WASHINGTON - The Small Business Administration "could look considerably leaner in the coming months" if legislators have their way. The congressional committees in charge of federal small business policy are planning to reduce or eliminate SBA programs that it said might have outlived their intended purposes, GovernmentExecutive.com reports.
Last week, Senators Landrieu and Snowe, the chairwoman and ranking member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, respectively, sent letters to SBA Administrator Karen Mills and agency Inspector General Peg Gustafson seeking recommendations on programs that could be cut.
"Like the American people, Congress must continue to evaluate and determine what spending is necessary to meet current needs and demands while identifying and eliminating needless spending," the lawmakers wrote. "Accordingly, we take this responsibility seriously and will dedicate time and effort in this Congress to determine the best path forward."
The senators have requested a list of programs by February 10 that could be "eliminated or substantially reduced without undermining the SBA's ability to serve the needs of small business owners."
The committee is planning a hearing on proposed SBA program cuts later this month, with committee spokesperson Richard Carbo saying the inquiry would focus on underperforming programs and those that have failed to deliver "the most bang for their buck."
"Sen. Landrieu doesn't want this to just be a reckless cost-cutting hunt," Carbo said. "She wants to really dive deep into why some programs might be underperforming and where there are ways to make efficient cuts that won't harm small businesses."
SBA spokesperson Hayley Meadvin said the agency would respond in writing to the senators.
The SBA also faces scrutiny from the House Small Business Committee and its new chairman, Rep. Sam Graves. Last week, the committee adopted an eight-page report that lists a number of small business programs that it intends to review.
The report also details at least a dozen small business programs and offices that could face budget cuts, including SBA's Patriot Express Loan Program; Drug-Free Workplace Program; Office of Policy; and Office of Native American Affairs.
SBA regional administrators and deputy district directors could also be cut, according to the report, which will base its reductions on effectiveness ï¿½" or lack thereof.
"The committee will focus particularly on streamlining and reorganizing of the agency's operations to provide maximum assistance to small business owners," the report said. "Offices that primarily provide assistance or advice to headquarters staff that do not promote the interests of small businesses or protect the federal government as guarantor of loans will be recommended for cuts or elimination."
The committee also plans to review SBA lending and entrepreneurial development programs and the cost effectiveness of the Obama administration's in-sourcing policies, among other items.