Senator criticizes SBA initiatives
- By Natasha Haubold
- Feb 27, 2000
Several new Small Business Administration programs could jeopardize the
agency's core mission, says Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond.
According to Bond, chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, SBA's
fiscal 2001 budget does not include enough money to staff existing
Also, the "strain of financing a range of new programs" raises doubts about
the agency's ability to
start a computerized loan monitoring system, Bond said.
Congress mandated the computer system to monitor SBA loan programs and
lenders who participate in 1997. The first phase of the $24 million system
is scheduled for completion this year.
"It is unclear to me how the SBA will meet its human capital needs, its
funding challenge and its challenge to retool for the 21st century
at the same time it rolls out a raft of new programs," Bond said. "Congress
has approved substantial budgets for SBA.... However, I continue to receive
reports that offices supporting key programs are underfunded or
But SBA Administrator Aida Alvarez said the agency has contracted out
services to the private sector so that SBA can downsize and use its staff
"All this has been accomplished while keeping our fiscal house in order,"
Bond was particularly critical of SBA's proposed New Market Venture Capital
Program, designed to increase technical assistance to women,
minorities and businesses in moderate-income rural areas and inner cities.
Bond believes the program duplicates actions taken by
existing SBA initiatives.
Alvarez said the program is expected to fill a huge "unmet need in
America's inner cities, poor rural areas and Native American reservations."
The SBA is asking for more than $1 billion in fiscal 2001, a 28 percent
increase from last year. Part of the money would be used to improve the
agency's internal management and infrastructure including:
* $13 million for systems modernization and lender oversight and risk
* $7 million for information technology support.
* $4 million to train and transition SBA's work force.