Contreras-Sweet was well received by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle when
she was tapped as the new head of the Small Business Administration.
seven months ago. On Wednesday, her reception on Capitol Hill wasn’t so warm.
first hearing before the House Small Business Committee, members from both
parties grilled Contreras-Sweet on several perceived problems within the SBA,
ranging from unauthorized pilot programs to scant contracting oversight.
agency continues to create policy without the benefit of notice or comment
rulemaking,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the committee’s chairman, said just
moments into the hearing. He quickly added that the SBA “has a history of
pursuing initiatives it creates on its own while ignoring congressionally
the final addition to President Obama’s second-term
Cabinet, cast the agency’s new initiatives in a different light. She
said that the department is “working to find new and creative ways to put micro
capital into the hands of entrepreneurs” and that she plans to keep
“championing bold initiatives to open new business channels for entrepreneurs
within the federal government, corporate supply chains and international
example, she pointed out that the agency
is preparing to launch SBA One, an interactive online platform designed to
simplify the SBA loan process for bankers and small-business borrowers. She
told lawmakers the program will “save banks hours of processing time and money”
by cutting down on faxed forms and allowing for electronic signatures.
have a study to show how many hours it will save?” asked Rep. Blaine
Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), arguing that changing an existing process could have the
opposite effect. “This is a statement that should have facts, studies,
something backing it up.”
that the online portal has not been launched, Contreras-Sweet said she would
report back with metrics after the rollout. “Please don’t come to this
committee and make statements if you can’t back them up,” Luetkemeyer
got little reprieve from some of the Democrats on the panel.
Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) expressed concerns with the fact that women-owned
small businesses have seen their share of SBA loan dollars fall from
40 percent before the recession to 16 percent today, while minority-owned firms
have seen their share drop from 11 percent to less than 3 percent. While Hahn
commended the administrator for recently reducing fees on some low-dollar
loans, she questioned “whether enough changes have been made” to get more
capital to firms owned by traditionally underserved groups.
said the agency is committed to offering a robust array of loan products,
ranging in size and structure, to meet the needs of all entrepreneurs,
including women. In addition, she said, the SBA is working with its network of
Women’s Business Centers across the country to make women more aware of
lending, counseling and contracting opportunities.
M. Velázquez (N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, questioned
Contreras-Sweet sharply about federal contracts designed for small businesses
that went to large corporations.
“I would like to ask you whether you are aware
that Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Chevron have been included as
small-business contracts by agencies,” Velázquez said.
To view full article, click here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/sba-administrator-takes-heat-from-democrats-and-republicans-in-congress/2014/09/11/291892c8-3859-11e4-8601-97ba88884ffd_story.html