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Congress probes management problems at Small Business Administration

By Sabrina Eaton
Cleveland.com
January 8, 2016

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Small Business Administration is in the throes of its own big-time management crisis, according to the Ohio member of Congress who oversees its operations.

House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot of Cincinnati held a series of hearings this week on reports of widespread management deficiencies at the independent agency founded in 1953 to help Americans start and build small businesses.

A September report from Congress' investigative arm the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) - found that high personnel turnover at SBA's top levels has kept it from resolving longstanding management challenges, including securing its information technology.

GAO's Director of Financial Markets and Community Investment, William B. Shear, on Wednesday told Chabot's committee that SBA had implemented just 7 of the 69 recommendations it made in prior reports.

"We found that senior SBA leaders have not prioritized long-term organizational transformation in areas such as human capital and IT," Shear told Chabot's committee. "This raises questions about SBA's sustained commitment to addressing management challenges that could keep it from effectively assisting small businesses."

At a hearing the following day, Chabot told SBA Administrator Maria Contaras-Sweet that the problems have produced "a failure of confidence in the SBA."

"From information technology and security to staff management issues, from disaster response to fraud in your lending and contracting programs, it's a safe bet that the small businesses in our districts are paying the price for the agency's failures," said Chabot.

The committee's top Democrat New York's Nydia Velazquez agreed with Chabot that the agency faces "a wide range of frankly very troubling management challenges, many of which have persisted for years."

"I do fully recognize that many of these problems took root before Administrator Contreras-Sweet's tenure and that furthermore, she has demonstrated a commitment to addressing them," Velazquez continued. "With that said, there is still much work that needs to be accomplished in terms of addressing GAO recommendations."

Contraras-Sweet, who has headed the agency for 20 months, acknowledged problems, and said she agrees with many of the GAO's recommendations. During 2015, she said her agency resolved 14 recommendations made by the GAO.

To view full article, click here: http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2016/01/congress_probes_management_pro.html

 

 



 
 

 
 

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