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House extends SBA programs

By Ethan Butterfield
Washington Technology
September 27, 2006

The House voted Tuesday to extend the Small Business Administration's programs until Feb. 2, 2007, giving Congress more time to complete a review and reauthorization of the agency.

SBA's authority and programs were to expire Sept. 30. H.R. 6159, authored by House Small Business Committee chairman Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), extended the expiration date until February.

Over the past 18 months, SBA has come under fire from members of Congress for what some believe was a slow response in distributing disaster loans to victims of Hurricane Katrina, cutting offices that support veteran-owned businesses and a host of contracting issues.

Among the most pressing issues are the matter of large companies winning small-business deals, lack of oversight in the registry where companies certify themselves as small, and questions regarding whether the agency's data accurately reflects the federal small-business contracting scene.

Manzullo said his committee is still working on a reauthorization package that would improve SBA's response to catastrophic disasters and expand its finance and entrepreneurship programs.

"We will also eliminate unnecessary programs at SBA and combat waste, fraud and abuse by increasing fines for misuse of programs," Manzullo said in a statement.

The extension was necessary because several SBA programs are not supported by direct appropriations, and a continuing resolution would not provide legal authority for SBA to continue them, according to a House statement announcing the move.

Programs not supported by direct appropriations include the 7(a) loan, Certified Development Company and Small-Business Investment Company programs.

H.R. 6159 also extends SBA's authority to operate small programs, including grants to Small-Business Development Centers to participate in the Drug-Free Workplace program. The extension also allows sustainability funding for Women Business Centers, the pre-disaster mitigation pilot program, New Markets Venture Capital program and BusinessLinc.

SBA will keep its co-sponsorship and gift authority, which will let the agency save taxpayer dollars by accepting private donations to help put on events and create publications.



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