirements, and (2) how SBA's response to major disasters in 2008 aligned with key components of its June 2007 Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). In completing this statement, GAO reviewed and updated, as appropriate, the July 2009 report, Small Business Administration: Additional Steps Should Be Taken to Address Reforms to the Disaster Loan Program and Improve the Application Process for Future Disasters (GAO-09-755). In that report, GAO recommended that SBA should fulfill the Act's region-specific marketing and outreach requirements; complete its annual report to Congress; issue an updated DRP; develop an implementation plan for remaining requirements; and develop procedures to further improve the application process for the Disaster Loan Program."
Date: May 19, 2010
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department