GAO Report on the SBA and National 8(a) Association Conference

By: Christine V. Williams on 01/08/2016

The National 8(a) Association is holding its conference in Orlando next month and, hopefully, we can discuss the new SBA regulations.  That or John Klein and I can just politely argue about other things.  Always entertaining.Here is a link to the website for the February 9-10th event.

GAO Report on the SBA

On January 6, 2016, the GAO released a follow up report in the form of written testimony to its September 2015 report, which recommended changes to the SBA.  In this January report, entitled “Leadership Attention Needed to Overcome Management Challenges,” the GAO states that the “SBA has not resolved many of its longstanding management challenges due to a lack of sustained priority attention over time.” That lack of resolution, the GAO states, “raises questions about SBA’s sustained commitment to addressing management challenges that could keep it from effectively assisting small businesses.”

According to the GAO, a senior agency official told GAO that “improving human capital management, IT, and the 8(a) Program” were priorities.

SBA also noted to the GAO that it had begun to update its internal standard operating procedures (SOPs) and planned on doing more, some of which are now residing with the Office of Management and Budget.  The following synopsis reflects areas highlighted in the report:

  • Strategic Planning and Program Evaluation
    Met most federal requirements, but the SBA did not describe how it used its results from the program evaluations to develop its current strategic plan.  The GAO states the SBA lack evaluations for many programs.
  • Human Capital Management
    The SBA improved its human capital plan by developing goals and objectives as well as conducting early retirement programs in FY 2012 and 2014.  These plans were aimed to address “long-standing skill imbalances, but few people than expected.”  The GAO states the SBA has not yet conducted skills assessment or determined training goals.  As a result, it concludes, the SBA cannot provide reasonable assurance that its workforce has the skills that it requires.
  • Organizational Structure
    Complex overlapping relationships among offices that have contributed to the challenges in program oversight.  SBA recently determined major restructuring was not warranted, but the GAO does not have the information to “validate” that finding.
  • Enterprise Risk Management (ERM)
    The SBA has not incorporated some elements of a risk management like goals and specific actions and without these, the GAO states, the SBA cannot “reasonably ensure its ERM efforts fully identify, assess, and manage risks.”
  • Procedural Guidance
    As of March 2015, the SBA found 74 of its 165 SOPs need to be revised, 31 needed to be cancelled, 9 needed to be issued, and 60 required no action.  The SBA has not set time frames for review of all of these issues.
  • IT
    The GAO states that the SBA has not implemented more than 30 SBA Office of Inspector General recommendations related to IT security but has increased its emphasis on improvements.  Some of the improvements not done, according to the GAO, it to consolidate the number of data centers and manage software licenses for IT investments.

Both the highlights and full GAO report may be found here.

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